Spike Conical- observations and best practices

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eric19312

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I tried to get through this thread but its super long-
- Im doing a neipa with lots of dry hops soon for my first run in the conical . I need an order of operations so to speak, particularly where im harvesting yeast.

sorry about length of the thread

I think best practices is sort of a misnomer...we have seen on here there are lots of different ways to use the CF conicals. You mention you are making a NEIPA so I'm not sure what you consider important for that style (there are also many different ways people make NEIPAs).

Are you going to dry hop at peak of primary fermentation? If so are you ok harvesting yeast with lots of dry hop material in it?

Are you planning to harvest your yeast from the cone or are you planning to top crop? A lot of people prefer to top crop English and Kveik yeasts that are frequently used when making NEIPAs.

Do you have ability to protect the beer from O2 while adding your dry hops? (answer might drive your thoughts on adding your dry hops during primary fermentation rather than waiting for it to end)

I make west coast IPAs based on grist and water profile but with the yeast I am using (Verdant) and the dry hop quantity I hit them with they all come out pretty hazy these days. Here is what I am doing:
  1. Pitch the yeast and oxygenate, hook up blow off tube
  2. When fermentation is close to done I swap the blow off tube for the pressure manifold with a spunding valve set to about 5 PSI
  3. A few days later when I don't see any more activity I will remove the spunding valve, top up the headspace pressure to 10 PSI and soft crash to about 55F.
  4. A day or so later I harvest yeast. I take about a quart and then come back 6 hours later and take another quart (CF15).
  5. Then I add my dry hops (O2 free dry hopper mounted on the 4" TC port)
  6. A day later I top up headspace pressure to 10-15 PSI and start cold crashing to 35F. I check pressure a couple times to make sure pressure doesn't fall below 5 PSI during the crash.
  7. I dump some of the dry hop a day before kegging and then a bit more a few hours before I keg.
 

WESBREW

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Ive rarely brewed ipa so this is more hops than im used to. Typically use a wilser hop bag to dry hop day 3 or 4. The pages i read through here report getting better hop flavor throwing them in .
i dont have o2 protection for the dryhop. I could wait another day or two , harvest some yeast, then dry hop. I would like to avoid having a bunch of hop material in the yeast if possible. Not really a fan of washing it. Bit of concern with oxidation waiting longer. Maybe its not an issue.maybe enough healthy yeast will drop while fermentation is still active
 

eric19312

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Thing about harvesting yeast from the yeast that drops is you are going to be selecting for the early floccing yeast cells. The later floccing cells that remain in suspension longer will be the ones that drive your last few points of attenuation, are more responsible for "cleaning" off flavors such as diacetyl, and may be involved in creating that haze you are looking for in a NEIPA.

Since you don't have O2 free dry hop ability I'd put the dry hops in early, even on day 2, let them swim free, and forget about saving yeast from this batch. Next batch make a starter and overbuild the starter. Save the overbuilt yeast and don't try to save yeast from the fermentor.

That way you will be getting a full spectrum of the different yeast cells in the pitch, it will all have been propagated under near ideal conditions for growing yeast (low gravity, low hop, excess oxygen).

The other option that might still be available to you on this batch would be to let fermentation get going strong. Maybe day 2 or 3 but probably not later than day 3. Then open the fermentor and top crop the yeast for next batch. Add dry hops (free no bags) while you have it open. The yeast from the top crop krausen should be a full spectrum of truly happy healthy yeast. These are the best of the best cells since all the dead ones drop out early. The active fermentation will scrub any oxygen you introduce in the process very quickly, probably before your dry hops even fully disintegrate.
 

WESBREW

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Thanks. Ports everywhere. Top cropping I guess is the way to go on this one, if I insist on harvesting the yeast. Too much beer right now and doing a dry week. Soon I’ll put this thing through its maiden voyage
 

WESBREW

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Is anyone using the CIP spray ball? i hooked up for a test last week and it seemed to be working but the the spray wasn't robust. . I was using a blichmann riptide pump. had the elbow on the unused port on the lid, draining out the dump port. any advice appreciated.
 

itsnotrequired

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Is anyone using the CIP spray ball? i hooked up for a test last week and it seemed to be working but the the spray wasn't robust. . I was using a blichmann riptide pump. had the elbow on the unused port on the lid, draining out the dump port. any advice appreciated.

i use the spray ball. it works pretty good but there are some areas it doesn't reach very well, particularly on the lid and the "shadow" created by the cooling coil. backside of the coil doesn't get the cleanest either. of course, a bigger issue on beers that blow off and coat the entire inside of the conical, less of an issue with low-krausen beers. also works better on half batches where the conical is not as full. i rotate the cooling coil during cleaning so the "backside" gets cleaned.

so while it isn't perfect at cleaning, it takes care of, like, 95% of the effort. i just wipe the couple areas that get missed, just takes a couple minutes. i have a better ball from a homemade keg washer but unfortunately, the ball doesn't fit through the port on the lid. i can still use it but need to take the lid off and attach from below. i did it a couple times and it was too much of a hassle as inevitably gunk would fall off the coil and onto the floor as i pulled it out, stuff fell off the lid, stuff got on the gasket, i had to put it back together and take it apart again after cleaning, etc.
 

WESBREW

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i use the spray ball. it works pretty good but there are some areas it doesn't reach very well, particularly on the lid and the "shadow" created by the cooling coil. backside of the coil doesn't get the cleanest either. of course, a bigger issue on beers that blow off and coat the entire inside of the conical, less of an issue with low-krausen beers. also works better on half batches where the conical is not as full. i rotate the cooling coil during cleaning so the "backside" gets cleaned.

so while it isn't perfect at cleaning, it takes care of, like, 95% of the effort. i just wipe the couple areas that get missed, just takes a couple minutes.
Thanks. That’s pretty good. I’ll have to work on the lack of pressure in the spray. Asked spike what I can do. Maybe I’ll run it through a few minutes. Take the coil out . Soak the coil . Run the pbw through the cip a few more minutes. Was going to sanitize with it too- not sure now.
 

itsnotrequired

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Thanks. That’s pretty good. I’ll have to work on the lack of pressure in the spray. Asked spike what I can do. Maybe I’ll run it through a few minutes. Take the coil out . Soak the coil . Run the pbw through the cip a few more minutes. Was going to sanitize with it too- not sure now.
i use a 1/3 hp sump pump. i rigged up some piping on the pump discharge with a male camlock fitting. then i use a piece of 1/2" inside diameter tubing with female camlock on each end and another male camlock adapter on the 1.5" port on the lid (straight female camlock fitting at the pump discharge, 90 degree fitting at the lid). i have the cf10 with leg extensions and use two 2" 90 degree triclamp elbows (vertical position) on the discharge (sight glass attached vertically to bottom of conical). these elbows bring the conical "discharge" out in front past the leg bracing shelf (i have the leg extensions). i set the sump pump in a 5 gal bucket of pbw solution and with a slight tip of the bucket am able to slip it under the elbows and bump up against the bracing shelf. the elbows are such that i have to remove the bottom valve for cleaning (i fermement with sight glass and then valve on discharge). so now the pump moves cleaner up through the tubing to the lid port, through the spray ball, out the conical bottom/elbows and discharges directly into the 5 gal bucket. i run this for maybe 15 minutes or so.

initially, i run clean water through the conical to remove the bulk of any material clinging to the interior surfaces. this is a once-through pass using similar setup as above except this time, bucket of clean water/pump off to side and empty bucket under discharge elbows. run the clean water through, dump the dirty water and then recirc cleaning solution as described above. same deal on rinsing after cleaning, clean water once-through. i've found a once-through rinse is all that is needed. after rinsing, i take all the fittings off and clean those up (most are pretty clean from the cip process but the racking arm/valve and sample port need some attention). let everything dry and put away. i do put the lid back on with the cooling coil and a cap on the 1.5" lid port, just to keep dust out. i sanitize on brew day. sanitizing through the cip ball with a pump will get you a big, foamy mess.
 
