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mlinc 01-28-2013 03:36 PM

Brew Kettles
 
I am new to brewing and I have been researching brew kettle sizes. I have a limited budget and I want to do 5 gallon extract brewing. I am thinking about picking up a new turkey fryer to start with. Anyone have any advice on a decent starting brew set up? FYI I have all of the other equipment. I used a buddies kettle/burner to do my first batch.

TopherM 01-28-2013 03:48 PM

I would urge you to at least get something big enough to do full-volume boils. If you do that, not only can you make better extract brews now, but you can also easily shift to all-grain BIAB brewing in the future without having to replace anything - you'll just need a $1-12 bag. You'll need at least a 8 gallon pot to do full volume in the future, but if possible, go ahead and get a 10-12 gallon pot and they are much easier to work with, as you don't have to worry about boilovers as much.

I personally have the 44qt (11 gallon) Bayou Classic with the perferated basket. The basket makes it SIMPLE to pull the BIAB bag from the wort once you move to AG brewing, so I'd highly recommend it. The basket is about 1/3 of the price of buying it separately when you bundle it with the pot. This one is also very easy to drill for a ball valve. I added a three-piece ball valve with a pickup tube that I drilled myself for about $33.00 (hardware from Bargain Fittings).

Do a little searching and you can find this combo for under $100 shipped. The company that manufactures these is called Barbour International, and you can find it a little cheaper direct under their name as well. I think I paid $92 shipped for mine with the basket.

http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-1144-44-Quart-Stainless/dp/B000FTLY1K/ref=pd_sbs_lg_2

If you are thinking about headed toward the more traditional three-vessel all-grain brewing, you can easily get away with a 8 gallon boil kettle, and here's the best deal I've seen in many years:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00420Z50Y/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957& creativeASIN=B00420Z50Y&linkCode=as2&tag=hombrefin-20

kh54s10 01-28-2013 03:54 PM

I started with a Brinkmann 30qt turkey fryer from Home Depot. You can get a little over 6.5 gallons to start and end up with 5 -5.25 gallons in an hour boil. You have to be very careful about boil over at the start though. In the driveway it's not bad as you can hose away the boil over. This size pot, IMO, is minimum for a full boil.

SpikeBrewing 01-28-2013 03:59 PM

If you're on a budget than look at aluminum kettles. That'll be your cheapest option.

Also buy larger than you think you'll need. Cheaper to buy once than twice...

hanson95 01-28-2013 04:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TopherM (Post 4835781)
I personally have the 44qt (11 gallon) Bayou Classic with the perferated basket. The basket makes it SIMPLE to pull the BIAB bag from the wort once you move to AG brewing, so I'd highly recommend it.

How much grain do you get in your basket? I was thinking about the 36qt/9 gal basket...

TopherM 01-28-2013 06:34 PM

I've done up to 15lbs of grain in my kettle for a 5.5 gallon DIPA, and still had a good 0.5 gallons of space left in the mash in a full volume BIAB. That's about the limit of an 11 gallon kettle if you want to do full volume.

There are plenty of methods for doing more if you wanted to do partial volume and either dunk sparge or top off water. At 1.25 qt/lb, you could mathmatically do up to about 26 lbs of grain in an 11 gallon pot if you dunk sparged in a 2nd pot to get back to 10.2 gallons of wort in the boil. That would be up to about a 8-8.5 gallon batch max on my system.

So, in the single vessel with full volume, the limit's about 15 lbs of grain in the 11 gallon pot for a 5.5 gallon batch, but there are some workarounds to get you up to a max of 26 lbs of grain if you really want to push it.

Then again, who wants to lift and drain a 26 lb grain bag? Not this guy...

hanson95 01-28-2013 07:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TopherM (Post 4836417)
I've done up to 15lbs of grain in my kettle for a 5.5 gallon DIPA, and still had a good 0.5 gallons of space left in the mash in a full volume BIAB. That's about the limit of an 11 gallon kettle if you want to do full volume.

There are plenty of methods for doing more if you wanted to do partial volume and either dunk sparge or top off water. At 1.25 qt/lb, you could mathmatically do up to about 26 lbs of grain in an 11 gallon pot if you dunk sparged in a 2nd pot to get back to 10.2 gallons of wort in the boil. That would be up to about a 8-8.5 gallon batch max on my system.

So, in the single vessel with full volume, the limit's about 15 lbs of grain in the 11 gallon pot for a 5.5 gallon batch, but there are some workarounds to get you up to a max of 26 lbs of grain if you really want to push it.

Then again, who wants to lift and drain a 26 lb grain bag? Not this guy...

I hear ya! That's great information - 15lb of grain for an 11g pot and a 5.5 g batch. How would I calculate my limits if I used a 9g pot (I'm using it on my stove, and I don't think the 11g will fit under the microwave/hood)?

TopherM 01-28-2013 07:47 PM

I was using the Can I Mash It calculator, along with the ratios I get on my equipment, including boil off, loss to trub, loss to grain absorbtion, and loss to contraction during cooldown. Your ratios would be slightly different depending on your pot diameter and your process, but here's the #s assuming my ratios.

A 9 gallon pot will fit around 12.5 lbs of grain in a full volume 5.5 gallon batch, given about 0.5 gallons to spare.

Given the partial volume at 1.25 qts/lb for full conversion, you could mathmatically convert 21 lbs of grain in a 9 gallon pot, which would fill the pot to 8.25 gallons. You would need to dunk sparge or top off water to get back to an 8.5 or so gallon boil, which would be a 6.8 gallon max final yield post-boil.

TopherM 01-28-2013 08:09 PM

Just reread that you are doing stovetop brewing. Note that MOST stovetop electric elements CAN NOT get full volumes for a 5 gallon batch to a boil, so you are probably stuck with partical volume if you are going to stay on the stovetop. Some of the more high-end electric and gas stovetop elements can handle bigger volumes, but not many.

If you plan on expanding in the future, you may want to think about an outdoor burner.

hanson95 01-28-2013 08:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TopherM (Post 4836747)
I was using the Can I Mash It calculator, along with the ratios I get on my equipment, including boil off, loss to trub, loss to grain absorbtion, and loss to contraction during cooldown. Your ratios would be slightly different depending on your pot diameter and your process, but here's the #s assuming my ratios.

A 9 gallon pot will fit around 12.5 lbs of grain in a full volume 5.5 gallon batch, given about 0.5 gallons to spare.

Given the partial volume at 1.25 qts/lb for full conversion, you could mathmatically convert 21 lbs of grain in a 9 gallon pot, which would fill the pot to 8.25 gallons. You would need to dunk sparge or top off water to get back to an 8.5 or so gallon boil, which would be a 6.8 gallon max final yield post-boil.

So I've done about 20 brews, the biggest being about 13lbs of grain. So if I get the 9 gallon pot, I can either dunk sparge as you suggest, or just make a 4 gallon batch, or come up with another work around. Again, thanks for the great info!


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