Up until now, my brewing experience has been fairly limited – Festa Brew kits with some experimentation, Noble Grape Extract kits with steeping grains, partial mash / extract recipes found online and tweaked a bit more to my liking and some one gallon all grain batches from the Brooklyn Brewshop’s Beer Making Book. Now it’s time for more.
Making the small one gallon test batches from the book really opened my eyes to more of the brewing process. I moved from the pre-made kits at Noble Grape and started looking at actual recipes. However, I lacked the brewing equipment necessary to make the leap to full boil, all grain batches. So, partial mash and late extract additions made up the next few successful batches. Then, I joined the Brewnosers. I wanted more. I didn’t want the sticky extract. I wanted complete control. So, I started gathering equipment and a bit of knowledge.
Since I already have a burner, the first step to making all grain brews is a boil kettle of suitable size. My goal – a 50L stainless steel pot. Since I moved to kegging earlier this year, I wanted to keep my brew gear expenses as low as possible. A suitable 50L stainless pot costs a bit. I was able to pick up a used keg from a fellow Brewnoser, perfect for conversion into a brew kettle. After a half hour of careful cutting with a reinforced Dremel wheel, the top was off. A bit more grinding and the sharp edges were gone. No jagged edges to snag something on brew day. Step two is completely unnecessary, but it looks good – clean and polish the outside of the kettle. This pretty much just gives me an excuse to make a few trips to Princesss Auto for polishing supplies. I started with 220 grit Aluminum Oxide paper on my palm sander to clean off old paint, and sand out any minor scratches. From there I went to 320 grit Aluminum Oxide paper to sand out some of the 220 grit scratches. Next, I hit the keg with a sisal polishing wheel and an aggressive black emery polishing compound. After the emery compound, the keggle was looking pretty good, so I jumped right to the finishing compound with a soft polishing wheel and finished with a quick buff to remove any residue. While not perfect, I am more than happy with the results. Next step – make some beer!