New Brewpot - how should I invest?

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wgentzel

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So my birthday is coming up soon and my girlfriend decided to buy me a new brewpot (yes it's true love!) so I can do full boils instead of partial.

I told her I would like an 8 gallon brewpot so she was going to get me the 8gal. Megapot from northern brewer (NORTHERN BREWER: Brew Kettles) Right now I only have a 4gal. pot that frequently boils over.

So anyway, I am really enjoying brewing, really getting into it, and was wondering if it was worth the investment to get the kettle with the ball valve and thermometer for more $$$ as opposed to just getting the standard thing and using a floating thermometer.

I am assuming the valve is also extremely useful when doing partial mashes and such (I only do extract so far, still new!).

So yes, thoughts?
 

tek210

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I am looking to make this jump as well in the not too distant future. Will be curious to see what responses you get on this one. I am leaning towards one with the thermometer and valve built in.
 

JPicasso

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For about that price, you could get a 15 gallon, quality Aluminum one from places like instawares or waresdirect.

Then you have the option for 10 gallon batches that you'll want to do next year.

I'm just acquireing stuff and will begin my life as an all-grain brewer in the coming months.

There was also a recent post around here for even cheaper pots.
4mm is a decent thickness.
 

TommyBoy

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Definitely get a kettle with a ball valve. Make pouring wort from kettles a thing of the past. You will never regret it.
 

xxdcmast

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Forget the kettle and go for a keggle with a turkey fryer. I am currently doing partial boils as well and this is what Im looking at. And if you are really into it you can use the keggle as part of a 3 tier or 1 tier all grain setup.
 

wildwest450

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I would go 10 gallons minimum. 15 is better as mentioned, you can do double batches in the future. Keggles seem to be the bk of choice but aluminum will heat faster, and cool faster. I use a 15gal and 20 gal heavy duty aluminum pot and love them. Of course if the girlfriend is paying a 10 gal polarware pot is nice too.

Ball valve is a must! Thermo not so much on a bk.
 

wilserbrewer

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IMO 8 gal is a tad small. Accounting for evaporation in the kettle and loss to trub, preboil volume would be around 7 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. I have a Bayou classic 44 qt. stainless, and recently ordered a 60 qt aluminum from here:

Stockpot - Royal Palm Restaurant & Event Supply
40 qt alum w/ lid approx $33 - $35 shipped
60 qt alum w/ lid approx $43 - $45 shipped

If the budget allows, a sandwich bottom stainless kettle would be better but were talking real dough $$$. IMO shift some of that budget towards a burner, a chiller, a mash tun, a grain mill, or kegerator and you will be better served. A larger pot is only part of the solution, w/ larger volumes you will also need a way to heat and cool the full boil!

A thermometer on a boil kettle is a luxury and not really needed. W/ experience you will know when you are close to a boil.

If you are handy, you can add a valve http://www.greatbargain.net/order/shop1.html
(some prefer to rack the chilled wort out of the kettle, hence no valve). Aluminum also transfers heat better, but is less durable.
 

Catt22

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It pays to look ahead when purchasing home brew equipment, otherwise you may wind up buying some items twice when you outgrow the original or want to change the configuration/methods of your system. A good boiling kettle is typically one of the first major pieces of equipment most of us buy early on. IMO, a valve is essential and well worth the added cost. A thermometer on the boil kettle isn't really necessary, but it might be a good idea to buy a kettle with a thermometer port should you decide to use it for a mash tun later on. You can easily plug the port if you don't use it right away. Should you decide that the kettle might be used as a mash tun, then you need to consider how you might install a false bottom, manifold or screen. So, you can see that your question cannot be easily answered with a one size fits all solution. A really versatile and economical way to go would be to get or make a keggle. That's a 1/2 barrel keg converted to a kettle. It will be overkill for five gallon extract batches, but it will work and allows for future expansion. As usual the answer is, "it all depends".
 

joeunc

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I already had some smaller pots,,my 5 gallon SS I started extracts on., Then I went up to an 8 gallon aluminum one, and now I have one of the 60qt onesfrom the link wilserbrewer posted above, $45 to my door for 15gallons

I decided to save money and go for the larger pots in aluminum and have had nothing but success with them. I used the saved money to spend on other things such as kegging etc.
 

bad coffee

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i started on a 3 gallon enamel pot.

I bought the 'biggest pot I'll ever need' from AHS on sale. It was an 8 gallon. It's almost big enough to do a full boil on 7 gallons of water. The other problem is my stove can't get that much water to a boil, even on two burners. It will do 6 gallons, but that 7th is a killer. As it is, it took 2 hours to reach a boil.

