2018-03-01_060026.png

Cheers!

Welcome to Garnet Heart Beer! We are Cameron and Kirby. We document our travels and life through craft beer.

Barrel Steamer Wand (Homemade)

Barrel Steamer Wand (Homemade)

Pressure Cooker Barrel Steamer

Intro

Any proper barrel maintenance should include good sanitation practices. Hot water around 180 F is normally good to take care of most bugs, but they are tricky with wood. Wood is porous and life always finds a way. Getting the hot water to penetrate deep enough in the wood takes a lot of time and water, especially when venturing into bigger barrel sizes (Larger than 20L / 5 Gallon). Filling a 40L (10 gallon) barrel is not the most viable solution as it gets heavy very quickly. A full 40L barrel will weigh around 175 lbs which can lead to injury and/or broken equipment as you swing it around. 

Steam provides better penetration and extraction, while being more sterile due to higher heat. It also uses considerably less water which is always a plus. 

Before we dive in, understand that we had the two most expensive pieces of equipment and tools already on hand. If you do not have a Pressure Cooker or a Burner to use we would recommend purchasing this steamer on amazon. It has great reviews from homebrewers and probrewers. 

Parts List

Tools

All in One Picture

All in One Picture

All the parts we had to buy. We had all the tools and expensive equipment already.

All the parts we had to buy. We had all the tools and expensive equipment already.

Step 1 (Installing the Ball Lock Bulk Head)

20180408_145055.jpg
  • Using cutting oil and your Step Drill Bit create a pilot hole for your 9/16" Knock Out Punch
These Drill Bits create a lot of shrapnel. So it would be a pain to deburr the hole with a File

These Drill Bits create a lot of shrapnel. So it would be a pain to deburr the hole with a File

  • Using the 9/16" Knock Out punch finish the hole with a ratchet to create a clean cut
Finished Hole (Make sure to clean off the cuttings from drilling and the oil residue prior to installing bulk head)

Finished Hole (Make sure to clean off the cuttings from drilling and the oil residue prior to installing bulk head)

Interior of the Lid (Clean hole)

Interior of the Lid (Clean hole)

  • Install Bulk Head. Make sure you understand the orientation of your O-Rings.
20180409_154617.jpg

Step 2 (Constructing the Valve)

  • Using the 1/4" MPT x 1/4 FPT Ball Valve, the 1/4" FPT x 1/4" Barb, and the 1/4" Tube Compression x 1/4" MPT construct your tubing connection. Wrap all threads (3 or 4 times) with Teflon Tape and tighten the connections. Do not over tighten them, if the threading it too deep into the valve it will not fully open or close (something learned about this specific valve when constructing)
Ball Valve with Teflon Tape on its threads

Ball Valve with Teflon Tape on its threads

Full assembly prior to tightening the compression fitting

Full assembly prior to tightening the compression fitting

Step 3 (Hose Attachment)

  • Using the 1/4" MFL x 5/16" Barb, the Gas Ball lock Disconnect, the Smooth Worm Bands, and your newly assembled Ball Valve create your hose attachment
Gas Ball Lock Disconnect & the 1/4" MFL x 1/4" Barb connected to the 1/4" ID Silicon Tube

Gas Ball Lock Disconnect & the 1/4" MFL x 1/4" Barb connected to the 1/4" ID Silicon Tube

Fully Assembled Hose ( We only used about 2ft of the 3ft hose) length will vary depending on your own length requirements) 

Fully Assembled Hose ( We only used about 2ft of the 3ft hose) length will vary depending on your own length requirements) 

Step 4 (The Wand)

  • Your 18" x 1/4" OD Stainless Steel Tube needs a few modifications to distribute the steam inside the barrel. Normally this is achieved through holes drilled in the tubing to disperse the steam. Being as it is a PTA to drill through stainless (especially on tubing this small) we opted to cut small slits in the tube with a Jig Saw and a Stainless Steel Cutting Blade.
We cut slits aiming in different directions up about 12" of the total length of the tubing, leaving 6" as buffer space for the ball valve and various bungs.

We cut slits aiming in different directions up about 12" of the total length of the tubing, leaving 6" as buffer space for the ball valve and various bungs.

  • Crimp the end of your 1/4" Stainless Tube. You want to create some back pressure on the Steam so it doesn't all go out the bottom and not get distributed through the slits. We just used a hammer on a hard surface to close off the end that goes into the barrel.
We may close this even further (havent decided yet)

We may close this even further (havent decided yet)

  • Drill an 1/4" Hole through your Bung. Since it is rubber it will create a tight seal even after drilling. You may have to use a bit of force to get the tube through the stopper. Rest the stopper about 1/2" above the start of the slits you made.

Step 5 (Attach the Wand to Your Valve Assembly)

  • This is your last step. Slip the Wand into your 1/4" Tube compression fitting on the Valve assembly you created earlier and tighten. Because the Stainless tube is rather thin it should only need a quarter turn past when the fitting starts giving you resistance. Do not over tighten. 
20180409_162752.jpg

And that's it! Heat up your Pressure Cooker to 15 PSI per your manufacturers guideline and then connect your homemade barrel steamer. 

Insert the wand into the barrel and seal with the bung. Let the barrel Steam for a good 15 to 20 minutes to sanitize while you do other chores or drink beer. 

After steaming it is wise to rinse it out and use a sanitizing solution per our Barrel Maintenance Guidelines (here) . Then you are free to refill. 

Cheers!

Thoughts After Using:

  • Probably would be wise to install some sort of handle on the Wand. It gets very very Hot (Around 250 F due to steam pressure being hotter than standard boiling) 
  • Will test actual Temp of the steam in barrel in a couple days when we clean a 40L Barrel
Barrel Care/Maintenance

Barrel Care/Maintenance