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Old 12-26-2012, 09:00 PM   #1
richfei
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Default Can steamer pot be used for all grain brewing ?

I'm only just started doing 5 gallon extract boils
Previously was using Mr Beer
Somewhere down the line, I'll go all grain for 5 gallon boils. 10 maybe
I saw a 52 quart steamer pot advertised for $20 locally
This equates to about 13 gallons
I've not seen the quality of the pot, but does it really matter at this price, or is the thinness of the material likely to be an issue ?
Even accounting for wort overflow and boil overs is a 13 gallon pot overkill for a 5 gallon boil and really a 10 gallon is much more suitable ?

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:07 PM   #2
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I don't do all grain brewing, so I'm far from the authority here. But I will try to help.

1) My guess is that the steamer pot is a very thin gauge aluminum. This is probably not going to be the best quality for maintaining the temperatures required for an all grain mash. Also, it will probably be prone to warping if you repeatedly heat and cool it.

2) Most all grain brewers I talk to use at least 8 gallons for their primary mash. After looking at loss of liquid and boil off, they need that much to get a 5 gallon batch of beer. Still, a 13 gallon pot might be appropriate for that size brew, even considering the space taken up by the grains. But again, I don't brew in this manner, so I'm far from the authority.

My guess is, you probably don't want that pot . . . it was meant for making tamales, not boiling 12 gallons of beer . . .

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:11 PM   #3
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As long as its a pot that holds the volume you need of wort and can handle a boil it will be fine. 13 gallons will allow you to do do full boils no problem either all grain or extract.

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:15 PM   #4
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I've been doing all grain batches for years, and that pot will be the perfect size for all grain boils. If they're only $20 I would get two, provided you have the space to store it. A second boiler the same size comes in handy for all grain. The thinness won't really matter, except that if you use an electric stove with the coil burners you'll get hotspots on the bottom.

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:32 PM   #5
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I should add, that I really don't know too much at all about all grain and what equipment is needed. I definitely need to read, but I wanted to jump on this now if it made sense since it's so relatively inexpensive
Just to add, I've seen a lot of videos and info on making 10 gallon mashtuns from rubbermaid and other coolers and I will do that down the road. To accompany that I was looking for something to boil water and whatever else is needed
These pots I imagine are used for tamales or whatever and they come in various large sizes i.e 32, 40 and 52 quarts, with a lid and steamer
The 10 gallon is $15 and the 13 is $20
For a 5 gallon boil I thought initially just get 2 of the 40 quart (10 gallon) sizes in addition to making the mash tun. But to be honest, I don't know and rather not just throw money away, even if it's this cheap. But if it doesn't matter too much, then sure

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:45 PM   #6
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They will be cheap aluminum and wont last forever, but for that price you may as well give them a try.

I had my 8 gallon IMUSA Tamale Steamer pot crack or get a pin hole in the bottom some how...but it lasted like 8+ brews, so for $21 it was worth it IMO.

That said i went stainless this time. But if your on a budget and want to do AG or BIAB its a good(and only) way to go.

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Old 12-26-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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You can move into doing some basic all-grain brewing w/o buying a larger pot or making a mashtun by using a method called Brew in a Bag.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/biab-brewing-pics-233289/

You can buy paint strainer bags for 3 for $5 at most home improvement stores or hardware centers. These can probably be used with your existing boil kettle to do some 2-3 gallon stove top size all grain batches. I use a software program called Beersmith to create recipes and help me with the numbers for brewing. It has a free 30 day trial and now versions 2.0 and 2.1 have mashing options designed for the Brew in a Bag process. This can give you the feel to see if you want to jump further into all grain brewing w/o buying much more equipment. Are you currently doing extract batches on your stove top or using an outdoor burner? Electric stove tops can limit how much water you can boil and mine won't let me get a 5 gallon size brew on the stove top so I moved to a propane burner outdoors.

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Old 12-26-2012, 10:07 PM   #8
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I've been doing Mr Brew type extracts for several months and my first 5 gallon extract was this weekend on the stove. I just figured since I saw this 'deal' to just go ahead and buy in advance. I can't see myself making 10 gallon extracts so I thought the 13 gallon was too big and somewhere down the road to get a propane burner and a few pots, and these pots were inexpensive

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Old 12-26-2012, 10:14 PM   #9
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You probably know this already but if your new pot is aluminum then boil some water in it prior to using it for beer brewing in order to oxidize the surface.

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Old 12-26-2012, 10:41 PM   #10
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The bigger concern for these thin aluminum pots is how well they hold temperature. Using a rubbermaid water jug or something like that is viable because they're insulated, and hold temperature very well . . . these thin aluminum pots will need CONSTANT reheating or very close temperature management . . . and that can be a problem if you've got your grains settled to the bottom of the pot.

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