When I moved to Denver, I had to leave behind an awesome rig that I built with a friend. By built I mean he did all the hard work and I bought some shit. Once I picked the hobby back up, I instantly missed the simple pleasure of brewing a 10-gallon batch. After a couple years at that capacity, 5 gallons just made me feel like my dick had shrunk down to half it’s size. I know the beer makes the man, not the size of the boil, but I have a serious case of kettle envy.
However, shortly after I began brewing again, the beer gods smiled upon me. I met a couple through an old room mate and we started talking beer and brewing. I was about a 6-pack deep, and airing my insecurities. I told them a keg was exactly what I needed for a boil kettle. They just happened to have an old one lying around. It was a few years old, but was simply sitting in the basement waiting to be traded in for the next keg. That keg was never going to show up. I was speechless and ecstatic (I still owe them a batch of beer!)
I’m sure plenty of you out there have used old kegs to make boil kettles. I know I’m not that innovative, but here are some pictures of the process if you want to try it, or just want to make fun of my shitty work. I started by drilling a hole in the top and proceeded to burn through 3 or 4 sawzall blades cutting around the stem. Once I popped the stem out, I was immediately punched in the face with a foul, bitter odor. Turns out, Rolling Rock turns into pure fucking vinegar after a few years.
Thankfully, I got smart and rinsed out the putrid old beer to finish the job. I used a magazine to make a circle template roughy the size of my kettle cover, and traced around the top of the keg. I used that line as a guide to cut out the excess steel and get the opening to the proper width. Finally, I filed down the edge, scrubbed the shit out of the inside and brewed 10 delicious gallons of rye porter (which took fucking forever to bring to boil because it was February).
Home brewing is probably the best hobby I’ve picked up. The community of home brewers is like a brotherhood that loves to see what each other are doing to learn ways to improve their process or equipment. Plus, not only does it give me fun little projects like this from time to time, but it actually FUELS my other favorite hobby: Beer drinking.
An open mind and a few beers can make anywhere an adventure.