Monday 30 May 2022

Cold IPA vs India Pale Lager (IPL) - What's the Difference?

The craft beer industry is constantly evolving, with seemingly endless varieties of new styles and crazes popping up all the time. One of the more recent trends is the emergence of the Cold IPA (India Pale Ale). Another term that often gets thrown into the same conversation is an IPL (India Pale Lager) - which begs the question - are these two styles of beer the same? What makes them unique, or different?

What is a Cold IPA?

A Cold IPA is a fresh take on the classic American IPA - providing a cleaner, clearer and crisper version that often includes mostly pilsner malt and some added adjuncts such as a rice or corn to provide a lighter and more refreshing body and finish. Cold IPA's are typically fermented using lager yeasts, the most common being Fermentis 34/70 yeast, but at a warmer temperature than you typically would for a lager. As per the IPA style, it's very hop forward with loads of hops added after or at the tail end of primary fermentation - ie. dry hopping.

The style is believed to have been pioneered by Wayfinder Beer in Portland, Oregon, USA, with the release of the Relapse IPA in late 2018, but the style has caught on and spread rapidly throughout other breweries in the USA and across the world including Australia.

The name itself appears to be an oxymoron. The "A" in "IPA" refers to "Ale", yet a Cold IPA is fermented with lager yeast. Wouldn't this make it a lager style of beer then? Well, yes - since the way most styles of beer are determined is by the type of yeast that is used, using a lager yeast to make an ale beer just doesn't make a lot of sense. Looks like a simple case of marketing gimmics since these days, "IPA" seems to refer to any beer with loads of hops as opposed to an ale with loads of hops. 

On top of that, it's called a Cold IPA, yet we're using lager yeasts and fermenting them warmer than you typically would for a traditional lager beer. This is another part of the argument, that since we're fermenting a Cold IPA using lager yeast but at warmer temperatures, it isn't a "true lager".

Wayfinder do suggest that other yeasts such as Kolsch, Chico or California Common can be used instead - the only requirement is that whatever yeast is used must not have high sulfur or ester notes. Think of the Cold IPA as a "canvas for IPA hops" - you don't want anything getting in the way or hindering the hop flavours - like yeast or complex malt flavours.

We've tried and reviewed one ourselves - Sunday Road Brewing Co's Yule Fuel Cold IPA as part of the 2021 Beer Cartel Advent Calendar. Admittedly we didn't fully understand what a Cold IPA was when we had this beer, but we loved it nonetheless.  Looking back at our review for this beer, we noted it's smooth and clean flavour profile making it super refreshing and easy to drink with plenty of fruity hop flavours.

What's the difference between a Cold IPA and IPL?

We've done lots of research on this, and often the two names are used interchangeably - but we've found a few notable differences between them. Part of the problem is that these styles aren't officially recognised by the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) so there aren't any hard and fast guidelines on what these beer styles actually are - only countless opinions of craft breweries, brewers and other sources on the Internet. 

There are a few differentiating factors we could find between Cold IPA's and IPL's. Firstly, IPL's essentially take an IPA recipe as is, and swap the ale yeast for a lager yeast. Cold IPA's on the other hand are built from the ground up, using a base of pilsner malt then adding adjuncts such as rice and/or corn at around 20-40%, rather than specialty malts that you would typically find in a traditional IPA recipe - like munich and biscuit. This provides a really neutral, or bready base to build upon with a dry finish that all helps to promote the hops and let them shine through.

Ironically, Cold IPA's are also fermented warmer than IPL's which are fermented at the recommended lager yeast temperature.

Cold IPA's are more hop forward than IPL's, have a higher bitterness and feature new world hop varieties - likely because classic fermented lager yeasts don't emit flavours that combine well with loads of these new world hops. They are often thought of as taking a West Coast IPA and making it even more West Coast by really accentuating and showcasing the hops and having a crisp grain bill.

IPL's usually have a lower alcohol (ABV) content than Cold IPA's and will feature classic European or noble hop varieties and a lower overall bitterness. They're often referred to as "clunky" - since a simple mixture of an IPA grain bill and hops with lager yeast doesn't always gel together well.

