Diving Head First Into a 26 Gallon Pot.

That’s my dog Betelgeuse, who stopped barking at a plant long enough to help me out with a size comparison.

My new kettle came in and I gave it a run through by brewing 10 gallons of special bitter today.  It’s huge.  I probably bit off more than I can chew by opting for the 26 gallon pot, but my goal is to someday put this to use brewing 20 gallon batches as a pilot system for my dream brewery.  I also got a march pump to make liquid transfers easier, but for the first brew I just wanted to see if my turkey fryer burner setup could even boil 13 gallons of wort.

Started off by filling the kettle one gallon at a time and marking off the increments on a metal yard stick.  I quickly realized that 0.75″ is equal to 1 gallon of water and verified it on the morebeer chatrooms.  I began heating up a majority of my hot water  (12 gallons) for the brew day going from 52F to 170F in about an hour.  I pulled 5.8 gallons of hot liquor into my old kettle and manually doughed-in at 154F, pretty much spot on.  Rested for 60 mins and then juggled the first runnings and sparge water in a series of buckets and transfers but eventually ended up with 13 gallon pre-boil and 1.039 gravity, which was slightly higher than I calculated.  I planned to lose a few percentage points of efficiency (estimated around 80% brewhouse efficiency) because of the larger amount of grains I used by doubling the recipe but instead my efficiency was higher, near 85%.  I recently switched from double batch sparging to single batch sparging in order to purposely lower my efficiency and *possibly* get more malt flavor from the grains.  Results are still out on that as I’ve only done about 4 batches this way. I went back to double batch sparging on this brew simply because I can’t fit 9 gallons of sparge water and 16 lbs of grain in my 52 qt. mash tun cooler.

Yeah, good luck chillin’ that.

I plan on getting either a plate chiller or counterflow unit (leaning more towards counterflow so I don’t have to worry about clogging) but for my simple run through today I had a feeling that my 25′ copper immersion chiller that I’ve been using since I began brewing would do the job, and I was right.  The wort went from 212F to 100F in about 15 mins and down to 65 in another 30 mins.

 They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

The most exciting part about all this is the ability to split batches and do different yeasts. I went with dry yeast just to make things easier on myself.  I chose a new pack of Safale S-04 and a very old pack of Nottingham Windsor that has been in my fridge for over a year and a half that I bought the same day I purchased my aforementioned chiller.  I rehydrated both and pitched at 65F.  In true experimental spirit I used all German Opal hops so I can get a good sense of their bittering and aromatic properties.

The first brew on the new kettle was pretty uneventful and smooth.  I’m sure that when I get the pump and new chiller involved things will really start to fall apart.  For now, I’m happy with how easily this 10 gallon brew day went.  I still plan on brewing 5 gallon batches with my old kettle when attempting a new style or brewing a high-gravity beer.  The 10 gallon and larger batches will be reserved for mostly tried and true recipes as well as brewing for events.  Roughly the same amount of work, double the beer.

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2 thoughts on “Diving Head First Into a 26 Gallon Pot.

  1. Allan says:

    26 gallon boil kettle, next post mashtun upgrade!

    • kylers says:

      Yeah, I plan on only brewing big batches of low gravity beer (that will fit in my current mash tun) but alas, at some point I will need to upgrade to a “man” tun.

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