20 gallon kettle a good size for 10 gallon single vessel batches?

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beertastic

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Want to retire my keggle with a huge lip on it for a kettle better suited for BIAB (and boiling/cleaning in general). Also want to step up my game and do 10 gallon batches, since I don't get to brew as often as I would like.

I have 2 MT/HLT coolers, from the old days, but I think I want to stick with single vessel. I just like the simplicity. I already have two coolers for MT/HLT, but can't think of a way to deal with them in a simple manner without adding pumps.

What are your thoughts on going with a 20 gallon kettle for 10 gallon batches? Is that big enough? I think 1.060-5ish range for 10 gallon, and anything over that a 5 gallon batch I'd be good with. Specifically I'm eyeing the 80qt Concord kettle.

I don't want to dunk sparge. Doesn't seem any simpler than traditional methods. Pouring a gallon or two of (probably cold) sparge water over the bag I'd be OK with...but do I need a basket to aid with that?
 

FoCobrewguy

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I use a 20 G for 5 G and 10 G BIAB. It works well, if I had a temp probe installed in the hole I have for one it would be covered by water for either. Like you said just limited on how high you can go on the 10 G batches. Last brew was 1056 and had no issues with fitting all the grain and liquid during the mash. Probably had room for another couple of lbs and will need to add a gallon of water because lost more then expected. Big beers stick to the 5 G.

I have a brewer's hardware welded kettle and have no complaints. They can add whatever you want and are quick and high quality.
 

pshankstar

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I recently bought the SS Brewtech 20 gallon kettle for my BIAB setup. I've done two 10 gallon batches (11 into the fermenters). The OG for the two batches were 1.064 and 1.076 and did not have any issues. The one thing I would say that is a PIA is trying to move the kettle with 10+ gallons of wort is not easy. After I pull the bag and let it drain for a while, I move the kettle to one of my kids scooter boards and move it to the edge of the garage or to the driveway where I do the boil.

But a 20 gallon kettle will be fine for what you are looking to do. Good luck and cheers!
 

Epos7

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A 20 gallon kettle would be the perfect size for 10 gallon batches. You may lose a bit more heat during the mash with a 5 gallon batch due to the volume to surface area ratio, but nothing a little extra insulation couldn't fix.

If you plan on sparging, you could do a partial mash in a 15 gallon kettle, and it would be better suited to your 5 gallon batches. However, if the majority of your batches will be 10 gallons, the 20 gallon kettle is probably a better fit.

If you do sparge, you'll need to find a collander or something to hold the bag above the wort. A pulley is an even better solution, if you have somewhere to install it.
 
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beertastic

beertastic

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I definitely intend to (continue to use) a ladder/pulley system.

What about a stainless basket? I'm worried about 25+ lbs of grain sagging and leaking down the sides of the kettle...is that an issue? Seems like pour sparging (is that what it's called) would be hard to do without containing the bag/grains in a basket.

Edit: also I intend to install a valve (again), so no moving the wort/kettle.
 

RevKev

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The Spike is nice. Just was pricier to get off the start than the SS BT. I will likely look into getting welded fittings onto it. That is one thing that I almost regret.

But with that being said. I did recently drop my kettle moving 12 gallons and said f that fixed kettle and now got a pump. Highly recommend if you don't have one already
 

Nmnbrewer

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The Spike is nice. Just was pricier to get off the start than the SS BT. I will likely look into getting welded fittings onto it. That is one thing that I almost regret.

But with that being said. I did recently drop my kettle moving 12 gallons and said f that fixed kettle and now got a pump. Highly recommend if you don't have one already

No moving kettle or tubes during brew. All valves and a rolling cart just to remove the basket with a winch. I figured I'm not getting younger so why not make it is easy as I could.
 

Epos7

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Spike Kettles is a good option. I have one of their 15 gallon kettles, and had them attach 4 TC ports, which they did a great job on.

There are only two downsides. One of the handles arrived damaged. The box was fine, so it wasn't damaged in shipping. It's minor enough that I didn't go to the trouble of returning it.

The second issue, which I have figured out recently, is that the volume scale is useless. I had carefully checked it up to 6 gallons, and it was off by 0.3 gallons pretty consistently, so I had been operating under that assumption. When I started brewing 10 gallon batches, some of my volumes seemed off. I checked the volumes again, and arrived at the same 0.3 gallon offset at the lower end of the scale, but it turns out to not be a consistent offset. Once you get above 8 gallons, the offset starts to grow smaller, and at the high end of the scale, it's off in the other direction. This was frustrating to discover, and I'm now looking at different ways to measure volume.

That said, this may not be an issue specific to Spike kettles. I suspect the scales on most kettles are not very accurate.
 
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beertastic

beertastic

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Spike Kettles is a good option. I have one of their 15 gallon kettles, and had them attach 4 TC ports, which they did a great job on.

There are only two downsides. One of the handles arrived damaged. The box was fine, so it wasn't damaged in shipping. It's minor enough that I didn't go to the trouble of returning it.

