Author Topic: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle  (Read 953 times)

Offline rgambatesa

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« on: September 22, 2016, 03:38:06 PM »
It has been about 15 years since I last brewed.  Back then I was strictly an extract brewer. I am looking to jump back in with both feet and move on to all-grain brewing.

I am looking for some help choosing my first brew kettle.  I would like to get a kettle that can eventually be part of a 3 kettle system if possible.  I have been looking at kettles by SS Brewtech, Spike and Blickmann.  These all seem to be decent pots with some nice features.  Speaking of features, which ones are important?  As an example, the Blichmann includes a sight glass and it is available as an option on the Spike; is this a worth while addition or will it just be one more thing to clean that I could have done without?  Also, as I look to purchase my first kettle with an eye on expansion am I better off heating the pot with electric or gas (natural or propane)?  Will the electric/gas choice effect my kettle selection?

Any help or direction would be appreciated.

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2016, 03:45:13 PM »
I'd forget the sightglass for a kettle. PIA to clean. Good for a liquor tank and helpful for a mashtun.

I have a spike kettle and love it. They will add additional fittings in whatever configuration you want. This includes tri-clover ferrules for heating elements.

Electric vs Gas depends on what your are looking for. You could have a ferrule added now, and simply cap it. You could also have a ferrule added later.

One key is to get the best kettle volume for your needs. I have a 15.7 spike and can squeeze a 11.5 gallons post boil out of it. 20 would be easier, but too big for 5 gallon.

Offline Visor

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 291
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2016, 04:13:41 PM »
   How much are you willing to spend.
   When I got back into this last spring after a 30 year absence I opted for a 10 gallon Blickmann with their slotted false bottom and their brewmometer. The brewmometer was the 1st thing to go as it was worse than useless, I had to order a plug from them to plug the hole it left. After a few batches I switched from mashing in the BK to BIAB in a 10 gallon cooler, which for the way I do things is way more better. FWIW I wasn't at all that impressed with the effectiveness of their false bottom, and I'm not all that sure about their hop blocker. I find the sight glass to be worth having, even if others don't.
   As for gas or electric, I bought and installed a gas cooktop last fall, primarily with the idea that I wanted to get back into brewing and canning and knew gas would be the cat's ass. I love my cooktop, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to electric resistance cooking. If you do step up to a 3 kettle system and opt for gas or propane and plan to brew indoors, then you'll need to consider what you'll do about ventilation.
   I don't know how heating source would effect kettle selection unless you choose electric induction, in which case all your cookware will need a high enough iron content for a magnet to stick to the pan/pot/kettle, or at least it's bottom. There is aluminum cookware that has an iron or steel plug sandwiched in the bottom which is designed specifically for induction use.
   
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 04:15:29 PM by Visor »
I spent most of my money on beer, tools and guns, the rest I foolishly squandered on stupid stuff!

Offline rgambatesa

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2016, 05:26:05 PM »
I'd forget the sightglass for a kettle. PIA to clean. Good for a liquor tank and helpful for a mashtun.

I have a spike kettle and love it. They will add additional fittings in whatever configuration you want. This includes tri-clover ferrules for heating elements.

Electric vs Gas depends on what your are looking for. You could have a ferrule added now, and simply cap it. You could also have a ferrule added later.

One key is to get the best kettle volume for your needs. I have a 15.7 spike and can squeeze a 11.5 gallons post boil out of it. 20 would be easier, but too big for 5 gallon.

Steve,
Do you have the 2pc or 3pc valve?  Also, do you have the thermometer installed in the pot?  If yes, which position?  Is the 15.7 to big for a 5 gallon batch?

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2016, 05:48:37 PM »
It's a bit too big, but I am making a sacrifice to accommodate 10 gal batches in the same kettle. If one has no desire to brew bigger, 10 gal would be ideal for a 5 gallon batch.

I have two two piece valves for output and whirlpool.

I do have a thermometer at about 3.5 gallons. I wanted it positioned to work well for 6 gallon EOB volume. I wish it was a bit higher as it is affected by the heat of the burner, but I don't think I could eliminate that without going over 6. I use a heat shield made from a cheap aluminum baking pan. It is a Blichmann threaded and I agree it is garbage and will use it as a guide and always rely on a more reliable thermometer.

I support my argument of it being garbage with the fact that it doesn't track well at various room temps. I calibrated it at 70° and it was off at 80° and 60°.

Offline 69franx

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3129
  • Bloatarian Brewing League
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 01:26:24 PM »
I bought a BruGear 15 gallon kettle during their kickstarter campaign. I mainly do 5 gallon batches, and it is a little too big for that volume, but I was thinking that I would be moving up to 15 gallon batches soon thereafter, but that really has not happened. If I were to do it again, I would buy a 10 gallon kettle and may still do so. I would not pay extra for a thermometer for my BK again, and I mash in a cooler, so it mainly just gets in the way. I have not bought a cap for that outlet yet, but should. No sight glass, but a nice 3 piece valve, and tri-clamp fittings make it nice to work with. The main complaint I have is that the thing is a beast as far as weight goes, no lifting cooled wort in this kettle and it is really too wide to fit into my fermentation freezer to finish cooling, so I have to rack it earlier than I would like in order to get the final 10-20 degrees I need to be where I want to be at pitching. They have dropped their prices some since going into production and besides the weight (which likely any 15 gallon kettle will have) I am really happy with the purchase
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works:

Offline rgambatesa

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 02:13:57 PM »
I bought a BruGear 15 gallon kettle during their kickstarter campaign. I mainly do 5 gallon batches, and it is a little too big for that volume, but I was thinking that I would be moving up to 15 gallon batches soon thereafter, but that really has not happened. If I were to do it again, I would buy a 10 gallon kettle and may still do so. I would not pay extra for a thermometer for my BK again, and I mash in a cooler, so it mainly just gets in the way. I have not bought a cap for that outlet yet, but should. No sight glass, but a nice 3 piece valve, and tri-clamp fittings make it nice to work with. The main complaint I have is that the thing is a beast as far as weight goes, no lifting cooled wort in this kettle and it is really too wide to fit into my fermentation freezer to finish cooling, so I have to rack it earlier than I would like in order to get the final 10-20 degrees I need to be where I want to be at pitching. They have dropped their prices some since going into production and besides the weight (which likely any 15 gallon kettle will have) I am really happy with the purchase

Frank,
Looks like a pretty nice kettle FOR $175.00.
Thanks for the tip!
Rob

Offline 69franx

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3129
  • Bloatarian Brewing League
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2016, 05:49:12 PM »
Your welcome. I may have even talked myself into splurging for the 10 gallon. Shed  some weight and get better volume to height ratio
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works:

Offline rgambatesa

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2016, 06:16:44 PM »
Your welcome. I may have even talked myself into splurging for the 10 gallon. Shed  some weight and get better volume to height ratio

Does the BruGear kettle have internal volume markings?  Also, do you know how thick the kettle sides are?

Offline 69franx

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3129
  • Bloatarian Brewing League
    • View Profile
Re: Looking for help choosing my first all-grain brew kettle
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2016, 06:23:22 PM »
They do have internal etchings starting at 2 gallons (mine does not start until 5 gallons, they changed that for 2nd gen) not sure of the thickness of walls
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works: