Extracts in an Urn

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Hi guys,

Well I saw a Crown urn going on eBay and nabbed it for $210. Very pleased with the price! Seller says it's only a few days old and already modded to brewing spec. Not sure why he is selling it after a few days, but hoping it's all above board.

Assuming it is, I think that I have bitten off a little more than I can chew with this thing. I don't feel ready to carry out AG brews and considered it more of an investment for the future. Because of this I want to continue with my plans to carry out extract brewing for a good while.

But I was wondering, will I be able to use the urn to carry out my extract brews? It would be great to not make a mess of the kitchen when I am making a brew!

If I may, I might lump in a few more questions I have which I come up with but don't want to make a new topic about every time!

When you put in hop additions, are these put in using a hop sock or do you just lob them in at the desired times?

The other one is about speciality grains, do you put them in a bag when you steep them? The first brew I did was an extract and told me to just put the grain in then strain it as I put it into the fermenter, but I would imagine putting them into a bag would make the whole thing a lot easier.

Thanks for your continued help guys! Got some friends coming round to help me finish off the rest of my second batch so I can get my third batch bottled, and clear my fermenter for new adventures! :)
Good price. Where are you situated? If you are handy to a supply of grain then Brew in a bag in an urn isn't much more difficult or time consuming than steeping grains in a bag (recommended). You just use a bigger bag :p

Have a read.

However like you say, the urn would make a good "cooking centre" for an extract brew without dirtying every saucepan in the house, if you are one of those extract brewers who like to do a full volume wort boil with the hops.
Small amounts of pellets can just be chucked in but if I'm using more than 20g in a batch I'll use a bag to avoid too much shyte going into the FV.
Made a full volume boil extract brew in my urn the other day. First thing I learned: 90+ grams of pellet hops straight in the boil without a bag will clog the tap in approximately 3 seconds. Use a bag, if you can.

Also, make sure you have the element turned off when you're mixing your extract in with the water and you need to make sure it's mixed properly, not caked around the element.
Hey mate,
Was watching that auction out of interest. I picked up a brand new urn a couple of months ago for $150 (although mine hasn't been modded and has the standard tap) from ebay and have made the switch to all grain. My process is slightly different from Bribie G's guide but this is a great starting point. I was doing extracts for about a year and found that BIAB in an Urn although took longer than extract with steeped grains, was actually less effort and a far more enjoyable brew day all round. I now brew in the garage (which keeps the warden happy), and I have time while I'm brewing to get other stuff done. I use Brewmate to formulate my recipes. Plenty of info on the site about all of this but if you have any questions, shoot them through. Happy to let you know my complete brew day process.

Edit: And unless you're buying extract in bulk from somewhere, AG will usually work out a bit cheaper.
Econwatson, I brought a 40l crown from an AHB brewer about a year ago. Went BIAB and haven't looked back. Brew day is a little longer, but I enjoy the process. For me the elapsed time about 4hrs, but I find if I use the down time doing other stuff (like jobs the mrs has given me). I get a lot done in this time with the added bonus of getting the credit for being a good man about the house.

If you're in Melb, get to G&G for a brewing demo - they happen most Saturdays. If not in melb, call out to a local brewer, I'm sure that someone will be happy to have a helper for the day.
Thanks for the help guys! I am definitely going to head down to G&G and watch a demo of a BIAB. I'm lucky it's so close for grain supplies!
Definitely the way to go, Eco. As you'll see BIAB and most other All Grain systems consist of blocks of an hour doing things like mowing or yakking or preferably drinking, punctuated by brief spells of furious activity :p Get yourself a loud kitchen timer and listen for it: the beer basically makes itself, You're really just the sheep dog that moves it from one paddock to the next. :beerbang:
I would deffenently suggest the Biab method. For one its much easier that I'm sure your thinking, second you have way more controll over the end result and third you pretty much have all the gear now. Just make sure you get a good temp probe that reaches a good 80-100mm into the boiler as you will be surprised how much the temp changes from the outer edge to the core of the mash.

As for adding hops, I use I stainless mesh mag but I think I do loose utilization and therefore have to add more hops to get to the same ibu's. I wouldn't worry though if your using pellets and a racking cane.

For grain, now that you have a urn and I assume you will be doing a full volume boil, in that case use a grain/hop bag to steep your specialty grain. You pretty much make a huge tea bag and then pull the whole thing out.

Hope this helps.
Could you guys recommend any recipe to try out first? I'd like to make something quite aromatic and light. Maybe something like Brunswick Bitter or Stone and Wood Pacific? Would this be possible without a fermentation fridge?

Also would I be able to get hop socks and grain bags from G&G or should I get them from Craft Brewer?

