For the past year or so I’ve been acquiring used sanke kegs with the goal to convert them into kettles, or “keggles” as they are commonly called. I currently have four… one in excellent condition, two in fair condition, and one with a big hole in the bottom that I did not notice until I had already gotten it home (will probably be turned into a table or stool eventually… currently acts as a stand for my cooler mash tun). I’ve been using an 8 gallon kettle ever since I took my brewing outside, and a brew day hasn’t gone by without me regretting this purchase. Taking into account boil off, 90 minute boils when using pilsner malt, and any batch size slightly greater than 5 gallons, I usually have this kettle filled to the very top, and always end up with some level of boil over. The keggle seems to be a great option for me. It holds 15.5 gallons so boil over is not much of an issue, and it allows me to move up to 10 gallons batches for those “house” beers you always want to have on tap. It also has that DIY element to it that I enjoy, and personally I think they look really cool.
Did I mention I’ve been storing these in my garage for over a year now? Here’s my issue. I’m lazy. Obviously there is some work involved to convert a piece of stainless steel designed for holding finished beer under pressure into a big pot… the most obvious task involving cutting a hole in the top. I’ve researched this topic to death… bought an angle grinder and stainless steel cutoff wheels and have the plans for a simple, but tried and true jig for cutting a perfectly round hole. Still, here I am blogging about it rather than being out in my garage cutting the hole.
This brings me to this morning, and ultimately the question I have for any of you who read this. On my way to work, I passed by a welding shop in my town that I had not noticed before. This got me to thinking if it would be easier (and cost effective) to just bring them the keg and have them cut the hole with a plasma cutter. I honestly have no idea what the charge would be for something like this, but the simplicity of it is very appealing to me right now… as well as the thought of being able to brew my next batch in a keggle. Do any of you have advice as to which way I should go (DIY angle grinder vs professional plasma cutter)? This also begs the question that since I would be bringing them the keg anyway, would it be better to have them weld on the connections for the valve, thermometer, sight glass, etc, or just use the weldless fittings I was already planning on. Again, any advice would be appreciated.