Are you still with me? Enjoying the brewing? I hope so, because now we start to get into some of the stuff you’ll need to do Full Extract or All Grain brewing.
For both Full Extract and All Grain brewing you’re going to need a brew kettle. This is basically a big pot which has a tap on it, that can hold at least 40L of liquid. Then you’re also going to need some way to bring about 30L of liquid to a good rolling boil. The two normal ways people do this: gas, or electricity. I have seen someone do it on a fire, but that looked awfully difficult.
Lots of people like Gas. But this post is about making a cheap brew pot, and buying yourself a big arse rambo burner and creating a stand to stick your pot on isn’t particularly cheap.
This is my suggestion. Go with electricity. It’s simple, it’s actually cheaper than gas to run, and at least in the build I’ll detail below it’s cheaper to make.
So what are you going to need?
- 40L Aluminium stock pot. Diameter at least 40cm (this is important for this build). Yes, stainless steel is “better”, but it’s a lot more expensive, harder to work with, and the sides are generally thinner so may not work as well with this build. One of these new should set you back between $80 and $110. An equivalent Stainless steel one is about twice that. You can occasionally find these on Greysonline, or Gumtree going cheaper. If your budget (and space) allows you to stretch to a 80L one, super, you’ll be able to do double batches if you like.
- Two $7.50 K-Mart 1.7L cordless kettles.
- A 1/2″ stainless steel ball valve tap About $9.
- Some stainless nuts washers and threaded hex nipple (or short threaded pipe) to fit the ball valve tap. All together about $20
- A drill, some spade bits, and a dremel or some rough sand paper.
What you’re building is a replica of my current brew pot. It’s worked well for me so far.
I should point out here that you don’t need a fancy pot like this to do Full Extract or All Grain brews, there’s some great instructions out there on how to do All Grain with 2 x 20L BigW pots on the stove top. Which will be cheaper than this. But I’m not writing about that, I’m writing about this.
First we need to dismantle the kettles.
Open up the box and pull out the kettle. On the bottom you’ll see 2 little screws, unscrew them and peal/bend back the plastic which is joined to the handle. Snap off this bit of the handle at the top of the kettle, you don’t need it.
Back down at the bottom you’ll see another couple of small screws in the bottom of the handle itself which are holding the little clear switch in place, unscrew these. It will come lose and you can let the little LED dangle freely for a moment before you just yank it right out all together.
OK. Now look at the black thing there. You’ll see another 3 little screws with little washers which are holding the black plastic bit to the element on the inside. Unscrew these and the black thing will come right off, as will the element inside the kettle. You’ll also notice a little silicone “O” ring gasket in the kettle, take this out. Keep all this stuff. All the other stuff you can bin.
Now do the same for the other kettle.
Now go and grab your pot. And figure out where you’re going to put the elements. I’ve got mine placed opposite each other as low down as they’ll go before the curvature of the base of the pot gets too much. For my pot this makes the centre of the hole I need to drill about 7cm from the bottom. Mark the spot with a pencil. Get your big spade bit. The one I used was 38mm I think, just check against the silicone gasket, yours may be smaller or larger, I’ve heard both 35mm and 40mm. Now drill out a big ass hole. Note here, a smaller hole is better, you can always make the hole bigger with a dremel you can never make it smaller. Test the size of the hole with your silicone gasket. Once it’s the right size smooth it down with your dremel or sandpaper. Put the gasket back in, then put in your element, make sure the circular ring part of the element facing the bottom, and screw on the black backing part.
Now, get yourself a 1/2″ spade bit, and drill yourself a hole for the tap. You’ll be tempted to pick up the nice little aluminium disk that just came out. I suggest you don’t. It’s going to be hot. (But I know you will anyway). Tidy up the edges to make them smooth. Grab your threaded hex nipple wack on a stainless washer and a silicon washer, then push through the hole you just made. On the outside, stick on another washer and the hex nut and tighten it all up. Then stick on your ball valve tap.
I’ve used normal plastic garden hose fittings on the end of my tap to attach the hose I use to transfer wort.
The great thing about these kettle elements, and doing it the way I’ve done it, is that they don’t require you to “wire” anything up. The prongs on the black plastic bit that provide power to the element fit a standard kettle/PC power cord. To turn the element on just plug in a cable and then you just depress the little black lever type thing on the black element backing.
A few things to note here.
- Each of these elements is 2200W. A standard GPO outlet is only rated to 10A, so you’ll only be able to run one element per GPO.
- Your standard household circuit is probably 15A. A 15A circuit is only rated to carry 3600W. So if you want to run both elements simultaneously you either need to make sure you’ve got a 20A circuit, or run each element off a different circuit. (I run an extension cord from the garage for the 2nd element)
- Don’t run the elements dry. They will burn out and die.
- Using a single element is possible, but it takes ages to get up to temperature, and the boil isn’t great. Two elements ramps up the temp nice and fast and you get a really good vigorous boil.
So there you have it. Your very own brew pot, or HLT (Hot Liquor Tun).
If you build one let me know how you went.
Happy brew building.
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