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Back again

Well after about 1yr and 3 days I am back again, at least for awhile I hope.

I had a horrible year last year in many ways. Bad health a bit, thieves busting into buildings, many long trips some were good fun and others for not so good reasons.
Glad last year is over now! Planning to have a better year this year!

So for the folks I was talking with before that may wondered whatever happened to me, I am still here and survived, though only barely as I been forced to drink all store bought beers and not brewed for near a year!
I wonder if my 3 or 4 extract kits are still good? :shock:

I was just starting to build low cost grain mills when everything fell apart last year. I got 4 built and sent out for testing and that was all I built. 3 were to be tested by others, and 4th was supposed to be mine but I sent it out also since I was not able to do any brewing myself at the time.
I have got very good feedback about how well my mills crush the grains for those folks so I may start making them again soon, but not sure yet.
I sent 2 out with the case hardened knurled rollers and 2 with only plain knurled rollers not hardened. After near a year of heavy use it seems all 4 still work fine and perhaps it is not needed to case harden the rollers.
The 4 folks I sent the mills to do allot of grain brewing themselves and several also do allot of crushing for their friends too.

One of the brewing problems I’ve had before is HEAT!
The outdoor electric stove worked well for a 3gal boil, but the least wind really sucks off the heat from the stainless kettle! Propane is just too costly here in those little 20lb tanks and then I’d need a burner and stuff also.
One thing I been playing with with friends is metal casting. Some cheap Ni-chrome wire and a few insulated fire bricks will melt Aluminum and Brass just fine, so I see no reason it would not boil a wort! :lol:
Of course playing with electric around liquids can be dangerous, but also cheap! Done right it should be perfectly safe, look at all the electric cookers out there to boil water or grease! Deep fryers, crock pots, skillets, grills, etc… etc… and electric stoves.
The key is to hold in the heat!
Insulated fire brick is a soft almost chalky brick that can be cut easily with a file or near any tool!
NOT to be confused with the other type of fire brick often used for wood furnaces or ovens that is made to heat up and hold or transfer the heat.
Insulated fire brick is porous and made to hold heat in to the work NOT to transfer the heat!

At about $4.50 a brick and shipping it is not real cheap, but then neither is propane or electric!
Here is a thought. If using electric heat like on my outdoor stove where heat is only at the bottom of the kettle could wrap maybe 10 bricks or less around the kettle which would hold in the heat normally lost into the air!
If using a fire like propane burner, then cut some grooves into the fire bricks so that most heat is on bottom but the hot gasses also flow up around the side of the kettle between the bricks and the kettle. You not only hold in the heat so it does not blow away in the air, you also direct the heat up the sides of the kettle, that is heat that would have been lost to the wind and air!

Yes, maybe $40-$50 in insulated fire brick is not cheap, but at near $1lb or more for propane how long would it take to save back that money by being able to use a lower heat setting and using far less propane?
I tried a turkey fryer once, I got a bad one that had a junk burner, but the first thing I noticed (after the fact the burner was junk) was that about 50% of my heat was just lost and gone forever into the air and did not help boil my wort! So that was lots of money wasted on Propane for nothing!
Insulated fire brick is good up to around 2600F which I’m sure we all know is far more than a wort needs to be boiled at! :lol:
Last time I had a 20lb BBQ tank filled it cost about $20, and if you use those ripoff exchange stations where their tanks only hold about 17lbs it can be allot more costly!

Ni-chrome wire is only about $20 and enough of it to melt Brass! Add in a $25 digital controller to set the temperature where wanted, say maybe 215F, and with the fire bricks you could build a pretty good kiln for brewing beer for around $100 then just use much cheaper electric for the heat.
How to build it safely to prevent electric shock, or shorting out if a boil over, would be up to the user/builder. Since the temperature could be controlled to within a few degrees boil overs should be a thing of the past once the proper temps are dialed in.
Built correctly the heat would NOT be at just the bottom of the kettle, but most the way up the sides also! This would not only help distribute the heat more evenly but also in doing so it would help prevent scorching of the sugars on a over hot bottom!

There are many ways something like that could be built and safe to use, also electric could be wired for 120V or 240V as needed for the user. Properly built a boiling kiln should not use much more electric (maybe less) than a normal electric room heater sold at the big box stores.
Heck, even my T-shirt press heats over 400F on a normal 120V room outlet plugin, it would probably boil my wort also if there was someway to get a kettle in there. LOL :lol:

One last thing about an electric kiln idea, many of us use electric hot water tanks in our homes to have hot water for baths, cooking, laundry, washing dishes and more. A properly built electric kiln would be no more dangerous with wort around electric than is water around electric in a water tank. I mention this because all the safety Nazis always show up on any forum for any idea and spout off the deadly dangers. Safety is of course important, but the Safety Nazis never have a clue what is meant by the phrase “properly built” and only spout off the evils!

I was once on a feather bed forum where they showed up and spouted off the evils of rolling over and having your eye poked out by the sharp point on a feather! :lol:
Of course a “properly built” feather bed there would be no danger of any such thing, the sharp ends would have been clipped off and the material used is thick enough to prevent a feather from poking through! :lol:

Sounds like an interesting idea. I’ve been starting to think about the possibility of investing in a burner and larger brew kettle at some point this year, but this is changing my thoughts a bit. I’d like to see how it would turn out. I know enough about electric to be dangerous (actually studied electrical engineering for about a year and a half) and the thought of building a brew kiln really peaks my interest. Care to share any sketches or more information on the details of how to build one? Not that I need another project to build right now… :lol:

How to build the beer kiln would be up to each person to decide what would work best for them so I won’t have any plans or drawings in particular.

Here is a video how easy it is to make one to melt metal. Of course we would not need that much heat to boil wort LOL
So we would need a temperature controller of some type to regulate the kiln temps were we want them.

Also, instead of using Ni-chrome wire a better idea would be to use heating elements like from a hotplate or electric stove. Heating elements don’t shock you like bare wire can.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en4yhzLuD9A

I don’t have anything to do with the company, just found the video.

I need a kiln/oven for many things. Powder Coating oven, melting metals for casting, baking ceramics, etc…

Wouldn’t you get better heat transfer with a standard electric brew kettle, with the heating element submerged in the wort? I don’t know anything about kilns, so not trying to shoot down your idea, just trying to understand. If this would work just as well it seems like a good option, especially since you wouldn’t have to alter the kettle at all, and could go back and forth between electric and propane.

I don’t plan to change the kettle, just sit it into place so it can still be used for any other uses as normal.

I don’t really like the idea much of electric elements in the wort myself for several reasons, and then still the problem with much of the heat just leaving the sides of the kettle in the wind.
Also I am thinking with a kiln type cooker not only would the heat not be lost out the sides, the sides would gain heat, somewhat like baking the wort to a boil, more even heating and less scorching worries without all the heat being just on the bottom.

I may be able to get out and do some work tomorrow and cast my refractory. I’ve decided instead of buying bricks I’ll cast my own chamber. I need to cast some other things anyway. Clay powder and Perlite are far cheaper than a few already made bricks. LOL
Perlite is an insulator and the clay binds it together.
My problem will be to find a safe place to store the castings for awhile to dry out where they will not freeze and break while still wet. Not really anyplace in the house for them, and the shop trailer gets as cold as outdoors which has often been very freezing like near 0F - 20F nights and not much better days for awhile. We are supposed to have a warm spell for a few days though so that may help.

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