All Grain Kettle/Pot Quality Criteria

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Btaz

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As with many posts I'm working to step up to all grain brewing, but I don't want to have to do this again in a year so I'm trying to figure out the right criteria for selecting a kettle. I really don't want to think in a year from now, "If only I had known .... before I bought my kettle".

From what I've read here is my starting point
1) Choose stainless steel:
as opposed to aluminum which will pot over time​
2) Choose 20G or greater kettle size:
I'd like to be able to do 10G batches if my heart desires. A 20G kettle will allow for high gravity 10G batches, smaller kettles will make things moer challenging. also, this eliminate the frequently suggested keggle idea as this is only a 15.5G kettle.​
3) Can live without built in valves for now, but can upgrade late if desired:
I'm brewing without valves with no problems. I know valves will most likley make things easier, but it isn't a firm requirement. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly its possible to punch/cut/drill holes and add valves at a later time, if/when desired​

Open questions
4) Does 1-3 sound right, particularly #3?
I've read a lot of forums and such so far to get here, but I'm new to this and from what I've learned from doing extracts is that there is a lot to thing about when.​
5) Does base thickness matter?
Seems like there are ranges from 1mm to 5mm. With most hovering around 2mm. I'm guessing this is for even heat distribution, but how much is enough​
6) Does side thickness matter?
ranges from not specified to 1mm to 2.5mm. Seems like just about anything would work. Any issues with punching holes on a thin one later to add valves?​
7) Need to be NSF certified?
Some claim to be, many don't specify​
8) build construction/materl
I'm not too familiar with the things I've seen a) aluminum wrapped/sandwhiched in stainless steel, b) 20 gauge stainless steel, c) 18/10 Stainless Steel, d) 18/10 T304 stainless steel, e) 3-Ply Bottom, and many more​
9) Anything else?

I'm probably way over thinking this as I've seen posts from many happy brewers with pretty much all the pots I've taken a look at, but I haven't been able to find any criteria for choose a kettle other than size recommendations. thanks for any feedback.
 

wilserbrewer

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Sorry, but there is not a pot that meets your criteria. One pot that is perfect for 5 and 10 gallon batches does not exist IMHO.

The best solution IMO is to get a 10 and a 20 gallon pot, and a good compromise is to get a 15 gallon, and stretch it when doing a 10 gallon batch.

A 20 gallon pot is silly large for 5 gallon batches and will be inconvenient for smaller 5 gallon batches, BUT is a great size for 10 gallon brews!

Thickness, both base and sides is not all that important IMO, and valves are certainly "optional" IMHO.

Some options below to consider...

Good value nice quality inexpensive 60 qt stainless predrilled, add your own accessories...Ebay $95 shipped
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Stainle...29173045?pt=Cookware&var=&hash=item1e81f28335

Same pot without holes...Ebay $99 shipped
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Stainle...29173045?pt=Cookware&var=&hash=item1e81f28335

Holy crap! 9 pots for $150 bucks! Thinner stainless chinese pots, have read about a guy who bought 3 sets, sold off all but a handful to fellow brew club members, and ended up with 3 pots and $50 profit, not for everybody, just had to throw it out there as a funny story....Ebay $150 shipped
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-4-sets-.../251317822016?pt=Cookware&hash=item3a83b5a240

Inexpensive 8 gallon to get you started AG brewing. Target $30
http://www.target.com/p/imusa-32-qt...sku=10910892&gclid=CPG5-9DK-LwCFTLxOgodumAAZw

The cheapest option to get you started AG brewing, a price performer for sure! A cheap aluminum pot will get you AG brewing and you can upgrade in the future if you desire without buyers remorse due to the low price. Can also be repurposed as an HLT. Walmart $21.47 damn that's cheap, and can make beer every bit as tasty as a $3-400 Blichmann, lol
http://www.walmart.com/ip/IMUSA-Tamale-and-Seafood-32-Quart-Steamer/13370045
 
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Btaz

Btaz

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Thanks for the thoughts. Besides being oversized for 5G batches is there any negative effects to using a 20G kettle?

Sorry if it's sloppy, this was sent from my phone
 

RM-MN

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Thanks for the thoughts. Besides being oversized for 5G batches is there any negative effects to using a 20G kettle?

Sorry if it's sloppy, this was sent from my phone
Sure is. I can brew a 2 1/2 gallon batch or a 5 gallon batch on my kitchen stove with a 5 gallon or 7 1/2 gallon pot when the weather is really bad outside. Can't fit a 20 gallon pot on there at all and if I could fit it I couldn't boil in that big of a pot. That big pot will require a serious propane burner if it is cold out too, not the one that comes with a turkey fryer. It will take more propane to keep that big pot at a boil even if you are only doing a 5 gallon batch.