Conclusion

Although these two styles of beer are similar, and are often referred to as brother or sister styles to one another, it seems there are a handful of features that distinguish them from each other. Since there aren't any official style guidelines for either of these, there's room for plenty of interpretation when it comes to Cold IPA's and IPL's.

A big part of this certainly appears to be marketing hype and broad definitions and interpretations of what an "IPA" beer actually is. There are no doubt plenty of purists out there who will get hung up on an IPA using lager yeast, but at the end of the day evolution of beer and beer styles is a good thing. If brewers didn't get adventurous with their products and recipes then the craft beer industry would certainly not be what it is today.

If you come across a Cold IPA or IPL, give it a try and see for yourself what they're all about. Although we've only ever had one Cold IPA, we'll be keeping our eye out for more - we might even try brewing one ourselves in the future like this one from David Heath on YouTube.

Don't be surprised to see either or both of these styles officially recognised by the BJCP in the coming years. People were probably having similar discussions years ago when New England IPA's (NEIPA's) first came on the scene, and they are now officially recognised with their own Hazy IPA style under the BJCP style guidelines.

Check out our Cold IPA Recipe Creation Guide which has some detailed information on exactly what makes up a Cold IPA and what key ingredients should be included to dial in your own recipe.


Related Articles

Cold IPA - Recipe Creation Guide

Cold IPA Recipe (All Grain)

What is an IPA beer and what does it mean?

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Kaiju Beer - Kaiju Krush Tropical Pale Ale - Beer Review

Review Date: 14/5/22
Brewery Name: Kaiju! Beer (Dandenong, SA, Australia)
Beer Name: Kaiju Krush Tropical Pale Ale

"After generations of KAIJU! interacting with the local flora, a new species arose. The FRUJUS found the balmy weather and laid-back pace in tropical climes to their liking, settling many remote islands, but always on guard for those who would seek to exploit their mouthwatering juiciness and impeccable balance.

A super-clean malt profile allows the shipload of juicy  tropical fruit flavours to thrive on the desert island of your palate unhindered. And it comes in a can, so after you Krush it, you can Krush it."

Kaiju Krush Tropical Pale Ale Can

General

Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 4.7% (Standard)



Label/Design: 9/10

Serving Style: Can

Region of Origin: Pacific (Australia, New Zealand)

Style Family: Pale Ale

Malts/Adjuncts: Unknown

Hops: Unknown

IBU's: 25

Kaiju Krush Tropical Pale Ale Can Notes

Appearance

Colour: Deep Gold



Clarity

Brilliant Clear Slight Haze Hazy

Collar of Foam & Head Retention

None 

Poor
(Up to 15 secs)

Moderate
(15 - 60 secs) 

Good
(more than 60 secs)


Foam Texture

N/A Thin Fluffy Mousse-Like

Carbonation (Visible)

None Slow Medium Fast-Rising Bubbles

Alcohol Aroma

Not Detectable Mild Noticeable Strong Harsh


Aroma & Flavour

Esters Aroma: None
Phenols: None























Alcohol Taste:

Not Detectable Mild Noticeable Strong Harsh

Hop Pungency:

Mild Moderate Strong Extreme

Hop Bitterness:

Restrained Moderate Aggressive Harsh

Malt Sweetness:

Low Medium High Cloying
(Excessive)

Astringency: 

Low Medium High

Palate/Mouthfeel: 

Light Bodied
(Thin/Watery)
Medium Bodied
(Light + Full)
Full Bodied
(Round, Rich & Creamy)

Palate Carbonation: 

Low Medium High

Length/Finish:

Short
(Up to 15 seconds)
Medium
(15 to 60 seconds)
Long
(More than 60 seconds)




















Oxidative/Aged Qualities: None

Kaiju Krush Tropical Pale Ale in the Craftd Alpha glass

Overall

Drinkability: 10/10

Overall Impression: 10/10

Notes

This beer is great. The amount of hop punch and fruitiness is really surprising, especially when you look at the color and clarity of this beer. As brilliantly clear as a lager, with all the colour of an American Pale Ale, but tastes exactly like neither. Tropical is a great descriptor for the flavour profile - loads of hop punch with a restrained bitterness and nice clean, dry and crisp finish. Would love to know some more about what hops (and malt/grains) are used in this one - it's a great combo. There's something truly unique about the flavour profile of this beer that we can't quite put our finger on. It's awesome and as the name suggests, totally "krushable". One of only a handful of beers to get a perfect score from us.

