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Boil Kettles- Brands, Sizes, Options

I’m currently using a 3 gal. stockpot, which is fine since I’m only making 1 gal. batches. But I plan on progressing to 5 gal. kits and eventually All Grain.

Any advice on brands, sizes and options?

[quote=“Helvetica”]I currently using a 3 gal. stockpot, which is fine since I’m only making 1 gal. batches. But I plan on progressing to 5 gal. kits and eventually All Grain.

Any advice on brands, sizes and options?[/quote]

Megapot 2.0 seems like it would work fantastic. I have the 15 gal Megapot and I’m very happy with it but like the 2.0 better. If you have deep pockets the Blichmann Boilermakers are great. I recommend a 3piece ball valve and thermometer added to whatever you do get.

You’ll want a minimum of 10 gallons, some swing it with 7.5 - 8 gallon pots, that seems awful tight to me.

They also have great prices on aluminum pots:

I’m leaning towards a MegaPot or a Boilermaker. Most likely 10 gal.- is 15 gal. necessary? not to mention if I only want to do a 5 gal. kit, then the top of the liquid might not hit the thermometer.

Sight glass- nice, but needs to be cleaned after every boil.

[quote=“Helvetica”]I’m leaning towards a MegaPot or a Boilermaker. Most likely 10 gal.- is 15 gal. necessary? not to mention if I only want to do a 5 gal. kit, then the top of the liquid might not hit the thermometer.

Sight glass- nice, but needs to be cleaned after every boil.[/quote]
Cleaning the sight glass is very easy. Remove the plugs at either end and insert the included brush, which also perfectly fits the drain valve. 10 gallons is a great size for 5 gallon batches IMO. I like my Boilermakers but there are cheaper options out there.
The only thing I’d stay away from is the false bottom for the Boilermaker. Mash in a cooler, boil in the kettle. My 2¢.

If you are going to do full boil 5 gallon batches get the 15. I got a 10 and I wish I had a 15 now for when I do IIPA’s and large beers. Some of them call for 9-10 gallons pre boil.

The one caveat I have for this is if you do go with a boilermaker (which if you can afford it, do it, they are great) the thermometer is around the 7gallon mark on a 15 gal boilermaker. So while not a show stopper, renders it mostly useless on the average 5 gallon recipe.

I have a question to piggy-back onto this thread:

I would like to upsize to the occasional 10g batch, and would likely get a 16 gal kettle.

Question is, do you get roughly the same boil-off volume as with a smaller 5 gal batch? Or is it roughly the same boil-off %, which would then be about 2x the volume loss?

Thanks.

Evaporation rate is driven by surface area of the boiling liquid to air. Assuming identical vigor of boil, if you are boiling in pots of identical width, the evaporation will be the same whether you are boiling 10 gallons, 8 gallons, 5 gallons, etc.

When doing All Grain, why is it better to mash in a cooler and not the kettle? does the false bottom have any advantages?

For 5 gal batches, do go for a 10 gal pot. Find the largest diameter pot, don’t go for height. A larger diameter allows more of the trub to be left at the center of the pot. All pro kettles have very large diameter and not much height for that reason.

Aluminum is a good material. It transmits heat better than stainless and it is less costly.

When doing All Grain, why is it better to mash in a cooler and not the kettle? does the false bottom have any advantages?[/quote]
Cooler holds the temp without having to apply heat and recirculate to keep the temp even throughout the mash. Plus they are cheaper than a kettle, and you need a mashtun and kettle anyway.

When doing All Grain, why is it better to mash in a cooler and not the kettle? does the false bottom have any advantages?[/quote]
I don’t know that it’s “better,” but it’s easier and cheaper. A cooler can maintain temperature longer and with much lower level of effort than a kettle. You can do the same using a kettle wrapped in insulating materials, monitoring temp and applying direct fire to raise the temp–just don’t catch your blankets on fire as a friend did last year.

When doing All Grain, why is it better to mash in a cooler and not the kettle? does the false bottom have any advantages?[/quote]
I have done both, and have a Blichmann false bottom that has been retired to “dust collector” status. Here are the issues I have found.
Kettles are not insulated, even wrapping with closed cell foam and a thick blanket I found I would lose 6 degrees or more over an hour. This shouldn’t be a big deal, because I should be able to turn on the burner and heat it up during the mash, using the thermometer to ensure exact temps. However, in practice the false bottom traps the water and will suddenly release into the mash, so even while stirring like mad the temp would go from 150 to 165 in a heartbeat. With the cooler I just dump water 15 degrees hotter than my desired temp in the cooler, wait for it to cool to my desired strike temp (this also preheats the cooler), stir in my grain, put on the lid and wait for an hour.

My 8 gallon aluminum pot works great. It’s nothing fancy; it came with my Saf-T-Cooker turkey fryer. I don’t think I could swing it with a 7 gallon pot.

[quote=“mabrungard”]For 5 gal batches, do go for a 10 gal pot. Find the largest diameter pot, don’t go for height. A larger diameter allows more of the trub to be left at the center of the pot. All pro kettles have very large diameter and not much height for that reason.

Aluminum is a good material. It transmits heat better than stainless and it is less costly.[/quote]
+1 to this advice. I struggled along with an 6gal pot for a couple of years. Doing AG and wanting 5.5gal in the fermentor, I’d be starting out with 7gal that was about an inch from the top of the kettle. Fermcap worked but it was still a pain to be this close. Definitely get a 10gal.

Thanks to everyone for their advice- much appreciated.

:cheers:

Exactly this!

When doing All Grain, why is it better to mash in a cooler and not the kettle? does the false bottom have any advantages?[/quote]

False bottom is optimal if you decide to do BIAB.

I have a 9 gallon stainless steel bayou classic kettle I got from amazon with the bayou classic sp10 burner. I love the the setup. very efficient on fuel and just works for my process. I BIAB mash in the kettle all the time, some pretty big beers actually. I get it to strike temp stir in the grist, put the lid on and cover it with an old sleeping bag. I brew in the bottom of the exterior stair well to my basement so it’s fairly shielded from wind. I don’t think I’ve ever lost more than 2 degrees in a 75 minute mash.

I’d love to have a blichmann megapot cuz it looks wicked and I think I want a site glass most of all but I can’t convince myself that I’d make better beer with it.

I got the 10 gallon brew kettle from Spike Brewing with ball valve and thermometer. Great value and nothing second-rate about it. I mash in a cooler. Check out batch sparging it’s the only way to . . . fly?

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