Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Homebrewing Ball Valve With Pick-up Tube

If you're about to convert that old keg or pot into a mash tun, hot liquor tank or boil kettle, then you may be needing a valve installed to drain the liquid. In my case, I have a three tiered, gravity fed system utilizing discarded Sanke beer kegs.
Each vessel has a ball valve installed to allow the liquid to flow down from one vessel to the next, cascading down from the hot liquor tank (HLT) in to the top to the mash tun (MT) and finally down into the boil pot (keggle). I use valves that do not need to be welded in place but are held secure with compression fittings. The valves are installed several inches above the bottom of the keg and I have attached pick-up tubes which enable me to extract virtually all of the liquid from the keg. The parts that make up this assembly are:

  1. 1/2" npt to 3/8" barbed adapter

  2. 1/2" x 1/2" (female to female)
    s.s. or brass ball valve

  3. 1/2" npt to 3/8" compression fitting
    (male to male)

  4. heat resistant washer

  5. 3/8" compression sleeve

  6. 3/8" compression nut

  7. 3/8" x 6" copper tubing

I use some teflon tape on the pipe threads and the washer is thick enough to form a seal against the keg when the compression nut is tightened. The pick up tube is bent gradually down to within 1/4" of the bottom of the keg. I worked with a tube bender to prevent the tube from crimping but, being careful, you can probably do this without using one. On my mash tun I attached a length of stainless steel braided hose (not shown here) to filter out grain husk during the sparge process.


Aaron Woolsey said...

I have been having trouble with my similar setup in that I collect a lot of the hot/cold break and hop particles through my pick up tube when filling my carboys post-boil. Do you have any ideas on how to fix this problem?

mark said...

Although I'm not too concerned about getting trub in my fermenter, I do take the precaution of letting the break material and hop debris settle down into the bottom of the kettle for about 10 minutes or so and then before I open the valve I will turn it 90degree causing the pickup tube to turn with it and be positioned sideways. Then as the level of the wort goes down, I will slowly turn the pickup tube back down, getting as much wort as possible but not so far down that it sucks up the trub.

Aaron Woolsey said...

I have read how some people will use a whirl pooling/cyclonic action like stirring tea leaves to bring the debris to the center. That has yet to work for me. But your method seems to make a lot more sense. I don't mind the trub, I just try to minimize it. Thanks again for the tip.

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