If you see it, try it, you won't be disappointed 

































Friday 20 May 2022

American Amber Ale - Recipe Creation Guide

Style Overview

An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavour. The balance can vary quite a bit, with some versions being fairly malt and others being aggressively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavours with the caramel malt profile.

Appearance

Amber to coppery-brown in colour. Moderately large off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.

Aroma

Low to moderate hop aroma with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon). A citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Moderately-low to moderately-high maltiness (usually with a moderate caramel character), which can either support, balance or sometimes mask the hop presentation. Esters vary from moderate to none.

Flavour

Moderate to high hop flavour with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieites (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry or melon). A citrusy hop character is cmmon, but not required. Malt flavours are moderate to strong, and usually show an initial malty sweetness followed by a moderate caramel flavour (and sometimes other character malts in lesser amounts). Malt and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive, but can vary either way. Fruity esters can be moderate to none. Caramel sweetness and hop flavour/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish.

Mouthfeel

Medium to medium-full body. Medium to high carbonation. Overall smooth finish without astringency. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth.

Vital Statistics

ABV: 4.5% - 6.2%
IBU: 25 - 40
SRM: 10 - 17
OG: 1.045 - 1.060
FG: 1.010 - 1.015

Malts/Grains

Pale Malt - 80%
Munich - 1% - 10%
Crystal Malt - 1 - 10%
Biscuit Malt - 1 - 5%
Chocolate - 1 - 2%

Pale malt will make up the majority of your grain bill. Munich malt can be added from 1-10% as an alternative to  the pale malt, for some depth of flavour and to also aid in providing some of the required amber colour.

Crystal malts are added at 1-10% to also aid in providing colour, as well as imparting the desired caramel flavour as recommended for this style of beer. Dial it back if you're not so big on the caramel notes.

Biscuit malt is a slightly darker malt as it is roasted and puts it somewhere between munich and chocolate malt that will help with depth of flavour by providing some cracker like notes.

Lastly, a small amount of chocolate malt can be included to assist with colour, and provide some complex vanilla and caramel undertones, in addition to a nutty, roasty flavour. These sorts of flavours should be sublte which is why it's inclusion is kept small at 1-2% of the total grain bill.

Hops

Hops are typically added at the beginning of the boil (60 minutes) for bittering, with later additions being added at any or all of 15, 10, 5 and 0 minutes for flavour and aroma. 

30 minute additions are redundant and should be avoided (unless you're doing a 30 minute boil instead of 60 minutes) which is becoming increasingly common.

There's no shortage of hop options and varieties, but some popular combinations are;

Ahtanum, Centennial, Simcoe
Galaxy, Nelson, Columbus
Cascade, Chinook, El Dorado, Mosaic
Chinook, Simcoe
Columbus, Citra
Chinook, Mosaic, Citra
Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo
Galaxy, Citra
Columbus, Centennial, Cascade
Citra, Mosaic
Centennial, Nelson, Citra
Centennial, Chinook, Columbus
Centennial, Amarillo - (research has proven this combination to be incredibly popular)

If in doubt, look to the five C's - considered to be the cornerstones of modern American craft beer brewing. Any or all of these hops in combination will work very well and give that classic american flavour;

Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, Citra

Whirlpool Hop Additions 

Whirlpool hop additions are also optional but can certainly be done to help impart even more hop flavour and aroma in addition to (or instead of) late hop additions to the boil. Typical whirlpool hopstand would be for 15 minutes at approx 80 degrees celsius.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is optional - typical rate is 2-4g/L - being too aggressive can lead you into IPA territory