Now my 15 gallon is on the way from royal palm. Hopefully I won't be doing any bigger than 10 gallon batches! (until I own the brew pub, that is)

Go with bigger. The $200 you're gonna spend on a nice shiny brew pot will buy you a 15 gallon pot, a burner, and some tubing for an IC. If you want to go that route.

If you're going to (or have to) stay inside, then get an 10 gallon pot and a grain mill for your PM/AG batches.

I haven't put ball valves on my pots, yet. I don't mind clamping the autosyphon to the side of the pot and letting it do it's thing. Once I step up to 10 gallon batches, I might just change my mind.

B
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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Thanks for all the good feedback, time for round #2!

So, the consensus seems to be think for the future, get a bigger one with a valve and get a burner. Right now I am doing it on an electric stove (AHHH!), so I guess I couldn't even do the 7-8 gallon boil, at least not without 2 free hours.

So, I guess shoot for something bigger (maybe 10 gal), a burner (can anyone suggest a source to buy this), and some more tubing I guess. I already have a smaller wort chiller that fits perfectly into my 4gal pot, it's just copper tubing that hooks up to a sink. Is this the kind of wort chiller you are talking about, or should I be looking at something else.

This wort chiller has worked really well for me thus far.
 

njnear76

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If you want to stick with stainless, you can get a good deal here. Sorry, but it does not have the fancy stuff (thermometer, sight glass, and valve). I bought my 36 quart, which is perfect for 6 gallong batches, if I was to do it all over again I would have gone 62 quart.
 

tipicreeper

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IMO 8 gal is a tad small. Accounting for evaporation in the kettle and loss to trub, preboil volume would be around 7 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. I have a Bayou classic 44 qt. stainless, and recently ordered a 60 qt aluminum from here:

Stockpot - Royal Palm Restaurant & Event Supply
40 qt alum w/ lid approx $33 - $35 shipped
60 qt alum w/ lid approx $43 - $45 shipped

If the budget allows, a sandwich bottom stainless kettle would be better but were talking real dough $$$. IMO shift some of that budget towards a burner, a chiller, a mash tun, a grain mill, or kegerator and you will be better served. A larger pot is only part of the solution, w/ larger volumes you will also need a way to heat and cool the full boil!

A thermometer on a boil kettle is a luxury and not really needed. W/ experience you will know when you are close to a boil.

If you are handy, you can add a valve Bargain Fittings
(some prefer to rack the chilled wort out of the kettle, hence no valve). Aluminum also transfers heat better, but is less durable.
I really like this route with the 60 qt pot. I've wanted to try that "brew In A Bag" thing since this month's issue of BYO came out.
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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How difficult is it going to be to get my wort--you know--back inside if I buy a 60qt pot and a burner?

I was pretty excited at first and now I'm getting a little worried =P Can I just use the burner inside, or is that a major fire hazard lol
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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Also I am not sure how long the chiller is, I got it from homebrewheaven.com with the kit. I am not too worried about a chiller. My dad is a plumber so if I need a new one we can just make on over the weekend.
 

wilserbrewer

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wgentzel,

My 60 qt. arrived via fed ex about an hour ago. It is very large, a small child could probably bathe in it! I will post some pics later on. As you go bigger, you simply cannot "get my wort--you know--back inside", as you said. Not real safe for even two large men to be schlepping ten gallons of boiling wort.
Most, if not all big batch brewer's chill in place or use a counterflow chiller. IMO anything much over 7-8 gallons gets a bit heavy to lift safely.

Good luck to you, keep soaking up the knowledge on this board and you will do well.

Mike
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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Thanks Mike.

Actually, as I was about to ask you something, I realized my own answer. I was going to say chilling isn't the issue, but getting it back inside to ferment. Then I realized, stupid me, that I will not be using a 15gal. glass carboy, but I can just fill this outside and take my 3 carboys inside =]

Thanks all for the interesting ideas. I think I am going to get a 24qt and 60qt from here Stockpot - Royal Palm Restaurant & Event Supply since they are so cheap, add a valve to each, and then have something for now and later. I'll also be able to use my current chiller and make a counterflow chiller.

Oh and I'll get that burner too. Thanks again everyone for all the help!
 

wilserbrewer

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wgentzel,

IMO the 24 qt. is still really too small to boil much over 4 gallons without constantly fearing boilover. Most would probably agree that a 24 qt. is too small to be of much use. I would at least get the 40 qt. (ten gal) for only 5 bucks more for now, for use on the stove (or hopefully better yet w/ a burner), which will allow you to do full boils w/ your current chiller. IMO 40 qt is about the perfect size for 5 gallon full boil batches.

