Homebrewing blog and resource

Draining the Kettle

I have been brewing with a converted keg as my kettle for a couple years now.  I really enjoy the size of it and sturdiness.  One thing that chronically plagues me is my draining process.  I have a weldless bulkhead fitting through the side.  I used to just make a 7 gallon final batch size so I could drain out of it 5 gallons.  But I got tired of leaving ~28% of my batch behind.  So I have worked with several types of dip tubes.  I have used a copper tube to the center of the kegs base.  That set up works, but I am also pulling all the cold break and hop debris into the fermentor.  I have tried a copper dip tub that suck from the side of the kettle, but you still leave about 15% of the batch behind, and pull some break and hop debris.

I am also considering upgrading to a plate chiller.  Mainly to save time.  Many friends of mine have them and it cuts a good 30-40minutes out of the brew session.  I need that with the family situation making it tough to find time to brew.  But to use one of those you really need to clear your wort of most all the hop debris.

I was using a small 9 inch false bottom and a centered stainless dip tube for a few batches.  That worked great when using whole hops.  But the thing seems to twist sometimes under the weight of my immersion chiller, so you end up sucking hops again.

There is also the issue of losing siphon when the wort falls below the level of the ball valve in the kettle.  I used to have a polysulphone disconnect system on the valve and a piece of tubing running into the kettle.  But the tubing had an ID of 3/4inch.   As wort flow slowed toward the end of the batch, air would sneak up the tube and break the siphon and stopping the flow.  I think I fixed that by going to a brass 1/2inch ID barb fitting with 1/2inch tubing. (Which I actually like better for sanitation issues behind the disconnect in the valve port).

On my last batch I used a homemade hop-stopper.  Similar to one of these:

100_1844

That worked well but I still pulled some air from somewhere and lost flow prematurely.

So why am I putting this long post up?  Well I was wondering how others are separating their wort from their hop debris.  More importantly, am I the only idiot with siphon issues out the dip tube in the kettle?

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7 Comments

  1. mike

    I use a Bazooka Screen in a keggle with a weldless bulkhead gravity fed to a counterflow wort chiller. Tipping the keggle near the end captures most of the wort, but I too would like a more elegant solution

  2. Chris

    I use a hopstopper into a welded valve in my keg. It works fine, ( gravity fed ). I plan on making a spare as this one is getting worn because I take it apart to clean it after every brew. I used to use a plate chiller, but it gave me off flavours after 2 years and I couldn’t get rid of those funky tastes. I went back to an immersion chiller which sits on two electric elements. Works good, but of course adds 40 min. on to my brew day. I get good flow until it gets towards the bottom of the kettle and slows to a crawl. I assume this is because the wort is too warm? When I used the plate chiller, I got every drop of wort. I leave around 2 litres of wort in the kettle. No big deal.

  3. I use a bazooka screen connected to a weldless ball valve fitting, and it works really well with whole leaf hops, but it tends to clog up when using a lot of hop pellets. I brew 22 liter batches, and when brewing IPA’s I only loose about 3-4 liters of wort (13-17 %). I have to tilt the kettle to get the last wort out, but no big deal, really.

  4. Pat Johnson

    I use a 15.5 beer keg with a cut out top and a ball valve at the bottom on the side. I whirlpool at flameout and wait a minute for the trub cone to form in the center of the bottom. I then use a chillzilla chiller and a pump to draw off the wort. When the wort volume gets down near the valve I carefully tip the keg so the valve stays under the surface and I get virtually all the wort without any of the trub. I don’t use anything on the valve (like a bazooka or screen) but rather trust the whirlpooling effect to form the hop cone and keep it out of the chiller and it works great. I do use Irish Moss at 15 minutes which probably helps coagulate the debris in the cone.

  5. Richie

    I also have the same issues. My Bazooka T works well when using whole hops but when using pellets I need to use a fine mesh hops bag. I’m convinced that I am not getting the most utilization by doing this but if I just throw in the hops free they clog up my Bazooka T and my ball valve. It’s a mess. I heard good things about the hops stopper. There really is way to get every drop of beer out of your kettle and leave all the trub and hot/cold break behind. I lose about 1/2 gallon of beer due to the loss of suction from the siphon. I also think that the use of a hop back with whole hops can help as well which is what I plan on trying one of these days soon. Hot wort flows from the kettle to the hop back filled with whole hops. The whole hops filters the beer and adds additional hop aroma and flavor then from the hop back flows through your heat exchanger. This is only good if you use a counter flow chiller or a plate chiller. The thought of getting off flavors from the plate chiller after a year or two has prevented me from buying one. They are not cheap and you can’t take them apart to clean them good. The counter flow chiller works real well if you have cold cooling water. I’m pretty much in the same boat.

  6. chris

    This probably isn’t going to help but I boil in a big pan, use an ice bath to chill and tip the lot into the fermenter through a sterile seive. Cheap. Effective. Delicious.

  7. JohnnyOnTheSpot

    Who puts their brewing equipment on the dirty floor? Yuck…

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