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I have a 10 gallon brew kettle with a ball valve. I have used it a couple times, and now own a counter-flow chiller. I noticed that all of the hot-break at the bottom of my kettle really seems to gunk up the ball valve and the speed of the draining. I mean it it still flows, but it does add some time to the draining. There are 2 things that I want to be able to do:

  1. Be able to add a dip tube of some sort. Right now I leave a sizable amount of liquid at the bottom of the kettle, since the ball valve is off the bottom just a tad ( which turns out to be a bit of liquid in a 10 gallon kettle)...what is the best way to go about this?
  2. Also, with the dip tube of some sort, is there a way to maybe strain some of the hot break out? I mean it feels like it would clog any mesh I try to put in its way. Any thoughts? Is it worth it? I'm not getting a stuck drain, just slowed I guess.

Thanks for all of your help!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can get a false bottom with dip tube from any of the online home brew stores or your LHBS. They're a little pricey ($30 - $100+), so I made one cheaply with stuff I had lying around.

It consists of 1/2 inch threaded / female coupler, about 6 inch length of pipe, a 90 deg. elbow, and another 1-2 inch length of pipe. This is the dip tube. You don't need to solder it if you don't feel like it since any leaks just go back into the kettle. For the false bottom I cut a hole in a folding steamer basket and slip it over the end of the dip tube.

It occurred to me to google after writing this and I found this. I needed to add a small piece of pipe to the end of mine to reach the bottom of my kettle.

I always use at least some whole hops which helps catch the break material.

My brew kettle is a 15.5 converted keg. You may need to adjust dimensions for your kettle. Even if you have to buy all the parts for this it shouldn't cost more than $10 to put together.

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Where can you get parts AND a false bottom for under $10? –  brewchez Apr 27 '12 at 23:08
    
Copper at the hardware store, steamer basket at the kitchen (or grocery) store. Not sure on the copper prices, the basket is $2-$4. Pretty sure $10 is the right ballpark though. –  Tom McCann May 4 '12 at 17:45
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I second mdma's whirlpool recommendation. Get a good strong whirlpool going after flameout, then wait until it settles thoroughly before opening the valve. The majority of the solids will settle into a cone in the center of the kettle, away from the spigot. You'll still want to keep an eye on it and shut off the flow once the level gets low enough that larger amounts of solids are starting to be sucked out through the spigot, but this should go a very long way towards preventing a lot of gunk in the valve and (much worse!) inside the counterflow chiller.

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An alternative to using a false bottom is to use a hopback, such as the blichmann hoprocket. This increases the hop aroma as well as filtering out hot break.

Another option is to stir the wort just after flamout for 10 minutes, this creates a whirlpool, which should cause most of the hot break and hop material to collect in the center of the kettle, away from your faucet.

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