Author Topic: Choosing The Right Brewpot  (Read 1734 times)

Offline zanderson

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Choosing The Right Brewpot
« on: September 25, 2013, 05:34:04 PM »
Hello brewers!  I'm looking to spend a few bucks and get a nice brewpot for brewing.  I will be doing 5GAL batches to start off with but want the option to go bigger 10GAL down the road without upgrading equipment.  If I were to get a 15GAL brewpot to do 5GAL batches to start with - any issue with that?  I don't see how there could be but I wanted to ask.

When doing 10GAL batches, will a 15GAL brewpot be large enough?  What is a good rule of thumb in selecting a brewpot for various sizes?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.

Regards,

-Zac
Elgin, IL

Offline speed

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2013, 05:36:42 PM »
I use a converted 15 gal keg for 5 and10 gal batches with no problems.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 05:54:03 AM »
I make 5 or 10 gallon batches and use a 15 gal aluminum stock pot.  That works very well and provides a much larger bottom area than the typical keggle.  That is important for improving the storage of trub in the center of the kettle after whirlpooling and avoiding drawing the trub into the fermenter. 

I picked my kettle on Ebay and it came with an over-sized lid that was intended for a larger kettle.  I was initially ticked that they sent an over-sized lid, but it turns out that it is actually a better way to go.  I have more ability to cover the kettle with that over-sized lid. 

I firmly believe that aluminum is a preferred material for a kettle.  You get much more for your money and if you get a commercial kettle, they are super durable.  The only thing to remember is to leave the patina on the inner surfaces.  Don't scrub an aluminum kettle shiney.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 02:02:59 PM »
I brew 6 gallon batches and use a 10 gallon Stainless kettle with a ball weldless ball valve and love it. It's got a tri-clad bottom that distributes heat very well. My wife bought it for me at a restaurant supply house and it serves me well.

If you get a 15 gallon you will probably never need another one and I highly recommend the ball valve so there is no heavy lifting or slow siphoning. It will also allow you to move to plate chillers or CFC chillers and eventually pumps and will handle 10 gallon batches if you scale up. Get a good one and you'll never buy another:)
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Offline svejk

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2013, 02:49:37 PM »
I brew with a 15 gallon stainless Vollrath kettle that I had customized with a ball valve and false bottom (I mainly use whole hops, so I use a false bottom instead of hop bags).  My original intent for getting the larger kettle was because I envisioned moving up to 10g batches, but after brewing a few big batches, I found that I preferred brewing 5 to 7 gallon batches, depending on the style.

I have been really happy with my kettle, and wouldn't want to use anything smaller, even for a 5g batch.  The only real concern I can think of with a larger kettle is that some of them are wider and squatter than others.  If you do end up with a very wide kettle, you'll probably find that you'll end up with a higher boil-off rate than you would have with a taller, narrower kettle.  This isn't really a huge deal since you'll build in your boil rate into your expectations, but it is something to consider.

Offline galapagos jim

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 02:58:09 PM »
Recently I researched buying a new kettle, but did not pull the trigger. (Bought a new guitar instead. Choices... choices...) Like you I currently brew 5 gallons but would like the flexibility to do 10, so when I do buy that next kettle it will be 15 gallons.

One issue with size I found was that some of the preassembled 15 gallon kettles, like the Blichmann model, put the thermometer at around the 6 gallon mark, making it somewhat less useful for 5 gallon batches.

I also wholly recommend getting or modifying a kettle to have a ball valve. No reason that you need to be lifting or even siphoning.

On aluminum vs stainless steel, it's your call. Aluminum is cheaper, but requires more maintenance and isn't as easy to modify (ie., drilling ports and/or welding; refer to Palmer's How To Brew). I had an 8 gallon aluminum pot for a while, I stopped using it because I upgraded to full boils and had problems with boilover, and also I managed to pit the interior by leaving some cleaning chemical (or possibly temp storage of Star San) in it for too long. Those sort of problems are less likely with stainless.

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 04:29:15 PM »
Recently I researched buying a new kettle, but did not pull the trigger. (Bought a new guitar instead. Choices... choices...)

I have my eye on a new Taylor 114ce... not till after winter though.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 05:19:17 PM »
One issue with size I found was that some of the preassembled 15 gallon kettles, like the Blichmann model, put the thermometer at around the 6 gallon mark, making it somewhat less useful for 5 gallon batches.

I don't understand why in the world anyone needs a thermometer on a boil kettle. 


