Converting keg for a grain cooker

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Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby brisvalleymoonshiner » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:11 am

Any advice on converting this to a cooker for making wort. I know i need a few things like a heating element :)) what would be the best way to install a false bottom to stop the grain from scorching on the element. Also a good temp probe that people have used :handgestures-thumbupleft:
P.s paid $70 for this keg
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby coffe addict » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:32 am

Hbs will sell a false bottom for it. You'll want external heating or it'll be problematic, look into herms and rim's.

I only do single stage mashing and that's adequate for barley. Worth considering if you're not interested in corn,if you are then internal heating won't work. There's several threads covering different ways of tackling corn. Good luck.
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby The Stig » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:34 am

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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby brisvalleymoonshiner » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:41 am

I've seen many different ways to do this and i'm trying to do it cheaply as possible. I was hoping to be able to just use the 1 vessel as my main cooker and transfer the wort to a fermenter once at the right temp. My main idea was to find a mesh grain basket to fit the keg that would allow enough room to have an element under the basket. I was hoping to do away with pumps and other vessels or is this just not achievable.
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby coffe addict » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:57 am

Honestly I've never done it as I believe that there's too much sugar present for an electric element and will cause scorching.
If you're doing single step mashing you can simply heat the water to strike temp and then turn off heat and add the grain.
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby brisvalleymoonshiner » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:55 pm

A bit more exploring this forum i feel cheers coffee and Mr stig for the info :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby Fatguts » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:20 pm

I was using a keg for mashing corn, rye and barley for a while. It was heated underneath with a LPG burner. I found that I needed to keep the mash constantly moving to avoid any scorching. For this I used a cheap electric drill with a variable speed and a big paint mixer. I made a makeshift frame above the keg to hold the drill in place. I was using liquid amylase which I added to the water before heating, this helped to keep the mash thinned out. It got too thick (like porridge) without the amylase and caused me big scorching problems as the drill couldn't keep up. I didn't have a drain tap or any way of separating the grains from the wort whilst it was still in the keg and this became a big pain in the arse. I tried using a mashing bag and various other methods of separation but it all became to hard and I got the shits with it and gave up on the keg. I was lucky enough to find a 100L stainless pot with drain, filter and stainless mesh basket on gum tree and it is a lot easier than the keg. I still use the LPG and drill to keep it all moving. In hindsight, if i had found a basket as shown in your picture I definitely would have given that a go and I reckon it would probably do the job. Im far from being an expert and this is just my trials with the keg, but I hope this helps a bit.
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby bluc » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:12 pm

coffe addict wrote:Honestly I've never done it as I believe that there's too much sugar present for an electric element and will cause scorching.
If you're doing single step mashing you can simply heat the water to strike temp and then turn off heat and add the grain.

Been thinking bout this and cant see how its different then using a rims. Having a falsie with element under it and good circulation would think less chance of scorching due to larger amount liquid round element..
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby Fatguts » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:52 pm

Having never used a Rims or even seen one in use, i cant comment on any pros or cons. Im about to do a bit of researching to try and educate myself.
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby clintonb » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:41 pm

bluc wrote:
coffe addict wrote:Honestly I've never done it as I believe that there's too much sugar present for an electric element and will cause scorching.
If you're doing single step mashing you can simply heat the water to strike temp and then turn off heat and add the grain.

Been thinking bout this and cant see how its different then using a rims. Having a falsie with element under it and good circulation would think less chance of scorching due to larger amount liquid round element..
:text-+1: I think along the same lines as you Bluc :think:
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby clintonb » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:46 pm

Not sure if I am allowed to link to this site or not ? https://aussiehomebrewer.com/threads/ql ... st-1080913 But I have been looking at doing something similar. I think the key to not scorching is consistent movement of the wort around the element :think: Just food for thought :-B
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby brisvalleymoonshiner » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:48 pm

Fatguts wrote:I was using a keg for mashing corn, rye and barley for a while. It was heated underneath with a LPG burner. I found that I needed to keep the mash constantly moving to avoid any scorching. For this I used a cheap electric drill with a variable speed and a big paint mixer. I made a makeshift frame above the keg to hold the drill in place. I was using liquid amylase which I added to the water before heating, this helped to keep the mash thinned out. It got too thick (like porridge) without the amylase and caused me big scorching problems as the drill couldn't keep up. I didn't have a drain tap or any way of separating the grains from the wort whilst it was still in the keg and this became a big pain in the arse. I tried using a mashing bag and various other methods of separation but it all became to hard and I got the shits with it and gave up on the keg. I was lucky enough to find a 100L stainless pot with drain, filter and stainless mesh basket on gum tree and it is a lot easier than the keg. I still use the LPG and drill to keep it all moving. In hindsight, if i had found a basket as shown in your picture I definitely would have given that a go and I reckon it would probably do the job. Im far from being an expert and this is just my trials with the keg, but I hope this helps a bit.


There are a few different places to get a mesh basket to suit your needs. I may have to get a pump for circulation just to keep my chances of scorching down. On the bright side it's only cost mwt $70 for a keg that could be easily used for low wine storage if all else fails
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby bluc » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:25 pm

clintonb wrote:
bluc wrote:
coffe addict wrote:Honestly I've never done it as I believe that there's too much sugar present for an electric element and will cause scorching.
If you're doing single step mashing you can simply heat the water to strike temp and then turn off heat and add the grain.

Been thinking bout this and cant see how its different then using a rims. Having a falsie with element under it and good circulation would think less chance of scorching due to larger amount liquid round element..
:text-+1: I think along the same lines as you Bluc :think:

Kinda makes be want to cut a hole in my tun to install an element :twisted:
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby coffe addict » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:48 pm

There is a few things to take into account.
Rims is an element in a small diameter tube so a gentle pump still creates adequate movement. With a keg at 500mm wide the flow would be huge to have the same flow rate over the element. With herms the surface area is drastically higher so it's functional with lower flow rates.

Many people have had trouble with fermented wort and electronic elements scorching. Hence the ulwd elements often sought out. Commercial guys often agitate to lower scorching risk.

There's only one way to know for certain and that's try...
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby bluc » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:52 pm

I only know what I have tried but would have thought x times more liquid around element = x times less flow :-B for same result.
Reason being more liquid around element = bigger heatsink effect. Or am i grasping at straws..
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby wynnum1 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:42 am

If heating with an element or bottom of the keg the heat is not going to be even unless can keep mixing did 15 L pot stove top and using a temperature probe and temperature was different every where needed to keep stirring mash does not conduct the heat .
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Re: Converting keg for a grain cooker

Postby coffe addict » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:05 am

I think without the flow you'll get hot spots around the elements, dissipating the heat is key.
If it were as simple as element in the mash tun surely we'd have a grandfather or the like commercially available by now.
I can't recall anyone ever posting results of a trial though, so for science you should give it a go. I'm happy to be humbled and then be a copycat :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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