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It’s the Little Fittings

I know, my kettle is filthy...

I know, my kettle is filthy...

When I moved off the stove several years ago, I picked up a cheap stainless steel kettle on eBay. It’s only 8.5 gallons, but it had a thermometer and ball valve installed, and the price was right – $99. The only downside was that it had the pipe nipple installed about ¾” off the bottom, meaning that for the past forty-odd batches, I’ve been leaving roughly half a gallon behind when transferring to the fermenter. I’d always planned to put in some sort of pickup tube, but since there was so little thread available, and so little room between the nipple and the bottom, I figured I’d either need to solder it, or use some bulky and expensive kludge. So that project was always on the back burner, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Then yesterday, while doing a whirlpool addition of cardamom to a tripel, one of the seed pods got sucked through the pump and clogged my chiller. Enough was enough. I ran to the hardware store and bought every brass pipe fitting known to man, thinking I’d be able to hack together something. Turns out all I needed was a single 90° female fitting. One of my concerns proved valid – there’s just barely enough thread for it to grip, and in the proper orientation it can’t be fully tightened – but it’s a perfect fit, sitting just a couple millimeters off the bottom, and apparently the threads are tight enough for the pump to pull a vacuum. I did a “dry run” (pun lovers are really getting their money’s worth today!) and it seems like my kettle dead space is now about 100 mL. Yay.

Truti Fruiti recipe (PDF)

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