Building a Keggle By: Tom Ayers
There are many options for brew kettles available to brewers including ceramic, aluminum, and stainless steel. Of course each material has its strengths and weaknesses. The ideal kettle for the homebrewer is stainless steel. It is easy to clean, strong, and last a long time. This of course is the most expensive of the three types. There are a ton of great options on Love2brew and I would recommend any of them. Just ensure you have a pot with at least 20% more space than the max volume you intend to boil. Therefore to do full boils for a five gallon batch you should have a bare minimum 6.5 gallon pot (assuming a 60 minute boil, 9% evaporation rate, and 5 gallon post boil volume).
If you are unable to swing the expense of a brand new stainless kettle, but you have an old keg lying around, you can fashion a great stainless kettle that hold 15.5 gallons and can make a 10 gallon batch easily. In the next steps I’ll walk you through the basics of converting the keg to a keggle. From there infinite possibilities are available, that I’ll venture into in later articles.
Step 1: Depress pin to remove excess pressure
The keg has a ball that will need to be depressed in order to release the pressure. Take a flat head screw driver and push down on the ball until the pressure is relieved. Watch out, as old nasty beer can spray out of the keg if a lot of pressure exists.
Step 2: Remove ring
There is a ring/clip around the opening of the keg. This needs to be removed before you can get the spear out. Using a flat head screwdriver, nail, or needle nose pliers; pry the ring out of the hole. This can be difficult. I took the screwdriver and a hammer and hit the ring until the end was at one of the two openings and pried it out from there.
Step 3: Unscrew top
With the ring out, you will see exposed barbs. Take a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. Hit the barbs on the spear counter clockwise to unscrew the spear and pull it out. You can see the in the pictures that lining up the barbs will open the spear.
Step 4: Draw circle with string and marker
Tie a piece of string into a loop so that it is approximately the radius of the hole you wish to cut (generally 12”). Loop it over the opening for the tap and pull it tight with a marker. This now makes a sort of compass and allows you to draw a nice circle around the keg top to serve as your guide when cutting.
Step 5: Cut top off
There are many options to make this cut. I personally free hand cut it with an angle grinder, but if you are worried about having a perfectly round circle there are many rigs people have put together available on homebrewtalk.com. Other options are to cut the top with a reciprocating saw or dremel tool. Be careful and follow all proper safe procedures for power tools including wearing ear and eye protection. Before you make the cut put a couple gallons of water in the keg to cool off any hot metal that gets inside. This will make cleanup easier.
Step 6: Grind smooth and round with flapper disk
Finish of the cut by taking the grinder and smoothing out any rough edges. Follow that with a flapper wheel like the one shown in the picture below. After this take either an emery cloth or some high grit sandpaper around the edge. Once this is done you should be able to safely run your finger around the edge with out any issue, though still not recommended.
Step 7: Clean
I’ve cut a few kegs open; some are perfectly clean and smooth inside. This particular keg was quite dirty inside. I have found that the best way to clean the keg without doing much damage is to use the blue scotch-brite no-scratch pads. With some elbow grease and time you will have a shiny new kettle to do 10 gallon full boils!