Electric Kettle

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Baloonon

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Dec 3, 2019, 6:46:06 PM12/3/19
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I just ordered a 35 L DigiBoil electric kettle. It has 1500 Watt heating
elements and runs on 110V. Reviews say it takes a while to heat up, but
it's not too bad. My stove doesn't throw a lot of heat, so it takes a
while to come to a boil anyway.

I'll be using it for Brew in a Bag, although it should work fine for
extract brewing too. It's lacking a false bottom and I'm a bit concerned
the spigot will clog with hops when transferring to the fermenter, so
I'm going to start with a low hopped beer to see how it goes. I'm also
going to look into various hop strainer options and see what I can work
out. Unfortunately, documentation seems really sparse on these units, so
I assume I'll just have to see what I can do once I open the box.

The specs note that using it for BIAB with the power on will cause a
shutoff due to interference with the thermostat, but a lot of people
seem to work around this by turning it off and throwing a couple of
sleeping bags or other insulation over it during the mash. I've done
this with BIAB in the past and the mass of five-ish gallons in a pot
plus grain seems to resist cooling down much if it's insulated.

The temps registered on the readout are apparently only accurate to
within +/- 5 degrees F, so I'm going to use a wireless thermometer while
the water heats up to make sure I'm getting the right temps for mashing.

The big advantage for me is that I'll be able to move all of my boiling
down to the basement where I keep my fermenter, meaning a lot less
hauling heavy hot pots down stairs. I should be able to boil outside in
hot weather too, which will put a little less strain on the AC.

I'd love to splurge on one of the giant electric systems with all of the
bells and whistles, but I don't brew enough to justify the expense of
the system plus the cost of the wiring upgrade. I'm hoping this smaller,
lower power unit will work well.

Joerg

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Dec 4, 2019, 12:19:44 PM12/4/19
to
On 2019-12-03 15:46, Baloonon wrote:
> I just ordered a 35 L DigiBoil electric kettle. It has 1500 Watt heating
> elements and runs on 110V. Reviews say it takes a while to heat up, but
> it's not too bad. My stove doesn't throw a lot of heat, so it takes a
> while to come to a boil anyway.
>

1500W ain't much. I currently use two back-to-back 1kW cooktops which my
brew kettle just about manages to straddle. Plugged into two different
circuits. The kettle is a glorified 13-gallon Tamale steamer pot. It
came with a false bottom accessory which comes in handy should I ever
try BIAB.

This takes a whopping hour to get to 155F for steeping and then another
hour from there to 205F for boil. It allows me to do two brews in a day max.

Let us know how fast your heat-up times are with the DigiBoil.


> I'll be using it for Brew in a Bag, although it should work fine for
> extract brewing too. It's lacking a false bottom and I'm a bit concerned
> the spigot will clog with hops when transferring to the fermenter, so
> I'm going to start with a low hopped beer to see how it goes. I'm also
> going to look into various hop strainer options and see what I can work
> out. Unfortunately, documentation seems really sparse on these units, so
> I assume I'll just have to see what I can do once I open the box.
>

You could rig a false bottom using metal stand-offs but I don't see how
that would solve the problem of crud plugging the spigot. I siphon into
the fermenter using a regular racking cane and hose. So far it got stuck
only once, on a Koelsch which doesn't even have that much in hops. 164
batches and counting.

What we use for sloe-gin style schnapses is a small sieve bolted to a
piece of 3/4" PVC pipe. I bent that slightly so it stands in the pot
just right to cup the spigot intake. That keeps the crud at bay.


> The specs note that using it for BIAB with the power on will cause a
> shutoff due to interference with the thermostat, but a lot of people
> seem to work around this by turning it off and throwing a couple of
> sleeping bags or other insulation over it during the mash. I've done
> this with BIAB in the past and the mass of five-ish gallons in a pot
> plus grain seems to resist cooling down much if it's insulated.
>
> The temps registered on the readout are apparently only accurate to
> within +/- 5 degrees F, so I'm going to use a wireless thermometer while
> the water heats up to make sure I'm getting the right temps for mashing.
>

Or calibrate it and keep a cheat sheet next to the pot. That's what I do
with the wireless thermometers and also the hydrometers, they have
correction values marked on the unit or their boxes. This way I do not
need to buy high-cost industrial grade stuff.


> The big advantage for me is that I'll be able to move all of my boiling
> down to the basement where I keep my fermenter, meaning a lot less
> hauling heavy hot pots down stairs. I should be able to boil outside in
> hot weather too, which will put a little less strain on the AC.
>

Way to go. In winter I brew in an unused bathroom downstairs, in summer
outside. Bottling in the winter is not so comfortable because I must do
that on a tiny tiled area. Outside is much better.


> I'd love to splurge on one of the giant electric systems with all of the
> bells and whistles, but I don't brew enough to justify the expense of
> the system plus the cost of the wiring upgrade. I'm hoping this smaller,
> lower power unit will work well.
>

My hope is to some day find a very large diameter European electric
burner north of 3kW. They have 3.5kW induction ones but pricey, and I'd
have to rig a 240V to 230V step-down to prevent blowing the electronics
in there. Plus get a steel plate to plop into my aluminum kettle. That
would cut my brew time per batch by at least 40 minutes.

OTOH this is a hobby and while brewing one can do other stuff on the
side. In the summer I do yard work during brew day, for winter I placed
an older computer down there so I can work or ... watch Youtube :-)

--
Regards, Joerg

http://www.analogconsultants.com/

Baloonon

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Dec 4, 2019, 8:12:04 PM12/4/19
to
Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:

> On 2019-12-03 15:46, Baloonon wrote:

>> I just ordered a 35 L DigiBoil electric kettle. It has 1500 Watt
>> heating elements and runs on 110V. Reviews say it takes a while to
>> heat up, but it's not too bad. My stove doesn't throw a lot of heat,
>> so it takes a while to come to a boil anyway.
>
> 1500W ain't much. I currently use two back-to-back 1kW cooktops which
> my brew kettle just about manages to straddle. Plugged into two
> different circuits. The kettle is a glorified 13-gallon Tamale steamer
> pot. It came with a false bottom accessory which comes in handy should
> I ever try BIAB.
>
> This takes a whopping hour to get to 155F for steeping and then
> another hour from there to 205F for boil. It allows me to do two brews
> in a day max.
>
> Let us know how fast your heat-up times are with the DigiBoil.

I'll see how it goes, but reviews say it's a lot faster than that,
especially when insulated. Two degrees F per minute is what I seem to
recall. Not nearly as fast as a big propane burner, but not too
different from my stove.

>> I'll be using it for Brew in a Bag, although it should work fine for
>> extract brewing too. It's lacking a false bottom and I'm a bit
>> concerned the spigot will clog with hops when transferring to the
>> fermenter, so I'm going to start with a low hopped beer to see how it
>> goes. I'm also going to look into various hop strainer options and
>> see what I can work out. Unfortunately, documentation seems really
>> sparse on these units, so I assume I'll just have to see what I can
>> do once I open the box.
>
> You could rig a false bottom using metal stand-offs but I don't see
> how that would solve the problem of crud plugging the spigot. I siphon
> into the fermenter using a regular racking cane and hose. So far it
> got stuck only once, on a Koelsch which doesn't even have that much in
> hops. 164 batches and counting.

I have an immersion chiller so I can cool without watching out for
clogging the way people with plate chillers need to worry. I may just
try whirlpooling after chilling and see if I can drain by avoiding
disturbing the hop that collect in the middle -- assuming I do it right.

If not, I'll probably make a hop spider, which look pretty simple to
construct. Or, it's always possible that there is enough flow out of the
spigot that it doesn't clog and I can just catch the hops on the
fermenter side with a strainer.