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I use the cip ball on my cf15 with a chugger pump, I heat my pbw to 185 in my boil kettle, I run a few gallons out the bottom of the conical into a bucket to get the first bit of trub material out. Once that clears a little I close the bottom port and let it fill up past the the racking arm. Then I hook the racking arm port to another pump and feed it back into my boil kettle and get the flow rate even so that I can let it circulate and run the cip at 185 with pbw for 30 minutes or a little longer. With the chilling coil in this does 95% of th cleaning, after that I spray everything down with hot water to rinse thoroughly. All the doodads get removed and soaked as well then rinsed. Every once in Awhile I have to do some extra scrubbing but not much. On brewday I spray the fermenter down with starsan and the doodads get soaked in starsan then assemble as I'm doing my whirlpool.
 

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After a 2-year break in brewing, my CF5 is arriving next week, and I'm excited to get back to it! I'm getting the CIP ball, and I had planned on recirculating SaniClean through it prior to brewing, to sanitize the interior, and to sanitize the tubing used to transfer from my grainfather. Any concerns with this approach?

The initial location for the fermenter will be underneath a counter in my kitchen, so I'm fairly height limited. Looking at some drawings, I can fit the fermenter with the chiller connections under the counter, but adding the casters will make it too tall. It seems that having the fermenter in position before transferring will be best, so I don't have to move it without wheels when full.

How difficult will it be for me to pitch the yeast in one of the 1.5" ports while it's underneath a 35" tall counter? Is there another way to pitch the yeast I should be considering?
 
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Use a sanitized food grade funnel to add your yeast, hopefully you can hit the front port with it in that cabinet via the funnel. I don't know the measurements but giving the limited space you'll have to find ways to make it work for you. If you're dryhopping at all this could prove to be a challenge, as for running the starsan through the cip I believe this is what @eric19312 does so maybe he will have some insight for you there.

Edit: assuming you are using liquid yeast, the funnel could help.
 

natmartin

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Thanks @bailey mountain brewer! One good thing at least is that it's not in a cabinet, it will just be underneath a counter (that extends away from the cabinets.) I'll have about 2" on top of the cooling coils, but it could be tricky. I guess putting the fermenter on top of the counter might be an option.
 

eric19312

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I'm not very bendy so the idea of fiddling with one of these under the counter sounds unpleasant. I guess the funnel will work for yeast...perhaps find one that will fit a piece of 1/2" ID silicone tubing so you can do your pouring up above the counter and not get sloppy. But how are you going to get dry hops in there?

And yes as @bailey mountain brewer mentioned I use my CIP ball to spray inside with starsan as part of CIP process. The CIP process was a learning curve for me. I found I need to start with a visibly clean fermentor in order for CIP to really work well. Otherwise the spray ball plugs up and won't spin. Wasn't what I really was expecting but am happy with how it is working out.
 

Jeremy W

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After a 2-year break in brewing, my CF5 is arriving next week, and I'm excited to get back to it! I'm getting the CIP ball, and I had planned on recirculating SaniClean through it prior to brewing, to sanitize the interior, and to sanitize the tubing used to transfer from my grainfather. Any concerns with this approach?

This is what I did for my last brew a few weeks ago. I tried normal StarSan before, but with the CIP it gets unbelievable foamy, basically all foam haha. I don't fear the foam, but when I went to fill the fermentor through the bottom dump port, there was foam shooting out through the port that I left open at the top. That pushed me to try SaniClean and it was much more manageable in terms of staying liquid through the sanitizing process. I was a bit leery of the fact that it's only officially listed as a "final acid rinse" or something but I understand that if you follow the instructions it should be just as effective as StarSan.
 

natmartin

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Thanks all! Looks like on top of the counter will best, and saniclean sounds like a great way to go. Should I sanitize with blanks on all of the ports, and then install the actual fittings after the CIP? (Obviously after soaking the fittings in sanitizer)
 

WESBREW

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Thanks all! Looks like on top of the counter will best, and saniclean sounds like a great way to go. Should I sanitize with blanks on all of the ports, and then install the actual fittings after the CIP? (Obviously after soaking the fittings in sanitizer)
You need the open elbow on one port. There has to be a vent when running the cip. My plan is to give everything on top a quick dip, then circulate sanitizer through the fermenter for a few minutes
 

eric19312

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Thanks all! Looks like on top of the counter will best, and saniclean sounds like a great way to go. Should I sanitize with blanks on all of the ports, and then install the actual fittings after the CIP? (Obviously after soaking the fittings in sanitizer)

That is what I do...except as @WESBREW said elbow on the bottom - I use a barb and hose on the elbow to run cleaner back to my bucket - and one of the side ports gets a barb and hose for venting. This configuration goes all the way through CIP. All the accessory parts start out in a bucket of tap water to rinse, then when the fermentor is done with PBW cycle they go into that bucket to soak, then when fermentor is done with hot water rinse cycle, the parts move to that rinse water bucket, finally when done with star san cycle on the fermentor the parts go into star san bucket to soak before being reassembled wet.