Thanks for the help!
If you want Stone and Wood try Dr Smurtos Golden Ale
Pretty close with different hops
Tried Stone And Wood today on tap at the Stokehouse
My house ale is the Aussie Amber Ale. It can be found in the recipe DB. I also enjoy dr Smurto's golden ale and Tony's LCBA.

G&G will have everything - equipment and ingredients. I'm sure that if you call them (just not on sat morn when it's really busy) and talk them through the recipe as its presented in the recipe DB, you'll get all the help you need. Alternatively the brewer running the demo will be able to help too.

If you get stuck, pm me. I'm no master brewer but I can help.
Thank you for your help guys! Can't wait to get the order in!
Sorry for double post, got the urn in the mail today, very excited!

I just want to confirm my process for Dr. Smurto's with you guys. to see if I'm getting this right.

1. Fill the urn to desired volume. Would this be somewhere around 30 litres for a full volume brew where I want to end up with about 22 litres?

2. Heat urn to 66 degrees.

3. Put grain bag in and steep for one hour.

4. Remove grain bag (should I sparge it?)

5. Bring to a rolling boil.

6. Add malt extracts and stir em good.

7. Carry out hop additions over the hour.

8. Cool, then add to fermenter, and pitch yeast.

Does this sound more or less correct, I would check Recipe DB but it's still down I think.

This is following the recipe from the Kit and Extract Spreadsheet which is amazing by the way!

Thanks guys! :)
You don't need to mash specialty grains. Just steep them in water 60º - 70ºC for 20 - 30 minutes. You don't really need to sparge it, there's only a few hundred grams worth of specialty malt, but there's no reason you can't if you want to. Just make sure to take into account that you're adding extra water from the sparge.

30 litres to end up with 22 doesn't sound right at all. Over an hour's boil in my Birko urn I ended up losing maybe 3 - 4 litres of water, if that. You can always add more water, but you can't remove extra water. Remember as well that adding your extract/etc to the beer adds volume. It might seem self-explanatory but I've made the mistake of forgetting for example 1.5 litres of extract = 1.5 litres extra volume. -_-

Make sure the urn is turned off while adding your extract. Bring it to a boil, switch it off, thoroughly mix your malt and then turn on again for your 60 minute boil. Otherwise you'll get malt burning on the element and turning your beer into the charred urine of Satan.

Also, please use a bag for your hops. Don't do what I did and chuck them straight in, or you'll end up with a clogged tap and many litres of useless wort. :angry:
Thanks for the help!

Regarding putting the wort into a fermenter after brewing, how would you go about doing it? Would I be alright to just use the tap? Or would I be better to siphon it in? I thought running it through the tap and having it drop into the fermenter might help with the chilling!
Econwatson said:
Thanks for the help!

Regarding putting the wort into a fermenter after brewing, how would you go about doing it? Would I be alright to just use the tap? Or would I be better to siphon it in? I thought running it through the tap and having it drop into the fermenter might help with the chilling!
Is your plan to run the wort hot from the urn's tap into a fermenter and then...?

You need to chill or no-chill. You can't just transfer and hope for the best. Some people no-chill in their fermenters - some people advise against this unless you really know what you're doing.

Splashing hot wort is also generally considered a bad thing (even if this may well have some cooling associated with it). Look up hot-side aeration (HSA). Some people think it isn't anything to be concerned about but even amongst them most people seem to say it is worth avoiding splashing anyway just to be sure.

Read more, guy.
How are you planning on chilling out of curiosity, I didn't see anything in your posts and your comment about dropping it into the fermenter raised an eyebrow? (No, I'm not going to say HSA.... I don't know if it exists but falling, boiling wort sounds scary either way)

Obviously an ice bath isn't going to work with an electric Urn, and I personally don't like boiling wort in my fermenter - those things get too weak when they are that hot. Have you looked into No Chill in a cube? For a $15 investment it's probably one of the easiest and best cheapest additions to any full volume method I can imagine - Even if it's only a temporary measure at least it means you're going to go from Urn to cube safely (get some silicon hose) and infection free. Then 24/48 hours later you can pour it into your fermenter at pitching temps nice and easy. I tried ice baths for my first 3-4 full volume brews and it was just an exercise in (dare I say the word?) stupidity.

Either get a wort chiller or No chill - doing to half n half led to my first and only infection so far.

Edit: God dammit Bum, are you my evil twin from another timeline?
Do you already have the extract? If not why not give BIAB a go. It won't be much more effort for you. G&G will crush all the grain for you in one bag. Just an idea. Don't take this as a biab v extract comment - people make very good beer with extract.
Should the air be squeezed out of the cube once the wort is transferred into it for cooling?

Also when transferring from cube to fermenter, the wort needs to have oxygen for the yeast, so would splashing into the fermenter at that point be beneficial?

Sorry to hijack thread, looking at biab myself soon.