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Does Size Matter (for brew kettles)

I’m thinking about upgrading from my 6.5 gal kettle to something a bit beefier so I can start taking the brew outside with a propane burner (my girlfriend hates the smell of wort). I’ve been looking at something around a 10+gal with a ball-valve. This might be a stupid question, but Google had no answer:

What’s the point in going bigger with the brew kettle if all I can store at a time is a 5gal carboy? Do you double a batch and make 10gal, only using 5? Is it a clarity thing? Taste? Pride? Any thoughts are appreciated.

–P

I don’t fully understand the point of your question but if someone brews a double, triple or even a quadruple size batch, they ferment all of it. You need to buy another carboy. Granted I’ve been in this for a while but I have 8 glass carboys and 4 15 gallon fermenters.

Go for the bigger pot. Full size boils make good beer better beer and increase hop utilization.

It will lower the chances of getting a boil over. If you only have a 5 gallon carboy, you should only be making 5 gallon batches (boiling around 6 - 6.5 gallons). A bigger kettle will give you room to upgrade.

If you want to do 10 gallon batches in the future, I’d get a 15 gallon kettle and another carboy/fermenting bucket/better bottle

Are you talking about fermenting, or packaging?

In addition to the good advice above, if you can only keep a 5 gal batch cool (or warm), then 5 gal at a time would be your limit.
Same goes with bottling or kegging.

That doesn’t mean you can’t plan for a future upgrade, then a bigger kettle would be beneficial.

IMO, 6.5 gal is too small for a full boil. I like to end up with 5.5 in the fermenter.

[quote=“punky_brewster”](my girlfriend hates the smell of wort)

Any thoughts are appreciated.

–P[/quote]

Dump her

[quote=“Turkeygecko”][quote=“punky_brewster”](my girlfriend hates the smell of wort)

Any thoughts are appreciated.

–P[/quote]

Dump her[/quote]
:cheers:

Definitely go with at least a 10 gallon for a 5 gallon full-boil. I bought an 8 gallon kettle to save a few bucks ans I really regret it. I have to watch really carefully when I add my first bittering charge. Tries to boil over every time.

I have an 8 gallon and when I do a 5 gallon batch, it is way too close. If I could brew outside again I would be going with a 10 gallon as well.

+1 to everyone’s comments. Go with a 10 gallon kettle for 5 gallon recipes. I have a 10g Blichmann boilermaker and love it!

I would also say if you ever plan on brewing 10 gallon batches, invest in a 15 gallon kettle. It’s a few bucks more upfront now but it’s a lot cheaper than getting a 10 gallon now and deciding to upgrade later. I personally enjoy the process of brewing enough where I’d rather just brew more often if I wanted to make more beer at one time. The one caveat to this is if you do go with a Blichmann boilermaker 15 gallon, the brewmometer is at like the 7gallon mark so it’s rendered useless if you wanted to make a 5 gallon brew. The brewmometer is really more of a luxury though than a necessity so this may not be a problem for you.

As the above posts point out, we’ve all been there. I have 4 gallon, 9 gallon, and 25 gallon kettles. The 9 gallon is pretty much perfect for a 5 gallon batch, and I use it 90% of the time. The 4 gallon kettle is for small test batches that I brew in the kitchen (when SWMBO isn’t home), usually 1-2.5 gallons. The 25 gallon is really too big for anything under about 10 gallons, because it has about a 2g/hr boil off rate, which is pretty severe for a 5 gallon batch. Believe it or not, I have actually gotten a boilover with 5 gallons in the 25 gallon kettle. It’s amazing how quickly the foam can climb the sidewalls! I mainly brew 5 gallon batches, so if I could do it all over again I would have bought a 10 gallon kettle and wouldn’t have bothered with anything bigger.

You guys rock, I appreciate the help!

I would also suggest at least a ten gallon pot. I’ll explain why in my opinion.

I got the ten gallon blichman brewpot and love it. Great investment. I now look back though and really, really wish I got the 15 gallon one.

Ten gallons is about perfect and I think the must have size for all five gallon target bottling/kegging batches. First off you will get full boils especially with all grain you want to get to the point where your getting your hot break/cold break all in the same container. (Well assuming you do your wort chilling in the brew pot) You will have excess trub to deal with, especially if you have hops debris in the pot. What this means is that I target to have at least five and a half, to six gallons of finished cooled wort in the pot, and figure on getting five and a half if possible of beer to bottle/keg. Keep in mind if you have say 6.5 or so of finished wort, you could loose up to a gallon of it due to trub/hop debris in the brew pot in excess. With just one primary fermentation I’ve gone anywhere from half a gallon to over a gallon of liquid loss due to trub/transferring to secondary and dry hop liquid loss.
I did an experiment with my last ale IPA I brewed and shot for a total target of 5.25 gallons, and tonight when I bottled I had 37 bottles, figure on 36 with the first one being a trial/air infected with the first bottling wand purge. This ended up translating in to just under five gallons in the fermenter and after transferring to the bottling bucket I had four gallons due to trub loss. This batch had a lot of extreme things for me but it is a good example of what can happen.

What that means to you? Shooting to have a finished cooled wort of 5.5 or so gallons helps you get that much closer to actually bottling 5 gallons of finished product. You need a bigger pot to help with the boils/and boil over. On my burner Ill get 1 gallon boil off per hour as a minimum, often its 1.5 to 1.75 per. This means I’m starting at usually around 7 to 7.5 gallons in a pot. There is no way with a 8 gallon pot you can really do that. (At least with ease.)

Hell I still get possible boil overs if I"m not paying attention with my 10 gallon.

