Author Topic: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing  (Read 1532 times)

Offline erockrph

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Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« on: December 06, 2014, 07:56:51 PM »
I'm an indoor brewer who brews 3 gallon batches on the stovetop. One of my only frustrations with my current setup is how long it takes to get 4+ gallons to a boil on my stove, and maintain a strong enough boil at that size.

I had started to look into electric heat sticks, but most of the info out there was for DIY stuff. I know enough about electricity to know that "DIY" and electricity aren't something I want to mess with. At least nothing in the kilowatt-plus size.

So the other day I ran across one of these. I decided that the price was right, so I gave it a whirl. While it's not exactly "how did I ever live without this" good, it's certainly well worth the money.

My stove generally takes 40-50 minutes to get 4 gallons of wort from mash temps up to a boil. With the heat stick helping out, I hit a boil in 25 minutes. I was able to maintain a healthy (but not explosive) rolling boil without having to do the "lid half on" trick. This is completely subjective, but I felt like I got a better hot break using the stick as well. It could also help cut into your time to hit strike temps if you're starting from room temp water (I use hot tap water from my sink, so that's not an issue for me).

As a test, I used the stick alone to heat 3 gallons of water in my kettle. I got it from 60F to 160F in 35 minutes. So you could even potentially heat your strike water right in your mash tun with one or two of these. Overall, if you're brewing more than a gallon or two on a stovetop I'd really recommend one of these.

Eric B.

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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2014, 09:46:08 PM »
Regular 120 volt plug I assume? With that and a temp controller I could have that electric HLT I've always wanted.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 12:03:49 AM »
Jimmy K,

One of these and a heavy duty outdoor Christmas light timer allow me to wake up and be ready to mash in. Been doing that for years. When it is pulled from the strike water it goes into the sparge water to start heating that and save on propane.

Eric, any signs of scorching on the element, or extra cleaning required?  I never had the courage to try it in the wort.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 12:06:18 AM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 12:23:54 AM »
That's exactly why I want it. Wake up, flip it on, go make coffee.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2014, 02:55:34 AM »
Jimmy,

For about 8 gallons of strike water in the cold garage it takes about 3.5 hours + to get to temp. Too much coffee for me.  ;D
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2014, 05:12:05 AM »
Jeff, no sign of scorching at all. I pulled the stick out of the wort and put it right into a pitcher of warm water to rinse it off. There was a small bit of hop residue at the top that wiped off easily. If it got pretty gross I'd probably give it a PBW soak. Its only 1000 watts. I could see a bigger element potentially being a higher risk for scorching.

Jimmy, it goes in a normal 120V outlet. I just plug it into the GFI outlet next to my stove top. If you can manage it, you could always use a second heater to double your output. At under 40 bucks apiece it's a manageable investment.
Eric B.

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2014, 12:39:16 PM »
Jeff, no sign of scorching at all. I pulled the stick out of the wort and put it right into a pitcher of warm water to rinse it off. There was a small bit of hop residue at the top that wiped off easily. If it got pretty gross I'd probably give it a PBW soak. Its only 1000 watts. I could see a bigger element potentially being a higher risk for scorching.

Jimmy, it goes in a normal 120V outlet. I just plug it into the GFI outlet next to my stove top. If you can manage it, you could always use a second heater to double your output. At under 40 bucks apiece it's a manageable investment.

You would want to have the second heater on another circuit if 15 amps, and it would be pushing it on a 20 amp circuit.

Thanks for the feedback on the element in the wort, Eric. I might have to try that with that to speed up getting to a boil.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 12:40:57 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline pete b

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2014, 01:10:19 AM »
I might look into this to speed up my brew nights. Btw Eric I always use cold tap water and let it sit all day so its room temp or not. I've always been a little sketched out by cooking or brewing with water from the hot water heater.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2014, 11:06:01 PM »
I might look into this to speed up my brew nights. Btw Eric I always use cold tap water and let it sit all day so its room temp or not. I've always been a little sketched out by cooking or brewing with water from the hot water heater.
I have a tankless hot water system, so I'm not as worried. I let it run for a couple of minutes to flush out anything that's sitting in the pipes first. I'd totally understand having some concerns with water from a traditional hot water heater. Although if you're planning on using it for brewing water, you could just send a sample out to Ward Labs for analysis. This way you'd have a baseline for water adjustments.
Eric B.

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Offline scook13339

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Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2015, 04:08:04 AM »
I have this heat stick and use it to assist wort boil inside. No sign of scorching or off flavor in the finished beer.