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  1. #1

    modified electric urn?


    Hi,

    While the lockdown is going on, I'm seriously looking at changing my brewing system. Sadly about half of what I need to build a system is either not essential or bloody expensive.

    I see on takealot they have conic urns that have temp control that goes from about 50C to 100C. Would that work as a mash/boiler?

    https://www.takealot.com/conic-25l-s...n/PLID61065674
    Do you want to be good or be praised - Epicurus
    Do what you do to the best of your ability, and blessings will follow you

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Pretoria
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    Honestly, I wouldn't see a built-in temperature control on an urn as a "plus" by any means. Those urns also usually quote their external volume. I have an urn, also 25l, also with a built-in thermostat that was very, VERY generously gifted to me by another forum member that I simply can't brew without. However...

    1. The built in thermostat is terrible. I realised this the first time when I was heating up my strike water and set it to 74C. I eventually figured something's off when I heard a rumble in the kitchen and the thing was boiling. Next time I set it to 50, to be safe, and the water went up to almost-almost 60C. It's very inaccurate and impossible to predict, so now I just set it to whatever, stick a probe in there with an alarm that tells me when I reach my strike water temp and then I manually switch it off.

    2. The 25l urn only holds about 20l at the absolute maximum. However, for the boil, 18l is the max, and I'm actually only really comfortable with boiling about 15l in there. To make up the deficit, I usually calculate the hop quantities based on the gravity of the wort going into the boil in the urn, and then supplement the boil with a plastic water boiler (one of those R250 boilers you buy at Checkers). I then only boil the 15l for the full time, with the hops and everything, and then "dilute" with the rest of the wort that I only boil for a few minutes to sterilize. It seems to work well, and having, say, 13l of hot wort on one side and 8l of hot wort on the other side is a lot easier to handle, for me.

    3. Get an urn, if you still want one, with a double wall. The one I was given was modified, if I remember correctly, by removing the seal ring on the top edge and filling it with expanding foam. This insulated the urn VERY well, and mashing in there is a breeze because of this. I generally get around 1C drop in temperature if I just stick a towel on the lid during a 60 minute boil (the lid is a flat SS lid).

    4. If you're pressed for cash, seriously, consider a regular water boiler. One like these: https://www.takealot.com/pineware-23...E&gclsrc=aw.ds It essentially performs the same duties as the urn. The box says 2,000W, but the element is stamped with 2,200W, so it's also powerful. Yes, not the most powerful, sure. Yes, it's plastic. Yes, it looks and feels cheap. Yes, it works. I've made several beers on one like that exclusively. @langchop went all out with one - he mashes, boils and ferments in his, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with his beers (according to my pleb palate).

    However, with the urn, you have possibilities. For instance:

    1. I'm SERIOUSLY considering building a seal for the urn lid, removing the handle and opening up the screw hole to fit a 3/4" compression fitting. I could re-fit the handle using a large washer (which I have on hand) and re-fit the handle if needed. The large hole though would fit a compression fitting and I can then fit a column to the top, effectively turning the urn into a still.

    2. I'm also considering, in the future, to buy a hot water pump, build a relay box, get another STC-1000 and then convert the urn into a cheap Grainfather clone. Recirculating the wort during the mash, etc. etc. I also have an RPi 3 lying around here I can stick BrewPi on to make it even easier to get going. Options, options...

  3. #3
    First thing is to get a budget going.

    The urn thing is not a bad idea, I've been playing with the idea to make a "urnfather" for a while. I have an extra controller, but would rather do this
    - 50l Catering stainless urn, usually with a 3kw element. Best one you can afford
    - Discard internal temperature control switch
    - Install thermowell
    - Remove tap and reuse for recirculation
    - False bottom
    - Install sightglass on recirculation arm and calibrate
    - Use a SmartPID with integration to brewfather, money shot right there.
    - Obtain and install 100+C rated pump
    - Have a mash basket custom built
    - Build or buy a CFC

    Make some wort ! Easy enough to dual purpose into a still.

  4. #4
    Now that sounds like a plan.
    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    First thing is to get a budget going.

    The urn thing is not a bad idea, I've been playing with the idea to make a "urnfather" for a while. I have an extra controller, but would rather do this
    - 50l Catering stainless urn, usually with a 3kw element. Best one you can afford
    - Discard internal temperature control switch
    - Install thermowell
    - Remove tap and reuse for recirculation
    - False bottom
    - Install sightglass on recirculation arm and calibrate
    - Use a SmartPID with integration to brewfather, money shot right there.
    - Obtain and install 100+C rated pump
    - Have a mash basket custom built
    - Build or buy a CFC

    Make some wort ! Easy enough to dual purpose into a still.
    Do you want to be good or be praised - Epicurus
    Do what you do to the best of your ability, and blessings will follow you

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Pretoria
    Posts
    1,203

    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    Remove tap and reuse for recirculation
    I haven't thought about this. Hmm. I considered a pipe dipping into the bottom of the urn (a solid pipe, like SS) and then connected to the hot pump (inline) to dispense water on top. Then when done, just tap off normally. Connecting the pump right on the tap is a great idea though. No idea why I didn't think of it.

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