Tag Archives: brewing az

Fermtech Mini Auto-Siphon With Tubing – Item of the Day


Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Fermtech Mini Auto-Siphon With Tubing.  As many of you know I am a huge fan of small batch mead making.  In fact at one of my workshops I demonstrated why by making a batch of mead, racking a batch into the secondary and bottling a batch and did all of that in under 30 minutes.

I have been making mead, wines, ciders and beers for a long time, like 20 years in all.  But when I really got into small batch meads (one gallon) a few years ago when Michael Jordan showed me how fast and simple it could be.

The problem was for 20 years I made 5 gallon batches and a big racking cane was just a pain in the ass for siphoning a gallon, so I checked to see if there was a mini cane and found a bunch of options and settled on this one.

I like that it comes with 6 feet of tubing.  Frankly I cut it in half and find 3 feet about perfect for transferring from one container to another (racking).  I no longer use a bottling wand for bottling, instead I rack to a 2.5 gallon carboy and use the spigot on it to fill my bottles.

I looked for a 2.5 gallon carboy to recommend on Amazon, they have them but DO NOT buy one there, I get mine from Uline.  The ones on Amazon are all like 20-35 bucks, which is just stupid.  You can get them here on Uline or 14 bucks a piece.  And yes I have fermented in them as well for larger batches.

Okay back to the racking cane/auto-siphon.  This thing rocks, you put your hose on it, put it into the vessel you want to rack to, pump it one to two times and it starts flowing.  I rack from a small step stool and set that on my counter and put my receiving vessel in the sink.  Makes clean up a snap.    With small batch meads, ciders and wines you will transfer each batch at least twice and the Fermtech Mini Auto-Siphon With Tubing is the easiest and fastest way to get the job done.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – While I focused on using this for making mead, ciders and wines above, if you check out the reviews on Amazon; you’ll find a ton of very happy kombucha brewers that use this item as well.

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the book, Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss.  This is the best book I have found for beginning your journey into the alchemy of making your own liqueurs.

What I like about this book is it is both a book of recipes and a book of how to with a good introduction into the how what and why of making your own liqueurs.

If you can think of the high end 30 dollar a bottle and up fancy smancy liqueur this book will show you how to make a reasonable approximation of it for 10-25% of the cost.  It will also give you confidence by following known recipes and I find many people need this to then spring board off into their own concoctions.

To be totally up front I do have one major criticism of this book, it does have some true “filler”.  With some exceptions the majority of the recipes call for the same procedure.  There are in fact about a total of 2 procedures that make up 90% of the recipes.  These could have been called say

  • The muddle with sugar and alcohol method and
  • The muddle with alcohol and add sugar at the end method

Instead every recipe basically repeats the same methods over and over, and I would bet this was clearly to fill out to the book to satisfy the publisher.  With that one change this book would likely drop from 272 pages to say about 150-170.  Still plenty of information but hey, people like thick books for some reason I guess and as I always say, “the market is gonna market”.

That said there is nothing wrong with this book.  It gives you concise information and teaches you how to make various simple syrups as well, this way you can make brown syrups, caramelized syrups and cream syrups and really make anything you could ever find at a bottle shop liqueur wise.

I am talking Chambord, Gran Marnier, Kaulua, Poire William, you name it.  This stuff is great fun and a real passion of mine, so much so that today’s show will be all about this subject.

The best part is while you could make much of this stuff with “fuel that accidentally spills into your mouth”, and you just might, but it can all be made perfectly legally with spirits bought in the store, you enhance the value and pocket the difference.  While some of this calls for things like rum or brandy, most of it can be made with simple vodka, and if you tune into episode 1923, I am even going to tell you how to turn things like vodka into rum.

