From Keg to Kettle and False Bottom

I recently scored a nice find on Craigslist. I picked up a used keg (15.5 gallons) for $50. That’s a decent price. I didn’t even bother negotiating with the guy – I thought it was very fair. My plans for the keg were to turn it into a brew kettle. You’ve probably seen a lot of videos on YouTube or pictures on Instagram of homebrewers using kegs as their brew kettle, and I can’t recommend one enough. If you’re a 5-gallon all-grain brewer, this is the keg for you. My initial boil volume is usually around the 7 gallon mark which puts me just below the half-way mark on the keg… plenty of head-space and you don’t have to be as careful with boil-overs. But that’s not why I’m writing this post…

If you cut your keg correctly, you can repurpose that top you just cut off into a very useful false bottom for your mash tun. A few weeks ago, I put the new kettle and the false bottom to the test with a nut brown ale and it worked perfectly. So here’s what I did:

  • Depressurize the keg (and if there’s a small amount of beer left inside, you better turn it on its side unless you like getting shot in the face with old anheiseur beer… trust me).
  • Mark your cut line with a permanent marker. My diameter was 11.5 inches.
  • Make your cut with an angle grinder. Take your time. Stainless steel is incredibly strong.
  • Clean all the edges with the angle grinder until their smooth to the touch. A wire brush in a cordless drill was a great tool for this.
  • Drill holes into the new false bottom. Mine are a little too big, so learn from my mistake and start small. I’d recommend a 1/16 inch bit. I believe I used 1/8th and a few grains made their way through.
  • That big hole in the middle? If you have a toddler like me and use Gerber baby food, the top will fit almost perfectly. Set the top in the false bottom’s hole and drill a hole for your tubing. Tip: Cut your tubing at an angle so the bottom of your mash tun doesn’t prevent flow
  • Finally, mash in!

[row][span4]Drilling holes in the false bottom[/span4][span4]False bottom at the bottom of the mash tun[/span4][span4]Once a keg - now a kettle[/span4]
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5 thoughts on “From Keg to Kettle and False Bottom

  1. Awesome! I don’t think I have ever seen the top repurposed to a false bottom, that is really cool. Did you use the cooler tun method before this?

    I would really like to make a keggle some day when I get off the stovetop.

    1. Thanks Alex – It works really well. I did about 3 batches with the cooler mash tun when I realized the dinky stainless steel toilet supply tubing just wasn’t cutting it. It would clog up and the draining/sparging process was taking way too long. This new false bottom allows plenty of wort to pass and keep up with the drain. The only thing I wish I could change would be the size of the holes I made. They’re a tiny bit too big and once in a while, I’ll get a grain pass through. Cheers man!

  2. Yeah that is my main problem with my cooler tun too. Takes forever! I am actually going to try no sparge method on my next couple brews, try and save some time. Ever tried that? Takes about 20% more grain but cuts sparging out completely.

    1. I’ve never tried it but John Palmer wrote a nice article on Brew Your Own’s site if you haven’t read it already. I read it a while back when I first started going all-grain: Article: Skip the Sparge. I’d like to get a few more brews under my belt before I try it. Keep me posted if you give it a shot.

    2. Yeah that is exactly the article that gave me the idea! I just don’t have a lot of time right now, even on the weekends so I searched for ways to shorten the brew day. Going to blog about. Will keep you posted!

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