>> The specs note that using it for BIAB with the power on will cause a
>> shutoff due to interference with the thermostat, but a lot of people
>> seem to work around this by turning it off and throwing a couple of
>> sleeping bags or other insulation over it during the mash. I've done
>> this with BIAB in the past and the mass of five-ish gallons in a pot
>> plus grain seems to resist cooling down much if it's insulated.
>>
>> The temps registered on the readout are apparently only accurate to
>> within +/- 5 degrees F, so I'm going to use a wireless thermometer
>> while the water heats up to make sure I'm getting the right temps for
>> mashing.
>
> Or calibrate it and keep a cheat sheet next to the pot. That's what I
> do with the wireless thermometers and also the hydrometers, they have
> correction values marked on the unit or their boxes. This way I do not
> need to buy high-cost industrial grade stuff.

I may end up doing that, or else learning by heart what the adjustment
number is for temps around 150F.

> My hope is to some day find a very large diameter European electric
> burner north of 3kW. They have 3.5kW induction ones but pricey, and
> I'd have to rig a 240V to 230V step-down to prevent blowing the
> electronics in there. Plus get a steel plate to plop into my aluminum
> kettle. That would cut my brew time per batch by at least 40 minutes.

I wouldn't be surprised if the price on these continues to drop. I've
read that you can buy electric turkey fryers for low prices and some
people brew with those, although I suspect the cheap ones have quality
control issues. I almost bought an electric brewing kettle from Amazon
that was on sale, but after reading reviews that suggest that type had a
significant percentage that failed quickly, I decided to go with this
one instead. But the tech is certainly simple, and I assume quality
control isn't too hard to fix with time.

With the holidays I'm going to be drinking up my backlog, but in a month
or so I'll try it out.

Joerg

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Dec 5, 2019, 10:56:32 AM12/5/19
to
On 2019-12-04 17:12, Baloonon wrote:
> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:
>
>> On 2019-12-03 15:46, Baloonon wrote:
>
>>> I just ordered a 35 L DigiBoil electric kettle. It has 1500 Watt
>>> heating elements and runs on 110V. Reviews say it takes a while to
>>> heat up, but it's not too bad. My stove doesn't throw a lot of heat,
>>> so it takes a while to come to a boil anyway.
>>
>> 1500W ain't much. I currently use two back-to-back 1kW cooktops which
>> my brew kettle just about manages to straddle. Plugged into two
>> different circuits. The kettle is a glorified 13-gallon Tamale steamer
>> pot. It came with a false bottom accessory which comes in handy should
>> I ever try BIAB.
>>
>> This takes a whopping hour to get to 155F for steeping and then
>> another hour from there to 205F for boil. It allows me to do two brews
>> in a day max.
>>
>> Let us know how fast your heat-up times are with the DigiBoil.
>
> I'll see how it goes, but reviews say it's a lot faster than that,
> especially when insulated. Two degrees F per minute is what I seem to
> recall. Not nearly as fast as a big propane burner, but not too
> different from my stove.
>

From 55F tap temperature to a boil in 76 minutes? At 1500W that would
beat the laws of physics unless there is a nuclear component in there :-)

https://sciencing.com/calculate-time-heat-water-8028611.html

But I am sitting on the edge of my chair, anxiously waiting to hear the
real test when you are brewing. Insulation makes a difference though I
don't know how much. I haven't yet figured out a non-messy way of doing
that with my tamale steamer kettle. The usual fiber wrap used in
building construction can result in strands getting into everywhere,
including the fermenter at siphoning time.


>>> I'll be using it for Brew in a Bag, although it should work fine for
>>> extract brewing too. It's lacking a false bottom and I'm a bit
>>> concerned the spigot will clog with hops when transferring to the
>>> fermenter, so I'm going to start with a low hopped beer to see how it
>>> goes. I'm also going to look into various hop strainer options and
>>> see what I can work out. Unfortunately, documentation seems really
>>> sparse on these units, so I assume I'll just have to see what I can
>>> do once I open the box.
>>
>> You could rig a false bottom using metal stand-offs but I don't see
>> how that would solve the problem of crud plugging the spigot. I siphon
>> into the fermenter using a regular racking cane and hose. So far it
>> got stuck only once, on a Koelsch which doesn't even have that much in
>> hops. 164 batches and counting.
>
> I have an immersion chiller so I can cool without watching out for
> clogging the way people with plate chillers need to worry. I may just
> try whirlpooling after chilling and see if I can drain by avoiding
> disturbing the hop that collect in the middle -- assuming I do it right.
>

I use a stainless steel coil for chilling, gets it from boil down to 75F
in about 15-20mins. It doesn't help with clogging but I try not to stir
stuff up towards the end of cooling. I also use Irish moss at 15mins
before end of boil to help clear up the wort some.


> If not, I'll probably make a hop spider, which look pretty simple to
> construct. Or, it's always possible that there is enough flow out of the
> spigot that it doesn't clog and I can just catch the hops on the
> fermenter side with a strainer.
>

Filtering, that is a good idea. Maybe a gasoline filter coould be
pressed into service somehow. On my first car in the 80's I had one that
could be taken apart for cleaning (and in this case for sanitation). Not
sure if they still make them or if everything is of the disposable kind now.


>>> The specs note that using it for BIAB with the power on will cause a
>>> shutoff due to interference with the thermostat, but a lot of people
>>> seem to work around this by turning it off and throwing a couple of
>>> sleeping bags or other insulation over it during the mash. I've done
>>> this with BIAB in the past and the mass of five-ish gallons in a pot
>>> plus grain seems to resist cooling down much if it's insulated.
>>>
>>> The temps registered on the readout are apparently only accurate to
>>> within +/- 5 degrees F, so I'm going to use a wireless thermometer
>>> while the water heats up to make sure I'm getting the right temps for
>>> mashing.
>>
>> Or calibrate it and keep a cheat sheet next to the pot. That's what I
>> do with the wireless thermometers and also the hydrometers, they have
>> correction values marked on the unit or their boxes. This way I do not
>> need to buy high-cost industrial grade stuff.
>
> I may end up doing that, or else learning by heart what the adjustment
> number is for temps around 150F.
>

The redneck way would be to use a Sharpie pen and write it on the kettle
near where the digital readout is. Should come off with alcohol later if
needed. I am surprised they didn't include a calibration routine. It can
usually be done at zero cost, like holding + and - down at the same time
and tap twice, or during power-up, while a black cat crosses the street
or something:

https://morebeer-web-8-pavinthewaysoftw.netdna-ssl.com/product_image/morebeer/500x500/31880.png


>> My hope is to some day find a very large diameter European electric
>> burner north of 3kW. They have 3.5kW induction ones but pricey, and
>> I'd have to rig a 240V to 230V step-down to prevent blowing the
>> electronics in there. Plus get a steel plate to plop into my aluminum
>> kettle. That would cut my brew time per batch by at least 40 minutes.
>
> I wouldn't be surprised if the price on these continues to drop. I've
> read that you can buy electric turkey fryers for low prices and some
> people brew with those, although I suspect the cheap ones have quality
> control issues. I almost bought an electric brewing kettle from Amazon
> that was on sale, but after reading reviews that suggest that type had a
> significant percentage that failed quickly, I decided to go with this
> one instead. But the tech is certainly simple, and I assume quality
> control isn't too hard to fix with time.
>

The tech sure is simple but I'd only do it if I could get something in
the 3kW range or higher and for 240V. Or 230V European and use a
step-down transformer.

Cleaning is a concern though. I do that in an unused shower and scrub
real good. Can't do that with the DigiBoil with all the electric stuff
down in there.


> With the holidays I'm going to be drinking up my backlog, but in a month
> or so I'll try it out.
>

We always have a few hundred bottles in nine Sterilite crates in the
basement, plus overflow if a long-fermenter such as a Barley Wine joins
in at bottling time. Whenever three of those are vacant I brew another
two batches. I essentially brew all the beer we and visitors ever drink.
The only time I buy beer is at a pub but then it has to be a good brewpub.

Baloonon

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Dec 7, 2019, 1:35:29 PM12/7/19
to
Looking around a bit online, I see different reports, ranging from
around 1.4 F per minute, which is in line with that formula, to 2 F per
minute. I noticed that formula didn't mention surface area or loss of
heat via the top or sides of the vessel, so I don't know if that's
including some kind of assumptions to try to reflect real life
conditions or if it's about idealized conditions.

It's also possible that people aren't being careful with timing or temp
reports, and I suppose it's also possible the manufacturer is being
conservative when reporting how much heat the elements give off. Or
maybe people are reporting results of a different unit while talking
about the model I have.

I guess I'll find out.

>The tech sure is simple but I'd only do it if I could get something
>in the 3kW range or higher and for 240V. Or 230V European and use a
>step-down transformer.

The same company has a 220V kettle that has a 1900 Watt element and a
500 W element for a total of 2400 W, for only $10 to $20 more. Don't
know if that works for what you're looking for.

> Cleaning is a concern though. I do that in an unused shower and scrub
> real good. Can't do that with the DigiBoil with all the electric stuff
> down in there.

I don't think it should be bad -- the brewing section is one straight
cylinder, with the heating elements safely underneath, so I assume a
soak, scrub and rinse should be enough. There may always be some weird
seam where things get stuck, or the spigot has an issue, so again, I'll
have to see.

Joerg

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Dec 7, 2019, 3:25:50 PM12/7/19
to
On 2019-12-07 10:35, Baloonon wrote:
> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:
>
>> On 2019-12-04 17:12, Baloonon wrote:
>
>>> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> On 2019-12-03 15:46, Baloonon wrote:
>>>


[DigiBoil kettle]


>> The tech sure is simple but I'd only do it if I could get something
>> in the 3kW range or higher and for 240V. Or 230V European and use a
>> step-down transformer.
>
> The same company has a 220V kettle that has a 1900 Watt element and a
> 500 W element for a total of 2400 W, for only $10 to $20 more. Don't
> know if that works for what you're looking for.
>

2400W would be better but not enough of a step-up for the cost,
considering that the two Walmart burners combined that I have right now
deliver 2000W total. Something above 3kW could loosen my wallet to some
extent.

I also found that buying 220V equipment in the US is a logistical
problem. They tend not to offer or ship here, often because of lack of
agency approvals, not enough market. I've got a lot of 220V gear that I
bought while living in Europe. I built myself five large and efficient
transformers but most households do not have that. Connection to 240V
"two-phase" is usually not possible because it can result in an
over-voltage condition.


>> Cleaning is a concern though. I do that in an unused shower and scrub
>> real good. Can't do that with the DigiBoil with all the electric stuff
>> down in there.
>
> I don't think it should be bad -- the brewing section is one straight
> cylinder, with the heating elements safely underneath, so I assume a
> soak, scrub and rinse should be enough. There may always be some weird
> seam where things get stuck, or the spigot has an issue, so again, I'll
> have to see.
>

Rinsing and the required water spraying for that is the problem, that's
where water can get into the electronics. I rinse a lot with hot water
because I want to make sure that there is absolutely nothing of the
cleaning suds left in the kettle.

Baloonon

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Dec 17, 2019, 8:58:06 AM12/17/19
to
The Digiboil 110 KW kettle arrived and I"ve done a first test run.

The steel is fairly thin gauge. I suspect if I tried hard I could
crumple it pretty well by hand, although it's not truly flimsy -- there
doesn't seem to be any bulging or stressing when it has a lot of water,
or dings from incidental contact. The entire unit also seems quite
stable, even when mostly full of water. I admit I had a little bit of
worry that it might be tipsy -- I've seen a bunch of videos of unstable
turkey fryers.

I washed and rinsed it well to get any residual oil from assembly or
manufacture off. The spigot doesn't seem to have any gaskets, so I may
get a couple of silicone gaskets for peace of mind, although it doesn't
seem to leak. The flow through the spigot isn't as vigorous as I might
like, so at some point I may look into replacing the spigot, although it
will be fine for now.

I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp of
the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only attempt to
contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.

It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65 minutes,
or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a decent job of
insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.

One caveat is that I didn't think to stir the water, and the temperature
on the digital readout was 156F. I don't know if that was due to the
digital readout being inaccurate, or a temperature difference between
the top (where the thermometer was measuring) and the bottom, or both.
When I mash, I will definitely stir more often to ensure even temps.

When it reached 161F, I turned the unit off and put a couple of blankets
over it. After 45 minutes, the temperature had only dropped to 158. I
assume that is partly due to residual heat in the heating unit. Normally
I mash for 60 minutes, but I figure there won't be a lot more change in
the remaining 15 minutes.

Turning the heat back on, it took 35 minutes to get up to 212, a bit
slower rate than the earlier session. Since the period was shorter, it's
possible there's a ramp up time for the heating element and there is a
curve that the heating follows -- I hadn't looked at how it was doing in
smaller increments. (Or it could always be measurement error.)

I'd read some accounts saying the boil wasn't very strong, but this
seemed like a vigorous boil. But then it was water only, and it's
possible it will boil wort more weakly.

Since I brew in a bag, part 2 is only going to be an approximation.
Adding grain will drop the temp of the mash water by about 10F, so the
starting point will be lower, and the sugars etc. coming out into the
solution will slow the boil somewhat. On the other hand, a fair amount
of water will be absorbed by the grain, so the amount of liquid being
raised to a boil will be smaller.

Still, I think this gives a pretty good picture of what kind of times
are involved. At some point after the new year I'll give it a test run
and see how it goes with actual mashing and boil, plus the cleanup.

By the way, the box says it can be customized for distilling, although
that is something that doesn't interest me at all. In theory it would be
great to have a house whiskey, although to make it worthwhile I'd want
to age it for at least six years, and that's an extremely long time to
wait just to find out of it is passable. I can't see it making more
sense than just buying the legal stuff.

Joerg

unread,
Dec 17, 2019, 11:01:28 AM12/17/19
to
On 2019-12-17 05:58, Baloonon wrote:
> The Digiboil 110 KW kettle arrived and I"ve done a first test run.
>
> The steel is fairly thin gauge. I suspect if I tried hard I could
> crumple it pretty well by hand, although it's not truly flimsy -- there
> doesn't seem to be any bulging or stressing when it has a lot of water,
> or dings from incidental contact.


That's also a problem with my two Chapman fermenters. The build quality
was never that great to begin with and they are easily dented. However.
cleaning is so much easier than plastic and they've gone through more
than 60 brews each by now.


> ... The entire unit also seems quite
> stable, even when mostly full of water. I admit I had a little bit of
> worry that it might be tipsy -- I've seen a bunch of videos of unstable
> turkey fryers.
>

I think every fire department has horror stories about turkey frying
gone wrong.


> I washed and rinsed it well to get any residual oil from assembly or
> manufacture off. The spigot doesn't seem to have any gaskets, so I may
> get a couple of silicone gaskets for peace of mind, although it doesn't
> seem to leak.


In a brew kettle any gap will soon "crud-seal" itself :-)


> ... The flow through the spigot isn't as vigorous as I might
> like, so at some point I may look into replacing the spigot, although it
> will be fine for now.
>

I wouldn't mind it being slow. Currently I use the racking cane and hose
which can easily take 10mins to transfer five gallons into a fermenter.
I take that time to scrub the cooling coil and other items I used during
the brew.


> I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp of
> the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only attempt to
> contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.
>
> It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65 minutes,
> or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a decent job of
> insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.
>

That is pretty good for 1.5kW!


> One caveat is that I didn't think to stir the water, and the temperature
> on the digital readout was 156F. I don't know if that was due to the
> digital readout being inaccurate, or a temperature difference between
> the top (where the thermometer was measuring) and the bottom, or both.
> When I mash, I will definitely stir more often to ensure even temps.
>

That will almost surely extend the time because the temperature of a
liquid heated from the bottom isn't evenly distrubuted. Even without
heat it isn't. I notice that in summer when diving into the pool which
does not have a heater. For some strange reason the water is often
warmer towards the bottom of the deep end.


> When it reached 161F, I turned the unit off and put a couple of blankets
> over it. After 45 minutes, the temperature had only dropped to 158. I
> assume that is partly due to residual heat in the heating unit. Normally
> I mash for 60 minutes, but I figure there won't be a lot more change in
> the remaining 15 minutes.
>

Hopefully the unit can do short-cycling at least on the 500W setting and
not just on-off thermostat. Although even the latter works. That is what
I do on cold days when the steeping temp can't be held by the kettle. I
use two cheap 1kW burners underneath a very wide pot which straddles
them. Those have simple on-off thermostats. During steeping I turn the
one closest to the bag off and the other to slightly above "1" which
keeps it at 156-158F.


> Turning the heat back on, it took 35 minutes to get up to 212, a bit
> slower rate than the earlier session. Since the period was shorter, it's
> possible there's a ramp up time for the heating element and there is a
> curve that the heating follows -- I hadn't looked at how it was doing in
> smaller increments. (Or it could always be measurement error.)
>
> I'd read some accounts saying the boil wasn't very strong, but this
> seemed like a vigorous boil. But then it was water only, and it's
> possible it will boil wort more weakly.
>

Still, overall a very good performance. Just make sure there is nothing
else on that circuit while brewing and that the wall outlet does not
heat up too much. 1.5kW is close to the limit of a standard 15A circuit.


> Since I brew in a bag, part 2 is only going to be an approximation.
> Adding grain will drop the temp of the mash water by about 10F, so the
> starting point will be lower, and the sugars etc. coming out into the
> solution will slow the boil somewhat. On the other hand, a fair amount
> of water will be absorbed by the grain, so the amount of liquid being
> raised to a boil will be smaller.
>
> Still, I think this gives a pretty good picture of what kind of times
> are involved. At some point after the new year I'll give it a test run
> and see how it goes with actual mashing and boil, plus the cleanup.
>

Yes, please let us know here in the newsgroup.


> By the way, the box says it can be customized for distilling, although
> that is something that doesn't interest me at all. In theory it would be
> great to have a house whiskey, although to make it worthwhile I'd want
> to age it for at least six years, and that's an extremely long time to
> wait just to find out of it is passable. I can't see it making more
> sense than just buying the legal stuff.
>

I saw that in the web link, and also the warning that the sheriff might
come after people doing this.

It could be interesting for raising the ABV of legally purchased vodka.
My wife makes a very good Limoncello but the nanny state (California)
does not allow the sale of strong enough Everclear. Limoncello is best
when it can be stored in the freezer and that requires 190-proof which
is not legal to sell here. The resulting product will only be around
60-proof or so but you can't get there when having to start with
120-proof Everclear. It just does not work.

Baloonon

unread,
Dec 17, 2019, 2:26:39 PM12/17/19
to
Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:

> On 2019-12-17 05:58, Baloonon wrote:

>> I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp of
>> the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only attempt to
>> contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.
>>
>> It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65 minutes,
>> or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a decent job of
>> insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.
>
> That is pretty good for 1.5kW!

I was pleased to see that reports of 2F per minute may well be trustworthy.
That's practical for me, especially since I usually fill the time while
heating up water with things like measuring out ingredients, washing and
sanitizing

>> One caveat is that I didn't think to stir the water, and the temperature
>> on the digital readout was 156F. I don't know if that was due to the
>> digital readout being inaccurate, or a temperature difference between
>> the top (where the thermometer was measuring) and the bottom, or both.
>> When I mash, I will definitely stir more often to ensure even temps.
>>
>
> That will almost surely extend the time because the temperature of a
> liquid heated from the bottom isn't evenly distrubuted. Even without
> heat it isn't. I notice that in summer when diving into the pool which
> does not have a heater. For some strange reason the water is often
> warmer towards the bottom of the deep end.

I have one of those thermometer guns that let you take temps remotely. If I
had been thinking, I would have taken some readings at different heights on
the kettle to get a better sense of what the differences were. Maybe
another time.

>> When it reached 161F, I turned the unit off and put a couple of blankets
>> over it. After 45 minutes, the temperature had only dropped to 158. I
>> assume that is partly due to residual heat in the heating unit. Normally
>> I mash for 60 minutes, but I figure there won't be a lot more change in
>> the remaining 15 minutes.
>
> Hopefully the unit can do short-cycling at least on the 500W setting and
> not just on-off thermostat. Although even the latter works. That is what
> I do on cold days when the steeping temp can't be held by the kettle. I
> use two cheap 1kW burners underneath a very wide pot which straddles
> them. Those have simple on-off thermostats. During steeping I turn the
> one closest to the bag off and the other to slightly above "1" which
> keeps it at 156-158F.

They recommend against mashing in the kettle because the temperature
readings get thrown off by the bag of malt, so I won't be leaving it on.
I'd also be a little suspicious of what kind of cycling happens -- whether
it is actually good at maintaining a steady temp or if it swings back and
forth betwen +/- 5F, for example. That's worse than just starting at 153F
and letting it drop a few degrees through the hour. Since my basement
yesterday was only about 64F, I think insulating while mashing should be
just fine, and if I get more serious about wrapping it up the temps should
be even more stable.

>> Turning the heat back on, it took 35 minutes to get up to 212, a bit
>> slower rate than the earlier session. Since the period was shorter, it's
>> possible there's a ramp up time for the heating element and there is a
>> curve that the heating follows -- I hadn't looked at how it was doing in
>> smaller increments. (Or it could always be measurement error.)
>>
>> I'd read some accounts saying the boil wasn't very strong, but this
>> seemed like a vigorous boil. But then it was water only, and it's
>> possible it will boil wort more weakly.
>
> Still, overall a very good performance. Just make sure there is nothing
> else on that circuit while brewing and that the wall outlet does not
> heat up too much. 1.5kW is close to the limit of a standard 15A circuit.

It's on the same plug as the washing machine, which is on its own circuit,
and I definitely won't be running both at the same time. That also makes it
convenient to reuse the water from washing and rinsing the kettle for
washing clothes (once all of the hop and break gunk is out of the way, of
course.)

>> By the way, the box says it can be customized for distilling, although
>> that is something that doesn't interest me at all. In theory it would be
>> great to have a house whiskey, although to make it worthwhile I'd want
>> to age it for at least six years, and that's an extremely long time to
>> wait just to find out of it is passable. I can't see it making more
>> sense than just buying the legal stuff.
>
> I saw that in the web link, and also the warning that the sheriff might
> come after people doing this.
>
> It could be interesting for raising the ABV of legally purchased vodka.
> My wife makes a very good Limoncello but the nanny state (California)
> does not allow the sale of strong enough Everclear. Limoncello is best
> when it can be stored in the freezer and that requires 190-proof which
> is not legal to sell here. The resulting product will only be around
> 60-proof or so but you can't get there when having to start with
> 120-proof Everclear. It just does not work.

