I wasn't sure if this post should go in this forum or the company reviews forum. I wanted to post my experience with Stout Tanks and Kettles (www.conical-fermenter.com/
) and show how the final project turned out.
I ordered the kettles (HLT, Mash tun, Boil Kettle) in mid December with a projected delivery date of June 2011. In late May John from Stout tanks advised that the kettles would be delayed until late July. They finally arrived yesterday (8/13) after 10 days in shipping from Oregon to Indiana. The delay was beyond John's control and his communication was good so I don't hold this against them.
It was well worth the wait. The quality of the kettles is very good. Here is everything after unpacking.
I spent a couple hours cleaning and assembling everything. The quality of the materials used is excellent. I would call the weld quality very good. Over all I would rate the kettles as very good and I think they are well worth the money and the wait.
-heavy gauge stainless
-tri clamp connections
-some of the tri clamp gaskets are hard white plastic style. I replaced these with BUNA and/or Silicone gaskets that I already had. The provided gaskets probably work but I prefer rubber or silicone.
-difficulty dissembling 3/4 inch valves (see below)
-Mash tun thermometer placement (see below)
Stout Tanks recommends dis-assembling all the valves to clean them prior to the first use. The 1 inch valves cam apart and went back together easily but the 3/4 valves were not as cooperative. I was able to get one of them apart but the threads where pretty gnarled up with slivers of stainless coming off. The other 3/4 inch valve I couldn't even get apart. To be fair, I didn't communicate this issue back to John at stout tanks because I can live with it and it's a relatively minor issue. I'm sure he would work to make it right if I asked him to.
The Mash tun thermometer is right in the center of the tank (see pics). Since these tanks were custom made I'm sure I could have specified where to put it but I did not. It's too high to be submerged for some batches. I brewed a 10 gallon cream ale as the first batch on this system and with 18lbs of grain and 5 gal of water the top of the mash just touched the thermowell. This resulted in an inaccurate reading. If I had to do it over I would have requested that the thermometer on the mash tun be placed about 3 inches lower. This is my fault and I don't hold it against Stout Tanks and Kettles. Just something to consider if you buy a mash tun from them. I can still maintain mash temp by referencing the HLT thermometer since this is a HERMS system.
Overall I am pleased and would recommend these tanks to anyone. Just be ready to wait for them if it's a custom order.
HLT Inside with HERMS Coil
Mash Tun Inside with False Bottom
Pump Power Switches