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Thread: Small Time Carbonation Questions

  1. #1
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    Small Time Carbonation Questions

    I make 1 bbl batches and keg carbonate 5 gallons at a time while I bootstrap my operation. I recently graduated from the shake, rattle and roll school of carbing to using a carb stone.My carbonation is a little hit-or-miss while I fine tune my process, and I want to make it better.

    I droo over spiffy testing hardware like the Zahm & Nagle, but at this point it breaks the bank. How would this Taprite tester be instead? http://tinyurl.com/zmym9qh

    It seems when testing carbonation it's critical to calibrate your pressure gauge. Zeroing it seems simple, but as far as a full calibration, where do you get the standard?

  2. #2
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    Sep 2014
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    If you've got time, you can set the pressure and let it naturally equilibrate (takes a week or so).

    Alternatively, this new product might be just what you're looking for: http://www.blichmannengineering.com/...kcarb%E2%84%A2

    (I don't have any experience with it, just saw the release.)

  3. #3
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    West Guilford, ON, Canada
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    We're currently on a 1Bbl system (moving to 15/30 in a couple of weeks). We purchased a Taprite tester and have never used it. At 1Bbl we can't afford the volume of product to do daily gravity tests and carbonation level testing. We test at the absolutely critical points and when it comes time to package, it's a small set of samples a small group of staff who can identify carbonation issues. It's not the revenue loss for the sampling, more that fact that we are sold out of beer more often than we have it in stock and every bottle getting into the customers hands keeps people happy.

    That being said, we'll be trying out the Taprite and comparing it to a borrowed Zham&Nagel for reference as soon as we have beer in the new brite tank.

    If you are carbonating in kegs with a stone, be sure to have appropriate safety precautions in place.

  4. #4
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    Appropriate Safety Precautions?

    What I love about starting out, every question leads to a couple more. Pray tell, what safety precautions should I use when carbing with a stone? So far, my biggest issue seems to be getting liquid into the carb line and gumming up the flowmeter, and I haven't yet figured out if it's condensation or backflow or what.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmer View Post
    What I love about starting out, every question leads to a couple more. Pray tell, what safety precautions should I use when carbing with a stone? So far, my biggest issue seems to be getting liquid into the carb line and gumming up the flowmeter, and I haven't yet figured out if it's condensation or backflow or what.
    You're definitely going to want some check valves. Most carb stones have 'em built in, but I like my quick-disconnects to have check valves as well.

  6. #6
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    May 2013
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    West Guilford, ON, Canada
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    When you are rocking kegs, you are sitting with the unit and managing the process. When you are carbing with a stone, there is a tendency to walk away and deal with other processes. With a keg you have lots of pressure handling before over pressure is reached (45-60psi depending on the keg) but any time you are pushing co2 into a sealed vessel you should have some sort of over pressure protection. Brite tanks have pressure relief valves, kegs don't.

  7. #7
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    Prv

    Aah, I get you. I should have been more clear. I use corny kegs which have built in PRVs. My QDs have a shutoff in both sides, M & F.

    I looked at the Blichman QuickCarb. It looks like an easier process than what I'm doing, which requires pulling the lid off the corny when I'm done, which is sloppy, time consuming, and exposes the contents to O2 and wasting CO2. Any reports on how well it works?

    Best,

    Jim

  8. #8
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    I am not at all familiar with it (I just saw an ad for it), but the homebrew threads have a fair number of reviews now. Check later in this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=584377

    Jason

  9. #9
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    Just giving this old thread a bump. Is anyone using the Blichmann Quickcarb to carbonate beer in 1/6 kegs with standard sankey fittings rather than corny kegs?
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Brewer
    Brooklyn Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America
    Hyde Park, NY

  10. #10
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    Feb 2013
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Carbing with the Blichman

    I've been using the Quick Carb for test batches in 1/6 sankey kegs. So far I've probably only carbed about 20 or so but can tell you it works just fine. To get the best and quickest results, I find that I need to set the pressure 2-3 lbs over the desired in order to hit my mark. Also I have never completed in 45 minutes as the mfr. indicates as it isusually a 60-70 minute process, so it is helpful if you can do this in the cooler.
    It needs a few upgrades: on/off switch vs unplugging, check valve on stone and possibly a little larger motor. Setting up is pretty simple and can be done in just a few minutes and break down is just as easy. All in all, I can say it works and is handy for those small test batches you cannot carbonate in a fv or bbt.

  11. #11
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    Oct 2002
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    Awesome. Thanks for the info ericksonaz! That's just what I wanted to hear. Cheers!
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Brewer
    Brooklyn Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America
    Hyde Park, NY

  12. #12
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    Jan 2017
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    Whitby, ON, Canada
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    I've used both the TapRite and the Zahm at different breweries I've worked at. For the price, you really can't beat the taprite, plus it's way easier to keep clean and less prone to damage. I find the zahm has a few more steps for it's use that can be overlooked (leading to false readings and a pallet of undercarbed cans!). Also with the zahm you need to shell out for the correct sample port which are prone to breaking in the closed position.
    Karen Belfry

  13. #13
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    minnesota
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBbrews View Post
    I've used both the TapRite and the Zahm at different breweries I've worked at. For the price, you really can't beat the taprite, plus it's way easier to keep clean and less prone to damage. I find the zahm has a few more steps for it's use that can be overlooked (leading to false readings and a pallet of undercarbed cans!). Also with the zahm you need to shell out for the correct sample port which are prone to breaking in the closed position.
    So you've had good luck with the Taprite? I've been reluctant to go with the TapRite because I've seen couple negative posts on them, but the Zahm is really expensive.

  14. #14
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    I have used both the Zahm and the TapRite in the same brewery at the same time, as well as each individually at different breweries. Side by side, I found nearly identical results, and will trust both equally (as long as you use proper techniques).

    I prefer the Zahm, for a few simple reasons. It is stainless, therefore less likely to break or crack (especially over time, the plastic of the TapRite can become brittle). The gauges can be calibrated, (TapRite can do pressure, but not temp). The best reason to me is I can keep the Zahm in the fridge with some PAA in it, and then I don't have to run much beer to get her down to temp (saves waste).

    I have had seals on both fail over time, but both can be replaced and worked fine afterwards.

    The cost is of course the main negative to Zahm, and I would suggest TapRite to any brewery that is overly cost sensitive. I believe the Zahm will last a lifetime (other than a seal possibly), but the TapRite will break/crack eventually.

    I used a handful of different types of sample ports, but all have had the lug necessary for a Zahm. Perhaps some don't. Most I have used are all stainless and would be hard to break in any position, one I used had a plastic knob that did break, but it was still quite easy to shut off the flow.

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