Recirculating eBIAB Connections: TC barbs or TC + Camlock

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dzimm27

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So, in building my eBIAB system I have TC ports on my kettle and have from day one planned on TC to camlock fittings and then camlock on all hoses for easy connections. That said, that is two connection points to clean at each fitting location after a brew. Would there be any reason to forego camlocks other than the one connection I might move during brew day (recirculation to fermenter fill) And just use TC to 1/2” barbs elsewhere?
 

McMullan

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Personally, I prefer to have compatible fittings throughout. It gives you options to adapt the system without complicating life. I have no plans to go back after populating my system with TC fittings either.
 
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dzimm27

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Well, TC will be involved regardless. It is whether I use TC to barb fittings everywhere or a TC to camlock and then camlock to barb on the hoses. I suppose speed/hassle in undoing TC clamps vs camlocks comes into play as well as issues with dropping TC gaskets. Any strong feelings there? As it sits now I figure undoing TC clamps is only mildly more involved than TC clamps and would save extra teardown/cleaning.
 

BreakingBarley

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I have TC ports on my kettle and have from day one planned on TC to camlock fittings and then camlock on all hoses for easy connections.
That sounds like TC connections but with more steps🤣

But really its up to preference and what you want to spend and clean. I finally got my brewing system distilled down to one style of fittings and am so happy with the flexibility and ease of cleaning (TC w//hose barbs).

I’ve seen setups where certain fittings were cams to prevent using certain hoses/manifolds from being connected to eachother (camlock f/HERMS only), but it seems excessive for a single or 3-vessel system to me.

Run the fittings you're the most familiar and comfortable with and get some beer brewing🍻
 

McMullan

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I suppose speed/hassle in undoing TC clamps vs camlocks comes into play as well as issues with dropping TC gaskets. Any strong feelings there? As it sits now I figure undoing TC clamps is only mildly more involved than TC clamps and would save extra teardown/cleaning.
I haven't had any hassle with TCs. The simple design probably makes them among the most sanitary and easiest to clean fittings for home brewers. If you go with TCs make sure the gaskets get a little heat resistant food grade lube, which helps them stay in place when clamping and makes it easier to remove/disassemble. The only problem I had with them initially was they seemed difficult to pull apart when disassembling. Turned out I was over tightening them and not using lube, causing the gaskets to act like a 'glue'. I'd go with EPDM gaskets too, not silicone. EPDM gaskets seem to be a bit more fit for purpose, in my experience.

IMG_0382.JPG
 
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dzimm27

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§Zq
I haven't had any hassle with TCs. The simple design probably makes them among the most sanitary and easiest to clean fittings for home brewers. If you go with TCs make sure the gaskets get a little heat resistant food grade lube, which helps them stay in place when clamping and makes it easier to remove/disassemble. The only problem I had with them initially was they seemed difficult to pull apart when disassembling. Turned out I was over tightening them and not using lube, causing the gaskets to act like a 'glue'. I'd go with EPDM gaskets too, not silicone. EPDM gaskets seem to be a bit more fit for purpose, in my experience.

View attachment 745566
Love your setup and especially seeing that you are recirculating through a counterflow chiller (Stout), which I plan to do as well. No HopRocket here but also have a Riptide.

The two spots I was considering the camlocks were either side of the counterflow chiller (in case I have flow issues or trouble maintaining temps due to chilling from air temps) and for the kettle return port so I could disconnect that put the fitting into my fermenter to fill once I am chilled to temp. I presume you just undo the TC on your top valve and fill your fermenter from there?
 

McMullan

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When the wort is ready to transfer I close all 3 valves, disconnect from the kettle then drain what's in the chiller etc. into the FV or keep it for yeast starter wort, if I need any. Only about a litre usually. Then I attach a TC T-piece (with an O2 stone) onto the lower kettle valve and transfer oxygenated wort into the FV by gravity. If it's a nice day and I brew outside I need to pump the wort I just clamp the O2/T-piece on the RipTide and go from there. What I like about having compatible fittings throughout a system is how easy it is to add/remove components, depending on the brew. It helps with cleaning too. I CIP the system (valve to valve) with hot PBW for 10-15min, remove chiller (HopRocket, if used, gets cleaned separately), rinse it with hot tap water then connect the RipTide to a spray ball in the top of the kettle and recirculate the hot PBW for another 10min or so. Then final rinse with hot tap water, drained off via the pump. There's so many useful configurations available.
 

Bobby_M

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I have and will continue to assert that TC connections on smaller kettles is expensive, bulky, wasteful and unnecessary. It's even more so when people do all of that for reasons... .and then adapt them directly to QD systems to make up for how cumbersome TC connections are.

Yes, I get it... They are more sanitary but this is a not a fermenter and sanitary is not necessary on hot side vessels.
 
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dzimm27

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Bobby, I agree 100%.

This thread is me coming to the realization that TC to camlock is unnecessary and looking for confirmation that there is no other particular use case/reason to go that route. As a general rule, I agree TC in homebrewing is throwing unnecessary money down a hole. This is a path I don’t recommend others take but one I chose after fully reviewing the costs and being willing to splurge.

