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Creating "Wedding Ale" Step 3: A Bigger Kettle

2011 February 11
by Chris

my home brewing keggle and turkey fryerThank you Craigslist.com!  This wonderful little site allowed me to find another local homebrewer that was “downsizing” and getting rid of some great equipment.  One of the things he was tossing was a used, empty 15-gallon keg.  But why would I want an empty keg!?  Simple – kegs make great brew pots.  In fact, there is even a name for turning a keg into a kettle – a keggle.

So, I picked up the keg, along with a few other odds and ends to play with for less than the cost of an equivalent kettle or keggle.  Next I needed to figure out how I was going to cut the top off, add a ball valve spigot and a thermometer.

First, I had to disassemble the keg, which I could do myself, with the help of some YouTube videos teaching me what to do.  It’s amazing how much you can learn from YouTube!

I depressurized the keg, removed the spring lock, then took out the dip tube – now I have a kettle with a really small opening at the top.

The spring lock from the kegdip tube from keg

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Nate from Bull City Homebrew recommended I head over Vega Metals in Durham and have them remove the top and cut some holes for the ball valve and thermometer.  However…I called and they said it would be SIX WEEKS before they could make the three cuts!  I was NOT about to wait six weeks to have the top cut off of my keg and a couple of holes cut in the side.

Sooo, I did some calling around and ended up heading over to Triangle Metal Works.  Those guys rock!  They dropped what they were doing, cut the top off, smoothed out the cut, drilled two holes (one for the spigot, one for the thermometer), and then even welded on some tabs to the lid they cut off so that I could still use it without it falling into the keg.  All of that for only $15 and in less than 30 minutes!  I can’t say enough nice things about these guys – they were super friendly and did great work.

inside of keg after plasma cutlid with dust

Once they cut the top off with a plasma cutter, it left a lot of debris in the keg (powdered stainless steel!), so it took a good bit of cleaning to get it all out.  Above are a couple of photos of what the keg looked like after the made the cut.

I ordered some weldless fittings online so that I could install the thermometer and ball valve myself.  While waiting for those to arrive, I had a LOT of cleaning to do.  Used kegs are nasty!  So I washed and scrubbed it out pretty good, then used some StarSan sanitizer to get it squeeky clean and sterile.

Thanks to the generosity of my in-laws-to-be, I was given an old turkey fryer and pot to use to brew with.  However, they were old and NASTY, so they required a good scrubbing too.  However, after I got it all cleaned up, my brewery was really taking shape.  I had a propane burner, a pot for hot water, and a home-made kettle to brew in.  Put together with the mash tun I built not so long ago, I am all set to brew some excellent all-grain ale!

home brewery setup

Once the weldless bulkhead, ball valve and thermometer kit arrive, I will attach them to the keg, being sure to use some Teflon tape to avoid any leakage, and I will be ready to brew.  I believe I now have all of the necessary pieces to start brewing the “wedding ale.”

The only question remaining is what TYPE of beer I should brew?  Let me know your thoughts.  What beer would YOU recommend for a mid-august wedding?  I’m thinking something pretty light and refreshing that will please a large crowd…but let me know what you think!

Related posts:

Creating "Wedding Ale" Step 1: Building A Wort Chiller
Using Google to Organize Your Wedding Planning
More Water = More Wedding Ale
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