I’ve been meaning to sort my brewery out with QD’s for ages, but for one reason or another I’ve only just managed it. Polysulfone QD’s seem to be the most commonly available option to the UK homebrewery, but I just don’t like using plastic in my brewery any more than I can help it – inert or not.
As for stainless, the best I’ve seen locally are the Intrico Camlock connectors. I did enquire about these, but the guy who handles the sales was unhelpful to say the least. I sent him an email, but after three days of no response I eventually had to call him to have him tell me that ‘they’re very busy with bigger orders’. He eventually quoted me, but when I sent a follow-up mail with a few more questions, I received no response so I gave up on them entirely. I do know a few homebrewers who were more successful than I was, and who seem very happy with their camlock QD’s, but the big thing that turned me off of them was the fact that they restrict the bore quite considerably. They’re also not all that cheap.
I was going to have to look abroad for these if I was to get what I really wanted. After lots of web and forum trawling, I determined that the best option (if cost was no object) were the sanitary tri-clover / triple-clamp connectors. These are gender-less connectors, whereby each union is made by two ferrules, connected by a gasket, with a (triple)clamp holding the whole assembly together. They’re what are used in industrial applications, and while awesome, they worked out to be just too expensive.
The second best option appeared to be stainless QD’s from MoreBeer in the USA. They manufacture their own type of QD out of stainless steel, with a ball-locking mechanism similair to a corny keg. They also do a similar, but not directly compatible system in brass, but I prefer to keep things shiney. Luckily my brother lives in Texas, so I was able to take advantage of their free shipping. My brother subsequently sent them back over the Atlantic to me, using his friend as my mule, and all it cost me were a couple of bottles of my homebrew. Result!
The whole lot (6x male NPT, 6x female 1/2″ hosebarb, 1x female NPT) cost me about £100 all in, which isn’t cheap, but these should last a lifetime with some care. I also ordered a complete set of replacement O-rings, some keg-lube and 3m of silicone tubing (food-safe and good for boiling temps) at the same time. I am hoping to build an in-line, disconnectable thermometer using a fair of NPT male->female QD’s, with a T-piece and a thermowell / Blichmann Brewmometer at some point so that I can easily monitor temperature at any point in my system.
Now it’s just a matter of replacing the hose barbs that I currently use on all of my vessels, but this should really make life so much easier on brewdays – no more skinning and scalding my fingers trying to open and close stiff jubilee clips!