While stainless steel pots are nice and may last longer than an aluminum one, you may not live long enough to notice the difference if you take care of the aluminum one. If you should happen to be graced with that long of a life, you can replace the aluminum one and probably still be money ahead. Look up a formula for "future value of money" and you'll quickly see the difference.
 

KTRyan

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Budget and priorities are the two huge factors here. As earlier posters have said you can make the same beer in a Boiler Maker as you can in an aluminum pot from Walmart. I personally started with a cheap aluminum pot and I now own a Boiler Maker. So point by point:

1- I choose to go all stainless steel because its hassle free, just don't let bleach touch it.

2- Are we just talking about a boil kettle, or do you want to mash in this pot? Either way I have found that 15 gallons is enough space for a 10 gallon batch. That being said if your planning out a 3 kettle system, Mash Tun, HLT and Boil Kettle, vary the sizes to help accommodate different size batches. I use a 10 gallon and two 15 gallon kettles for my setup and swap what there used for depending on what size batch I'm brewing.

3- Stop lying to yourself you can't live without a valve.

4- Covered

5- This one really depends on what kind of burner your using, thick and/or tri-clad/sandwiched bases are for heat distribution. If your using a turkey fryer style burner its way more important then if your using a hurricane style burning.

6- This one is fairly low on my priority list, I picked up a 'Brewers Edge' kettle from Williams brewing (Great kettle for the price), and that is the thinnest I would ever suggest going. A thicker wall will retain heat better, resist dents better, and feel nicer.

7- I wouldn't really worry about it.

8- Mostly covered in point 5. Your looking for 304 SS, avoid 303.

9- Generally with all grain your going to want three vessels as I mentioned earlier. I'd really like to know what you plan on mashing in. If your mashing in a cooler get a 10 gallon kettle and 15 gallon kettle, or 20 gallon if you really want. If you plan on turning a kettle into a mash tun get yourself the full range of sizes 10, 15, and 20.

Decent $100-$150 options can be found at Adventure in Home Brewing, and Williams Brewing. Beyond that look at the options on Northern Brewer and More Beer. I personally own:
Boiler Maker- Amazing kettle, makes a great HLT and boil kettle, I don't personally like it as a mash tun. Bought it with my tax return money years ago and never regretted it.
Keggle- I was given a keg by a friend, made it into my mash tun, love it.
60 quart 'Brewers Edge'- Grabbed it on sale for about $110, came with a valve (and a hole to install it) and a welded on nipple for a thermometer. Its no Boiler Maker or Mega Pot 1.2, but for the price you really cant beat it.
 
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Btaz

Btaz

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Sure is. I can brew a 2 1/2 gallon batch or a 5 gallon batch on my kitchen stove with a 5 gallon or 7 1/2 gallon pot when the weather is really bad outside. Can't fit a 20 gallon pot on there at all and if I could fit it I couldn't boil in that big of a pot. That big pot will require a serious propane burner if it is cold out too, not the one that comes with a turkey fryer. It will take more propane to keep that big pot at a boil even if you are only doing a 5 gallon batch.
I always brew outside in the garage as my kitchen stove is super weak and my SO doesn't like the wort smell. But you did make me think about the fact that I probably don't have a large enough burner for large batch sizes as I just use a normal turkey fryer right now. I'm going to have to look into BTU needs for various batch sizes and tank sizes.
 
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Btaz

Btaz

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thanks for the comments. In regards to
9- Generally with all grain your going to want three vessels as I mentioned earlier. I'd really like to know what you plan on mashing in. If your mashing in a cooler get a 10 gallon kettle and 15 gallon kettle, or 20 gallon if you really want. If you plan on turning a kettle into a mash tun get yourself the full range of sizes 10, 15, and 20.
it.
I have a 7.5G kettle now that I'll use as my HLT. this will be good for 5G batches (I think) and then when I'm ready to step up to 10G batches I'll look into a larger HLT. Basically, I'm thinking about an incremental upgrade, but don't want to have to re-purchase anything. Perhaps one thought is to go with a 10G or 15G kettle now for 5G batches. Then when I step up to a 10G batch transition that to the HLT and purchase a 20G kettle.
 

yeahfairly

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You are talking about doing 10 gallon + batches in the future. Go with the 20 or 25 gallon stainless "Update International" pots. The price is very competitive (less than $200) and they can be found at various restaurant supply companies on the web. 1 to 5 gallon brewers will bash my advice, but if you love this hobby and you are planning on sticking with it then go for the big stainless pots. 5 gallon batches will not keep me in beer, especially when sharing with friends, unless I brew 5 times a month. If you love your beer and are serious about home brewing then go with the big pots. You may waste some money on energy efficiency on 5 gallon batches but you will have the ability to go 10 - 15 gallon batches without additional expense if you desire! If you have the money go big!
 
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