My next pot will be 15 gallons and that should suffice for my needs, the reason I Want to do that is so that I Can do two 5 gallon batches of the same grain bill at the same time. This allows me to play around with using two different yeasts at the same time, or two different dry hop combinations, or secondary additions (Hmm this stout, One batch gets cocoa nibs, this other batch gets bourbon soaked oak cubes…) or any other number of combinations. I wish I could do that right now because it is a time saver as you hone recipes down. This way its all blended in the same pot to start with the same OG. (Though after that you could drain half to try two different boil kettle hop blends if you have enough vessels to do that.)

One big addition that I can’t stress enough though is to have a draining valve on the pot. I’m 32 and have a bad back from the military and can’t move several gallons of liquid around in a big pot. Having the ability to drain off the hot water with out messing with dippers/jugs for the entire thing has been great. You could get away with a auto siphon for your wort draining but my suggestion is to invest in a solid pot with a very solid drain valve.

Great info! I’m still trying to wrap my head around increasing the water per boil. So, right now, I boil 3 gal, steep the grain (if needed), add the malt, yada yada, and then rack on top of 2 gal cold in the carboy; top off until I hit 5. What do I need to adjust in the “instructions” sent with the kit? I’d like to nail down the recipes before I go adventuring, as I only have 5 brews under my belt. In the case of a 10 gal kettle, would I boil 7, cool it, and only rack 5.5 or so into the carboy? I feel like I’m missing something crucial. Would adding more water with the same amount of extract/hops/grain dilute the final product? I’m still not getting how a 10 gal kettle would interact with a 6.5 gal carboy.

Thanks for the help so far!

[quote=“punky_brewster”]Great info! I’m still trying to wrap my head around increasing the water per boil. So, right now, I boil 3 gal, steep the grain (if needed), add the malt, yada yada, and then rack on top of 2 gal cold in the carboy; top off until I hit 5. What do I need to adjust in the “instructions” sent with the kit? I’d like to nail down the recipes before I go adventuring, as I only have 5 brews under my belt. In the case of a 10 gal kettle, would I boil 7, cool it, and only rack 5.5 or so into the carboy? I feel like I’m missing something crucial. Would adding more water with the same amount of extract/hops/grain dilute the final product? I’m still not getting how a 10 gal kettle would interact with a 6.5 gal carboy.

Thanks for the help so far![/quote]

Water volume totally depends on your process, and you won’t be able to fine tune it until you’re several brews in. The easiest way for me to go about planning my brew day is to work backwards. For example (for an all grain batch):

Kegged = 5g

  • 0.5g trub/fermentation loss
  • 0.5 hop/cold break loss
  • 1g boil loss
  • 1g mash loss
    = 8g starting volume (water)

Since you’re doing extract you obviously won’t have mash loss, but you’ll have volume losses due to cold break, boil, and fermentation. You’ll need to figure out what these volumes are for your own system, but I think the volumes above are a pretty good starting place.

You gotta balance your needs, which really takes a few questions:

-Do you never intend to do more than a 5 gal batch at a time?
-would you like to be able to do more than a 5 gal batch at a time (I run 10 gal batches typically as that balances not having too much of any one thing but also getting essentially two days worth of brewing done in half the time).

Answers are important because I do not like to run less than 10 gal batches in my usual system (35 gal Boilermaker) as that is the min. to get the thermometer under fluid. Thus if you go too large you kinda lock yourself into larger batches (not like you couldn’t run a batch with your old smaller stuff). The other side of the argument is that even running a 5 gal batch in a 10 gal pot takes VERY close attention. Not saying A larger pot makes boil over danger go away but it sure makes it much easier.

So a pot large enough to make your life easy for Boilover but not so large as to force you to a larger system before you want to go there. For your porposes I would (IMHO) go with a 15 gal if you want to stay at 5 gallons batches. 3X the final volumn has worked well for me.

Barry

For the foreseeable future, I’ll probably stick to brewing enough to fill my 6.5gal carboy. I can’t imagine doing more than 5gal until I feel more comfortable that I can drink the 5gal I make without getting sick of it (see my post on “Soapy Beer Taste” :oops: )

So, I’ll probably go with the 10gal pot, boiling around 7gal of water to start with, in order to have 5gal of finished product.

Would recommend that if someone may want to do 10 gallon batches in the future the 20 gallon kettle is nice. It is only an extra $35 over the 15 gallon and you gain a lot of head room during the boil.

If money matters, eBay has some real deals on SS brew pots. Search concordcookware

Keep it simple, get a bigger pot for boiling bigger batches; if you brew 5-gallon batches like me, an 8-gallon pot is too small! This is what I have, and a five gallon batch usually results in a boil-over! I wish I would have gone for a 10-gallon pot!

As far as having multiple pots, I use two pots to pre-heat water for the mash: 8-gallons, and 5-gallons: if you got the utilities to heat more, get bigger pots, brew more beer!

I brew all 5 gallon batches. When I went from extract to all grain I bought a SS triple clad bottom,heavy duty 15 gallon kettle. I bought this with two things in mind . 1st, boil over. I had a few doing extract on the stove in the kitchen. They are not fun to deal with. 2nd,bigger batches in the future. Well that is not happening. I am doing 5 gallons with no intention of brewing bigger batches as of now. The only draw back with my kettle is the large surface area. I need 8.25 gallons of wort to end with 5.5 going into the fermenter doing a 60 minute boil. I see they make 15 gallon kettles that are taller which has a reduced surface area. That would be my next kettle, but the one I have now will out live me.

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