While I have been brewing with the Grainfather (all electric) for the past year, I’ve seen both a need and desire to go back to brewing on a burner occasionally. The Grainfather has limited capacity, and is a bit of a pain to clean (more about that in another post).
One of the biggest frustrations with regular burner brewing is making sure you have enough propane on hand to finish the job. There’s nothing like getting halfway through your mash or boil and running out of propane. I kept two propane tanks on hand, which meant regularly swapping them out at the gas station or store (the cost of which adds up). We recently moved to Texas, and the home we bought has a natural gas bib under the covered patio = perfect time to try a propane to gas
conversion. There were several options in converting from propane to natural gas; but the biggest consideration (after ensuring you have a natural gas hookup where you intend to brew) is making sure your burner can handle natural gas at lower pressure. Some folks bore a larger orifice on their existing burner to connect to the natural gas line – which will receive a higher volume of gas. From the start – I had no desire to bore larger orifices – way too complicated (and a little creepy).
After some research, the answer seemed simple. I found the Thunder Group IRBR002CN Jet Burner, 23 Tip, Natural Gas on Amazon – which seemed great for my purpose (and had very good reviews from other’s interested in boiling large volumes of liquid: home brewers and seafood boils). I ordered that, along with gas line pipe thread tape, and 1/2″ by 12 foot gas line (with quick disconnect – very important for hiding the line when not in use).
Now – the burner does not come with a stand – so you have to come up with something on your own. I removed the propane burner from my Northern Brewer purchased Dark Star burner, however the new gas burner was too large to fit in the old burners place. After staring blankly at the housing for awhile, I flipped the housing over so the base became the top surface, and the surface became the base, and was able to balance the burner on the bracket. I used four galvanized 4″ worm gear clamps to secure the burner to the base (they worked great and can withstand the heat). I ran into a problem – the base of the burner did not have support to put a pot
on (an important step in brewing beer – mashing grains and boiling wort requires a pot). The base of the DarkStar measured 16 inches, and HomeDepot had a 16.5 inch Weber charcoal grate that fit perfectly over the base for $10.99. I decided to secure the grate to the frame using some stainless steel zip ties (which can also be used to help secure the burner to a frame – as they will withstand the heat).
I purchased a 1/2″ by 10 inch gas pipe from HomeDepot, along with a half inch gas ball valve to control the flow of gas to the burner.
After assembling all the pieces, I connected them to the gas bib outside and used windex on the fitting areas to check for any gas leaks – and there were none. I opened the ball valve slightly and lit the burner – after lighting one jet, they all seemed to quickly take off. The ball valve
is a must, I don’t know that I would ever open the valve up fully after testing it due to the size of flames! The burner took right off and produced plenty of heat (my bib, fittings, and line are 1/2 inch as opposed to 3/8 – which may help). I’ve just finished a boil test (have not brewed on it yet), and was able to heat 7.5 gallons of 100F water to boiling in 40 minutes, with the valve opened to about 3/4. Had great blue flames, and it produced virtually no soot on my pot.
I look forward to giving this setup a try (possibly tomorrow brewing my Apricot Blonde); and not having to worry about changing out propane tanks! If there are any tweaks to the setup I will post them here.