Mash (Temperature & Time)

Mash @ 67C (to create a slightly less fermentable wort to leave a slightly higher final gravity for a sweeter and less dry finish at the end of fermentation)
Mashout @ 75C for 10 minutes

Yeast

Go for a neutral American style yeast. Some popular/common options are below

Liquid
  • WY1272 American Ale II
  • WLP 001 Californian Ale
Dry
  • Mangrove Jacks M36 Liberty Ale
  • Fermentis US-05
  • Lallemand BRY-97

You can also go for something a little different and use something like Voss Kveik yeast if you're looking for something different from the usual American style ale yeasts.

Fermentation Temperature

Begin fermentation at the lower end of the yeasts recommended temperature range. After at least 5 days of fermentation, begin raising the temperature 1C per day for 3 days (for a 3C total increase in temperature). Raising the temperature towards the end of fermentation helps the yeast clean up after itself and is often referred to as a "diacetyl rest".

Pressure Fermentation

Pressure fermentation can be beneficial for this style of beer as fermenting under pressure will help to suppress any off flavours from being created. Typical pressure used is around 10psi.

Cold Crashing

Cold crashing can be beneficial to this style of beer. If you are dry hopping, it can help the hop debris settle to the bottom of the fermenter with the rest of the trub. Can also help improve the clarity of the beer.

Sample Recipe

American Amber Ale Recipe


Related Articles

All Recipe Creation Guides

All-Grain Recipe List

Thursday 19 May 2022

Should I Rehydrate Dry Yeast Before Pitching?


There are a number of processes and factors to consider when brewing your own beer. Everyone wants to make the best beer they possibly can, but often want to keep things as simple as possible in the process of doing so. A common question that brewers will ask themselves is "Do I need to rehydrate my dry yeast before pitching it into my wort?".

The answer to this question can be quite contentious, and will often come down to personal preference and experience. Let's dive deeper and take a look.

First of all - what is rehydrating yeast? As the name suggests, it involves converting your dry yeast into liquid yeast by adding it to water. One of the most popular yeast manufacturers, Lallemand, recommend sprinkling the dry yeast onto the surface of 10 times its own weight in clean, sterilised water at 30-35C (86-95F), then leave it for 15 minutes before gently stirring and adjusting the temperature before adding to your wort. (Check out Lallemand's Best Practices for Rehydration for more information on this practice).

The alternative to rehydration is the simple process of sprinkling the dry yeast onto the wort after it has been added to your fermenter - or alternatively, adding the dry yeast to your fermenter whilst it is being filled with wort.

So what is the problem with doing it this way? It's argued that simply adding the yeast to your wort directly will lead to a percentage of the viable yeast cells being killed off, thus reducing the number of viable yeast cells available to ferment your wort. This kill off rate has been reported to be as high as 50%. This in turn can lead to an increased workload for the remaining  yeast, which can cause the yeast to become 'stressed' and impart undesirable off flavours and aromas into your beer throughout the fermentation process.

Unfortunately there isn't much hard, scientific evidence to backup any of these claims (at least that we were able to find) - which is why we previously mentioned that for most brewers this decision will come down to personal preference and their own experience.

One of the most popular manufacturers of yeast, Lallemand, state that "rehydration is recommended (but not essential)" in their Best Practices for Rehydration guide, as it "reduc[es] the osmotic stress and enhanc[es] a homogenous disperson".

One of the most popular brewing yeasts - Safale US-05

On the flip side, Fermentis state under the technical features for what is arguably one of the most popular yeasts used in brewing, US-05, that direct pitching can done by following these steps;

"Pitch the yeast directly in the fermentation vessel on the surface of the wort at or above the fermentation temperature.

Progressively sprinkle the dry yeast into the wort ensuring the yeast covers all the surface of wort available to avoid clumps. Ideally, the yeast will be added during the first part of the filling of the vessel; in which case hydration can be done at wort temperature higher than fermentation temperature, the fermenter being then filled with wort at lower temperature to bring the entire wort temperature at fermentation temperature."