As a side note, the custom welded TC kettle you did for me is outstanding!!!! You should be #1 on everyone’s custom list. Top notch!
 

McMullan

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I have and will continue to assert that TC connections on smaller kettles is expensive, bulky, wasteful and unnecessary. It's even more so when people do all of that for reasons... .and then adapt them directly to QD systems to make up for how cumbersome TC connections are.

Yes, I get it... They are more sanitary but this is a not a fermenter and sanitary is not necessary on hot side vessels.
I won't disagree completely, Bobby, but TCs are available in small sizes too, which have considerably less mass and not bulky at all. I'd recommend 1/2" or 3/4". Probably more associated with the dairy industry, but they're great for home brewers, in my opinion. In terms of cost, they get expensive with resellers, but I got mine for much less direct from China, from the same suppliers resellers use. A no brainer. When I first started modifying my system I trialed 1.5" TCs with butterfly valves, and, in that case, I agree with you. The TCs I'm using with G3 valves weigh a fraction of the first trials.

I'll point out, too, that sanitary conditions on the hot side are not a given. The temperature and time of a typical boil is no guarantee wort is sufficiently sanitary. It's very easy to assess how sanitary your kettle wort is by aseptically collecting a little wort then leaving it at room temperature and count the number of days it takes to culture up something. Regardless of fittings, the source is grains, which can be quite active, microbiologically speaking. A good fermentation is what deals with it. It's good practice to keep all fittings sanitary regardless. That's the advice from a molecular biologist with enough experience in microbiology to know. My kettle is as clean and sanitary as my FVs and kegs. A lot of effort and time go into making a good beer. Why take chances?
 

Bobby_M

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I won't disagree completely, Bobby, but TCs are available in small sizes too, which have considerably less mass and not bulky at all. I'd recommend 1/2" or 3/4". Probably more associated with the dairy industry, but they're great for home brewers, in my opinion. In terms of cost, they get expensive with resellers, but I got mine for much less direct from China, from the same suppliers resellers use. A no brainer. When I first started modifying my system I trialed 1.5" TCs with butterfly valves, and, in that case, I agree with you. The TCs I'm using with G3 valves weigh a fraction of the first trials.

I'll point out, too, that sanitary conditions on the hot side are not a given. The temperature and time of a typical boil is no guarantee wort is sufficiently sanitary. It's very easy to assess how sanitary your kettle wort is by aseptically collecting a little wort then leaving it at room temperature and count the number of days it takes to culture up something. Regardless of fittings, the source is grains, which can be quite active, microbiologically speaking. A good fermentation is what deals with it. It's good practice to keep all fittings sanitary regardless. That's the advice from a molecular biologist with enough experience in microbiology to know. My kettle is as clean and sanitary as my FVs and kegs. A lot of effort and time go into making a good beer. Why take chances?
I stock 3/4 TC parts so I know they exist. No manufacturer is currently offering kettles with 3/4" ferrules that I'm aware of (other than Sabco BrewMagic). The bigger issue is that even 3/4" TC butterfly valves are seemingly built for withstanding a nuclear blast so you're hanging 2 pounds off the side of the kettle. The new Blichmann valves show promise in that regard, though unfortunately they are 1" TC, but it doesn't change the fact that accessories for the kettle internals when using 3/4 TC parts are non existent outside of full custom fabrication.

I'm not suggesting that it's fine to leave wort, beer stone, or any other debris/soil festering in a system's nooks and crannies which is why good CIP regimen after every brew is appropriate as well as semi-annual break downs of threaded fittings. A single plate chiller has more crevices and trapped organics in it than 20 threaded connections.
 

McMullan

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Totally agree about butterfly valves. I returned a 3/4" that I was hoping to be smaller generally, but only the TC ferrules were smaller. Generally way too heavy duty, in my opinion. I think they were 3 or 4 times heavier than a Blichmann G3 valve. I think there's something to develop for smaller TCs in the home brew market. I've got both 1/2" and 3/4" to 1/2" male NPT for the G3 valves. I prefer 3/4" on the kettle and 1/2" for one of my Yorkshire Square FVs that gets fermenting wort recirculated. The 1/2" are so dinky I'm not sure I'd want to hang anything on them, but otherwise great for simple connections.
 

Bobby_M

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I'm afraid that the 1.5 TC size has reached a level of ubiquity that will always drive the market. I could probably spend $5,000 in development cost to make a super compact 3/4 TC butterfly valve and end up selling 20 of them. I think since Blichmann was one of the last major holdouts to putting TC ports on their kettles, they were in the right position to select 3/4TC as their standard. Then the linear valves could have had 3/4 TC ports on them which would probably make it the most lightweight and practical sanitary TC valve in the industry. Lost opportunity.
 

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I won't disagree completely, Bobby, but TCs are available in small sizes too, which have considerably less mass and not bulky at all. I'd recommend 1/2" or 3/4". Probably more associated with the dairy industry, but they're great for home brewers, in my opinion. In terms of cost, they get expensive with resellers, but I got mine for much less direct from China, from the same suppliers resellers use. A no brainer. When I first started modifying my system I trialed 1.5" TCs with butterfly valves, and, in that case, I agree with you. The TCs I'm using with G3 valves weigh a fraction of the first trials.