I do use star san and haven't had that much trouble with the foam. I use star san because I already usually have 5 gallons of it mixed up on hand for purging kegs. I've tested it with a pH meter as it starts getting old and never had it come back over ph 3 so still effective, but I go ahead and dump it and make fresh every other month or so.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Thanks all! Looks like on top of the counter will best, and saniclean sounds like a great way to go. Should I sanitize with blanks on all of the ports, and then install the actual fittings after the CIP? (Obviously after soaking the fittings in sanitizer)
All great advice from Wesbrew & eric19312 for using the CIP. I have the CF10 and after kegging from the fermenterI remove the top I fill it with PBW and scrub it out inside and brush any small areas. After that I drain the PBW mixture into a buckets then remove everything from the fermenter and let them soak. After a rinse everything is sanitized and assembled back on the fermenter body. It's probably more work but then I know I got all those little hidden spots clean. Certainly nothing wrong with the CIP route, whatever works best for you.
 

WESBREW

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I don't recall if it was discussed somewhere in here but what is the issue with using a spunding valve on the spike conical? I use one on a kegmenter with good results . In this case it could be installed on one of the gas block posts to bleed off extra psi when pressure fermenting. not sure why spike says not to do it.
 

Nate R

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I don't recall if it was discussed somewhere in here but what is the issue with using a spunding valve on the spike conical? I use one on a kegmenter with good results . In this case it could be installed on one of the gas block posts to bleed off extra psi when pressure fermenting. not sure why spike says not to do it.
Has to do with only have one PRV- it could become clogged with Krausen and fail.
I think it is mostly Spike coverin legal liability issues.
But some people were not using a PRV at all, too- just a spunding valve.
 

itsnotrequired

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the issue with spunding is that people were removing the prv to install the spunding valve. if that spunding valve gets set incorrectly or clogs, pressure could build to the point that it may rupture the conical. the latest gen conical lid has an additional port such that you can use a spunding valve in conjunction with the safety of the prv.


you could do it with the older single port lid but would need to install some type of tee or similar so you could have both valves.
 

WESBREW

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Ah ok. I got a gas block. It has a pg, prv, and a gas port so it seemed pretty safe. Prob is a cya …I can’t see any issues. My CF10 didn’t even come with a prv
 
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cbier60

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Before I recently bought a CF10, I was pressure fermenting with the original 35L Fermonster. That does have a built-in PRV, but I would run the gas ball valve to purge kegs filled with sanitizer, almost always 2 daisy-chained. I then installed the spunding valve at the gas out of the 2nd purged keg. Unless the ball lock connector clogs fully, there is essentially no chance of an excess pressure build-up. I would pressure ferment from day one, putting up to 9G of wort into the 9.25G fermenter with virtually no headspace, then dumping trub before fermentation took off, increasing the head space to more like 1/2G. Unless I released too much pressure, allowing Krausen to form, it was basically suppressed from the pressure (typically 5-8 PSI). Even when Krausen got into the gas discharge, it would make it no further than the 1st keg and certainly would not cause a pressure backup. It would be a PITA to clean, but never posed a potential hazard.

I wasn't willing to buy the overpriced Spike manifold for my CF10, but put a 1/4" NPT T on one TC for a gas ball valve and a PRV. I use the same venting for purging and spunding. Even though I have the PRV, I feel that it is not necessary with the keg(s) between the fermenter and spunding valve. Because of height restrictions in my fermenter, I have a pressure gauge on the 2nd port and have not had any use for the 3rd 1.5TC. I cannot access the 4" TC due to height, until I change my temperature control. There are more than enough ports on the new CF10 lid.
 

