Hot weekend and tried to make the best of it by staying inside where it was cool and work on some brewing projects.
First was trying to put to good use a 2000W 120V all stainless heating element I found. I picked up the element from the good folks at http://www.homebrewstuff.com for only $40. I thought it could be a great element for my small brew kettle so I can get back to brewing and do it away from the stove and with some simple PID temperature control. The element is all stainless and has a 1/2″ NPT weld-less mounting so it had my vote and when it arrived and I tried it out in a plastic bucket the heating times were impressive. Since I’ll be brewing 3 gallon batches, I started with 4 gallons of tap water and heated it to strike temp of 168 degrees in 25 minutes and the about 20 minutes from 168 degrees to a nice rolling boil. I was impressed but the biggest problem was the power cord was under-sized and I was worried about the lack of grounding. Not to give up on a great heating element I decided to add better wiring enclosure to facilitate adding grounding and the use of a 12AWG cord. Using a small, sealed fiberglass enclosure and an 18 gauge stainless steel plate, I was able to mount the element to the enclosure and provide a secure ground as well as covering the heavier gauge wiring I’ll be using.
The next project was building a keg/carboy washer. I had looked at the great job some fellow home brewers did with theirs on the forum I’m frequently on, homebrewtalk.com. I chose a Wayne 1/6 H.P. submersible utility pump due to it’s weight, keeping it easily in place in the bucket but most importantly was the cost…$25 on eBay. With fountain pumps costing $60 to $100 getting this was a no-brainer. Tried it out in the kitchen sink while covering the output with my hand I quickly found out just how powerful it is, it was a quick shower. Biggest challenge might be trying to keep a carboy or keg from shooting off the assembly.
It is simply made from a submersible pump in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket with a PVC upright tube with holes drilled in a cap on the tube. The upright tube goes up through a hole cut in the bucket lid. The lid helps support the upside down carboy or keg and the cleaner/sanitizer just runs out of the carboy/keg and back into the bucket through the hole. I thought since I will be cleaning corny kegs I want to clean/sanitize the posts as well as the dip tubes so I put a cross fitting in the spray tube with short arms attached to 1/2″ NPT threaded elbows with 1/2″ NPT to 1/4″ hose barbs so I can attach short hoses and ball lock disconnects. I got to thinking and since I’m fermenting in 1/6 bbl Sanke kegs, which are taller than carboys and 3 gallon corny kegs, I decided to add a threaded coupling in the upright spray tube so I can quickly switch to a longer spray tube for the Sanke kegs. The bulk of the build is the bucket and PVC pipe fittings which run about $20. Then there is the pump, which if you are patient and shop around like I did, you can get one for $20-$40. Couple gallons of water, some Powered Brewery Wash and a couple minutes on the washer and the carboy or keg is clean. Change the cleaning solution for sanitizer and a few more minutes and you are ready to ferment or keg.
Remember that when using electricity around water it is important that everything is properly grounded and that you use a ground fault protected outlet. Make sure that any commercially made electrical device you use is UL Listed and have a licensed electrician check any of your own electrical work. A mistake or overlooking these safety steps can cost you your life. Brew safe.