Finally all the equipment you likely already have in your kitchen, you may need a few extra jars and bottles but as to the making, any decent kitchen will already have everything you will need to get started right away.  So check out, Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss today and start turning 7 dollar bottles of vodka into top end 30 dollar bottles of liqueur.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – Because it was so stupid cheap I purchased the Kindle edition of this book to evaluate it.  I tend to loathe hard copies of most books at this point in my life but like most “cook books” I have to say the hard copy would be better.  So much so that I just ordered it even though I have it in Kindle.  Either will work fine but I think most people will be happier with hard copy on this one.  This is the type of book that lives with other cook books in your kitchen.



Davidson’s Organic Peppermint Leaves – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Davidson’s Organic Peppermint Leaves which are a great deal at $13.55 a pound.

As many of you know I grow a lot of peppermint on my homestead so you may wonder why I buy this product.

Think of it this way, to make a pound of dry mint you need to harvest about ten pounds.  You then need to dry it, sort it, sift it and then you have your pound.  Now I use fresh mint all the time but I also make up blends for use as daily teas, mead infusions, etc.  If it takes me two hours of jacking around to make a pound of dry mint I can buy for 14 bucks, I am valuing my time at 7 dollars an hour.

It comes down to this…

  • Sheer Volume
  • Ease of Use
  • Value of my Time

My number one use for this product is my daily drinking tea, I love this stuff and try to make up about 4 quarts every time I blend it.  We give some away but I honestly go through about a quart a week.  So we are back to time value equations, do one blending, drink tea for a month.  Here is that recipe.  All parts are measured by volume not weight.

Jacks Morning Blend – Nine Mile Farms Tea

That tea is one every singe person who has tried it loved.  Especially sweetened with stevia.  Another blend I do is simply 50% peppermint to 50% lemon balm.  This makes a great tea on its own, I also make a mead with it at 3 lbs of honey to the gallon, infused with 3/4ths of a cup of this blend.

All by itself it makes a great tea, I use about 4 level tablespoons to my large French Press or about two to a large cup with my Tea Infuser.  If you have paid attention you will notice that Davidson’s is one of my go to’s when it comes to herbs and tea.  They have an incredible value to price ratio, are almost always available in organic and simply taste great.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com.

P.S. – For some reason Amazon has lumped ALL Davidson’s tea reviews together, this renders the reviews on this item essentially useless.

Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle – Item of the Day

kettleEvery day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day the Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle.  This item gets used daily.  Now I paid a bit more for mine to get a red one.  Why?  Dorothy likes and wanted a red one.  Well, when a woman puts up with all the crap that a full time podcaster and part time farmers wife puts up with and asks for red, by God she is gonna get it from me anyway.  By the way since the first time I posted this item, the cost of the red one has dropped to only about 10 bucks difference in price.  And I got to admit while red is not really my color it does look good.

In the end though red or silver they function identically and the silver one is only $24.57 with free shipping on prime.  What do you do with it?  Well clearly you boil water with it but here are my big uses for mine…

  1.  Making mead as seen in this video
  2. I make 4 boiled eggs with no effort in it at a time (more on that below)
  3. I make my tea or coffee with my French Press with it every day
  4. I pre heat water with it for boiling when I am doing a lot of cooking

Okay about those eggs, want perfect eggs hard boiled to this, with any electric kettle by the way.  Put 1-4 eggs in the kettle, fill about half way with water, turn the kettle on, most will automatically stop when they boil, this one does.  When it shuts off, set a timer for 12 minutes, let it just sit for that long.  Pour off the water, rinse with cold water to cool things off and remove your eggs.

Why does this work so well.  Okay when you do the same thing with a pot the eggs sit on the bottom and get hotter on the bottom and get hotter than the 212 it takes to boil the water.  And electric kettle is efficient, heat comes from all sides evenly heating the water, which is why it boils faster.

Due to this your eggs are heated to the exact 212 range of the water and boil to hard perfectly.  Add a tsp of vinegar and they will even peal more easily.  Oh, also use eggs about 2 weeks old for boiling if you have fresh from your own yard eggs, they will peal easily compared to super fresh ones as well.

In any event a good Electric Kettle is something I just could not live without in my kitchen, and the Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle is the best value to price one I have yet found.  Consider that it has 4.5 stars over all with over 1200 reviews and it makes a lot of sense that it is a quality product.  In fact over two years I have sold several hundred of these and have never heard a word of complaint from the audience.  That says a lot.

My personal kettle is over 3 years old now.  I run an average of 3 batches of something a day in it.  3 x 365 x 3 = 3,285 mission this thing has run with my crappy hard water and it is still going strong.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com.

P.S. – While I have not yet reviewed it, I will soon review this awesome coffee carafe.  Teamed with this and the French Press I recommend this kettle makes the best coffee I have ever had.  I make up about three batches in the morning and with an initial pour of two cups it all fits in the carafe.

I do this with tea as well.  They are still piping hot hours later with no degrading of quality.  It has saved a lot of waste because one press makes about 3 big mugs of coffee or tea.  That third one was mostly being tossed out because it became tannic and nasty by the time we got to it.  So the way I look at it, the carafe pays for itself pretty quickly.




Marine Metal Aeratr Bubble Box – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Marine Metal Aeratr Bubble Box.  Yes this is another item for your fishing kit, but it is more than that, a lot more.  In the end what this is comes down to a battery powered aerator that runs about 40 hours on 2 D-Cell Batteries.  Again 40 hours!

So sure I keep one in my Fishing Kit, because it can keep bait alive or fish that I want to bring home alive in a bucket.  That is what most people use this for.  Yet there are other things one may need this for.

Let me ask you, do you keep fish at all?  Like do you have an aquarium?  Or an aquaponics system?  Now I am not suggesting that this little box can keep your 55 gallon tank or 300 gallon IBC running like a top long term, but what if you power goes out for a day or two?

Like many of you I have a generator but you can only run so many things and like many of you I am all about running what you can on batteries when it makes sense.  So consider with a 12 pack of cheap D-Cell batteries and two of these boxes you could keep two tanks aerated for 120 strait hours.  Folks that is 5 days!

Again long term this is not a solution for larger tanks but during an outage this could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in lost fish!  And what does this little magic box set you back, a whopping 8 bucks.

Oh and hey what about you high gravity beer and mead brewers?  Those of you wanting to push things to 16-20% ABV, one key to that is oxygen, so you hook this little bad boy up to your carboy, (sanitize the hose and stone of course) and run it for 6 hours before setting your airlock into place!  Note if you plan to do this you should get one dedicated ONLY to this use.

Again my main use for this is keeping fish alive in the field, mostly for bait and it is outstanding for that, but for 8 bucks it does a lot of other things.  So consider adding the Marine Metal Aeratr Bubble Box to your kit today.

Remember you can always find all TSPAZ Items of the day by just going to TspAz.com along with a link to Amazon’s top deals of the day.


Red Star Cuvee & Premier Blanc Champagne Yeasts – Item of the Day

cuveeEvery day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is a two fer, because that is how I use them.  This is my go to yeast blend for small batch mead making.

I use one packet of each in both one and five gallon batches.

Yes, you can use part of a packet for a one gallon batch but when you realize how inexpensive it really is you will likely just opt for VERY fast fully attenuated fermentation.  The exception is if I am doing two gallons in one day, then I do indeed split the packs.

The Two Items are…

  1.  Red Star Cuvee Yeast (pronounced cu vey)
  2.  Red Star Premier Blanc

Again I use one of each in my mead batches, it is the fastest finishing yeast blend I have come up with, it finishes nice and dry at 2.5 pounds to the gallon and leaves just a hint of sweetness at 3 pounds to the gallon which has become my go to during my “year of mead” experiments.

There are a few things to know about these guys to get the right deal on Amazon.