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I just purchased a CF5 and an Icemaster Max 2 as a 40th birthday present to myself. I've spent a lot of time reading through this thread (not even close to reading it all) and have picked up a lot of great tips/tricks.

I haven't been able to find much on how people with the Icemaster are handling the heating element? I know you can modify the chiller to wire in the heater but, to be frank, I'm no electrician and would rather not void the warranty by screwing around with a $700 chiller's wiring.

Anyone have tips on how to handle the heater without the chiller mod? Do you just plug the controller that comes with the spike kit in separately and try to fit both temp probes into one thermowell?
 

pinemarten

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I just purchased a CF5 and an Icemaster Max 2 as a 40th birthday present to myself. I've spent a lot of time reading through this thread (not even close to reading it all) and have picked up a lot of great tips/tricks.

I haven't been able to find much on how people with the Icemaster are handling the heating element? I know you can modify the chiller to wire in the heater but, to be frank, I'm no electrician and would rather not void the warranty by screwing around with a $700 chiller's wiring.

Anyone have tips on how to handle the heater without the chiller mod? Do you just plug the controller that comes with the spike kit in separately and try to fit both temp probes into one thermowell?

Yes, you can just use both probes in the thermowell. You’ll have room to jam them in there. The only possible issue would be if they were reading substantially different temps and activating both cooling and heating at the same time.

It looks like the controllers in the Max 2 are off the shelf controllers that just happen to be dual-stage and offer heating. There’s nothing wrong with off the shelf. In fact, it’s probably a good thing they are leaving controller building to pros and spending their resources on a good compressor. You’ve probably seen Chris Baker’s nifty hack to power heating using the built in controller. It’s a cool idea, but controllers are cheap. Even his good looking setup uses a strange connector to the heat. If it was wired to 120V outlets for heat that would be a lot more convenient.

What exactly you ordered from spike may also sway you one way or another. If you ordered the entire package, you’ll have a controller and extra pump in the mix. In that boat, I’d strongly consider ignoring the built in pump and just use the spike pump for simplicity’s sake. The pumps spike sells are perfectly good. You might also want to take a look at yet another controller even though it feels like a waste to bring another controller into play. I cannot count how many times I’ve used the WiFi control of my Inkbird WiFi controllers. It seemed like a silly upgrade when I bought them, but it’s been quite handy to ramp ferm temp while out of town or from work. They are constantly going on sale on Amazon. I think they are a good deal when they can be had for under $40.
 

kingmatt

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Yes, you can just use both probes in the thermowell. You’ll have room to jam them in there. The only possible issue would be if they were reading substantially different temps and activating both cooling and heating at the same time.

It looks like the controllers in the Max 2 are off the shelf controllers that just happen to be dual-stage and offer heating. There’s nothing wrong with off the shelf. In fact, it’s probably a good thing they are leaving controller building to pros and spending their resources on a good compressor. You’ve probably seen Chris Baker’s nifty hack to power heating using the built in controller. It’s a cool idea, but controllers are cheap. Even his good looking setup uses a strange connector to the heat. If it was wired to 120V outlets for heat that would be a lot more convenient.

What exactly you ordered from spike may also sway you one way or another. If you ordered the entire package, you’ll have a controller and extra pump in the mix. In that boat, I’d strongly consider ignoring the built in pump and just use the spike pump for simplicity’s sake. The pumps spike sells are perfectly good. You might also want to take a look at yet another controller even though it feels like a waste to bring another controller into play. I cannot count how many times I’ve used the WiFi control of my Inkbird WiFi controllers. It seemed like a silly upgrade when I bought them, but it’s been quite handy to ramp ferm temp while out of town or from work. They are constantly going on sale on Amazon. I think they are a good deal when they can be had for under $40.
Thanks for the reply. I also thought about using the pump Spike provided in the TC package instead of the built in pump in the chiller. I'll have to poke around in the chiller to see how feasible that is.
 

kingmatt

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So I cleaned my new CF5 yesterday, put everything together and did a pressure test, only to find CO2 was escaping through one of the inlets on my chiller coil. I filled the coil up with water and there is a pin sized hole in the tubing where it is welded to the bottom of the cap.

I already contacted Spike and they are going to make it right, but thankfully I pressure tested before using the fermenter, otherwise I would have been dripping glycol solution directly into my fermenting beer!
 

