This is the first in a series of posts on homebrew hacks, tips and tricks for improving your brew equipment.
Rubber Carboy Hood
This Big Red Rubber Carboy Hood is a great alternative to a stopper or bung for your carboys. They snuggly fit over the mouth of your glass carboy and prevent anything from collecting near the opening. However, I bet you didn’t know that they have another, even craftier use!
These nifty things will also slip into the neck of a commercial Sanke keg and allow it to be used as a fermentor, pictured below.
In order to turn your Sanke into a fermenter, you’ll need to remove the spear and valve from the neck of the keg. Please make sure that you’ve depressurized the keg prior to removing the valve and spear or it can be very dangerous!!
Once you have the neck of the keg open, you can invert the Rubber Carboy Hood and push it into the opening until the top of the Hood fits tightly against the bottom of the interior of the keg’s neck. Now that you have the hood in the keg you can use a standard airlock or 1/4″ ID tubing to vent the Co2 from fermentation.
Carboy Dryer and Solid Stopper
The Carboy Dryer is one of several items that I recommend to everyone who brews. The primary function of this item alone makes it well worth the purchase, and the potential for alternative uses makes it invaluable. Anybody who owns a glass carboy or Better Bottle has felt the pain that is attempting to invert one of these containers to promote drying. It’s not easy, the glass can tip over and break, and they usually have to be placed somewhere VERY inconvenient.
Here’s where the Carboy Dryer comes in handy. Simply set this bad boy on the ground and invert your carboy into the top of the dryer and you’re done. If you’re worried about water dripping on the floor, pick up a 12″ Premium Green Saucer to put under the dryer and it’ll catch all the water that drips out.
They’re super stable, and you can also use them to stack fermentors:
Once you acclimate yourself to the Dryer’s standard function, it’s time to play around with it. The main trick that I’ve learned using the Carboy Dryer is related to cleaning my fermentors. I’ve found that the shoulder at the top of the carboy is where most of the ‘gunk’ and foam from krausen will dry/harden, and that’s usually the toughest part to clean. If there’s one spot that will still have bits and pieces stuck on after a One Step soak, it’s the very top of the container. It’s inconvenient and wasteful to fill the container with water and a cleanser in order to knock out the top 6 inches of fermentor.
The compromise: Add about 1 gallon of hot water to your fermentor, add the appropriate amount of cleanser, push a solid carboy or Better Bottle bung into the mouth, and invert it into your Carboy Dryer.
You’ll notice that you’re now cleaning just the very top of the fermentor while using minimal water and cleanser. Saves resources and money! The solid bungs are also useful for other things (transporting water, etc.).
Credit: Ethan Johnston and Ryan Burton.