Sunday, 22 July 2012

Getting Into All-Grain & Building The Brewrig

So many configurations to choose from and so many shiny things to buy. 3V, 2V, Single Vessel, HERMS, RIMS, Gas & Electric, the list of choices and parts seemed to be endless. Due to the fact that my DIY skills are somewhere near to non-existent I decided to go down the path of the simplest setup I could find that would still give me good beer.

The system that I decided on was a single vessel, gas fired BIAB (Brew In A Bag) setup. My first few brews in the world of AG were mini batches brewed in a 19 stockpot purchased from Big W with a brew bag, resulting in 9 - 11 litres of beer. While this method has served me well, the smell of malt and hops throughout the house after brewday was never well received.

The construction of the brewrig began with the purchase of a 3 ring gas burner so brewing could take place in the shed. Brewing has continued in the trusty 19 litre pot while searching for a decently priced brew kettle and the associated parts to get the setup running. After a few weeks of searching EvilBay, hospitality supplier & brewing supplier websites the perfect kettle was found without costing a kidney - and so the build began.

Again, there are a multitude of ways that you can setup your kettle, I chose to take the weldless path, mainly to avoid burning the shed and house to the ground. The first purchase was a weldless bulkhead to fit 3 piece ball valve* for ease of draining, followed by a T-Piece fitting to fit a thermometer and sight glass.

To fit the bulkheads, you can either drill out the holes yourself, or there are sure to be local businesses that can do this for you. If you plan on doing this yourself, I used a stepped drillbit to start from a 4mm hole to go to a 24mm hole. Once the holes is drilled, use plenty of cutting lube and go slow with the drill, simply secure the bulkheads with a locknut and silicone washer on each side of the kettle wall and you're in business.

Ball valve fitted to kettle with weldless bulkhead

Many thanks to Malted, BigDaddy, Vortex, Raven19 & Hammer from BrewAdelaide for all of their assistance, hints and tips on the process of drilling the kettle and the best parts to use.

Parts for the kettle build were purchased from the following suppliers. For the record, I have no affiliation to any of the businesses, purchasing decisions were based on best price only.
  • 3 Piece ball valve - Ebay
  • Stepped drill bit - Ebay
  • 50mm bukhead for valve - Beerbelly
  • Sightglass, Thermometer & T Piece -
  • Cutting lube, Masking tape - Random hardware stores
The rig is now almost complete, pending the arrival of the threaded thermometer to fit the T-Piece, and it's now just a matter of deciding on the recipe to break in the new boiler.

Further updates to follow as the build progresses, new recipes are formulated and new beers are consumed.


The Mad Scientist

* There are a multitude of choices for valves - 3 piece, 2 piece, full bore & reduced bore. I went with the three piece to make cleaning easier.

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