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!