Since there are some potential health issues with distilling, I could see
maybe requiring people to take a certification course at a community
college to run a still, although to be honest people can do a lot of more
dangerous things without certification.

Everything I read, at any rate, makes it seem like it will never be
something people do at a large scale. The cost and quality advantages of
bigger distillers mean it will only be for people who really enjoy it as a
hobby, even more so than beer. A few traditional moonshiners still exist,
but even they struggle to compete with commercial products on both price
and quality.

Joerg

unread,
Dec 17, 2019, 4:52:14 PM12/17/19
to
On 2019-12-17 11:26, Baloonon wrote:
> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:
>
>> On 2019-12-17 05:58, Baloonon wrote:
>
>>> I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp of
>>> the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only attempt to
>>> contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.
>>>
>>> It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65 minutes,
>>> or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a decent job of
>>> insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.
>>
>> That is pretty good for 1.5kW!
>
> I was pleased to see that reports of 2F per minute may well be trustworthy.
> That's practical for me, especially since I usually fill the time while
> heating up water with things like measuring out ingredients, washing and
> sanitizing
>

I usually walk the dogs during the time it heast from 158F to boil. As
an extract brewer I don't have to do a mash, just steeping. My wife
keeps an eye on the radio thermometer and turns the burners off shortly
before boil if the dog walk takes longer than expected. Some day I want
to rig up something where I can have the temps reported to my cell phone.


>>> One caveat is that I didn't think to stir the water, and the temperature
>>> on the digital readout was 156F. I don't know if that was due to the
>>> digital readout being inaccurate, or a temperature difference between
>>> the top (where the thermometer was measuring) and the bottom, or both.
>>> When I mash, I will definitely stir more often to ensure even temps.
>>>
>>
>> That will almost surely extend the time because the temperature of a
>> liquid heated from the bottom isn't evenly distrubuted. Even without
>> heat it isn't. I notice that in summer when diving into the pool which
>> does not have a heater. For some strange reason the water is often
>> warmer towards the bottom of the deep end.
>
> I have one of those thermometer guns that let you take temps remotely. If I
> had been thinking, I would have taken some readings at different heights on
> the kettle to get a better sense of what the differences were. Maybe
> another time.
>

IME those only work reliably on a black surface.


>>> When it reached 161F, I turned the unit off and put a couple of blankets
>>> over it. After 45 minutes, the temperature had only dropped to 158. I
>>> assume that is partly due to residual heat in the heating unit. Normally
>>> I mash for 60 minutes, but I figure there won't be a lot more change in
>>> the remaining 15 minutes.
>>
>> Hopefully the unit can do short-cycling at least on the 500W setting and
>> not just on-off thermostat. Although even the latter works. That is what
>> I do on cold days when the steeping temp can't be held by the kettle. I
>> use two cheap 1kW burners underneath a very wide pot which straddles
>> them. Those have simple on-off thermostats. During steeping I turn the
>> one closest to the bag off and the other to slightly above "1" which
>> keeps it at 156-158F.
>
> They recommend against mashing in the kettle because the temperature
> readings get thrown off by the bag of malt, so I won't be leaving it on.
> I'd also be a little suspicious of what kind of cycling happens -- whether
> it is actually good at maintaining a steady temp or if it swings back and
> forth betwen +/- 5F, for example. That's worse than just starting at 153F
> and letting it drop a few degrees through the hour. Since my basement
> yesterday was only about 64F, I think insulating while mashing should be
> just fine, and if I get more serious about wrapping it up the temps should
> be even more stable.
>

Yes, mashing in the kettle is probably tough. I only have to steep,
2-3lbs of specialty grains at the most. The rest is all LME and DME.


>>> Turning the heat back on, it took 35 minutes to get up to 212, a bit
>>> slower rate than the earlier session. Since the period was shorter, it's
>>> possible there's a ramp up time for the heating element and there is a
>>> curve that the heating follows -- I hadn't looked at how it was doing in
>>> smaller increments. (Or it could always be measurement error.)
>>>
>>> I'd read some accounts saying the boil wasn't very strong, but this
>>> seemed like a vigorous boil. But then it was water only, and it's
>>> possible it will boil wort more weakly.
>>
>> Still, overall a very good performance. Just make sure there is nothing
>> else on that circuit while brewing and that the wall outlet does not
>> heat up too much. 1.5kW is close to the limit of a standard 15A circuit.
>
> It's on the same plug as the washing machine, which is on its own circuit,
> and I definitely won't be running both at the same time. That also makes it
> convenient to reuse the water from washing and rinsing the kettle for
> washing clothes (once all of the hop and break gunk is out of the way, of
> course.)
>

Just don't wash the underwear in the kettle 8-)

The only thing I can recycle is the cooling water and only if I brew
outside. Then I connect a hose to run it into the pool.


>>> By the way, the box says it can be customized for distilling, although
>>> that is something that doesn't interest me at all. In theory it would be
>>> great to have a house whiskey, although to make it worthwhile I'd want
>>> to age it for at least six years, and that's an extremely long time to
>>> wait just to find out of it is passable. I can't see it making more
>>> sense than just buying the legal stuff.
>>
>> I saw that in the web link, and also the warning that the sheriff might
>> come after people doing this.
>>
>> It could be interesting for raising the ABV of legally purchased vodka.
>> My wife makes a very good Limoncello but the nanny state (California)
>> does not allow the sale of strong enough Everclear. Limoncello is best
>> when it can be stored in the freezer and that requires 190-proof which
>> is not legal to sell here. The resulting product will only be around
>> 60-proof or so but you can't get there when having to start with
>> 120-proof Everclear. It just does not work.
>
> Since there are some potential health issues with distilling, I could see
> maybe requiring people to take a certification course at a community
> college to run a still, although to be honest people can do a lot of more
> dangerous things without certification.
>

That reminds me of the stuff we did as a kids. Nowadays we'd get
arrested for that.


> Everything I read, at any rate, makes it seem like it will never be
> something people do at a large scale. The cost and quality advantages of
> bigger distillers mean it will only be for people who really enjoy it as a
> hobby, even more so than beer. A few traditional moonshiners still exist,
> but even they struggle to compete with commercial products on both price
> and quality.
>

It wouldn't be about savings, it's just that we cannot buy 190-proof
Everclear and it is also illegal to ship to CA. Which makes it
impossible to achieve a really good Limoncello unless you have a 2nd
place outside CA.

Baloonon

unread,
Jan 10, 2020, 4:02:51 PM1/10/20
to
On 2019-12-17 05:58, Baloonon wrote:
>
>>> I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp
>>> of the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only
>>> attempt to contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.
>>>
>>> It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65
>>> minutes, or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a
>>> decent job of insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.

First brew report.

I made a simple English pale ale -- 10 lbs Maris Otter, 1 lb Crystal 50,
Goldings hops (1 ounce at 60 minutes, 1 ounce at 20 minutes), 1318
yeast. It's in the fermenter now.

I used 6.25 gallons to mash. I was unsure how much wiggle room I would
have with the water and malt, so I kept the volume a bit low. As it
turns out, I'd be fine heating 7 gallons.

It took 61 minutes to bring water from 50F to 163F, or just under 2F per
minute. I put a pillow over the top and loosely wrapped the upper
section in a foam camping ground pad. I'm thinking I'll order a neoprene
insulating jacket for a better fit and faster heating, although I want
to look into how easy it is to get them on and off for cleaning. My
basement temp is only 62F right now, so I assume mashing will also go a
bit faster in warmer weather, also due to warmer water from the tap.

I kept the mash warm by adding a blanket to the improvised insulation,
but forgot to check the final mash temp to see how far it went down.
Maybe there was a huge screwup with the mash temp which won't reveal
itself until fermenting is done or after bottling, although I assume it
was fine.

