We have brewed our FINAL batch of Wedding Ale! We should end up with about 300 bottles in total. That means enough for all of our out-of-town hotel guests, for our wedding party after the rehearsal dinner, and hopefully enough to have as wedding favors for those who want one when they leave the wedding!
With that, I thought I would share with you the last upgrade to our system that we made, prior to these last few batches. We’re going to take a look inside the kettle, literally.
When I first built a brew pot out of a used 15 gallon keg, it was honestly a lot of guesswork. Since then, I have noticed several flaws in my design.
Using the right size thermometer
When I first built the keggle, I used a thermometer with a 6-inch probe. I thought this was a good idea because it would reach further into the beer to get the temperature. However, I realized the mistakes of my ways when I tried to fit my immersion wort chiller into the kettle…it would hardly fit! (Since then, I have started using a counter-flow chiller, so it isn’t as big of a problem)
Thus, I ordered the same thermometer but with only a 2.5″ probe. This will get the temperature just as accurately, but will not get in the way of an immersion chiller. I will use the one with the 6″ probe on the hot liquor tank we built to heat our water in. The 6″ thermometer will be fine there because I won’t be chilling that water, just heating it up!
Use a False Bottom
The other mistake I made was to use a simple mesh screen tube (sold commercially as a bazooka screen) at the bottom of the keg to filter out the hops. This was a mistake because of the shape of the bottom of the keggle. Kegs are rounded on the bottom, so when you have a straight pick-up tube (like the bazooka screen), you leave over a gallon of wort behind! I don’t like leaving beer behind.
So I went to www.bargainfittings.com and picked up a copper pick-up tube with a 90-degree bend. This puts the pick-up right at the bottom of the keg, leaving no wort untouched!
The only problem is that it still doesn’t filter out the hops. So, I decided a false bottom would be the way to go. I just got a simple 10-inch diameter stainless steel circle with holes cut in it to allow the wort to travel through but keep the hop sludge out. Hopefully this will provide enough filter in the boil kettle to keep from getting any hops into the fermenter.
The false bottom has a 1/2″ diameter hole in the center – perfect for the copper pick-up tube to fit right in.
This set-up is much more effective because I can fit my immersion chiller into the kettle without hitting the thermometer and I am able to drain all of the beer out without having to tilt the keg on edge trying to get it up to the screen tube.