The first thing I think I’ll have to make in my Electric Brewery is the kettle. There are a couple of simple reasons it has to be the starting point. First, even if I get no other part of this brewery going, having a kettle means I can make beer. I can BIAB or make extract beers with just the kettle.
Second, it will allow me to have something with which I can test the controls using the BrewPi Spark. I can set up the kettle’s SSR and a thermocouple and test heating the water or maintaining a temperature without having already built the rest of the setup.
So, the plan is to use a keggle I received as a gift when a friend upgraded his system to brew much larger batched of beer. (I believe he can make 30 gallon batches now.) I have two converted kegs, but I also have my 15 gallon Bayou Classic kettle that can be used. I am still debating whether I should use the Bayou Classic as my mash tun, try to convert another keg I have (for the matching set), or if I should stick with the tried and true cooler mash tun I have used for years.
Regardless, I can always start with the cooler and migrate over later, so I’m starting with that. So I need to build a Hot Liquor Tank from one keg and the keggle from the other keg, and we’re starting with the keggle first.
Now, the BrewPi temp sensors are 1/2″ NPT male fittings with a thermowell on the end. Like this:
Since the kettle is first, I don’t really need a thermometer in the kettle wall. Even for the mash tun, I will likely put the thermowell on the output so I can measure the temperature as it recirculates.
I have several of these thermowells at my disposal (though mine are shorter and not already weldless), so I could theoretically also use some in the walls at a later time if I want. I also have some weldless brewing thermometers that have the dial faces on them, as well.
OK, so at a minimum, the kettle needs to have the 220 heating element put into it and a thermowell on the way out of it so you can measure the temperature as it is being whirlpooled. It would be nice to have a pickup tube on the inside, but I don’t happen to have one right now, so we’ll ignore that for now.
The bonus of inheriting the kettle from a friend is that it is already drilled for a weldless bulkhead and already has the top cut off of it. So I mostly need to assemble the heating element and mount it and to mount the bulkhead with the thermowell in a T fitting on the outside of the bulkhead.