Another popular yeast manufacturer, Mangrove Jacks, state that with regards to rehydrating yeast "No, you don't have to. You can sprinkle the yeast as is."

If you are going to pitch dry, it's important that you follow the yeast manufacturers guide in terms of dosage to ensure you are pitching a sufficient amount of dry yeast for the gravity of wort you are fermenting. This will of course vary between yeast strains and manufacturers.

Temperature is another potential factor - with thermal shock being cited as a potential reason for dry yeast cells being killed off as a result of pitching dry yeast directly. Dry yeast should typically be stored in a fridge to  help preserve shelf life and yeast health, but it's important the yeast is removed from the fridge and allowed to warm up to room temperature before being used. Sounds pretty obvious but taking your yeast out of the fridge that is likely set to around 5 degrees Celsius and pitching it directly into your wort at around 20 degrees is a bad idea and will likely lead to poor results.

Popular homebrewing blog site, Brulosophy, have run a couple of exbeeriments (experiments) directly comparing the results of two otherwise identical beers made using dry pitched and rehydrated yeast. The first experiment from back in 2014 had 5/13 people correctly identify the odd beer out in a blind triangle test of the two beers which were a Munich Dunkel made with Nottingham yeast. Of the 5 who did accurately identify, the majority went on to report essentially no difference between them.

Their second experiment, run 4 years later in 2018, yielded a similar result when brewing the same recipe using the same yeast. In this experiment, only 11 out of 24 people were able to identify the unique beer in a series of blind triangle tests. The author even admits he was guessing when performing the tests.

A point made in the authors discussion of the second experiment seemed to resonate with us - and that is that it's possible that only a small percentage of batches made by directly pitching yeast may come out "bad" or have a noticeable off flavour or other problem. But as a yeast manufacturer, you wouldn't want to risk any batches coming out bad, which is why most manufacturers still recommend rehydrating yeast, but don't insist on brewers doing so. Perhaps it's just a matter of risk, and perhaps an element of luck? After all, once the yeast has been pitched, as brewers nearly everything aside from fermentation temperature is out of our control.

Dry yeast sprinkled on top of our wort

For us, we've always directly pitched our dry yeast by sprinkling it on top of our wort after adding it to the fermenter, and we've made some awesome beers doing it this way. To be fair, we've never rehydrated yeast so haven't done a like for like comparison, but certainly the argument of imparting off flavours from stressed yeast isn't true in our case. We've been dry pitching using dry yeast from Lallemand, Mangrove Jacks and Fermentis. We've always had our yeast warm up to room temperature before pitching, and in most cases have pitched it while the wort is a little bit warmer than our target fermentation temperature (eg. 22-24C with a target fermentation temperature of 20C) - but this is more due to our impatience with chilling our wort after the boil than a deliberate effort to help with yeast health.

Will we try rehydrating our dry yeast in the future? Potentially, but for the time being we just don't see a compelling need to, as we're perfectly happy with the results we're getting with dry pitching. There are definitely some use cases for yeast starters, such as when re-using yeast you've top cropped or captured from a previous fermentation, or from a commercially available beer, but that's a whole other conversation. When it comes to dry yeast, we'll keep on pitching dry, for now.

Of course there will be those who always rehydrate their dry yeast before pitching and that's also perfectly fine. As stated at the beginning of this post, for most brewers this decision will come down to experience and personal preference. If you've always rehydrated your yeast and get excellent results doing it this way, why change it?

If you're undecided or on the fence, then see for yourself. Try pitching it dry first, especially if you're a beginner - as this is the simplest method. Once you're more comfortable/familiar with your brewing process, try rehydrating and see if you can notice any difference.


Related Articles

Other Brewing How-To Guides, Tips & Tricks

Monday 16 May 2022

Juice Boost NEIPA - Tasting Results & Review

Review Date: 13/5/2022
Brewery Name: Birallee Beer & Brewing (Sydney, Australia)
Beer Name: Juice Boost NEIPA

Our first attempt at a NEIPA and we're very happy with the results. Check out our full review and comments at the bottom of this page.