Nate R

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Well... this is cool. And about time, too!
Not sure how precise it dials in... but for $130 i think it is the best cost i have seen yet for one of these. Also has a gas in post.

 

Yesfan

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Well... this is cool. And about time, too!
Not sure how precise it dials in... but for $130 i think it is the best cost i have seen yet for one of these. Also has a gas in post.



Dumb question, but how's this different than the $85 dollar manifold that has gas post and regulator?
 

natmartin

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They haven't really released details on it yet, but it looks like it has a built-in spunding valve along with a PRV. (So you can safely ferment under pressure using only one port)
 

Nate R

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Dumb question, but how's this different than the $85 dollar manifold that has gas post and regulator?
Not a dumb question. Pressure manifold does NOT spund.
This will "dial in" a specific, adjustable pressure rather than just a PRV which is an emergency device only.

your question raises a good point- I wonder if in theroy one could now buy this INSTEAD of the manifold?
 

pinemarten

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Dumb question, but how's this different than the $85 dollar manifold that has gas post and regulator?

The other manifold has a 15psi only prv while the new model is user adjustable from 5-15psi.

I think the better question might be how is it different than just replacing the existing 1/4” threaded prv on the original manifold with an adjustable 1/4” prv like this one? Besides looking cool, I can’t see how it’s functionally different.

I like the idea of the new product, but I already own a few of the original manifolds. They are beautifully machined and it was easy enough to replace the stock prvs for spunding. If you have the originals I’d recommend replacing the stock prv even if you’re not interested in spunding as the quality of those are poor at best. One failed on me during fermentation and ruined 12 gallons of beer. Spike told me to kick rocks when I wanted it replaced. That said, they are generally pretty good about standing by their stuff. The twerps that run their Facebook group, on the other hand, kicked me out of the group because I asked for recommendations on better prvs. That says a lot about fanboy culture.
 

Nate R

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I think the better question might be how is it different than just replacing the existing 1/4” threaded prv on the original manifold with an adjustable 1/4” prv like this one? Besides looking cool, I can’t see how it’s functionally different.

#1- exact dial in pressure gauge
#2- vents via star san soultion for added precaution
None of these are "new" but they are new to Spike.
 

Yesfan

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Ok, gonna pick y'all's brains a bit.

This plus the $85 manifold is still cheaper (and available) than the new $130 valve. Plus, you have the added benefit of that spunding valve AND the prv on the manifold. I have that Kegland spunding valve and, even though I've only used it once, I liked it better than the DIY versions I made.
 

pinemarten

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Ok, gonna pick y'all's brain a bit.

This plus the $85 manifold is still cheaper (and available) than the new $130 valve. Plus, you have the added benefit of that spunding valve AND the prv on the manifold. I have that Kegland spunding valve and, even though I've used it once, I liked it better than the DIY versions I made.

I use that same Kegland valve to purge kegs. It’s a nifty little unit. In fairness to spike, it was out of stock when I ordered it but I eventually got it. I may just be drinking the Duotight koolaid, but using a diaphragm valve instead of a spring valve seems to be a better way to go. Twice as true if a superior valve is cheaper to purchase.
 

Yesfan

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Let me add some other notes/questions.

First, not trying to discourage on this. I signed up for email notifications when available (spring '22). Since I have a one port lid could I.....

Use a tee on that port with a that spunding valve on top tee and from the side tee a blow-off cane>valve>blowoff tubing assembly? With that valve, is the blow-off cane assembly even needed (it looks cool on the pro brewer's conicals).
 

Yesfan

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I use that same Kegland valve to purge kegs. It’s a nifty little unit. In fairness to spike, it was out of stock when I ordered it but I eventually got it. I may just be drinking the Duotight koolaid, but using a diaphragm valve instead of a spring valve seems to be a better way to go. Twice as true if a superior valve is cheaper to purchase.

I can see that. When I set my pressures on the DIY models, they wouldn't hold the pressure like the Kegland did. The only thing I hated about the Kegland was the weight of the valve/tubing/connectors on the gas post. It would dangle and seem to put pressure on the short piece of tubing. I'm sure if I fabbed up some sort of fixture to take the weight off the tubing, I'd been ok.
 
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