The second issue, which I have figured out recently, is that the volume scale is useless. I had carefully checked it up to 6 gallons, and it was off by 0.3 gallons pretty consistently, so I had been operating under that assumption. When I started brewing 10 gallon batches, some of my volumes seemed off. I checked the volumes again, and arrived at the same 0.3 gallon offset at the lower end of the scale, but it turns out to not be a consistent offset. Once you get above 8 gallons, the offset starts to grow smaller, and at the high end of the scale, it's off in the other direction. This was frustrating to discover, and I'm now looking at different ways to measure volume.

That said, this may not be an issue specific to Spike kettles. I suspect the scales on most kettles are not very accurate.
Wow, that's unfortunate. Was thinking about just biting the bullet and going Spike. But that might be a deal breaker. I'd rather not have a sight glass, just one more thing to clean.

Have you tested the scale with the same temperature of water to the top? It might be they've calibrated for a specific temp (room or boiling), and you're just seeing the results of cooling loss.
 

Epos7

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Have you tested the scale with the same temperature of water to the top? It might be they've calibrated for a specific temp (room or boiling), and you're just seeing the results of cooling loss.
Yeah, I have been using tap water which comes out at 55-60F. On my most recent test, I found the following:

5 gallons actual = 4.7 gallons on kettle
10 gallons actual = 9.95 gallons on kettle
14 gallons actual = 14.1 gallons on kettle

I didn't want a sight glass either for the same reason as you. Now I'm looking into buying a shipping scale and measuring by weight.
 

Epos7

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Yeah, I have been using tap water which comes out at 55-60F. On my most recent test, I found the following:

5 gallons actual = 4.7 gallons on kettle
10 gallons actual = 9.95 gallons on kettle
14 gallons actual = 14.1 gallons on kettle

I didn't want a sight glass either for the same reason as you. Now I'm looking into buying a shipping scale and measuring by weight.
I contacted Spike Kettles about this and was informed that this degree of error is within tolerance. Additionally, they wanted to know how measurement errors of this degree would be a problem. I think being off by .05 - .1 gallons is reasonable but .3 is a bit much. To their credit they were very quick to respond.

Having never owned any other kettles, I can't say with certainty, but I suspect that the volume markings on any kettle are best used as a rough guide only. Whether you choose to go with Spike or a different brand, it's probably best to approach the volume markings on the kettle with skepticism.
 

RevKev

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You saying that makes me want to test my SS brew tech etchings.

I feel as if it is a problem, maybe not big but why have them on their if they are not accurate as filling up gallon buckets and using true etchings on fermenters... Those who use a stashed source of distilled or fill from tap use these markings and I guess if you account for it it's fine but that's besides the point... Weird when you think in a 20gal kettle filling up 15gal could compound error and you could be anywhere from a gallon to a tenth of a gallon off. Consistency speaks volumes
 

Epos7

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You saying that makes me want to test my SS brew tech etchings.

I feel as if it is a problem, maybe not big but why have them on their if they are not accurate as filling up gallon buckets and using true etchings on fermenters... Those who use a stashed source of distilled or fill from tap use these markings and I guess if you account for it it's fine but that's besides the point... Weird when you think in a 20gal kettle filling up 15gal could compound error and you could be anywhere from a gallon to a tenth of a gallon off. Consistency speaks volumes
Checking them is probably a good idea. At least that way you know. Spike alternately said their tolerance for the etchings is+/- 1/8" (equal to about 0.1 gallon) or +/- 0.25 gallons. I didn't get the sense they do any QC checks on them, and they said to treat them as a rough guide only. I'd be interested to know accurate other brands are.
 

fragged

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Figure I'll mention, I got a 17.5 gallon kettle, it's barely big enough for 10g moderate grist amounts. This is Edwort's Haus Ale (20 lbs) during mash.

In hindsight, I'd go 20g on the pot. Can't ever see wanting 10 gallons of most brews that require heavier grain bills.

View attachment 1498690334696.jpg
 
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beertastic

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Well I went with the 20 gallon Spike kettle. I was going to get a cheaper Concord, but since I already had a keggle, I really didn't want to be dissatisfied and purchase a third kettle down the line.

The volume etchings on my Spike kettle are off by 0.25 gallons. They read 0.25 gallons too high (5 gallons measured right between the 5 and 5.5 gallon marker). I measured at 79F (my ground water temp at the time) and I measured up to 15 gallons, and it seemed consistently off by the same amount for each gallon increment.

But very happy with this kettle overall. And wow, it heats up way faster than my keggle did. With a Wilser bag, a ladder, and a pulley/ratcheting pulley system I had no trouble hoisting the bag by myself on a 27 lb grain bill. And I'm a fairly small guy. I just had to pull a few clicks, let it drain for a few seconds, repeat, until the majority of the grains were out of the water.

And I had plenty of room! I could easily do a bigger beer and safely get away with it. Although I'm going to have to up my water, I underestimated my boil off by a fair amount. I guess due to the much wider kettle.
 
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