If you have an extra standard beer keg, with a little effort, you can turn it into a 15.5 gallon stainless steel fermentor. In this video I show you how I did it. Benefits are the adoption of something existing that you have with little extra cost, versus buying expensive kits that sell for a few hundreds of dollars $$$
Not to say that there is anything wrong with them, they are in fact very nice kits, you just end up saving some money.
The beer won’t know any different, it will come out the same…
1) make sure that the pump you get does not have a one-way-rubber-valve installed on the inside of the output plumbing… this will put a resistance on the output and reduce your flow considerably… by more than half!!!
2) air trapped in your output tubing will also severely impede the output rate especially when it is longer (which we like to use, gives you flexibility), its best after connecting the wort/water input into the pump, by putting the your output hose flat on the ground // below your input – turn the pump on and this will force easily all the water out mixed with the air bubbles ( you will be amazed how much better, even a small pump will work ), like the one in this tutorial – very good flow and almost no noise… a 1/2 gallon growler fills in under 10 seconds.
3) as you are heating up your strike water – have some of that hot water run through your pump system to clean it out, so try to account for that by adding this extra water for your total water needed (mash + sparge) // use a online calculator to help your self out! Google it 🙂
4) you can control the speed of the pump with the ball value on your kettle (start at a lower speed when you re-circulate to clear up the beer after mashing…). Increase the speed when you are transferring beer for bigger batches like 10+ gallons…
use it to re-circulate the wort after mashing to clear up the beerPreview Changes
use it to transfer larger brews of 10 gallons+ // no need to move or lift heavy brew kettles full of hot liquids and a gravity based system is no longer required…
You are looking at a portable GFIC protected march pump connected to ON/OFF switch – with extra GFIC outlets, nice to have for future needs.
Adjust all of your ideas from reading any articles on our blog to your own situation and need, you don’t need to make it exactly the same as we did 😉
The first thing you need to learn about is the basics of available pump types, the 2 major ones that are used to transfer beer are March pumps and Chugger pumps. You want to buy a pump that is rated fitting for transfer of hot liquids and food grade safe.
Here we like to use March pumps because these are made in the US and we like to support made in the u.s.a. (whenever we can), so that is always #1 on our list, stay away from cheap chugger pumps made in china on ebay, not to say that there are not any quality chugger pumps out there… [ you get what you pay for ], but do your research.
Most pumps are rated for standard household 115Volts, that is your standard electrical socket at home, we would recommend that you stick with that, only more powerful pumps would require 230 volts, for bigger breweries – not home a.k.a hobby brewery.
The pump will have its rating printed on its side label, including how many gallons per minute it is rated for and stuff like that… March pumps come in small to medium sizes and even bigger sizes, so you need to think about your current needs and future needs (think about both).
Here will will show you how we wired a medium sized march pump that we use for re-circulation and transfer (can be used for anything really), into a standard 115 volt household 3-prong socket.
If you are not familiar with the 3 prongs, here it is:
Basically Ground is used when there is an electrical fault – so that the electricity can be safely moved into ground. The black wire is the HOT wire that delivers the 115 volt 60 Hertz A/C current. The white is a (neutral) wire, that is used to complete the circuit loop to make the electricity flow when you turn things ON/OFF. Without a loop, the principles of how electric current works and flow would not work, there is also a loop in D/C current too, but that is outside of this article scope.
We decided to use a heavy duty ON/OFF switch connected to the pump in-line with a GFIC outlet, so that if we need to plug-in additional things in the future, we can.
The GFIC provides ground-fault interrupt protection, and it will flip its self off without affecting the main electrical box in your house when there is a ground-fault. These usually are installed in bathrooms and kitchens, etc… for like hair dryers (fall into water), etc… since beer brewing involves water, better be safe than sorry!
I made a short video on how this kind of works and how we wired this…
If you have never worked with GFIC connections, please watch a few videos on youtube made by electricians that will make it clearer, but basically its like this:
Get a 3-prong PC power cable (an extra one that you have) and cut-off the end of the female end of this cable, not the part that plugs into the a/c outlet (male end), clearly you are going to need that…. strip the wires and wire that into the GFIC in-line…
Then Connect the ON/OFF switch to the load of the GFIC (again watch those videos), the load extends the protection beyond the GFIC 2 outlets into whatever is connected to it, in this case our ON/OFF switch is, so it extends the GFIC protection to the pump through the ON/OFF switch.
The trick is to now correctly wire the ON/OFF switch – watch our video, but basically you need to realize that an ON/OFF switch in an A/C circuit was designed to connect one wire, like the HOT wire and the circuit is cut off with the switch, you NEVER want to wire in both the HOT and NEUTRAL wires to both ends of the switch – as soon as you flip the switch, your circuit breaker in the electrical box will flip off, this means that you done this part incorrectly……
Most people wire their switches and outlets to their brew stands, into permanent connections, but you can also set this up into a portable system – as most home brewers brew out doors using make shift setups of all kinds… so this will allow you to take it anywhere, including your friends house or a brew club or where-ever and not have it tied down to only one place.
In addition, you can extend this design, and buy another pump, a more powerful one, and mount it above the one in the picture and add an addition A/B switch to the ON/OFF switch, when you need various pump types because of whatever need.
Below is a video of a test that we did once the pump wiring was done (used an old wood pallet to make the stand), yes there are some small drips, we left that in the video to again show you some of the things that you will need to check, we strongly recommend that you do a dry test, and identify all leaks and fix them and next do also a hot-water dry test, without any malt and make sure everything works at the temperatures that you will actually brew at….
Also you might want to now consider quick disconnects for the connections, also make sure to use tubbing that is food safe and was also made to withstand your working temperatures…