  1. Do not buy anything less than a 10 pack
  2. They are add on items so combine them or add them to other orders
  3. Red Star Changed the Name on Premier Blanc but this is the right one

Item one is very self explanatory, let me explain the other two.  Okay as you might imagine shipping you 6 bucks worth of yeast would kill Amazon and its vendors on shipping, especially for prime members.  So they either have to jack up the price or charge more for shipping than the item itself  So what they have done with a lot of small items is require a minimum order of 25-50 dollars depending on the item.

So make note if you are a mead maker and just remember to add these guys the next time you order other stuff or add some cool mead making supplies like say Fermax Yeast Nutrient, Oak Infusion Spirals or say some awesome Vanilla Beans to your order.

On point three, there has been some confusion in the past with the “Blanc Yeast varieties.  Specifically there was a Pasteur Blanc (what I recommend) and there was Pasteur Champagne yeast.  While similar they are not the same.  I contacted Red Star and “Premier Blanc Champagne” is the yeast I have recommended for three years with this combination.

So make sure you are getting the ones I have linked to in this post if you want to use or try my recommended yeast blend.

When I came up with this mix I did not have a clue as to what exact magic goes on when you use this blend, it was a happy accident, I just knew it worked.  Well I sat down and looked at what these two yeasts do best, the fact that I make 3lb to the gallon meads and add fruit (more sugar) to most.  It now makes PERFECT sense.  I will be explaining it in today’s show.  When you year it, you will instantly think, “well duh”.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

Fermax Yeast Nutrient – Item Of The Day


Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Fermax Yeast Nutrient.  This is my go to yeast nutrient for making meads.  Think of this stuff as food for your yeasts.  There are two ways to use this stuff when making mead.

First the lazy man’s way, which is what I do.  When brewing add 1tsp-2tsp per gallon as though it is just part of your ingredients.  The philosophy here is that the yeast will use it as they need it.  It will give them a boost and get your fermentation to finish faster.

The first method is used mostly by people making fruit meads, or meads with other ingredients that provide some nutrient anyway.  Meads that would likely finish just fine with out Fermax, the little boost just speeds things along and helps you get a full fermentation.

The second method is a timed multiple introduction.  There are many schools of thought on this but the most common is feed your mead at brewing then on days 2, 4 and 6 in staggered additions.  For a gallon you would use about 1/2-1tsp per feeding.

The rational here is yeast need nutrient at different times during there growth cycles and by feeding them at these time frames you give them what they need when they most need it.

Personally I only do staggered additions when making a classic mead, that is to say honey, water, yeast and no fruits, herbs, etc.  In that case since you are not providing nutrients from other ingredients the staggered additions give you a much faster finish with less chance of a “stuck mead”.

I want to point out two things, the schedule above is ONE of many.  Ask some and they feed at 12, 24 and 48 hours after brewing, some have more complex schedules.  The key is all of these “work” if they didn’t, no one would keep doing them.

Second is that many mead makers have moved on from Fermax to products called Fermaid K and Fermaid O.  Those are fine products as well, but they cost more and I found no real gain in how fast and how clean my meads finished with them, so I went back to Fermax, which I have been using for about 18 years with great results.  Basically in this world I have sided with “if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it”.

You will note I recommend the 1 pound bag, this is the most cost effective size for the home mead maker.  A 4 ounce bag is only 2 dollars less so buying it is just stupid.  If you are getting started in the world of mead Fermax Yeast Nutrient deserves a spot in your kit.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com


Mr. Beer 16oz Swing Top Glass Bottles – Item of the Day


Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Mr. Beer 16oz Swing Top Glass Bottles.  These became my go to bottles for my small batch mead this year.  I started out using 32 oz bottles but in the end these just work better.  Smaller quantities to savor your mead with.  Not to mention the 32 oz ones seem like a good deal until you realize shipping is a killer and none of them are on prime.

Of course they are fine for beer, cider, etc.  I was going to get these up on Item of the Day eventually but moved them to today, let me share why with you.  Recently I ordered two boxes of these for my next few gallons of mead, currently in a secondary fermenters.

