Stainless Steel 55 Gallon Barrel - Useful?

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madcapstudios

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I recently bought a new house. Behind the shed on the property is a 55 gallon barrel. It appears to be stainless steel (magnet will not stick to it) with a welded fitting on the side. Very very heavy. The real estate agent mentioned that the old man who previously owned the house may have had some brewing purpose for it in mind but never got around to it.

It's dirty but seems to be structurally sound. There's some slight surface rust/oxidation on the interior but it doesn't look deep at all.

The markings on the bottom of the barrel are as follows...
304
16-55-72
USS

Pictures are below.

My question is... Does this barrel have a use in a homebrewing set up and if so, what would that be? I'm a simple extract brewer and have never done all-grain or built a rig, so I can guess but couldn't say for sure. Would it be of use? Does the rust out-and-out disqualify it? Does it have value? What do you guys think?





 

leboeuf

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Hmmm I'm thinking that in Lynchburg, VA that guy was going to use this to distill 55 gallon washes... I suppose you could do the same :D
 

anemic

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It is 304 s/s

Almost all process equipment is 316 but it will fine for homebrewing

Even stainless steel will surely rust, it's compatible with everything. Hydrochloric acid will burn it right up. Probably your rust is stuff that is on the surface, and that is corroding in the elements.

Get a 30 gallon recipe !
 

freddyb

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16-55-72
steel gauge - volume - ? maybe circumference?
Just guessing here.
 

pompeiisneaks

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USS means U.S. Steel. I don't think they make much aluminium.... I'm pretty sure its stainless... Yes use it for a brewpot, or whatever else tickles your brewing fancy :)
 

COLObrewer

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Definately hold on to this! Assuming you progress in your homebrewing like most of the rest of us, you will find a use of this in the future. You will kick yourself if you get rid of it.
 

ajwillys

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Definitely hold onto it. And if you clean it, make sure you don't use regular steel brushes on it. They must be stainless or some other material or it will cause it to rust.
 

anemic

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On second thought, scrap it. You don't know what it was originally used for. The chemicals industry puts all manner of liquid death into barrels. The fact that it may appear to be extra heavy duty only points to the idea that it may not have been used for a food grade application. It seems like a neat idea for a kettle but there is a risk. This why the pharmaceuticals business has to use brand new process equipment on every installation. They don't tolerate that type of risk. I don't think you should either. It may have had anything in it, even waste. Worse than poo.
 

BrewBeemer

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On second thought, scrap it. You don't know what it was originally used for. The chemicals industry puts all manner of liquid death into barrels. The fact that it may appear to be extra heavy duty only points to the idea that it may not have been used for a food grade application. It seems like a neat idea for a kettle but there is a risk. This why the pharmaceuticals business has to use brand new process equipment on every installation. They don't tolerate that type of risk. I don't think you should either. It may have had anything in it, even waste. Worse than poo.
I hope this above QUOTE was a joke as it is. Not to start a pissing war just facts.
One of my friends owns a tank wash business for 18 wheelers, they can come in after hauling one part epoxy, lard, lacquar thinner, hot chemicals plus and many poison base product, that fall under Haz-Mat. After the tank has been cleaned out this between $325 to $650 the tank is certified cleaned, the next load could be hauling food grade products next. Another friend only hauls vinegar in his 6,200 gallon tank be it 100 to 300 grain so no reason for washouts between daily loads. Nothing can live in that high acid concentration.

In your drum that is a super great find it's worth money keep it and clean it. I wouldn't think twice after having the proper cleaner run thru it then brew with it provided the valve was rebuilt, cleaned or replaced. One down two to go, congrats on your find you lucky one.
 

ClutchDude

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I doubt that, unless it has stains and other crap that some cleaner like BKF can't clean out, the stainless has leached anything. Hopefully someone who deals with this stuff every day can speak up.

I'd go King Soloman on it. Take it to a welder, cut it in thirds, have them weld a NEW bottom onto two of them, and viola, a 3x ~18 Gal. pots with SS. Also get that valve removed and get new SS valves/parts installed and have handles cut in or riveted on.

GREAT FIND and good luck!
 

anemic

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No I wasn't joking. The chem processing plants I work with would absolutely not have tanks cleaned in any manner, such as you propose. There are obviously different standards in play for different purposes. I had the impression, by the way, that food grade containers were dedicated. I may be wrong, but with things that into my own piehole, I go with the Better Safe Than Sorry rule of thumb. The tone of your post is a bit aggressive, yet the information is interesting. It may be instructive to have the two opinions out there. It's possible we are both correct.
 

Pi Kapp Beer Guy

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I say clean the hell out of it. If your worried about chemicals clean it and when you almost think tou would drink the water sitting in it. Give some to the neighbors dog if after three days he is not dead then i would say go with it.
 

BrewBeemer

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No I wasn't joking. The chem processing plants I work with would absolutely not have tanks cleaned in any manner, such as you propose. There are obviously different standards in play for different purposes. I had the impression, by the way, that food grade containers were dedicated. I may be wrong, but with things that into my own piehole, I go with the Better Safe Than Sorry rule of thumb. The tone of your post is a bit aggressive, yet the information is interesting. It may be instructive to have the two opinions out there. It's possible we are both correct.
Sorry this was not to be a "agressive" reply by me just the facts. The cleaners they use at the tank wash are not a sold to the public item, hell if mixed too strong it will etch into 304 and 308 stainless tanks if not at the proper concentration ratios. This plus mechanical cleaning and steam cleaning. Well water or your city tap water has more chemicals that are worse to your health than a properly cleaned and certified clean tanker. I have been around this friends tank wash business for over 35 years.

Do what makes you happy, I stated what is done daily to tankers you see on the highway daily as I replied before to inform not to start a pissing war.

Do what makes you happy.

One bad item I see about cutting this drum into three shorter kettles is the diameter as this is a vast surface area especially on the boil off amount vs a 12" or even a 10" cut open top.
Example; a 12" cut top keg or your brewing keggle a common item, has 113 sq/inch of surface area, 10" has 78.54 sq/inch of surface area, a white plastic food grade 55 gallon keg of 23" diameter has 415.47 sq/inch of open surface area. As you can see there is a vast exposed surface area difference.

Your boil off evaporation rate will vary by the intensity of the boil, time of boil, wind, the realitive humidity and the exposed surface area. Your net wort will vary.

I did not know members on this forum were smarter than the inspectors that visit this $138 million dollar a year business frequently to see if they meet these approved cleaning standards.

I'm out of here with my reply to the OP question, best of luck to you.
 

SGFBeerBuzz

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If it were me, I'd look online to see if I could find one or two more like it and start saving. Could be a fun way to get into brewing 1 bbl batches.

Given the choice on which vessel I'd use this for, I think it would make a great HLT for doing several batches of all-grain in a row. Put some hot water heater elements in it or find a way to use a big propane burner, and it can heat enough water to do several batches in succession.
 

jeepinjeepin

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It has value. What value does it hold for you is the question. If you don't have a need for it as is weigh it and find the scrap value at a local scrap yard for stainless. That is your bottom dollar. Then you can post it on HBT classifieds and Craigslist for what you think it is worth as a piece of equipment. If you get no hits you can still sell it for scrap to buy whatever equipment fits your needs.
 

jeepinjeepin

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Bobby_M said:
You'd be able to get about $1 a pound for it in scrap.
Is that a guess or actual market value? $1/lb seems low but I'm seeing last weeks price at $.52/lb???
 
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