Ss Brew Kettle vs Spike

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HazyBeer

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I'm going to get a new 10G kettle. I will only be using it for the boil as I mash in a cooler using BIAB. I have an induction stove top. I'm tired of lifting my current 8G kettle so will love letting gravity carry my wort to the fermenter. I figured I'd go for the TC fittings and am deciding between the Ss Brew Kettle and the Spike Brew Kettle. They are similar in price but the Ss includes a ball valve. Not to start a war but does anyone have any strong opinions on either of them? And should I use their valve or are there better ones for the 1.5" TC?
 

Beerstein

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TC fittings are wonderful and easy to clean. I'm sure the valves are good quality. It would not surprise me if both Spike and Ss source the valves from the same place. I have two Spike brew pots. Both are top notch. I suspect that more of the Spike mfg is done in-USA. You may not care about that. That's okay.

The Ss are good too. I don't think you can go wrong with either of them.
 

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Blichmann has the welded TC ports as well now. Its probably comparable to a spike. I have a BLichmann weldless. My friend has the Ss kettle and I like the Blichmann better.
 

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I have a legacy SS Brewtech 10G kettle (weldless bulkheads w/o the TC fittings) and I have nothing but good things to say about it. The volume markings are accurate, it cleans up easily. I've brewed with it for over a year and it still impresses me. It's a massive upgrade over the old canning pot that I used for decades. I've never used any Spike products, so I can't tell if you if it's better or worse than Spike's stuff, but it is an excellent kettle.

The trub dam works quite nicely provided you don't runoff beyond the point at which your trub cone starts to collapse. If you like clear wort into the fermenter and you're willing to take the brewhouse efficiency hit, it does a decent job. I like some trub in the fermenter, so I'm just glad it doesn't get in the way of anything.

The only difficulty that I've had with the SS kettle is the addon whirlpool kit. You really need to use a spider with it otherwise the outlet port within the kettle tends to clog with hop material. Aside from that, the whirlpool kit does a nice job and its compactness within the kettle keeps it from becoming an obstacle.

I hope this was useful to you.
 
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HazyBeer

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Blichmann has the welded TC ports as well now. Its probably comparable to a spike. I have a BLichmann weldless. My friend has the Ss kettle and I like the Blichmann better.
I'm looking also at the Boilermaker G2 TC. In terms of pricing I have the Ss with ball valve at $279, the Spike without valve at $275 and the Blichmann with Butterfly valve at $334, but that includes rotating dip tube. I guess at that difference in price I would just want the best of the three. Spike claims a 5mm thick bottom while the others do not list the thickness. Thicker the better for me since I am doing stove top induction. Why do you prefer your Blichmann?
 

Bago-0

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They probably all just as good for a boil kettle. I have never had a spike but never hear anything bad about them. I have a BrewEasy system which is why I went with Blichmann. My blichmann just seems more substantial compared to the Ss. Also USA made if that matters to you.
 

IslandLizard

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Make sure whatever kettle you buy is induction capable. ;)
And has a triple-ply bottom if at all possible. to prevent scorching.

Some questions:
Where will your mash tun be located in regard to the kettle being on your stove? For a gravity feed it would be pretty high up...
Can your stove top handle the weight of 8 gallons of wort plus the kettle and other paraphernalia?
How are you venting the steam? You're easily boiling off 1-1.5 gallons an hour. And with a regular hood, there may not be much clearance for kettle access.

I'm asking because I abandoned the stovetop and went with a dedicated countertop induction plate.
 
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HazyBeer

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Make sure whatever kettle you buy is induction capable. ;)
And has a triple-ply bottom if at all possible. to prevent scorching.

Some questions:
Where will your mash tun be located in regard to the kettle being on your stove? For a gravity feed it would be pretty high up...
Can your stove top handle the weight of 8 gallons of wort plus the kettle and other paraphernalia?
How are you venting the steam? You're easily boiling off 1-1.5 gallons an hour. And with a regular hood, there may not be much clearance for kettle access.

I'm asking because I abandoned the stovetop and went with a dedicated countertop induction plate.
All three have tri clad bottoms so will be fine for induction. My mash tun is a giant 80 qt cooler that I inherited. For my 5G batches I get a first running and second runnings of 3 to 3.5G each which are gravity fed to a bucket. Lifting the 3G buckets to the kettle on the stove is not bad. It's the lifting of the full kettle I'd like to lose. Stove top is fine so far and gets from tap hot to boiling in less than 20 mins. Yes the vent hood is weak but my sons don't mind the smell of wort and I am divorced (thus I can use the kitchen).
 

IslandLizard

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All three have tri clad bottoms so will be fine for induction.
Tri-clad does not automatically mean it's induction capable. It's the grade of stainless used that determines it. In some cases a magnet won't stick to it, but it still works fine for induction.

