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CS223 07-13-2012 04:03 PM

My BIAB, RIMS, E-Brewery-In-A-Can
First, a note of thanks to all these members for sharing their ideas and inspiring me.








And the great guys at my LHBS

As noted in my other posts, space is at a premium for me and SWMBO frowns on any new hobby of mine. This is a problem since I suffer from a debilitating condition called MHD, Multiple Hobby Disorder. My build had to be multi-function, compact and easy to store. I believe I've accomplished what I set out to do.

I started out with the 44qt. Bayou Classic kettle with the basket. I was a bit disappointed to discover it was made in China and not as heavy as I hoped. But it fit the application. Of importance was the 3” of clearance under the basket and the lip inside the kettle that supported the basket. While the basket isn't necessary for BIAB, there's the chance that the kettle could serve multiple functions like boiling peanuts, crawfish or sous vide. The 3” clearance was also important for installation of the ULWD Camco element.

I didn't like any of the no weld options, my neighbor is a food safety scientist and I've learned a lot from him in regards to where bacteria can hide in minute places. Even more so, leaks concerned me, nothing would be worse than to have my first 8 gal. of mash in a leaky pot. Luckily I stumbled on Bobby_M's spuds at Brewhardware.com. Can't say enough good things about them, they make for a neat professional installation without any aggravation.


I began by carefully measuring, marking and drilling the holes to accept the spuds. I used Dewalt hole saws in lieu of Greenlee punches.

Dewalt 1-9/16 Saw & Arbor

Dewalt 1-1/16 Saw & Arbor

My first test was cutting a hole in a common coffee can. I figured if I could do that without shredding a tin can, then they would work on the kettle.


I drilled the holes using a drill press, I wouldn't dare try it by hand. I clamped some scrap 2x4's to the table and made a cradle, then centered the table in relation to the drill arbor. Each hole took about 15 seconds total cutting time and I used water based coolant.





I deburred the edges and I was GTG.

I simply tinned the spuds heavy with the recommend silver solder, fluxed the opening in the pot and with the pot cradled on it's side, I set the spud in place making sure the pot was level. I then heated the spud with a propane torch. I allowed the heat to transfer from the spud to the pot and when it was hot enough, it simply sat down in place. I touched up the gap with some solder and moved on to the next spud once it cooled. No distortion or discoloration in the pot. I was careful to make sure the element hole was high enough to allow the element to rotate during installation. Prior to soldering, I tightened the spud onto the element to the amount of compression I wanted on the gasket then I put a witness mark on the top of the spud with the element level. That way the element would be indexed when I soldered it. The element is just shy of the bottom of the basket when installed. The rest of the spuds were installed as low as possible but above the radius of the bottom.

There is a spud for the anode, the RTD, the valve and the heater element. I also soldered a ground lug below the heating element spud.




Had to have something that said Blingman


With the kettle finished, it was on to the controller. I already had a PID by Toky on hand. It was a spare I've had for several years, designed to drive an SSR with both a fuzzy logic and manual mode. I had a couple of spare 45A Opto22 SSR's. I decided to order the enclosure from Auberins, along with the heat sink, switches & RTD with the deluxe QD cable.

I picked up the Packard contactors from Amazon.

The plan was to build a compact controller. I used Unibits to drill all the holes, again carefully laying them out and using the drill press. I managed to find a smoking deal via eBay on a fifty foot 10ga 3 wire cord for $50 delivered. It already had a L14-30A plug on one end which was a bonus, I lopped it off and it became the pigtail for the heating element. The other end had a 3 outlet 120V splitter. I lopped it off, it will get a 120V plug for use around the farm. I purchased some additional L14-30A plugs & sockets via eBay. There is the typical dryer plug installed on one end and a L14-30A twist lock on the other.

The layout & configuration was far less complex than other builds. The E-Stop switch serves double duty as the master on/off switch. It switches a contactor that supplies the hot & neutral on the

buss strip for the rest of the control box.


The 3 position switch selects between the PID output, center off and the second contactor that simply shorts across the output of the SSR to provide 100% full on 240V to the element. A PWM control will be installed as soon as it becomes available in the next couple weeks. Details on it are hush-hush at the moment.

The Push button switch supplies power to a 12V 2A switch mode power supply that supplies the 12V DC to the Greatbrew pump. I didn't want a 120V circuit along with the 240V since my house is only a 3 wire system on the 240V side thus no neutral and I hate wall warts.


I opted for the pigtail approach for the control box instead of receptacles, due to both space constraints and cost. One pigtail supplies power to the contactor, the other connects to the heating element pigtail. The 12V DC lead has Anderson PowerPoles installed, there are inline fuse holders in both sides of the DC power leads inside the control box.



I found a “wire” drawer handle at Lowes and added it to the top of the enclosure.


One advantage of the controller is that I can use it for other applications, a smoker for example. All that's required is another RTD and a 240V heating element.

