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Boil Kettle Recommendation

I’ve been brewing for about a year now, but until now I’ve been brewing extract. I do like the ease of extract, but I really like the amount of control and creativity (and relatively low cost) that you can get from all-grain. So, I’m looking at moving to that sometime soon. The only problem is that I don’t really have the equipment. The first thing I’m looking at getting is a bigger boil kettle since mine is only a 5 gal. That way, before I get all of the necessary equipment, I can use it to step up to full boil on my extract. Then, once I get everything else I need, I can go to all grain.

So, my question is: What would you recommend? I’m not sure what size I need, what brand, etc. Though, I need to try to keep my costs down as much as possible (poor grad student), so I’m hoping for one that is as cost-effective for the quality of kettle.

I look forward to seeing your suggestions!

Lots of people use a sankey keg witht the top removed as cost-effective kettle. (Not to start a flame war about legally obtaining a keg) As far as size goes, go as big as you can for the $$ you have. I wouldn’t get anything less than 15 gal.

Personally I think 10 gallons is a good size if you’re doing 5 or 6 gallon batches and never plan on brewing bigger batches, provided you don’t get a narrow tall model. Narrow tall brewpots like the turkey fryer types are way more prone to boiling over than wide short models like the Megapot offered by Northern Brewer.

I’ve been very happy with my 10 gallon Megapot and have never had a boilover, even when starting the boil with as much as 8 gallons of wort.

You can get a turkey fryer setup for less that $50. Also, you can buy an aluminum pot as opposed to stainless steel which will lower cost quite a bit.

I bought a nice quality 15 gallon aluminum pot here[/url] for $63 shipped, they also have a [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thunder-Group-ALSKSP007-40-qt-Aluminum-Stock-Pot-/250756324335?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a623ddbef]10 gallon for $41
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thunder-Group-ALSKSP009-60-qt-Aluminum-Stock-Pot-/370474736777?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item564203dc89
shipped.

I used to use a converted keg but it’s about twice the weight and the aluminum pot heats up faster.

I went ahead and went with a 20 gallon alum pot, very similar to the one posted above. Used it yesterday for the first time. 5 gallon batch in a 20 gallon pot was pretty small and I boiled off more that I expected, but this is my 3rd pot and want it to be my last.

You want a kettle that is about 5 gallons bigger than whatever batch size you plan to brew. That will keep the boil overs from being a major concern. If it is in your budget, a drain port with ball valve is a very nice feature, and a port for a dial thermometer is also nice to have (can see how close to a boil you are at a glance).

If budget is constraining, a turkey fryer is a good option. It gets you a burner plus 7 or 7.5 gallon cheap kettle for less than the cost of a premium 10 gallon pot, and in the future you can use the cheap pot as a hot liquor tank after you upgrade. That’s how I went to AG.

And don’t for a minute think that do full boils on your stove top. You need a propane burner or equivilent system for heating the kettle.

There are a lot of different ways of looking at it. I bought a 15 gallon megapot with valve and thermometer…it really is a nice pot set up. The problem is that if I brew 5 gallon batches in the 15 gallon pot, the water level doesn’t really contact the thermometer, except for right in the begining…before evaporation. I plan on brewing 10 gallon batches somewhat regularly in the future, which is why I got the 15. If you plan on only brewing 5 and 6 gallon batches…then go for a 10. Stainless vs. aluminum? Aluminum will do the job for much less cost. Some say that you don’t want to scrub too hard on aluminum, being mindful not to disturb the barrier built up on the surface. With Stainless…you don’t need to worry about that. I don’t think that there is a major advantage for stainless…I do love mine though, and it probably will last forever.

I also recommend a 15+gal pot. If you get one that is not drilled, you can drill it yourself to match your needs.

i had the same problem, so i put an SS t-fitting coming out the ball valve hole with the thermo screwed straight in and ball valve coming off the side. works great and allows 5-10 gallon batches no problem.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]You want a kettle that is about 5 gallons bigger than whatever batch size you plan to brew. That will keep the boil overs from being a major concern. If it is in your budget, a drain port with ball valve is a very nice feature, and a port for a dial thermometer is also nice to have (can see how close to a boil you are at a glance).

If budget is constraining, a turkey fryer is a good option. It gets you a burner plus 7 or 7.5 gallon cheap kettle for less than the cost of a premium 10 gallon pot, and in the future you can use the cheap pot as a hot liquor tank after you upgrade. That’s how I went to AG.

And don’t for a minute think that do full boils on your stove top. You need a propane burner or equivilent system for heating the kettle.[/quote]

I brewed for around 7 yrs on an electric stove with an 8 gal pot. It fit over two burners, and I used bent hangers to space it up. It is hard on the burners, though. Moving to a propane burner was a great improvement. I use a 1/2 bbl. Sanke now.

I just upgraded to a new SS 7.5 gallon pot (from NB) and have done 3 full boil batches on my stove top, with no problems.
I do have a new gas stove with a “power burner” and cask iron rack top, though
so far, so good.

I also recommend a converted 15.5 keg. You can buy no-weld fittings and cut the top yourself. Do some searches here and Google before getting started and ask questions if you go that way. Let your conscience be your guide about legally obtaining one.

Whatever you decide, go larger than you think. No boil overs and the ability to go to 10 gallon. I do 20 and jumped twice from 5 to 10 to 20. Could have saved some money going right to 20 gallon size stuff.

Remember you also will need a big burner and some way to cool the wort so there are other costs.

I went straight to 15G from 5G. Got a “heavy duty” 15G BK with ball valve and thermometer from MoreBeer.com. Very reasonable prices and high quality. Would have loved to go Blichman but for the same price would have only gotten to 10G and I wanted some flexibility in how much I could brew (didn’t want to step to 10 only to have to step to 15 in two years). Also, if you buy a wort chiller at the same time as a BK, they’ll notch the lid for you for free, which is pretty sweet.

I figured cleaning a sanke keg would be a pain compared to cleaning a BK so I went with a SS Bayou Classic 15.5 gallons (62 quart) for $116 via amazon. I added a non weld ball valve. It’s thinner than I’d like it to be (not a multi layered bottom) but for the money I really like it. It came with a manufacturing defect, pin holes all the way around about 1 inch from the bottom. Bayou Classic sent me a new one and let me keep the old one. I silver soldered the old one and now I’m set. I planned on getting the 20.5 gallon for $140 (it has slightly thicker SS) then use that as my BK and the 15.5 for HLT, but now can’t justify it and am using the two 15.5.
:cheers:

I also have a Bayou Classic 15.5 gal SS kettle that I really like. It was easy to drill a hole for a valve / pickup tube no-weld fittings.

Keep in mind that upgrading your kettle may force you to upgrade other components. I had to get a more powerful burner and a new chiller. I got the 30 psi Banjo burner which works very fast at bringing 12 gal of wort to a boil. I also bought a CFC since my older IC would have been too small for the larger pot.

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