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Old 02-17-2013, 02:00 AM   #1
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Default Just bought a keggle. Need help on problem.

Hello all. After doing about 20 all grain batches in a 7.5 gallon kettle, I got fed up and bought a keg with the top already cut off. I was really excited to use it for the first time the other day whilst brewing an Irish Red Ale for St. Patrick's Day.

img_0368.jpg

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration. The problem I had was that when bringing my wort to a boil, there was so much "vapor" coming out of the hole cut at the top, that i literally couldn't see if my wort was boiling or not. I couldn't even put my hand into the kettle to get a temp reading to see if I was boiling. I will say though, that it was really cold outside. Has anyone had this problem before?

I tried blowing on it, which made it worse. I tried spraying it with cool water, which made it worse. Is the whole that was cut too small? Anyone have this frustration?

Thanks in advance for all of the suggestions.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:08 AM   #2
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Try a floating thermometer on a string. And yes, the whole looks a little small, but it shouldn't hurt. Do you have an immersion chiller? Does it fit in the whole?

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:14 AM   #3
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That is a good idea about the floating thermometer. Funny thing about the immersion chiller. I do have one. It fit in my last kettle just fine. I had to scramble and bend it around to make the turns smaller so that it would fit. It did just fine after that, but it looks a little wonky now. I made the chiller, so I'm not too worried about how it looks as long as it works.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:19 AM   #4
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In the future, aim for no smaller than a 12" diameter hole. Most IC's I've seen are bent around 9" round cornys or 10" forms.

It's normal not to be able to see the liquid on 5 gallon full boils, especially below 60F ambient. You have a couple options.

Boil more liquid.
Float a thermometer.
Install a thermometer in the side.

I recommend the 3" dial thermometer from Brew Hardware. You could make the hole do double-duty with his sight gauge if you'd like. Weldless bulkheads are available if you don't have access to or knowledge of sanity welding.

I went with a 3-fitting setup for 3" dial thermometer, sight gauge and 3-piece ball valve, all separate.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thadius856 View Post
It's normal not to be able to see the liquid on 5 gallon full boils, especially below 60F ambient.
That is exactly what I wanted to hear. I had no problems seeing the liquid in my small kettle because it was all the way to the top. How are boil overs dealt with then? If you can't see it coming, do you just hit close to 212 F then turn the gas down to as low as possible without losing temp or should I not even worry about it being that it's 7 or so gallons in a 15.5 gallon keg? Along the same lines, water boils at 212. I have noticed my wort being about the same. Is that accurate or can someone give me a more precise temp?

Thank you for the suggestions on the additions to the keggle. I will definitely be looking into all of them in the near future. I was just unsure in the first place if everyone had this problem.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedicMang View Post
That is exactly what I wanted to hear. I had no problems seeing the liquid in my small kettle because it was all the way to the top. How are boil overs dealt with then? If you can't see it coming, do you just hit close to 212 F then turn the gas down to as low as possible without losing temp or should I not even worry about it being that it's 7 or so gallons in a 15.5 gallon keg? Along the same lines, water boils at 212. I have noticed my wort being about the same. Is that accurate or can someone give me a more precise temp?

Thank you for the suggestions on the additions to the keggle. I will definitely be looking into all of them in the near future. I was just unsure in the first place if everyone had this problem.
You'd have to really work to get 5 gallons to boil over.

I've never been able to boilover liquid that I can't see in a keggle, even without FermCap-S.

I now routinely boil over 13 gallons at a roiling 1.5 gal/hr boiloff with barely any foam. Just add 5 drops of FermCap-S per 5 gallons of wort. The only time I see foam is when I raise the hop back out or put it in, and only right as it enter/leaves the liquid line. No idea why this is... it's an odd phenomenon.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:42 AM   #7
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If you are doing 5 gallon boils you will not have to worry about boil-overs. I have only come close with 10 gallon batches where I am boiling 12 or 13 gallons. With that much wort in a 16.5* gallon keg, you will see it coming.

*Sorry, typo - 15.5

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:42 AM   #8
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And to throw it out there, I bought the keg with the hole already cut out. Should I leave it as is or should I try and widen the hole? There is also what seems like grime or something on the inside of the keg. Its almost rough like rust. You can kind of see it in the picture. How can I clean that? I soaked it in oxyclean for about an hour then tried to scrub it with a dish sponge, which didn't do much. Would it be okay to use steel wool or would that ruin something? Sorry. New to the keggle game. Thank you for all of the help thus far.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
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If you are doing 5 gallon boils you will not have to worry about boil-overs. I have only come close with 10 gallon batches where I am boiling 12 or 13 gallons. With that much wort in a 15.5* gallon keg, you will see it coming.
This. You can start to see liquid at full boil around the 8 gallon level.

As for the heat levels... my propane regulator is infinitely variable, but I prefer to only use it on only two settings. I measure it in my own unit of "clicks". It has 6 nubs on the gas dial equally separated. I just pick a spot on the dial (you could Sharpie a line if you choose) and each time a nub passes it, that's one "click". Six clicks will light the burner, ten clicks will boil at 1.2 gal/hr, twleve clicks at 1.5 gal/hr. I estimate those are 40k and 45k BTU/hr, respectively. The first gives an average boil you'd use for cooking rice or somesuch; the second gives a very active, roiling boil.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:44 AM   #10
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Cool. That makes me feel better then. Thank you both.

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