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Old 07-27-2008, 01:45 AM   #1
sdbrew1024
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Default Boiling kettle

Hello all!
I've been an extract brewer for almost 2 years now and I've been thinking of moving to all-grain brewing. I went to my local homebrew shop today to get some advice on the additional equipment that I'll need. My local shop was very adamant that I could not use an 8 gallon boiling kettle. They told me that I would need to get a very large specialized container with a spigot on it. They had a modified keg with the top missing and a hole drilled on the side of it for a spigot, for almost $300! What kind of advice can you guys give me? Do I need this thing? What's the purpose of the spigot? Up until now I've simply been pouring my small kettle into my carboy at the end of the boil, should I not be doing this?

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Old 07-27-2008, 01:57 AM   #2
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They may be trying to steer you towards what you will be happy with 'down the road', and it's probably good advice anyway.

But, it is possible to do AG with a smaller kettle. Several HBT'ers, myself included, use 30-quart turkey fryer kettles. Do I want a larger kettle? Yes. But a 30-qt will work for full boils. You do need to watch them pretty well to prevent boil overs, but there are ways to prevent that too.

My next kettle will be probably 14 gallons so I can do 10-gal boils.

Just think of what is more important - starting immediately with a smaller budget, or buying more than you need now but something you might want a couple years from now (or sooner).

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Old 07-27-2008, 02:26 AM   #3
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I've routinely done all grain batches on 5 gallon kettles, but you need to add the wort to them over time; you can't do a full-wort boil. I also have 2 10 gallon kettles and would recommend getting as big a kettle as you can afford. All of my kettles don't have a spigot with them. It would be nice, but after 10 years of brewing, I haven't missed it. Go for the big kettle (maybe ebay?) and skip the spigot.

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Old 07-27-2008, 02:53 AM   #4
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A converted 13.2 gallon (50 liter European) or 15.5 gallon US keg for a boil kettle is nice to have. You can do full volume boils for 5 or 10 gallon batches (about 6.5 gallons to boil for 5 gallon batch, about 11.5 to 12 gallons for a 10 gallon batch). If you think you might do 10 gallon batches, get the 15.5 gallon keg. They are much more common than the 50 liter anyway.

You'll have to use a propane turkey fryer or build a brew stand to boil on. You won't regret it if you buy or make a converted keg, but paying $300 is way too much for a keg with the top removed and a hole drilled for the spigot. Way way way too much. Way too much. I hope that is clear. Way too much.

You can buy a keg for anywhere from $10 to $30 dollars, usually. Check scrap metal yards and college frat houses. You can get a welder to drill the holes and TIG weld in a stainless 1/2 inch NPT full coupling for $30 per coupling or less. You can cut a 12 inch hole in the top yourself or pay the welder a little more to do it for you. You buy a stainless 1/2 inch ball value for $30, and a 1/2 by 1/2 NPT hex nipple for a couple of bucks, a brass barb fitting for the valve outlet where you'll connect your hose, a compression fitting and less than a foot of 1/2 inch copper tube for a pickup on the inside of the keg, and you're in business for about $100. You can reduce that by $25 or so dollars by using a brass value and brass hex nipple instead of stainless.

If you are going to pay $300, get a fully built kettle with everything done and ready to go. There are some nice 14 gallon pots that'll fit on a stove, assuming your stove can manage to bring 7 or 12 gallons of liquid to a boil; most stoves cannot do that.

There's no way I'd spend $300 on a boil kettle. I built all three of my converted kegs (boil kettle, mash tun, and hot liquor tank) for a little over $400 with stainless values and nice thermometers. But if I was going to spend that much, I'd pop a few more bucks and get a 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker Brew Pot. It is completely built out with stainless ball valve, a very slick snap-in pickup tube, sight gauge, and top quality Blichmann thermometer for $358. You'd be sorry you spent $300 on a half-converted keg after looking at the Blichmann Boilermaker.

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Old 07-27-2008, 08:23 PM   #5
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There's some liquid stuff called Ferm Control you can get off northernbrewer's website. It controls foaming in the boil and/or primary (no blow-off).

That'd let you boil 6.5gals in an 8gal pot.

You should be able to get a keg with the top cut off for $100 or so from the prices I've seen. $300? pfffffft!

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Old 07-27-2008, 09:29 PM   #6
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Is it true that the foam control products also effect head retention?

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Old 07-27-2008, 09:41 PM   #7
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You can also find 60 qt Aluminum, or even sometimes 60 qt Stainless Steel, stockpots at restaurant supply stores (google Instawares for one) or Amazon for less than $100 - if you check fairly recent posts under Equipment, there's an Amazon deal right now on a 60 qt Alum for less than $40.

HBT is a great resource for making your own weldless fitting on the cheap.

In short, $300 is a BIG rip for a keggle unless it's electric heated, has a brewmometer, tri-clamp S/S valve, and sight tube. And it cooks dinner for you too.

Keggles should be in the 100-150 range if kind of "used looking"... I know the ebay dude that posts here (I forgot your name, sorry!!!) sells closer to 200 but his are very nice looking and very well welded. Different than a DIY sort of item.

Just get a big stockpot and you'll be just as happy. Might be less heavy than a keggle too, my back ****** hurts right now! (Just cleaning up after my boil on a keggle. *grooooan*)

Edit: No. Fermcap is not supposed to hurt head retention. Myth.

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Old 07-27-2008, 10:08 PM   #8
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http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=73737

60qt pot for $44 with free shipping.
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:56 PM   #9
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If you can afford it, go with the keggle you will be glad you did. I would however steer away from LHBS for it. go direct to Sabco (or similar) or better yet Ebay to get one with spigot, I have 2 Sabco Keggles one set up for Mashing one for boiling.. I paid less than $350 for both on Ebay

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Old 07-27-2008, 11:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdbrew1024 View Post
Hello all!
I've been an extract brewer for almost 2 years now and I've been thinking of moving to all-grain brewing. I went to my local homebrew shop today to get some advice on the additional equipment that I'll need. My local shop was very adamant that I could not use an 8 gallon boiling kettle. They told me that I would need to get a very large specialized container with a spigot on it. They had a modified keg with the top missing and a hole drilled on the side of it for a spigot, for almost $300! What kind of advice can you guys give me? Do I need this thing? What's the purpose of the spigot? Up until now I've simply been pouring my small kettle into my carboy at the end of the boil, should I not be doing this?
Shennanigans I tell ye! I can see WHY a home brew shop owner or employee would tell you this...but it's plain and utter BS. I use a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer and it works great for full boils. I have to watch it like a hawk at the beginning for boilovers, but it works well and it's cheap. I would buy the same damn thing if I were to do it all over again. That being said...I'd love to do 10 gallon batches, and that is clearly not possible with my current kettle without A LOT of boiling.

Even if you'd like to go with something that has a little more headroom, you can get a great 15 gallon kettle for under $100. If you go aluminum, you can get one for under $50.
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