HERMS Kettle Conversion

I started a new project today and I’m pretty excited about it. My mash tun is a 10 gallon cooler and it hasn’t be easy to keep the mash temps at a constant temp. I researched possible solutions, which included using a RIMS or a HERMS setup. I opted for the HERMS since I’m not as awesome as I think I am when it comes to electricity. Cool – now I just need a new HLT and all of the shit that goes along with building a HERMS.

I picked up a used brew kettle from a fellow homebrewer. Aside from some cosmetic ugliness and the Coors logo embossed on it, the kettle was in pretty good shape. I replaced the fittings and the thermometer with all new stainless and a Blichmann Brewmometer. Next up is to get the parts needed for a HERMS coil.

Kettle-1

Copper vs Stainless?

Copper is really cool looking when it’s nice and shiny, plus it’s readily available in Lowes or HD. However, it looks like shit when it gets funkified and has potential for leaks if you don’t know how to properly sweat pipes.

I saw some pics of a stainless coil and was like “Oh shit! That looks awesome. And it would totally look like I know what I’m doing ;)” I found a coil that met my needs at stainlessbrewing.com. Small hiccup: the stupid Coors keg has the “spare tire” thing going on and I need a coil tall enough to span the bulge. Of course that only comes in 1/2″ OD and it takes 50 feet. This adds up to the higher priced coil – about 96 bucks. I scored a pretty nice deal on the kettle so the 96 bucks was doable. Sold.Coil-1

Next up on the parts list are the bulkhead compression fittings. Holy shit these things are expensive! They came to about 28 a piece x 2. Aside: If anyone tells you that homebrewing is cheaper than buying craft beer, they are full of it.
I picked up the compression fittings from BobbyfromNJ – he surprisingly has reasonable prices.

Fittings-1

I finally had the time to put this thing together. The first step in assembly is to clean this kettle. I want a fresh new look since this is a new addition to my brewery. I picked up some finishing pads for my angle grinder (medium, fine, and polishing) and spent a few hours cleaning the kettle. Remember that before pic? Here it is after the a couple of rounds with the finishing pads. I haven’t polished it yet but I’ll tackle that next week.Polished-2

I started to drill the holes for the new compression fittings but I could hear the drill making this noise. That was the sound of me packing it in and heading down to the local brewpub for a growler and some pints. I’ll charge the battery and play tomorrow :)

I’ll post an update in a few days after I complete my HERMS kettle.

Cheers