After pulling the grain, raising the temp to a boil took 30 minutes, so
I am guessing that was also about 2F per minute. The boil wasn't super
fast, but it was a genuine boil. I lost just over 2 quarts in liquid
during the hour boil.

After cooling, I drained the wort through a strainer into the fermenter.
The rate of flow wasn't quite as fast as I would have liked, but it
wasn't bad. There was no clogging of the spigot, even with a decent
amount of hops coming through into the strainer. However, I think with a
larger quantity of hops, such as for an IPA, I'll need to use a hop bag
during the boil to keep the spigot from clogging. I picked up a deep
fryer basket which just fits into the kettle -- it should work well to
keep the bag off of the heating element.

The OG was close to expected -- 054 compared to an expected 056. Since a
lot of factors can affect OG, I'm not concluding anything at this point.

I never noticed any obvious safety issues while using it. There didn't
seem to be any extreme heat coming off the heating elements making the
sides or bottom dangerously hot, no weird steam leaks, and the kettle
seemed quite stable even when mostly full. Since the sides aren't
insulated, they are 212F while the boil is going, just as a steel pot is
on a stove. However, since I can boil near my basement sink, I don't
need to move the kettle to put in my immersion cooler once the boil is
over.

Clean up was a little awkward at points -- the kettle isn't heavy, but
tipping it to pour out sludgy soapy water is a little awkward due to the
height and my trying to avoid banging any of the parts on the lower
section.

All in all I like it a lot. Not needing to babysit it as much as a a pot
on a stove is a plus. Especially nice is not needing to haul a ton of
wort from my kitchen stove down to the basement where I ferment. One
annoyance was needing to run back and forth to the kitchen for things I
forgot -- a pair of scissors, a strainer, a spoon. I'll need to make a
checklist before the next brew.

Knock on wood the reliability is good. I don't think it's any more
complicated than the big coffee urns you see in cafeterias and church
basements, and I've seen some of those that must be decades old, so I'm
hopeful it will last a long time.

Joerg

unread,
Jan 11, 2020, 3:28:20 PM1/11/20
to
On 2020-01-10 13:02, Baloonon wrote:
> On 2019-12-17 05:58, Baloonon wrote:
>>
>>>> I put seven gallons of water in and turned it on. The starting temp
>>>> of the water was 53F. I haven't insulated it yet, so the only
>>>> attempt to contain heat was putting a pillow on top of the lid.
>>>>
>>>> It took 65 minutes to go up to 161F, so that means 108F in 65
>>>> minutes, or 1.6F per minute. At that rate, I can imagine that a
>>>> decent job of insulation should improve to closer to 2F per minute.
>
> First brew report.
>
> I made a simple English pale ale -- 10 lbs Maris Otter, 1 lb Crystal 50,
> Goldings hops (1 ounce at 60 minutes, 1 ounce at 20 minutes), 1318
> yeast. It's in the fermenter now.
>
> I used 6.25 gallons to mash. I was unsure how much wiggle room I would
> have with the water and malt, so I kept the volume a bit low. As it
> turns out, I'd be fine heating 7 gallons.
>
> It took 61 minutes to bring water from 50F to 163F, or just under 2F per
> minute. ...


That is a decent time for only 1.5kW of power.


> ... I put a pillow over the top and loosely wrapped the upper
> section in a foam camping ground pad. I'm thinking I'll order a neoprene
> insulating jacket for a better fit and faster heating, although I want
> to look into how easy it is to get them on and off for cleaning. My
> basement temp is only 62F right now, so I assume mashing will also go a
> bit faster in warmer weather, also due to warmer water from the tap.
>

I always wondered what could be used. Sous vide wrappers are small and
expensive. Reflectix wrap from the hardware store probably can't
withstand the heat and I find fiber stuff too risky. Fibers could waft
out and get into the wort.

Fastening could probably be done with Arno straps, those come off with
one click.


> I kept the mash warm by adding a blanket to the improvised insulation,
> but forgot to check the final mash temp to see how far it went down.
> Maybe there was a huge screwup with the mash temp which won't reveal
> itself until fermenting is done or after bottling, although I assume it
> was fine.
>
> After pulling the grain, raising the temp to a boil took 30 minutes, so
> I am guessing that was also about 2F per minute. The boil wasn't super
> fast, but it was a genuine boil. I lost just over 2 quarts in liquid
> during the hour boil.
>

Keeping 6 gallons at boil in the basement is tough. I need the full 2kW
to keep a rolling boil and that only works with the lid only very
slightly cracked. In the summer outside it's easier.


> After cooling, I drained the wort through a strainer into the fermenter.
> The rate of flow wasn't quite as fast as I would have liked, but it
> wasn't bad. There was no clogging of the spigot, even with a decent
> amount of hops coming through into the strainer. However, I think with a
> larger quantity of hops, such as for an IPA, I'll need to use a hop bag
> during the boil to keep the spigot from clogging. I picked up a deep
> fryer basket which just fits into the kettle -- it should work well to
> keep the bag off of the heating element.
>

Or do what my wife and I do when making schnapps (no still, we use
regular gin or vodka, then add fruit and brown sugar for flavor): I took
a small plastic sieve, cut a 3/4" PVC pipe, sawed half off lengthwise
for about 4", gently heat-bent it at a 10 degree angle (must vent well,
else dangerous) and bolted the sieve handle to the sawed section. The
sieve gets placed in front of the spigot intake so it bulges into the
pot, cupping the spigot intake. The length of the pipe is such that it
reaches out of the pot and can be wedged under a shelf above so the
sieve stays in place without having to hold it. That has pretty much
eliminated the racking plug-ups we had before from pulp and other fruit
residue.


> The OG was close to expected -- 054 compared to an expected 056. Since a
> lot of factors can affect OG, I'm not concluding anything at this point.
>
> I never noticed any obvious safety issues while using it. There didn't
> seem to be any extreme heat coming off the heating elements making the
> sides or bottom dangerously hot, no weird steam leaks, and the kettle
> seemed quite stable even when mostly full. Since the sides aren't
> insulated, they are 212F while the boil is going, just as a steel pot is
> on a stove. However, since I can boil near my basement sink, I don't
> need to move the kettle to put in my immersion cooler once the boil is
> over.
>

That's a huge advantage. I can dump cooling water into a nearby shower
using a hose. Outside I use a long hose and dump the cooling water into
the pool so nothing is wasted.


> Clean up was a little awkward at points -- the kettle isn't heavy, but
> tipping it to pour out sludgy soapy water is a little awkward due to the
> height and my trying to avoid banging any of the parts on the lower
> section.
>

That is my main concern with all this integrated stuff. Some day water
could seep into the electronics while cleaning. I like to stand under a
shower with the brew kettle and give it a really good scrubbing, and
most of all numerous very thorough rinses afterwards. Same with the
fermenters except they get even more scrubbing. Mine are stainless and
rated to boil in them but I've never done that. Wouldn't make sense
because I'd still have to rack off. So I use a monstrous tamale steamer
pot as a brew kettle.


> All in all I like it a lot. Not needing to babysit it as much as a a pot
> on a stove is a plus. Especially nice is not needing to haul a ton of
> wort from my kitchen stove down to the basement where I ferment. One
> annoyance was needing to run back and forth to the kitchen for things I
> forgot -- a pair of scissors, a strainer, a spoon. I'll need to make a
> checklist before the next brew.
>
> Knock on wood the reliability is good. I don't think it's any more
> complicated than the big coffee urns you see in cafeterias and church
> basements, and I've seen some of those that must be decades old, so I'm
> hopeful it will last a long time.
>

It's probably a very similar construction. Hopefully well sealed inside.
Not having to worry about boil-overs is great. So far in about 160 brews
I only had one but that was a huge mess.

Baloonon

unread,
Jan 13, 2020, 10:51:28 PM1/13/20
to
Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:


>> First brew report.
>>
>> It took 61 minutes to bring water from 50F to 163F, or just under 2F
>> per minute. ...
>
> That is a decent time for only 1.5kW of power.

I was satisfied. It would be nice to get fusion powered heating, but if
I really want to get the brew day going faster, I can time shift by
filling the kettle the night before, getting all the supplies organized,
and the setting a timer. It's probably not worth the rush.

>> ... I put a pillow over the top and loosely wrapped the upper
>> section in a foam camping ground pad. I'm thinking I'll order a
>> neoprene insulating jacket for a better fit and faster heating,
>> although I want to look into how easy it is to get them on and off
>> for cleaning. My basement temp is only 62F right now, so I assume
>> mashing will also go a
>> bit faster in warmer weather, also due to warmer water from the tap.
>
> I always wondered what could be used. Sous vide wrappers are small and
> expensive. Reflectix wrap from the hardware store probably can't
> withstand the heat and I find fiber stuff too risky. Fibers could waft
> out and get into the wort.

I also don't like fiberglass contact with my skin. Supposedly custom fit
neoprene jackets are $20, so it's probably worth looking into.

People with smokers often insulate them with wool fire blankets, which
may be another option. or addition.

>> I think with a
>> larger quantity of hops, such as for an IPA, I'll need to use a hop
>> bag during the boil to keep the spigot from clogging. I picked up a
>> deep fryer basket which just fits into the kettle -- it should work
>> well to keep the bag off of the heating element.
>
> Or do what my wife and I do when making schnapps (no still, we use
> regular gin or vodka, then add fruit and brown sugar for flavor): I
> took
> a small plastic sieve, cut a 3/4" PVC pipe, sawed half off lengthwise
> for about 4", gently heat-bent it at a 10 degree angle (must vent
> well,
> else dangerous) and bolted the sieve handle to the sawed section. The
> sieve gets placed in front of the spigot intake so it bulges into the
> pot, cupping the spigot intake. The length of the pipe is such that it
> reaches out of the pot and can be wedged under a shelf above so the
> sieve stays in place without having to hold it. That has pretty much
> eliminated the racking plug-ups we had before from pulp and other
> fruit residue.

It turns out I have some food grade fine steel mesh which I think I can
use to put together a basket for hops during the boil. I'll need to mock
something up with paper cut to the same dimensions as the amount and
shape of steel mesh I have, and see what I can come up with.

>> Clean up was a little awkward at points -- the kettle isn't heavy,
>> but tipping it to pour out sludgy soapy water is a little awkward
>> due to the height and my trying to avoid banging any of the parts
>> on the lower section.
>
> That is my main concern with all this integrated stuff. Some day water
> could seep into the electronics while cleaning. I like to stand under
> a shower with the brew kettle and give it a really good scrubbing, and
> most of all numerous very thorough rinses afterwards. Same with the
> fermenters except they get even more scrubbing. Mine are stainless and
> rated to boil in them but I've never done that. Wouldn't make sense
> because I'd still have to rack off. So I use a monstrous tamale
> steamer pot as a brew kettle.

I think I'll be OK. I have a couple of electric cooking appliances which
in theory could get in trouble if water gets into the heating or
electric components, but it hasn't been a problem. I don't immerse them
in water, and I think the main trick is going to be getting a sense of
how to clean in a way that gets any soap residue out of the picture. I
tend to be a bit careless in using too much soap, so a big part of the
issue may just be making sure I watch what I'm doing.

The pale ale is now kicking off a big top crop of yeast and the gravity
is dropping a lot, so everything is working so far, not that there was
any reason to expect a big problem.

Joerg

unread,
Jan 20, 2020, 4:40:38 PM1/20/20
to
On 2020-01-13 19:51, Baloonon wrote:
> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote:
>
>
>>> First brew report.
>>>
>>> It took 61 minutes to bring water from 50F to 163F, or just under 2F
>>> per minute. ...
>>
>> That is a decent time for only 1.5kW of power.
>
> I was satisfied. It would be nice to get fusion powered heating, but if
> I really want to get the brew day going faster, I can time shift by
> filling the kettle the night before, getting all the supplies organized,
> and the setting a timer. It's probably not worth the rush.
>

That's almost what I am doing. I set up the night before and fill the
brew kettle. Immediately after getting up I turn it on, have breakfast,
let out the dogs, work a bit in the office, put in the steeping grains
at 155F, take a shower, brush my teeth, shave, take the grains out and
crank the burners to max. Then I walk the dogs and my wife turns the
burners off if at 204F and I am still not back. Some day I may rig up a
computer link to my web site so I can see on the smart phone where the
temperature is.

This way I can squeeze out two brews in one day and still be all done
and cleaned up by 5pm dinner time.


>>> ... I put a pillow over the top and loosely wrapped the upper
>>> section in a foam camping ground pad. I'm thinking I'll order a
>>> neoprene insulating jacket for a better fit and faster heating,
>>> although I want to look into how easy it is to get them on and off
>>> for cleaning. My basement temp is only 62F right now, so I assume
>>> mashing will also go a
>>> bit faster in warmer weather, also due to warmer water from the tap.
>>
>> I always wondered what could be used. Sous vide wrappers are small and
>> expensive. Reflectix wrap from the hardware store probably can't
>> withstand the heat and I find fiber stuff too risky. Fibers could waft
>> out and get into the wort.
>
> I also don't like fiberglass contact with my skin. Supposedly custom fit
> neoprene jackets are $20, so it's probably worth looking into.
>
> People with smokers often insulate them with wool fire blankets, which
> may be another option. or addition.
>

Great idea.

https://www.grainger.com/category/safety/fire-protection/fire-blankets?attrs=Blanket+Material%7CWool&filters=attrs


>>> I think with a
>>> larger quantity of hops, such as for an IPA, I'll need to use a hop
>>> bag during the boil to keep the spigot from clogging. I picked up a
>>> deep fryer basket which just fits into the kettle -- it should work
>>> well to keep the bag off of the heating element.
>>
>> Or do what my wife and I do when making schnapps (no still, we use
>> regular gin or vodka, then add fruit and brown sugar for flavor): I
>> took
>> a small plastic sieve, cut a 3/4" PVC pipe, sawed half off lengthwise
>> for about 4", gently heat-bent it at a 10 degree angle (must vent
>> well,
>> else dangerous) and bolted the sieve handle to the sawed section. The
>> sieve gets placed in front of the spigot intake so it bulges into the
>> pot, cupping the spigot intake. The length of the pipe is such that it
>> reaches out of the pot and can be wedged under a shelf above so the
>> sieve stays in place without having to hold it. That has pretty much
>> eliminated the racking plug-ups we had before from pulp and other
>> fruit residue.
>
> It turns out I have some food grade fine steel mesh which I think I can
> use to put together a basket for hops during the boil. I'll need to mock
> something up with paper cut to the same dimensions as the amount and
> shape of steel mesh I have, and see what I can come up with.
>

Maybe fashion something with a stick towards the back so it can be
wedged in and not back off the spigot intake area? In a way that sludge
cannot bypass the sieve.