I got the text from amazon saying my order was delivered, went out to the gate and the box had seen better days.  Knowing it was glass, I was concerned.  One of the boxes was fine, the second sounded like well, shattered glass.  I went in and printed a return label and explained why to the seller though Amazon’s system.  In less than two hours I received the following email,


I’m sorry to hear about the condition in which your  Mr. Beer 12 Count Swing Top Glass Bottles, 16 oz  arrived. We make every attempt to pack items securely to protect them during shipping, but sometimes damage does occur.

We always appreciate customer input on how we can improve our services.

On this occasion, we don’t require you to return the original. You’re welcome to keep, donate or dispose of it – whichever option is most appropriate and convenient for you.

I would like to help you, I’ve created a replacement for you at no additional charge. Here are the details:

Order Number: redacted
Shipping Speed: Two-Day Shipping
Guaranteed delivery by: Friday, July 22, 2016

Here is a direct link to check on the status of your replacement order: redacted

I hope you understand that we do our best to ensure that all our customer orders are delivered safe and on time.  Unfortunately, in spite of our efforts sometimes there are unforeseen delays and circumstances beyond our control, and we sincerely apologize for inconvenience caused.

Your patience is highly appreciated in this matter.  We look forward to seeing you again soon.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,
Vishal G

Ten minutes later I received a shipping confirmation from Amazon.  This was about the best level of service one could expect in this situation.   Today I will CAREFULLY open the broken box, perhaps I will get a few non broken bottles in it, for all I know more that half are okay, once I realized many were smashed I just didn’t open it.  If nothing else I will get 12 spare caps and gaskets.

I love swing tops for bottling, while I now always keg 5 gallon batches, 1-2 gallon batches always get bottled for practical reasons.  Generally after two rackings of my 1 gallon batches I fill 5-6 of these for a gallon, with a half pint or a little more in a mason jar that goes in the fridge for “early quality analysis”.

The bottles do ship with the tops not installed, but they are very easy to put on.  The reason for this is the box won’t quite close for packaging with them on.  However it is fine for storage, another reason I love them.  Bottle up two gallons, put them back in the box, label the top and put them into the aging room (okay it is just an upstairs closet).

For many years I used to save returnable beer bottles and cleaned the labels off them, what a pain in the butt.  I get it but if you have the budget these are just much more convenient.  And again 16oz Swing Top Glass Bottles are just perfect for meads, 2 people can have two 4oz servings or 4 people can each have one.  Mead isn’t something one just guzzles, it is to be savored and enjoyed with select friends.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

Double Walled Insulated Stainless Steel Growler

growlerEvery day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Double Walled Insulated Stainless Steel Growler by Barnster.  The guy behind this product is a TSP listener and I was given a gift certificate to order and review one.  I have to say though I am really impressed with this item!

To test it I filled it half way with ice, set it on my bar and stuck a sticky note on it that said, Wednesday 9AM.  Thursday over half the ice or more was still there.  Friday at 9AM there was still some ice, that was 48 hours.  About 9PM I checked it again and there were a few tiny slivers of ice.  So it held some ice for about 60 hours.  All be it indoors I can’t see any reason this won’t keep the cold cold in most environments for a full day or two.

Lots of reviewers are using this for water on Amazon, it will sure do a great job for that.  Personally when I am working I use my Camel Back MUEL, with a 3 liter bladder though.  For water this will be great to keep a half gallon ice cold for me on road trips.

My big use for it though is going to be beers and ciders.  Many of you know I built a huge keezer two years ago.   After getting into kegging I swore off bottling for everything but small batch mead.  With this growler I can take a full half gallon of my latest brew to share with friends and I know it will be fully carbed and ice cold when I get there.  In fact I am going to get a second one so I can take two varieties to meetups and such.

In short if you are looking for a great way to have a full half gallon of your favorite beverage with you and know it will be ice cold, check the Double Walled Insulated Stainless Steel Growler by Barnster out today.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com