I'll point out, too, that sanitary conditions on the hot side are not a given. The temperature and time of a typical boil is no guarantee wort is sufficiently sanitary. It's very easy to assess how sanitary your kettle wort is by aseptically collecting a little wort then leaving it at room temperature and count the number of days it takes to culture up something. Regardless of fittings, the source is grains, which can be quite active, microbiologically speaking. A good fermentation is what deals with it. It's good practice to keep all fittings sanitary regardless. That's the advice from a molecular biologist with enough experience in microbiology to know. My kettle is as clean and sanitary as my FVs and kegs. A lot of effort and time go into making a good beer. Why take chances?
Sanitary conditions aren’t a given, that’s for sure. Years back I had 3-4 batches with bacterial infections and I was pretty angry because I’m anal about cleaning & sanitization (pre Star San, Sani Clean days for home brewers). Turned out it was from the valve on boil kettle. I assumed the heat from propane burner would kill of bacteria. Back then we didn’t have ball valves you could disassemble so we‘d use a stiff brush to clean all threads. Began replacing valves periodically and actuating used valves with iodine solution. Problem solved.

I know of no one who thinks you don’t need to thoroughly clean all hot side equipment. Sanitize it….? I respectfully disagree with the need. I’m in the camp with Bobby M. in that TC’s on hot side aren’t needed, and I personally dislike them. Many people love them and that’s great, I can respect that. I use them on all my fermenters.

On a final note: skilled old school hombrewers that closely followed cleaning and sanitizing requirements made some damn fine beers with primitive equipment.

Cheers 🍻
 

McMullan

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Sanitary conditions aren’t a given, that’s for sure. Years back I had 3-4 batches with bacterial infections and I was pretty angry because I’m anal about cleaning & sanitization (pre Star San, Sani Clean days for home brewers). Turned out it was from the valve on boil kettle. I assumed the heat from propane burner would kill of bacteria. Back then we didn’t have ball valves you could disassemble so we‘d use a stiff brush to clean all threads. Began replacing valves periodically and actuating used valves with iodine solution. Problem solved.

I know of no one who thinks you don’t need to thoroughly clean all hot side equipment. Sanitize it….? I respectfully disagree with the need. I’m in the camp with Bobby M. in that TC’s on hot side aren’t needed, and I personally dislike them. Many people love them and that’s great, I can respect that. I use them on all my fermenters.

On a final note: skilled old school hombrewers that closely followed cleaning and sanitizing requirements made some damn fine beers with primitive equipment.

Cheers 🍻
Use whatever you feel works for you, mate. I'm not selling anything here, just my personal preferences based on my personal experiences. I'm not under any pressure whatsoever to sell you or anyone else anything. An honest view, that's it. That's 'gold dust' these days, I reckon. I don't want your money. I don't want you misled to con yourself either. I'm human. Again, 'gold dust'.
 

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Use whatever you feel works for you, mate. I'm not selling anything here, just my personal preferences based on my personal experiences. I'm not under any pressure whatsoever to sell you or anyone else anything. An honest view, that's it. That's 'gold dust' these days, I reckon. I don't want your money. I don't want you misled to con yourself either. I'm human. Again, 'gold dust'.
Well said, and I appreciate your insights shared 👍 Gold dust..😁
 

Bobby_M

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I don't mean to beat a dead horse though I probably am. I just came across this picture elsewhere and thought I'd just illustrate my point by annotating the costs and alternatives. I apologize if the person who owns this rig happens upon this post and feels attacked.

1634579484827.png



EDIT: I also just figured out that I made an error in the picture. The TC 90 elbows are actually $18 x 4 not 2 so that total price as pictured is actually $252.
 

McMullan

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I don't think I spent much more than that for my system's complete TC set up. And I'm sure they're going to last a lot longer than 'mechanical' fittings like QDs. I might be wrong, but I have more confidence with small TCs connections, to be honest. I've used QDs on chillers in the past and they're easier (if you find undoing a TC clamp bothersome), but, let's be honest, a TC clamp's not coming off by accident. Zero chance of that happening. And threads aside, as a matter of opinion, there's simply no way QDs are as sanitary as TCs, but likely a moot point if you CIP like I do, to be fair. Don't think I didn't consider QDs. I did and I have a small box of redundant QDs to either sell or give away. I just didn't want something so easily disconnected on the hot side with all the peripherals attached. Especially as I usually brew in the kitchen. I've already had one or two incidents brewing in the kitchen. My wife would divorce me if I covered the kitchen floor in hot sticky imperial stout wort again. I'd at least be banished to brew outside, where it can easily drop below -20℃ (-4℉?) during the winter 🥶
 

Tim K

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I've got camlocks from the kettle to the pump to my recirculation arm and on both sides of my counterflow chiller with an air stone on the outlet so I can oxygenate the wort as it goes into the fermenter. I only have to close the valve from the pup to switch to the chiller. I've got a CIP ball that I use for cleaning and mash recirculation. I run PBW through after brewing and pull the valves apart and clean them after I drain everything. It works really well for me.
 
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