An 80 qt cooler is huge for 5 gallon batches. My 54 qt one is a tad large already, unless I brew super high gravity.
Similarly to you, I lauter into a short 3.5 gallon bucket, which I lift and "pour" into the kettle on the countertop plate. I actually "ladle" the wort from the lauter bucket to the kettle to prevent/reduce hot side aeration. I therefore also underlet the mash.

As long as the hood vents to the outside, and the duct isn't too long, you should be good. Mine recirculates back to the kitchen and I ended up washing the wort off the ceiling and walls, and not just in the kitchen...
Since I upgraded to a countertop induction plate (Avantco IC3500), I put a box fan in the top window opening, behind the kettle, that takes care of the needed draw-off. Win-win.
 

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@HazyBeer have you made a decision/purchase yet? I am in a similar dilemma. I'm doing extract on my El cheapo pot that came with my beginner kit. The stove will pick it up, but is painfully slow. I imagine it's due to how thin the pot is. I'm ready to move to biab so figured this would be excuse to go ahead and make the jump. But before I make purchase want to be sure it's going to work on my stove
 
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HazyBeer

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@HazyBeer have you made a decision/purchase yet? I am in a similar dilemma. I'm doing extract on my El cheapo pot that came with my beginner kit. The stove will pick it up, but is painfully slow. I imagine it's due to how thin the pot is. I'm ready to move to biab so figured this would be excuse to go ahead and make the jump. But before I make purchase want to be sure it's going to work on my stove
The Blichmann Boilermaker is NOT induction compatible so that one was out for me. I ended up getting the Spike 10G with TC fittings which is induction compatible. My only complaints are that the gallon markings are not etched so not sure how long they will last. And some of the workmanship leaves a little to be desired. The lid is slightly warped and the handle on the lid is a bit crooked. Welds for the pot handles also look amateur. Also the TC may have been overkill? I do BIAB but use a huge cooler I had to mash in so the kettle is only for boil.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I have two 10G kettles. A BrewBuilt and a Spike. I started with the BrewBuilt and the only reason I replaced it was that I was going to electric and didn't want a weldless fitting for the element.

I actually prefer the BrewBuilt because it came with a notched lid (with rubber filler piece) that works great when I'm using my immersion chiller.

Other than that, they are similar quality. The Spike is a custom model that I laid out to my specs. Both are fully welded fittings and I like how BrewBuilt did the drain valve better. Spike has a female port on the outside of the drain, so to put a valve on I needed a male/male adaptor which is clumsy. I missed that when I ordered it so it was my mistake, but I think that's the standard for their drain port.

I do a two vessel K-RIMS rig, so the Spike has other ports for whirlpool, RIMS return and an extra port for the controller temp sensor.

If I wanted a simple welded drain port kettle with no other ports, the BrewBuilt is what I'd get. If I wanted more than that, the Spike is excellent and you can get a custom one if you want.
 

jwhazel

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My only complaints are that the gallon markings are not etched so not sure how long they will last. And some of the workmanship leaves a little to be desired.
Are you sure about that? Mine are definitely etched. Not sure what else they would possibly use.
 

jwhazel

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Not etched.
https://spikebrewing.freshdesk.com/...-clean-my-spike-equipment-for-the-first-time-
"Avoid scrubbing the etched volumes and logo as they can fade the etchings over time."

^ Spike did change their logos to be stickers very recently, but afaik nothing has changed about the markings being etched. They use the same etching process as SS (I own both). I'm wondering if you might be confusing etching with embossing? This is what an embossed kettle looks like: https://cdn3.volusion.com/zdhmk.puhgm/v/vspfiles/photos/ANV-Crucible-7gal-7.jpg?v-cache=1605789306

That verbiage about avoiding scrubbing is more of a CYA for Spike. As long as you don't scrub it with a pumice stone or use BKF, etched markings will last the life of the kettle.
 
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HazyBeer

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https://spikebrewing.freshdesk.com/...-clean-my-spike-equipment-for-the-first-time-
"Avoid scrubbing the etched volumes and logo as they can fade the etchings over time."

^ Spike did change their logos to be stickers very recently, but afaik nothing has changed about the markings being etched. They use the same etching process as SS (I own both). I'm wondering if you might be confusing etching with embossing? This is what an embossed kettle looks like: https://cdn3.volusion.com/zdhmk.puhgm/v/vspfiles/photos/ANV-Crucible-7gal-7.jpg?v-cache=1605789306

That verbiage about avoiding scrubbing is more of a CYA for Spike. As long as you don't scrub it with a pumice stone or use BKF, etched markings will last the life of the kettle.
I guess I expected some indentation to the metal. But I suppose they are etched with a chemical which sort of dies the metal?
 

jwhazel

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I guess I expected some indentation to the metal. But I suppose they are etched with a chemical which sort of dies the metal?
Correct. I wasn't trying to get in the weeds with a technicality, but just wanted you to know Spikes volume markings are the same as SS, BrewBuilt, Megapot, Brausupply etc. It’s usually the cheaper equipment that is embossed making it slightly harder to clean.