For the heating element pigtail, I used a 1” PVC slip to NPT coupler. The threaded side was smaller than the heating element insulator. I profiled the coupler in the mill to match the insulator. You can use a Dremel etc. Once it fit snugly, I drilled an angled hole at the bottom location of the fitting for the ground lead to exit.




I used a slip plug & bored a hole for a snug fit on the cord. I installed two ring terminals on the heater element and bent them at right angles so that the power leads would be straight when soldered and prevent the wire from being all bunched up. I soldered the pigtail leads to the ring terminals then pushed the PVC coupler over the element. I marked on each side of the coupler for screws to fasten it to the element insulator, taking care to choose the length and position them so that there was no way that they could short to the element. I installed one screw to secure the slip plug to the coupling. A quick check with the ohmmeter assured me that all was good. I've considered using some polyurethane adhesive but I like the fact that it's serviceable as is should I need to make a change.







For all the plumbing connections I used economical camlock connections.

CS223 07-13-2012 04:04 PM

Operation is straight forward. Fill the kettle with water, drop the basket in, put the bag in. Calculate the mash-in temp. Set the PID and let it go. When it reaches mash-in temp, bump the PID down to the mash-set temp, dough in. Connect the pump to the outlet, set the hose on top of the mash, set the lid on and start the pump.

In this application the pump is really important to keep the temperature of the mash uniform. The heating element is running the whole time with the PID constantly calculating for heat loss and compensating. Basically like RIMS. If it were done without the pump, I'd recommend turning off the heater and just insulating the kettle with a blanket for the duration of the mash.


Bump the temp up for mash-out. After mash out, turn the switch to the center off position. Turn off the pump and disconnect it from the kettle. Pull the basket & bag and let it drain & give it a squeeze. The ladder here served as my gantry to hang the basket.

Take a pre-boil gravity sample, measure the volume.

Start the boil. For the moment I've used 100% heat but it's way too much @ 5500W though I didn't have any issues with a caramelized element just a very foamy boil. 2 gal/hr boil off rate. Once the PWM is installed, it will be more controllable. Have to build a proper hop spider too.


Continue the boil & hop additions per SOP. At flame out, turn the switch to center-off, install the pump on the outlet, connect the plate chiller and recirculate while watching the temp drop on the PID.

When chilled, take a gravity sample, move the hose to the corney & fill the corney. Pitch the yeast, install the spunding valve and put it in the ferma-keezer and set the temp to the fermentation temp.

Cleanup involves dumping the trub from the kettle, rinsing, filling with some water, adding a scoop of PBW in the kettle, warm the water and run the pump. Back flush the chiller, clean the utensils, basket and hoses. Rinse & towel dry.

I've saved what I think is the best part for last.

First, I take the hoses, nine feet total and the RTD cable and put them in the bottom of the kettle.


Next I put in the basket and coil up the 50' power cord wiping it down as it goes into the basket.


Next I set in the controller, then the plate chiller, then the pump.



And finally the lid. Yes, everything stows in the kettle with room to spare.

The next slated project is a storage box on casters that the kettle will fit in. It will be 30” tall. The box lid will serve as the surface that the kettle will sit on during brewing, probably tile of some sort. On either side I plan flip up leafs that will serve as additional working surface, tile or stainless. A collapsible telescoping gantry will straddle the center cabinet and serve as a place to hang the basket when draining.

I'll probably make a few improvements for mounting the chiller and I'm thinking about making a mount of some sort to attach or hang the pump on one of the kettle handles. It's a bit long sticking out the front and I don't want to risk accidentally breaking a fitting.

ETA: Found some nifty rubber feet to put on my chiller:



jrb03 07-13-2012 05:52 PM

Very impressive! This is exactly what I am about to build, but on a 2.5 gallon 110v level. Where did you order the cam locks from? Its great to see they work ok with the greatbreweh pump. Thanks for sharing your build.

Disintegr8or 07-13-2012 06:29 PM

Awesome job...Makes me want to throw mine in the garbage and start over. :mad:

DustBow 07-13-2012 10:44 PM

Very nice. I'm going to start something similar very soon & you can never have enough references.

iijakii 07-13-2012 11:02 PM

Very nice. I used to propane BIAB and was less than enthused. I really like my electric brutus20, but these tiny neat BIAB systems make me think twice; the recirculation and sturdy bag-lined basket would have solved all my BIAB gripes.

chuckjaxfl 07-14-2012 05:48 AM

Very nice. The "everything fits in the kettle" aspect just floors me. That's awesome.

pvtschultz 07-14-2012 10:03 PM

I prost your thread for sheer simplicity and ingenuity. Great work!

Adeering 07-14-2012 10:47 PM

Very nice, how much experience did you have with doing the silver solder before you attempted this? I like the look of those over the weldless kits

DustBow 07-14-2012 11:19 PM

I have spuds as well for the anode and element. I guess the only bad thing about the spuds is that they are "1-way" and you can't attach a dip tube on the inside of the pot. But they're great solutions for those who don't want weldless fittings. So much simpler to solder than the locknuts

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