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Old 09-30-2013, 03:40 PM   #1
Jan 2013
Richmond, VA
Posts: 1

Hello all,

First time poster, long time lurker! I come to you guys with a couple questions that I'm sure experience with Blichmann Boilermakers (that I know many of you have) could answer.

My birthday was Thursday and as a gift (unbeknownst to me), my girlfriend got me a 20 gallon Boilermaker. This of course is AWESOME, but I have one lingering doubt...

I am an all-grain brewer and I currently use a 15 gallon Megapot for 5-6 gal batches. I'm definitely not against the idea of brewing larger batches in the future, it's just not something that I find myself doing right now.

The difference in cost between the 15 gal and 20 gal Boilermakers is about $35, so that's not a point of contention here for me at all.

I use BeerSmith 2 for calculating most of my recipes.

I've been doing research since Thursday and the only real downfalls of keeping the 20 gal I can think of are:

- Brewmometer too high on pot to read temp under 7-8 gallons (from what I understand the 15 gal isn't much better in this regard, and I was considering using a copper gauge wire wrapped around the probe to extend it a little farther down)

- Boil-off rate (which is very high on my current 15 gal Megapot and I account for it now so I don't really see this as an issue)

- My 50' immersion wort chiller being less effective due to less contact between coils and wort (it won't kill me to wait a bit longer to chill my wort, if that's the only issue)

- Break material/wort amounts left in the bottom of the kettle. As it stands now with my 15 gal Megapot, it seems like I do end up leaving a pretty good amount of trub/break material/beer behind, simply because once it gets to a certain level left my auto-siphon won't bring any more into my carboy. I'm concerned that the width of the kettle may have something to do with this. I know that I can adjust for this in Beersmith, I just haven't nailed it down 100% yet.

So the question comes down to this...
- Do I exchange my 20 gal for a 15?
- For those of you using 20 gal Boilermakers to brew 5-6 gal batches, are you running into any issues?
- Do my potential concerns listed above warrant me exchanging for the 15 gal?

Thank you guys for reading! Cheers!

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Old 09-30-2013, 05:58 PM   #2
May 2013
Posts: 980
Liked 78 Times on 75 Posts

I have no experience with boilermakers.. But, If I were you I'd keep it and maybe brew larger batches. I bet you have some thirsty friends?

Idk what your future looks like when it comes to brewing. But mostly it's cheaper to invest once, than twice.

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Old 09-30-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
I Sell Koalas
Cyclman's Avatar
Jan 2013
Aurora, CO
Posts: 6,335
Liked 774 Times on 647 Posts

I have a 15G I use for a mash tun, want a 20G BK. The thermo doesn't work for 5G batches on the 15G, so I would go bigger.
Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime! Bill Owen quote

Why does Happy Hour limit happiness to 1/24 of the day?

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Old 10-01-2013, 12:34 AM   #4
Feb 2013
Posts: 816
Liked 89 Times on 83 Posts

So the question comes down to this...
- Do I exchange my 20 gal for a 15?
- For those of you using 20 gal Boilermakers to brew 5-6 gal batches, are you running into any issues?
- Do my potential concerns listed above warrant me exchanging for the 15 gal?
Most important question.
- How bad will it piss off the girlfriend if you trade in her gift to you?

I don't see the larger of the two being a big problem. You'll just have to re-learn your system a little.

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Old 10-01-2013, 12:56 AM   #5
geoffey's Avatar
Sep 2011
Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,403
Liked 447 Times on 285 Posts

My suggestion is to think long and hard about whether you think you'll ever want to get into 10 gallon batches. If not, then trade it in for the 15 gal version. It will make less work for you re-learning your system and make less work on brew day. Ultimately that means brewing is more fun!

I went with 15 gallon Spike Brewing kettles and I only do 5 gallon batches for the most part. I have done one 8 gal batch and it worked great. Split it into two 5 gallon better bottles for primary fermentation which left perfect amount of head space.

You want your system built for and set up for your brewing needs. If you think there is a decent chance you'll regularly want to do 10 gallon batches keep what you have. Buy once be happy. Personally I find it a huge pain to have to calculate higher boil off rates and rig up something to get my brewmometer to work.

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Old 10-01-2013, 11:29 AM   #6
Progressive Brewing
IslandLizard's Avatar
Jan 2013
Pasadena, MD
Posts: 7,199
Liked 1309 Times on 1114 Posts


The Megapot is really wide compared to its height, I have both the 8 and 15. That causes slightly higher boil-off rates, than narrower vessels. The boilermakers are relatively taller and narrower, but when measuring there's not that much difference between the 15 and 20. For the added volume, the 20 would be the better kettle if you want to do larger brews regularly, 10-12 gallons.

I do mostly 5 gallon brews in my 8 gallon kettle and although a bit tight, it's workable and ever so easy to handle because of its small size. The 15 gallon is huge compared to that and needs its own "setup." The differences in brew profiles between the 15 and 20 gallon boilermaker are small, and the 20 gives you an easy option to expand to larger brews when you want.

When a beer turns out very well, and I get more of those lately, thanks to HBT, I wish I had brewed a 10 gallon batch. For about the same effort and time, twice the beer. Which direction are you moving to, larger or more variety? I know it's difficult but try to envision what and how you're brewing [EDIT] 2-3 years from now.

Reason: rephrased

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Old 10-01-2013, 08:13 PM   #7
GoodDogShelby's Avatar
Mar 2012
Erlanger, KY
Posts: 219
Liked 31 Times on 25 Posts

I am struggling with the same decision. I am brewing in a keggle currently, but plan on Santa bring me a Blichmann. My regular batch size is 7.5 gallons. I brew 20 or so times a year and can only see doing 1 or 2 10 gallon batches per year.

Pros of the 20 gallon:

1) No boilovers for a 8 gallon batch
2) No issues with a 12 -13 gallon boil for a 10 gallon batch on those rare occasions that happens.

1) Boil off rate due to surface area
2) Trub cone is more spread out when whirlpooling.

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Old 10-02-2013, 11:15 PM   #8
Mar 2012
Portland, OR
Posts: 505
Liked 34 Times on 30 Posts

OP I would return the 20 gallon for the money, and tell your GF someone stole it.

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