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: