Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why AL is my new pal

I thought I had the perfect brew setup.  I had a converted keg that served as my single vessel BIAB solution.  My electric heatstick system was working flawlessly, and my homemade voile bag was getting the job done.  My plate chiller worked great, and I had fine-tuned my process to get my hot wort down to pitching temperature with an in-line thermometer assembly.  Life was PERFECT!

Then it happened....I saw it on Homebrewfinds.com one day 2 weeks ago....a 10 Gallon aluminum stock pot for just $41.  Did I need it?  No, but man it sure was tempting.  I was getting tired of lugging that big old keg around that weighs 20+ pounds.  Not only was it a bear empty, but with 7.5 gallons of water in it there was little chance I could lift it to the top of my brew stand.  And clean up would be a breeze....no more reaching way down in that keg trying to loosen that nasty hot break, or hops that was seemingly welded to the sides.

So I took the plunge and bought one.  Two weeks later it had made its way across this great country by land from California.  Upon opening it, I was amazed and disappointed all at once.  It was light as a feather, and nice and shiny-new, but the advertisement had said it came with a steamer basket which was curiously missing.  I was hoping that the basket would give me a way to pull my bag of grains out without too much squeezing.  No luck...I'm corresponding with the company now to see what went wrong.

In no time I had drilled a hole for the ball valve and verified that my voile bag should fit.  There was no reason not to give her a try the next day, as I had just bought grains to brew up a New Glarus Spotted Cow clone.

Here is how the set up looks during mash, not a whole lot different from before, but with the pot being shorter and wider, it's a bit easier to keep an eye on things.

Hit my temps dead on with my high tech electric brewstick with digital controller.
152F for 60 mins, and 170 mashout for 10.  I drew a few quarts of wort out of the bottom and recirculated it into the bag several times to keep the temperature even.  No need for a $150 March pump!  Thanks Bob Stempski!

With the mash finished and the bag drained, the boil begins:

And when it's time to drain the pot, my plate chiller is clamped just under the table surface:

I recently started using some leftover voile to serve as a filter of the wort as it goes into the funnel/fermenter.  This also helps aerate the wort.  The hot break and hops that make it into the voile will actually clog it up, so having a large piece allows me to slide it around as this happens.

Cleanup was a dream also.  Just a quick brushing and rinsing, and I'm ready for next time.

I did have to modify my siphon tube afterwards by adding an extra copper piece so that it extends to the edge of the pot.

The only other change I need to make is to start with about a half-gallon more water.  The larger diameter of this pot allowed more boil-off and I only ended up with 4.5 gallons of wort.  I had been starting with about 7.4 Gallons, and will now need about 8 gallons.

I use Beersmith, and I had to go into the Equipment section and play around with the numbers to get it right.

So until I find a new way to improve things, I think my setup is perfect.

If anyone has questions, please feel free to post them below.  I have been thinking of making a few videos to discuss my process/setup so let me know if that would be of interest, or if you have other topics you'd like me to take a shot at.

Until next time....cheers!

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Great set up there BagBrewerGuy, looks alot better than mine. Added a link to here from my blog for ya as well

Much appreciated ! Added link to yours here.

What advantage would the AL stockpot be over a stainless stock pot? I understand it would weigh less anything else? Academy sports has a 80qt AL one (with strainer) for $96 or I can get the Bayou 82qt Stainless on Amazon for $134

Aluminum is a better conductor of heat than SS, as well as being lighter, and cheaper.

I found a 10 gallon pot for $42 last year, and it has served me well. There are also some pots from Winware on our Amazon store that are reasonably priced.

I mash, boil, ferment, and bottle from an aluminum stock pot. experiment here: onepotbrewing.wordpress.com

I mash, boil, ferment, and bottle from an aluminum stock pot. experiment here: onepotbrewing.wordpress.com

I mash, boil, ferment, and bottle from an aluminum stock pot. experiment here: onepotbrewing.wordpress.com

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