Birallee Beer & Brewing - Juice Boost NEIPA in the Craftd Alpha glass

General

Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 6.8% (High)



Serving Style: Draft

Region of Origin: Pacific (Australia, New Zealand)

Style Family: IPA

Malts/Adjuncts: Pale, Pilsner, Oats, Gladiator, Acidulated, Wheat Malt

Hops: Citra, Mosaic, Azacca

IBU's: 32

Appearance

Colour: Straw



Clarity

Brilliant Clear Slight Haze Hazy

Collar of Foam & Head Retention

None 

Poor
(Up to 15 secs)

Moderate
(15 - 60 secs) 

Good
(more than 60 secs)


Foam Texture

N/A Thin Fluffy Mousse-Like

Carbonation (Visible)

None Slow Medium Fast-Rising Bubbles

Alcohol Aroma

Not Detectable Mild Noticeable Strong Harsh

Aroma & Flavour

Esters Aroma: None
Phenols: None





Alcohol Taste:

Not Detectable Mild Noticeable Strong Harsh

Hop Pungency:

Mild Moderate Strong Extreme

Hop Bitterness:

Restrained Moderate Aggressive Harsh

Malt Sweetness:

Low Medium High Cloying
(Excessive)

Astringency: 

Low Medium High

Palate/Mouthfeel: 

Light Bodied
(Thin/Watery)
Medium Bodied
(Light + Full)
Full Bodied
(Round, Rich & Creamy)

Palate Carbonation: 

Low Medium High

Length/Finish:

Short
(Up to 15 seconds)
Medium
(15 to 60 seconds)
Long
(More than 60 seconds)



Oxidative/Aged Qualities: None

Overall

Drinkability: 8/10

Overall Impression: 9/10

Notes


Our first attempt at a NEIPA and we couldn't be happier. Attempting a big and expensive beer like this can be a daunting prospect for the first time, because it's exactly that - big and expensive. Thankfully it came off even better than we had hoped. The final gravity was a little lower than the style dictates but you wouldn't know - the mouthfeel is still very full which what is required in a beer like this.

Our custom 3D printed tap label

The bitterness was surprisingly harsh at first - especially since all bittering came from a large whirlpool hop addition at the end of the boil. This mellowed after a couple of weeks in the keg and all the flavours have gelled together nicely. It's also important that a beer like this isn't drunk ice cold - as this helps promote those bitter notes. Letting it warm for 5-10 minutes to around 7 degrees (celsius) makes for a much more balanced flavour profile with loads of fruit flavour, and some resinous/earthy tones as well.

The high alcohol content is well masked by the hops - we weren't able to perceive any alcohol on the nose, or in the mouth which is nice and means it doesn't distract from the star of the show here - the hops, though it can be a problem as the alcohol content is there, it's just not really noticeable.

The oats definitely made a big difference to the mouthfeel and gives it that silky smooth feeling. The grain bill in general was pretty much spot on providing a neutral or perhaps subtly sweet platform for the hops to do their thing. We're glad we used dextrose to boost the alcohol content little as our brewing efficiency certainly took a hit compared to previous brews - no doubt because of the inclusion of oats which is known to have this kind of impact. A reasonable alcohol content is necessary to support the big hop dosage and dextrose is a common ingredient found printed on the can of commercial NEIPA examples. 

What would we change for our next NEIPA (we'll definitely be making another one). Firstly, we love citra hops, but they really tend to dominate and overpower the other hops in the mix, so we'll go for a slightly different hop combination next time. We may even try adding more hops to the dry hop - but this would only be worthwhile if we could boost the alcohol content even higher. The hop combination we used this time though was still very good - with citra, mosaic and azacca providing plenty of juicy and fruity flavours which is what this style of beer calls for.

We'll probably include some more oats next time too - perhaps some malted oat variety to try and help boost the efficiency a little, though as previously mentioned, we're very happy with the grain bill we used here. We'll also tweak the water profile a little to boost the chloride/sulphate ratio a bit higher - in this one we used 2:1, will try 3:1 or perhaps even higher still.