If you are so inclined, go ahead and get the 60 qt also...but be warned, it is a big a_s kettle. In the future if you go all grain, the forty qt. could be used in conjunction w/ the sixty qt as the kettle, and the 40 qt. as an HLT.

Not trying to discourage, but going from a 4 gallon stovetop, to a 60 quart is quite a leap.

Mike
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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Yeh, I totally understand. That was sort of my thought process for getting the 24 as well. Keep doing my 5 gallon batches while getting ready and building for the big stuff. If i get the 40qt can i still do 5 gal. batches on an electric stove, or will this be an issue.

I feel like I am just going to end up getting the original 8gal pot now XD
 

BioBeing

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Not trying to discourage, but going from a 4 gallon stovetop, to a 60 quart is quite a leap.

Mike
It is what I will be doing this weekend! I've been getting gear together over the last week or so to go all grain 10 gallon from stove top partial boils.

10 gal Cooler MLT? Check.
15 gallon Aluminum pot? Check. (no spigot - what is wrong with siphoning?)
50-foot IC? got the copper, just need to bend it.
Couple of emtpy fermentation buckets? Check.
18 lbs or so of crushed grain from LBHS? Check.

Go for it :ban:
 

wilserbrewer

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Depends on the stove...some work better than others. The original pot you mentioned is no doubt quality, will last a lifetime most likely, and that comes at a price...$117.

The fact remains, 8 gal. is a tad small for a full 5 gal. batch. Sure some brewers manage it, foam control drops maybe? At this point you want a bigger kettle, a bigger kettle will likely mean getting off the stovetop, once your off the stovetop, you may feel limited w/ an 8 gallon? Many ways to skin a cat you see...XD
 

wilserbrewer

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It is what I will be doing this weekend! I've been getting gear together over the last week or so to go all grain 10 gallon from stove top partial boils.

10 gal Cooler MLT? Check.
15 gallon Aluminum pot? Check. (no spigot - what is wrong with siphoning?)
50-foot IC? got the copper, just need to bend it.
Couple of emtpy fermentation buckets? Check.
18 lbs or so of crushed grain from LBHS? Check.

Go for it :ban:

You go BioBeing!!! Only thing I'm tempted to add is perhaps it is not the best idea to use your fermenters to catch the runnings from your mash tun. (I'm assuming this is your intent)

The wort straight from the mash is loaded w/ lactobacillus...as in "sour mash".

If you do use your fermenters...sanitize the hell out of em prior to use as fermenters again! Some feel that the cold side and hot side of the brewery should not share equipment for this reason.
 

BioBeing

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You go BioBeing!!! Only thing I'm tempted to add is perhaps it is not the best idea to use your fermenters to catch the runnings from your mash tun. (I'm assuming this is your intent)

The wort straight from the mash is loaded w/ lactobacillus...as in "sour mash".

If you do use your fermenters...sanitize the hell out of em prior to use as fermenters again! Some feel that the cold side and hot side of the brewery should not share equipment for this reason.
No the fermentors are for fermenting in. I'll use my 5 gal pot or siphon to move the wort around. I'll figure that out on the day...
 

ClutchDude

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If you don't mind learning how to install a ball valve/paying to get it welded and build a cfc or just using an IC, go as big as the wonderful gf will let you and get a burner.

A bayou classic 55K btu should suit your needs unless you are always planning on brewing in the snow/cold.

Point is, if you EVER think you might want to do more than 5 gallons, 60qts. is the best answer. A 40qt will work as a HLT but you need to get fittings installed.

Lastly, don't lift anything that is heated till everything is cooled down. Doing otherwise is asking for a burn.

Keep in mind 60qts != 3x 5 gal batches. A 10-11 gallon batch will have around 13gal preboil, and even with a 60qt pots, you need to keep an out for boilover on a batch that big.
 

BioBeing

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BTW - you know that with a gf this awesome, it is going to cost YOU a lot more down the line, don't you? A brew kettle is nothing compared to a ring... ;)
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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Oh boy hah! Luckily, we both think marriage is kind of dumb. We are also both very handy, we decided if we were going to get married we would do something a bit unconventional, like carving eachother rings from wood or something like that.

Also, the girl LOVES beer. We're brewing her first batch tonite, a kit IPA. Yeh, she's a keeper.
 
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