Thanks to some generous fellow homebrewers who donated time and effort, I now have a fully-functioning 10-gallon all-grain homebrewing system. While I’m still missing a lot of parts that would make this effort easier, and I’m sure more efficient, this is certainly enough to get me going on the road to some good all-grain beers.
Untamed Brewery 2.0
The foundation of the system is 2 half-barrel kegs that have been converted into a mash tun (left) and brew kettle. Large holes were cut out of the top of each and fittings were installed near the bottom. I inherited the one on the left, and it came complete with welded fittings and the whole works. All I had to do was buy a 1/2″ ball valve to put on the end.
I used weldless fittings to complete the mash tun. You can buy weldless fitting sets from some homebrew shops, such as Northern Brewer for around $28 (plus shipping). I bought the parts at Home Depot for about $13 and assembled it myself. And believe me, I am NOT mechanically inclined.
The other random parts you see in the photo are a metal strainer, a floor scrubbing pad and a mesh metal tube with a clamp. Those will all be used in the mash tun to sparge the grains. The mesh tube was taken off of a gas line from a grill and a metal spring was inserted into it. It will serve as my false bottom. The scrubbing pad will go on top of the mesh tube to help form a strainer that will help keep the sparge from sticking. There is nothing worse than a stuck sparge. Nothing… The two photos below demonstrate how the “false bottom” works.
|Inside of the mash tun. Left photo shows the mesh tube connected via a
hose barb. The other end is clamped shut. The floor scrubber pad is then placed on top of the tube to create a sieve for the grain bed.
The metal strainer will be placed upside down on top of the grain bed when sparging and the sparge water will be poured over it to aid in evenly distributing water through the grains. Sort of a batch/fly sparge hybrid.
Plumbing inside the brew kettle
To the right is a photo showing the inside of the brew kettle. It was equipped with a curved pipe, which will leave some wort left in the kettle, but prevents a lot of the surface trub from getting out into my fermenter when I drain the wort.
Finally, there is a propane burner, copper wort chiller, and former brew pot, which I will now use to heat my sparge water. I still have a long way to go before I feel I have a “complete” system, there is no way I can accumulate any more equipment until I get a house of my own with either a basement, garage or large shed. I am out of room.
However, if you know of anyone looking to part with a mini fridge around the Greenville area, I’m interested. I’ve also inherited a couple Cornelius kegs that need a place to chill so I can start kegging my homebrew. Perhaps there are some Furman students moving out of their dorms that don’t need them…
While this is certainly no in-depth lesson on how to do an all-grain brew, hopefully this will give you some idea of one way to do it. I am by no means an expert, especially since I haven’t even used this set-up yet, so I’m all ears for suggestions. However, if you have any questions about going all-grain or need help setting it up, I’ll do my best to help. Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on Twitter (@untamedbeer).
We’ve got a soda keg, too! Randomly delivered to our house by northern brewer, we probably should have sent it back, but that costs as much as it does! We were planning to put something in it at some point, but since we don’t have a kegerator, it would be back to college-style keg in a trash can with ice, must be finished by morning. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but like you we have a relatively small rental and large parties would require nice weather and an outside theme. I’m aiming for sometime in June!
I would doubt that scrubbing pad is food safe
Well, it’s never been used on a floor :)
Actually, I haven’t used it myself. I was given a mesh pipe cover like the ones used on propane tank lines. A stretched out spring was run through it, so it acts as a sieve. That has worked very well.
Several homebrewers I know use those scrubbing pads with good results. They also sell them at our local homebrew shop/brewery, so it must be common. I would imagine that so long as you keep it clean, it shouldn’t do too much damage.