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Old 02-03-2008, 06:26 AM   #1
FlyGuy
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Default Improved boiling on the stovetop!

After getting used to my keggle and propane burner this summer, it has been hard to go back to stovetop brewing this winter. Last week it almost hit -40, and brewing outdoors just isn’t very attractive right now. So I have been back to the stovetop, mostly only 3 gal batches because I haven’t worked up the energy to do my old split-pot boil routine (i.e., half the wort in each of two 5 gallon pots on the stove).

The problem with my stove, which is a problem shared by many, is that a single burner doesn’t throw enough heat to boil all my wort from a 5 gal batch in one pot. Previously, the best I could do was about 3.5 – 4 gallons in my flat-bottomed stainless pot (uncovered). However, I think I have this problem licked. Tonight I easily got 6.5 gals to a rolling boil in one pot on my stove.

First, I used my cheap 30 qt aluminum pot that came with my propane burner in a cheap turkey fryer kit. I am a big fan of aluminum because it transfers heat better than stainless (see here), and in a water trial, I was able to get 5 gals to a rolling boil in it (significantly better than the SS pot).

Second, I added a reflective foil blanket to the pot (similar to what many guys drape over their keggle MLTs to keep the heat in). The idea is the same here – the reflective insulation helps prevent heat from escaping out the sides of the pot. It was enough to get 6.5 gals to boil instead of only 5 when I used the same pot on the same burner but without the foil blanket.

Here are my old and new pots respectively:



I made the reflective foil blanket out of reflective insulation found at Home Depot. I used two wraps around the pot, and secured everything with foil tape. I cut notches for the pot handles, and then tucked the top and bottom ends under and taped them in place, leaving a good inch gap at the bottom (I was worried that plastic part of the insulation would melt if too close to the burner). I also did a couple of wraps of foil tape around the bottom of the blanket to reflect away heat from the burner. The nice thing about the blanket is that I can easily slip it on or off, e.g. if I want to use this pot outside on the propane burner again. The materials for the blanket cost about $14.
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Old 02-03-2008, 01:05 PM   #2
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Think this would work for a gas stove or would I be setting my pot on fire? (I already keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen just in case...)

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Old 02-03-2008, 01:48 PM   #3
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Most of those reflective materials are aluminized plastics. You'd probably be better off with the foil-backed engine compartment insulation sold at auto stores.

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Old 02-03-2008, 05:21 PM   #4
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Yes, I agree with David -- I wouldn't use this method on a gas range. A flame retardant material will be necessary for your case.

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Old 02-03-2008, 05:53 PM   #5
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FlyGuy and I have the same issue: our ceramic range tops have these little heat sensors built in that prevent the element from getting so hot it damages the cooktop surface.

Nice call on a fix for our problem!

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Old 02-03-2008, 05:57 PM   #6
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I just position the pot in between two gas burners and set them both to high. Fire it up!!

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Old 02-05-2008, 02:53 AM   #7
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After a successful trial run with the insulated pot on the stove last night, I tried my first single-pot, 6.5 gallon boil on my stove. The recipe was an inky black robust porter, and to my delight the stovetop had no problem whatsoever getting the full volume to a rolling boil. In fact, I had to turn down the heat from MAX to 7 after adding the leaf hops because the boil was getting too vigorous. I am SO happy to not have to do the split-pot two-step shuffle anymore!

Foam Control: I gotta put another plug in for this stuff. Magic. I had that turkey fryer pot within an inch and a half of the rim, and there was no danger of boiling over at ANY point in the process. Highly recommended stuff! Turns your 30 qt pot into a 40!!!

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Old 02-05-2008, 01:19 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info. Great post. I didn't think we could do a full boil on an electric range. That's awesome. We still have a few bucks left on a Home Depot card.

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Old 02-07-2008, 06:27 PM   #9
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Does anyone use insulation on their kettles on a gas range or propane burner? I'd love to try this on my gas range, but not sure of what material to use. I am not familiar with the engine compartment insulation. Is it fiberglass or mineral wool based? I saw some fiberglass and mineral wool based material on McMaster that will go to like 1000 degrees F, but I worry about getting fiberglass dust anywhere near my beer. Any product that I would use to seal it up would also have to be fireproof, so there goes duct tape or the aluminum foil tape. Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this. Thanks.

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Old 02-27-2008, 08:27 PM   #10
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Hm. My solution has been like this, but less effective, more dangerous, and higher maintenance. I just wrap a towel around my aluminium pot (I believe it's identical to FlyGuy's - we probably both got them from Canadian Tire.) And hold it in place with duct tape. I've only lit one on fire so far, and it was my least favourite, so that's okay. It also helps if I accidentally boil it over--nothing reaches my cooktop.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'll probably be making one of those. Here's hoping CanTire (the only hardware-ish store within walking distance) carries this stuff.

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