>>> Clean up was a little awkward at points -- the kettle isn't heavy,
>>> but tipping it to pour out sludgy soapy water is a little awkward
>>> due to the height and my trying to avoid banging any of the parts
>>> on the lower section.
>>
>> That is my main concern with all this integrated stuff. Some day water
>> could seep into the electronics while cleaning. I like to stand under
>> a shower with the brew kettle and give it a really good scrubbing, and
>> most of all numerous very thorough rinses afterwards. Same with the
>> fermenters except they get even more scrubbing. Mine are stainless and
>> rated to boil in them but I've never done that. Wouldn't make sense
>> because I'd still have to rack off. So I use a monstrous tamale
>> steamer pot as a brew kettle.
>
> I think I'll be OK. I have a couple of electric cooking appliances which
> in theory could get in trouble if water gets into the heating or
> electric components, but it hasn't been a problem. I don't immerse them
> in water, and I think the main trick is going to be getting a sense of
> how to clean in a way that gets any soap residue out of the picture. I
> tend to be a bit careless in using too much soap, so a big part of the
> issue may just be making sure I watch what I'm doing.
>

It's tough to do a very thorough rinse when one must avoid water running
down the outside.


> The pale ale is now kicking off a big top crop of yeast and the gravity
> is dropping a lot, so everything is working so far, not that there was
> any reason to expect a big problem.
>

I brewed an IPA last Thursday and a Pale Ale on Friday. They are nearly
done fermenting now but I'll leave them in primary for two weeks and
then another two in secondary. Since I am using stainless steel
fermenters I can't watch "Kraeusen cinema". Next up will be a Golden Ale
with Simcoe hops and another IPA with Mosaic and Citra. I'll be using
some of the harvested trub to ferment those.

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Jan 22, 2020, 9:22:59 AM1/22/20
to
On 2019-12-03 23:46:02 +0000, Baloonon said:

> I just ordered a 35 L DigiBoil electric kettle. It has 1500 Watt heating
> elements and runs on 110V. Reviews say it takes a while to heat up, but
> it's not too bad. My stove doesn't throw a lot of heat, so it takes a
> while to come to a boil anyway.

<snip>

I'm using my new Brewer's Edge 1600 W system for the first time as we
speak. My wife took a huge chance getting me this for Christmas. I
think she wants me out of the little room with utility sink in the
basement where I can set the propane burner outside the window (it
would make a nice powder room!). I like that was able to add the strike
water last night, set the timer and (ostensibly) wake up and start
mashing right away. EXCEPT that I found it kept tripping my 15 amp
breaker. I plugged it into a 20 amp outlet and seems to be working
fine. Fingers crossed.

Will update later!


--
Bill O'Meally

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Jan 22, 2020, 4:45:20 PM1/22/20
to
On 2020-01-22 14:22:56 +0000, Bill O'Meally said:
>
>
> I'm using my new Brewer's Edge 1600 W system for the first time as we
> speak. My wife took a huge chance getting me this for Christmas. I
> think she wants me out of the little room with utility sink in the
> basement where I can set the propane burner outside the window (it
> would make a nice powder room!). I like that was able to add the strike
> water last night, set the timer and (ostensibly) wake up and start
> mashing right away. EXCEPT that I found it kept tripping my 15 amp
> breaker. I plugged it into a 20 amp outlet and seems to be working
> fine. Fingers crossed.
>
> Will update later!

OK, here are the notes. This is the Brewer's Edge Mash & Boil with Pump system

It has a rpump and ecirculation arm for a continuous recirculation
during mash. The arm does not allow you to use the lid to retain heat
for a more uniform mash temperature. The thermometer swung widely
between 149 and 155 (goal was 153). I wish the arm fit through the lid
so that you can actually USE the lid.

The recirculation requires A LOT of watching to try to keep about an
inch of wort above the grain. Had to constantly adjust the flow.

After mashing, you are supposed to lift the mash basket and set it on
some rods at the top of the kettler. It has a false bottom to drain the
wort into the kettler. There are these little nubs at the bottom that
rest on the rods. You have to get it just right or it is unstable. Wish
it was a better and more secure fit.

It was heavy AF! This was one of my bigger beers with a 16.25 lb grain
bill. The Mash & Boil has a 16 lb maximum limit. Lifting the mash
basket with the grain and the wort was nearly impossible! I lift
weights, and could barely do it. Needed a ladder to get a good
position. I am sure some people would not be able to do this.

Oh, the volume markings for the kettle are INSIDE. Not an issue when
boiling, but in sparging into the kettle they are obscured by the mash
basket. You cannot see the markings, so you have no idea when your
target volume is met. Brewer's Edge clearly recognizes this flaw, and
say it helps to shins a flashlight down the edge. Sorry, it doesn't
help!

There is a tube running up the side from the pump to the recirculating
arm. Why not put a sight gauge on it??

Theres no way to stop the sparge when your (estimated) volume is hit.
You have to lift the still heavy mash basket off the top with all this
wort dripping out the false bottom. Very messy!

It took about 45-50 minutes to get the boil, so not too bad.

There is no false bottom on the kettle for some reason. Only on the
mash basket. It took a bit more straining to get the hops out than
usual, but it seems like an obvious, and easily fixable flaw.

All the parameters of the beer: original and final volumes, original
gravity, etc, were the same as with my propane burner and converted
cooler mash tum setup.

The final killer was during cleaning, the pump did decided not to work,
which means the pump and the tubing for the recirculation arm are still
dirty. I mean it was running, but not pumping. Could I have gotten some
grain in it and clogged it? Sure, but shouldn't a pump on a setup for
brewing be able to handle a few pieces of grain?

Big thumbs down on the Brewer's Edge Mash & Boil with Pump. It's going
back from whence it came. My wife feels very bad and so do I.

--
Bill O'Meally

Baloonon

unread,
Jan 22, 2020, 7:44:06 PM1/22/20
to
Bill O'Meally <omea...@geemail.com> wrote

> Big thumbs down on the Brewer's Edge Mash & Boil with Pump. It's going
> back from whence it came. My wife feels very bad and so do I.

Sorry to hear that.

Maybe it's possible to do a bunch of klugey things to get those things to
work better, but I can't imagine it's not a better idea to return it for a
refund and use the money for some other brewing equipment.

One thing I'll say for my bare bones kettle is that it does such basic
things that it's hard to mess those up. I have a few things I want to play
around with, such as getting a longer temp probe to check on the temps at
different depths during the mash and making a hop basket for the boil, but
nothing too major.

Baloonon

unread,
Jan 22, 2020, 7:45:44 PM1/22/20
to
Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote

> I brewed an IPA last Thursday and a Pale Ale on Friday. They are
> nearly done fermenting now but I'll leave them in primary for two
> weeks and then another two in secondary. Since I am using stainless
> steel fermenters I can't watch "Kraeusen cinema".

What kind of fermenters are you using?

> Next up will be a
> Golden Ale with Simcoe hops and another IPA with Mosaic and Citra.
> I'll be using some of the harvested trub to ferment those.

I've never gotten around to using Mosaic. What are your impressions?

Joerg

unread,
Jan 25, 2020, 4:46:45 PM1/25/20
to
On 2020-01-22 16:45, Baloonon wrote:
> Joerg <ne...@analogconsultants.com> wrote
>
>> I brewed an IPA last Thursday and a Pale Ale on Friday. They are
>> nearly done fermenting now but I'll leave them in primary for two
>> weeks and then another two in secondary. Since I am using stainless
>> steel fermenters I can't watch "Kraeusen cinema".
>
> What kind of fermenters are you using?
>

Two of these but without the spigot:

https://www.chapmanequipment.com/products/7-gallon-steeltank-fermenter


>> Next up will be a
>> Golden Ale with Simcoe hops and another IPA with Mosaic and Citra.
>> I'll be using some of the harvested trub to ferment those.
>
> I've never gotten around to using Mosaic. What are your impressions?
>

I've used Mosaic hops a lot and like them. You have to like fruity hops
though. My favorite right now is Citra.
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