We'll also adjust our volumes a little as there was a lot of wasted/left over trub in the fermenter at the end because of the huge dry hop addition. This meant we ended up with just under 18L in our keg, so we'd adjust the volume by adding another 1L to account for this to give us a full keg at the end.

Drinkability score suffered a little - only because of the high alcohol content inevitably making one a little whoozy after one or two of these.


Related Articles

Check out the other posts for our Juice Boost NEIPA below;

Best New England IPA (NEIPA) Recipe

BrewZilla Brew Day - Juice Boost NEIPA

Monday 9 May 2022

Duotight Integrated Ball Lock Disconnects - Hands on Review

KegLand recently released some Duotight integrated ball lock disconnects to their extensive range of fittings and disconnect options. Before this range of disconnects were available, Duotight integration with disconnects was accomplished by attaching a MFL (female) threaded Duotight fitting to a MFL (male) threaded gas or liquid disconnect. 

For the uninitiated, Duotight is a range of push in style fittings used for liquid and gas line connections - which in the homebrewing market are used for beer and CO2 gas line connections in draught beer/kegerator systems. Check out our full run down on Duotight fittings here.

KegLand's Duotight integrated ball lock disconnects

It was this older style of disconnect with MFL threading that we have been using for some time in our own kegerator setup. Admittedly, we haven't had any real issues with this type of disconnect after some initial setup difficulties - namely not having the MFL threaded Duotight adapter screwed on tight enough which resulted in some minor/slow leaking. However, even the smallest of leaks are a big deal when it comes to gas connections as a tiny leak can empty a CO2 bottle overnight. An expensive, wasteful and extremely inconvenient experience.

MFL threaded disconnect and Duotight fitting

The new integrated ball lock disconnects are a single moulded piece - meaning a much faster and simpler setup, and less chances of leaking. No more messing around with thread tape, or over/under tightening the thread. Just plug and play.

They are available in black/yellow for liquid/beer, and grey/red for gas connections, and as you can see from the comparison picture below, their profile is significantly lower or slimmer than the previous Duotight connected disconnects.

Comparison of old/new style duotight disconnects

The key to a secure and leak free connection with Duotight fittings is all in the cutting of your beer/gas line. Cuts need to be straight/square and not have any burrs or other rough edges. Any surface imperfections on the surface or edge of the line will effect the ability of the Duotight fittings to make a tight seal. We strongly recommend a line cutter like this one from KegLand - it only costs a couple of bucks and works really well.

Beer/gas line goes into this part - the integrated Duotight connection

Once you've cut your beer line, you simply insert it into the end of the fitting - being sure to push it in all the way to ensure both seals within the fitting are engaged against the line. The only thing to note is that you purchase the correct size fitting to match the external diameter of your beer line. We always use 8mm external diameter line for gas and liquid/beer.


We also recommend the use of locking clips (as pictured above) as an additional layer of security/protection against hose connections coming loose. It's not something we've ever experienced - even without locking clips, but the clip ensures that the collar of the Duotight fitting cannot be depressed which is required to release the tube/hose from the fitting.

Another great benefit of these new fittings is their slimmer and lower profile. Meaning if you need to stack kegs directly on top of one another, you can now do this without the disconnect getting in the way.

After several months of use of these new fittings they have been completely flawless. We're big fans of simple and innovative design. It's great to see KegLand simplifying their products over time - as the process for piecing together a homebrewing kegerator system can be a little overwhelming at time, with lots of hoses and connections required to get everything working together. No longer having to pair the correct threaded disconnect with the same threaded Duotight fitting is a massive win and will no doubt help future brewers more easily complete their setups. For experienced brewers, it's not a compelling upgrade, but if you're in the market for some new or replacement disconnects, they're definitely worth considering, especially considering the relatively low cost.

You can view the full range of ball lock disconnects on the KegLand website


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Monday 2 May 2022

FermZilla - Hints, Tips and Tricks

Looking at purchasing, or have recently purchased one of KegLand's popular FermZilla PET fermenters? Here's a quick list of some helpful hints, tips and tricks from our time using them.

