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Old 02-14-2010, 09:13 PM   #1
bluegill
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Default First brew pot - thoughts?

So, I'm currently using a 8-L pot me and my roommate borrowed from a friend. It's tiny though, so we want to upgrade. How large do I want? I'm not sure if my electric stove has enough power to accommodate a whole 5-gallon boil, but what do you guys think a good size should be for some guys making mostly-extract beer in their apartment's kitchen?

I found a 21.5 qt pot that looks pretty solid (it's for canning, but that seems similar enough to boiling wort).

Also, a no-frills 16 qt stock pot

I like that they're ceramic coated, but I imagine stainless steel is just as good? I don't like the idea of aluminum though.

We're looking to spend as little money as possible (college students), do you guys think these pots will have the right capacity, not burn out wort, etc.?

Thanks!

Sam


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Old 02-14-2010, 09:17 PM   #2
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Gotta be careful with those ceramic enamel pots, once they chip they're pretty much done. Stainless works well, but takes longer to heat and chill. There's some obvious benefits to stainless but what worries you about aluminum? In terms of price aluminum is pretty darn cheap.


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Old 02-14-2010, 09:26 PM   #3
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I did 3 great extract brews with a 12qt enamel pot, if youre not looking to do full boils then anything 12qt and up is fine. However, if you follow the natural progression of most homebrewers then sooner or later you'll want more. A 40qt pot like this one http://www.waresdirect.com/products/...ackURL=froogle is great and youll be able to do full boils in it as long as you insulate it.

Check out this thread on insulating your pot, it really is amazing what you can do with just a basic electric stovetop.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/impr...tovetop-53683/

I did exactly what he did and I can boil 6.5 gallons on my bottom of the line frigidaire "apartment special" stove.
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:34 PM   #4
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They'll do you, but I'd say you should find a bigger one.
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpro View Post
I did 3 great extract brews with a 12qt enamel pot, if youre not looking to do full boils then anything 12qt and up is fine. However, if you follow the natural progression of most homebrewers then sooner or later you'll want more. A 40qt pot like this one http://www.waresdirect.com/products/...ackURL=froogle is great and youll be able to do full boils in it as long as you insulate it.

Check out this thread on insulating your pot, it really is amazing what you can do with just a basic electric stovetop.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/impr...tovetop-53683/

I did exactly what he did and I can boil 6.5 gallons on my bottom of the line frigidaire "apartment special" stove.
Go for this definitely, don't waste your money and crappy pots or a smaller one. Plan for the future, save money, and get more out of it!
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:46 AM   #6
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Buy the good stuff now. Yeah, you won't have all the gadgets you can, but what you will have will be good. Build on that with more good stuff. Before too long, your setup will rock, and rock well.
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:28 AM   #7
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Thanks guys - I'm gonna go with that 40 qt pot - can't beat that volume at that price! I look forward to using it for a long while.

I was wary of aluminum because I know that some acids (like tomatoes) don't treat it well - but I guess my worries were unfounded. Thanks for the advice!

Now I just have to go out and get the ingredients for an Irish stout (I just bottled my first beer, an amber ale).
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegill View Post
Thanks guys - I'm gonna go with that 40 qt pot - can't beat that volume at that price! I look forward to using it for a long while.

I was wary of aluminum because I know that some acids (like tomatoes) don't treat it well - but I guess my worries were unfounded. Thanks for the advice!

Now I just have to go out and get the ingredients for an Irish stout (I just bottled my first beer, an amber ale).
Just oxidize it first

"- Boiling your wort in an aluminum pot will cause off-flavours in your beer. FALSE. Simply boiling a batch of wort will not remove enough metal from your aluminum pot to get into your beer and cause metallic off flavours, particularly if you build up a passive oxide layer inside the pot first. For new pots, this is easily achieved by either boiling the pot full of water for 30 mins to one hour, or by putting it in your oven for 10 mins at 350 F":
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/faq-...kettles-49449/
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:14 AM   #9
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Remember this: Get one that is nice and thick, especially the bottom. My old one was a simple aluminum and I'd get hotspots and scorched LME all the time, and it NEVER GOT CLEAN as a result. My new one (Megapot from Northern Brewer) is SS and has a thick bottom with a layer of aluminum sandwiched in and it NEVER scorches. Totally worth the extra $$.
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Old 02-15-2010, 12:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluegill View Post
I like that they're ceramic coated, but I imagine stainless steel is just as good? I don't like the idea of aluminum though.
The questions you should be asking are, "What is your pot made of?" and "What are you using for a heat source?"

I find that most of the people supporting that aluminum is just fine for a brew pot are actually brewing in a stainless steel pot. So why do they steadfastly support that aluminum is just fine for others when they brew in stainless steel themselves?

Can aluminum be used as a brew pot? You betcha'. Is enamelware better, depending on your perspective, yes, but is more fragile. Is a good quality stainless steel pot better than enamelware or aluminum? Definitely.

If you stick with brewing and continue to grow into the hobby, you will ultimately wind up with a large, heavy, stainless steel pot. You know what your heating, funding and storage limitations are, but don't yet know how far you will go with brewing. Buy the best you can get in the size that will do you the most good. If you give up brewing later what can you use the pot for? Is it likely you will ever go to 10, 15, or 20 gallon batches? For a 5 gallon batch you are boiling no more than 4 gallons of wort. A 5 gallon pot would offer plenty of size for that without wasting a bunch of size and thermal dissipation to have a pot that is too big for what you are doing.

I am brewing in a stainless steel pot with a clad aluminum bottom. It is about a 4-1/2 gallon capacity, 2 quarts smaller than I would recommend for 5 gallon batches but I have not run into a problem with it. It has a Blichmann brewmometer in it that is both fantastic and frequently in the way.

I will be building an all-grain HERMS brew-rig in the next couple of months, capable of 15 to 20 gallon batches. Mostly, because I want to. I have most of the parts, fittings, electrical control gear, kegs, tubing and the equipment/skills to build one. So it seems like it would be a cool project with obvious benefits when it is done.

Always ask your questions as, "What do you do/have?" versus "What should I do/have?" You will get much better indications of what is actual versus what others would like to have, if they were spending your money and tying up your space.

I also have a couple of cheap, 5 gallon, stainless steel brew pots that are thin and prone to burn LME, corn sugar or anything else that is likely to make it to the bottom before it is dissolved. I would give you one of those if you were local. Experience with those cheap pots are why I have a good one now.


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