On aluminum vs stainless steel, it's your call. Aluminum is cheaper, but requires more maintenance and isn't as easy to modify (ie., drilling ports and/or welding; refer to Palmer's How To Brew). I had an 8 gallon aluminum pot for a while, I stopped using it because I upgraded to full boils and had problems with boilover, and also I managed to pit the interior by leaving some cleaning chemical (or possibly temp storage of Star San) in it for too long. Those sort of problems are less likely with stainless.

And we see the effects of not properly caring for an aluminum pot.  To my knowledge, there is no need to sanitize a kettle and there is no need to remove anything more than the trub with a scrubby.  Sorry for your loss.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 05:44:59 PM »


"I don't understand why in the world anyone needs a thermometer on a boil kettle.  "

Many have those. You know when you are about to boil, which can be nice if you are doingot her things and looking at the thermometer.

You can see the temp when whirl pooling. You can add hops at certain temps on the way down. I do this.

Martin - if you use a counter flow or plate chiller, and don't do whirlpools, then I agree.

« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 05:57:14 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 06:01:07 PM »
I have brewmometers on all my kettles. For the BK, it gives me a heads up when I'm getting close to hot break, and temp when I'm chilling. Clearly not necessary but if we go down that road... is any of it?

Offline thebigbaker

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 06:27:22 PM »
I took my thermometer out of my boil kettle and added a return arm to whirlpool.  Since I mainly do 3 gallon batches in my 8 gallon kettle, it was the perfect height for the return. 

I use a plate chiller and will recirculate the last 10 minutes of the boil to sanitize the chiller, pump and tubing.  Once the boil is over, I will continue to whirlpool for about 5 minutes before sending it over to the fermenter. 

I do hang a thermometer on the kettle while the wort is coming to a boil and take it out once the boil starts going.  I have an inline thermometer after between the plate chiller and kettle return so that I can see what the wort temp is after the chiller. 

To the OP, if you think you will be doing 10gal batches down the road, I would suggest a 15 gallon kettle.  Although I don't have one, I really like those Blichmann kettles.  When (or if) I start doing more 5 gallon batches, I'll probably get a 15 gal Blichmann.  What intrigues me the most about doing larger batches is splitting the wort and experimenting w/ different yeasts, dry hop experiments, etc...  A 15 gallon kettle would allow me to make a 9 gallon batch and split into 3 different 3 gal batches.  Something I really can't do right now with my 8 gal kettle.
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Offline thatgeekguy

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 10:22:11 AM »
I've got a 15gal Blichmann, the first thing I did was drill a lower hole for the thermomenter. Since I do BIAB, the thermometer comes in handy during mash. It's also handy when chilling after boil rather than constantly dipping a hand-held thermometer in the kettle.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 10:29:55 AM »
Good point Jeff.  I do use a counterflow chiller and forgot that a thermometer could be useful for those using immersion chillers.  I sometimes hang a thermometer in my kettle to allow me to gauge when the boil is about to happen, but I'm not sure that its really necessary.  I generally don't leave my system when brewing and I'd probably see the boil activity soon enough. 

For those conducting BIAB in their kettle, clearly a thermometer is needed.  Wouldn't a kettle-mounted probe get in the way of the bag?

Thanks for pointing out the occasional utility of a kettle-mounted thermometer.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 10:57:39 AM »

For those conducting BIAB in their kettle, clearly a thermometer is needed.  Wouldn't a kettle-mounted probe get in the way of the bag?

Thanks for pointing out the occasional utility of a kettle-mounted thermometer.
Perhaps. Sometimes I wish I had a kettle-mounted thermometer for when I do brews in a bag, so if I need to adjust the temp of the mash with direct heat, I can see how the temp is effected down near the bottom instead of stirring and relying on the reading near the top. This way, I wouldn't denature enzymes in the mash when it's 170+ at the bottom of the kettle, even with stirring a lot, and 150 near the top.
I had several beers stop at 1.020 doing it that way and couldn't figure it out for a long time. Then I realized, I was probably denaturing some enzymes with direct heat. I've since switched to insulating my kettle with blankets when doing doing BIAB and haven't had the issue since.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 10:59:23 AM by beersk »
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Re: Choosing The Right Brewpot
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 11:23:16 AM »
If you are planning to do 5-gal boils on a kitchen stove, you might find that to be difficult if you have a 15-gal kettle depending on your kettle and burner size.
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