Do Use Lubricant

Use some food grade lubricant on the O-ring seal of the main opening. This will help ensure a leak free seal when closing your fermenter. We use this one, but any food grade lubricant will work, including vaseline if you don't have anything else.

Don't Overtighten the Collar

When tightening up the collar that covers the lid and holds it in place, don't overtighten it. Do it up firm, but not tight. You should be able to undo it with your hands. Note that you won't be able to (nor should you) undo it whilst there is any pressure inside the fermenter. Even just a few PSI could see the lid fly off with great force and potentially cause injury.

If you have accidentally done it up too tight and can't get it off, you can try a special tool like this to help try and remove it.

Remember, the collar doesn't actually seal anything. It simply holds the lid in place - this lid with the O-ring around the outside is what creates the air tight seal at the opening.

Don't Overtighten the Steel Handles

Be careful not to over tighten the stainless steel handles that go around the neck of the fermenter. Doing these up too tight can cause the neck and opening to warp and lead to damage and/or leaks.

Don't use Hot Water

The FermZilla instruction manual clearly states not to use water hotter than 55°C (131°F) within the fermenter. Water exceeding this temperature can deform and damage the plastic. Even when cleaning, we've always used cold tap water which has worked well for us.

Don't use Abrasive Sponges and Cleaners

Speaking of cleaning, when wiping out the inside of the fermenter, don't use any abrasive sponges or cleaners. Anything that is too abrasive can cause scratches on the inside of your fermenter which are ideal places to harbor unwanted bacteria which can lead to infections in future brews. We've always used powdered brewery wash (PBW) and a soft chux-style dish cloth when cleaning and wiping the inside of our FermZilla.

Do Check your Spunding Valve

(Thankfully) this isn't one we've actually done ourselves, but we've read plenty of horror stories of others who have. Make sure you put your spunding valve on the gas post/carbonation cap on the lid of the FermZilla. If you attach the spunding valve to the liquid/beer post/carbonation cap, as soon as any pressure starts to build in your fermenter, the beer/wort will begin vacating your fermenter via the spunding valve, leading to a messy cleanup and lots of wasted beer.

FermZilla with Spunding Valve attached

You can get yellow and red coloured carbonation cap to help differentiate which one is gas and which one is liquid, or otherwise you can make markings with tape or a permanent marker to help easily identify which is which. Of course, you can also see which post has the dip tube attached to it by looking into the fermenter - one of the many benefits of a transparent plastic fermenter!

Do Get the Pressure Kit

Seriously, get it, and use it. This is probably the best feature of the FermZilla (it's ability to be pressurised). Even if you're still bottling, you can still utilise the benefits of pressure fermenting and fill your bottles and purge them with CO2 using a bottle filler beer gun. Yes, there is a bit more of a financial outlay for a small gas bottle and regulator to accomplish this, but you will notice the difference by doing it this way. In our experience, bottling using a bottling wand always lead to oxidation developing in our bottles, plus, it will mean you already have some of the equipment required if you decide to go down the path of kegging your homebrew in the future.

Filling bottles using a beer gun

Do Use the Plastic Carbonation Caps

KegLand provide options for stainless and plastic carbonation caps. Both will work fine, however the stainless ones are a little more prone to leaking. As they have a rubber seal inside of them, overtightening them can cause the seal to warp and then leak. The plastic ones don't have an additional rubber seal inside and are much less prone to leaking. People often think that plastic is inferior, but it certainly isn't in this case.

Do use the Jacket & Webbing/Strapping/Tie Down

KegLand make an insulated jacket for the FermZilla. This can help to regulate the temperature of the brew inside it to make cooling/heating it easier. It can also help prevent damaging UV light (ie. sunlight) from skunking your beer (after fermentation is completed).

There is also a bridle/tie down strap to secure the FermZilla fermenter to it's steel base. This makes transporting/moving the fermenter much easier (especially when full) as the round bottom means it can't be set down on the ground without the steel base.

FermZilla tie down/strapping is a must have accessory

Got any other hints and tips for the FermZilla? Let us know in the comments below.


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