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Old 09-04-2011, 10:46 PM   #1
bheggeseth
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Default Mash Tun Keggle - Beginner Build

First a quick introduction as I am new here. I love to build things, I have tinkered with restoring old vacuum tube radios, I currently have a small work shop in the garage that I use for building wooden long bows, and I have in the past built two small boats. For Christmas I got my wife two books on how to brew beer as she expressed some interest. She is the manager of a wine and spirits store which brings some cool fringe benefits. So after brewing our first batch of beer I started searching the internet and quickly found your wonderful forum and found myself a new hobby. You can’t go wrong when your hobby yields beer!
The first item up for construction is a mash tun for all grain brewing, with the plan to batch sparge. I started with cutting the top of the keg open with a dremel and some small cut off wheels. I probably used up 50 disks. The thought is to insulate the keggle very well by enclosing it with a wooden frame filled in with some kind of spray insulation, in a sense it will be a big can koozie. Not sure completely why but I thought I might be better without the top ring on the keggle. If anyone was curious it will take you about 4 hours with an angle grinder. I hope to silver solder tri clamps on, one on the bottom for the drain, and two on the sides for a thermometer and heating element. I will add some more pictures as I go. Any thoughts are welcome.


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Old 09-06-2011, 08:59 PM   #2
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Looks good. But for the time you spent with the dremel, you could have bought a grinder. I have a feeling your going to miss the handles. As far as insulating. Just use some of the reflectix wrap. Works pretty well for most.

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Old 09-06-2011, 09:09 PM   #3
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The first time you have a stuck sparge you are going to wish you had a way to lift that sucker.

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Old 09-06-2011, 10:33 PM   #4
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The first time you have a stuck sparge you are going to wish you had a way to lift that sucker.
Why would he need to lift the MT in the case of a stuck sparge? I've had more than a few over the years and never once had to lift the MT to fix the situation. Handles should be easy enough to add on if desired. I do agree that handles would be nice to have, but I don't get the stuck sparge connection. When I have a stuck sparge, I simply stir the grain bed and resume operations. Not a big deal really.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:19 PM   #5
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Why would he need to lift the MT in the case of a stuck sparge? I've had more than a few over the years and never once had to lift the MT to fix the situation. Handles should be easy enough to add on if desired. I do agree that handles would be nice to have, but I don't get the stuck sparge connection. When I have a stuck sparge, I simply stir the grain bed and resume operations. Not a big deal really.
Last time I got stuck, I had to dump the entire tun out. No amount of stirring / blowing in the valves helped. I suppose one could try to scoop it out, but that takes too long for me.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:25 PM   #6
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When I have a stuck sparge, I simply stir the grain bed and resume operations. Not a big deal really.
Not gonna work with a false bottom.

I've had a few (stuck sparges). Pumping a bit of hot (sparge) water into the valve fixes it every time. No problem.

Nice Work! I agree about the absence of handles. Though I have to say: That thing looks BADASS, especially if he really mirror'ed it up. Love the lid there too. Nice work.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for your comments, I went with the dremel as I thought the smaller cutting wheel diameter would leave a cleaner more accurate circle. For cutting of the top ring, the steel is much thicker and took some considerable time, but once you start there really is not turning back, you definitely want a heavy duty angle grinder. As for needing handles I could build them into the insulation shell enclosure. I am also thinking about a tippy dump for the mash tun, how do most people empty out their mash tun? My plan is to use a bottom drain along with a full false floor, will this help eliminate a stuck sparge?

The overall thought with the keggle started with looking at the coolers people where using for a mash tun. With the cooler you can add the strike water, grain, cover and the cooler will hold the temp. I like this idea as I want to keep the whole process simple, I plan on using gravity for a pump, but I also wanted to stay away from sparging in plastic. My answer is to turn a keg into a very well insulated cooler, I hope by cutting off the top ring I removed a large heat sink and I also thought clean up might be easier as there will be no crevice to get dirty. after insulating the keg I dont think spraying down the entire keg will be an option.

Also sorry for the double post, only after resubmitting my post did I notice the message stated my post needed to be approved by a moderator.

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Old 09-07-2011, 12:18 AM   #8
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Thanks for your comments, I went with the dremel as I thought the smaller cutting wheel diameter would leave a cleaner more accurate circle. For cutting of the top ring, the steel is much thicker and took some considerable time, but once you start there really is not turning back, you definitely want a heavy duty angle grinder. As for needing handles I could build them into the insulation shell enclosure. I am also thinking about a tippy dump for the mash tun, how do most people empty out their mash tun? My plan is to use a bottom drain along with a full false floor, will this help eliminate a stuck sparge?

The overall thought with the keggle started with looking at the coolers people where using for a mash tun. With the cooler you can add the strike water, grain, cover and the cooler will hold the temp. I like this idea as I want to keep the whole process simple, I plan on using gravity for a pump, but I also wanted to stay away from sparging in plastic. My answer is to turn a keg into a very well insulated cooler, I hope by cutting off the top ring I removed a large heat sink and I also thought clean up might be easier as there will be no crevice to get dirty. after insulating the keg I dont think spraying down the entire keg will be an option.

Also sorry for the double post, only after resubmitting my post did I notice the message stated my post needed to be approved by a moderator.
Good post. You are right, the rings (top and bottom) are a large mass of metal and are big heat sinks. That is very clever to realize that.

False bottom will not eliminate stuck sparges. I've used plumbing supply hose braids, a bazooka screen, and now a false bottom. They all can get clog and get "stuck". I greatly prefer the false bottom because of it's industrial strength. I ruined the other two filters with my mash paddle. Look up Jaybird on this forum, he makes great false bottoms.

Reflectix can be used to insulate, then removed after brewing in order to clean the keg. Works a charm, I do this.
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
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[...]I am also thinking about a tippy dump for the mash tun, how do most people empty out their mash tun?
Well, you pick the tun up by the handles, and dump it out...

Cheers!
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:37 AM   #10
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Here's a great suggestion a fellow HBTer gave me (I have the same set up): Mash in a bag! If you make a voile bag to fit in your keggle, the gains can rest on your false bottom in the bag. After the mash, just remove the bag and dispose of the grain as you see fit. No need for a dumping system.

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