Regarding your other complaints about quality, this is one of the nice things about being a Spike owner - their customer service. If you don’t think something is right, reach out to them.
 

Golddiggie

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Spike has a 10 gallon BK with TC fittings installed in their Bargain Cave right now.
You'll still need to get valves for it. I'm using all butterfly valves on my kettles without any issue. I like how they're easy to clean. IF you decide to get a ball valve, get one like Brewers Hardware sells that has a TC clamp holding it together. That makes it easier to clean after each use. You'll want to clean the ball valve since liquid will get in around the ball. Not an issue with butterfly valves.
 

jwhazel

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Spike has a 10 gallon BK with TC fittings installed in their Bargain Cave right now.
I was actually just looking at that one. It's a weird customization... lowest TC is 4" off the bottom which is at the 2.5gal mark. Gonna be leaving quite a bit of wort in there if using it as a BK. Normally the lowest port is 2".
 

Golddiggie

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I was actually just looking at that one. It's a weird customization... lowest TC is 4" off the bottom which is at the 2.5gal mark. Gonna be leaving quite a bit of wort in there if using it as a BK. Normally the lowest port is 2".
I didn't look that deep at it. All of my kettles from Spike were custom ordered so that the ports were placed where I wanted them.

You could try to get a longer diptube for that kettle. But that might eat up the savings from buying that one, compared with just getting one of their normal 10 gallon Spike+ BK's.
 

MaxStout

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Spike has a 10 gallon BK with TC fittings installed in their Bargain Cave right now.
You'll still need to get valves for it. I'm using all butterfly valves on my kettles without any issue. I like how they're easy to clean. IF you decide to get a ball valve, get one like Brewers Hardware sells that has a TC clamp holding it together. That makes it easier to clean after each use. You'll want to clean the ball valve since liquid will get in around the ball. Not an issue with butterfly valves.
In hindsight, wish I hadn't gone with ball valves. I bought a cheap kettle on Amazon, silver-soldered the fitting myself, but I could have gone with TC/butterfly valves. Next kettle--Spike is looking good. Heard nothing but praise for their customer service.

If you do go with a 3-piece ball valve, spend the 10-15 minutes taking it apart and cleaning the components after each brew. You can get the parts clean, sanitized and reassembled, it just takes a little time and some teflon tape. A nylon bristle test tube brush is handy for cleaning inside the fittings.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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Spike has a 10 gallon BK with TC fittings installed in their Bargain Cave right now.
You'll still need to get valves for it. I'm using all butterfly valves on my kettles without any issue. I like how they're easy to clean. IF you decide to get a ball valve, get one like Brewers Hardware sells that has a TC clamp holding it together. That makes it easier to clean after each use. You'll want to clean the ball valve since liquid will get in around the ball. Not an issue with butterfly valves.
I have ball valves that I clean by running hot pbw and a hot water rinse. I make sure to cycle them open/closed about a dozen times each so that the cleaner/rinse get all around the valve. After about 18 months of brewing I took them apart for deep cleaning and there wasn't really anything to clean.
 

Golddiggie

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In hindsight, wish I hadn't gone with ball valves. I bought a cheap kettle on Amazon, silver-soldered the fitting myself, but I could have gone with TC/butterfly valves. Next kettle--Spike is looking good. Heard nothing but praise for their customer service.

If you do go with a 3-piece ball valve, spend the 10-15 minutes taking it apart and cleaning the components after each brew. You can get the parts clean, sanitized and reassembled, it just takes a little time and some teflon tape. A nylon bristle test tube brush is handy for cleaning inside the fittings.
Butterfly valve cleaning time is measured in seconds (or less). The TC ball valves I have can be completely broken down in maybe 30 seconds, cleaned and then put back together again pretty much as fast. Typically <2 minutes total time to clean. Then they're ready for install where needed. Not having to deal with ANY Teflon tape is a major save IMO. Between not needing to have any on hand anymore and the fact that you don't need to deal with removing the old before adding new.

At this point, the smallest ID item in my setup is the 1/2" ID tubing. My manifolds are made with 1" TC fittings (1.5" connections, 1" pipe sizes). Connections to the hoses are all 5/8" barb, so full 1/2" ID there too.

I used the three piece ball valves (NPT connections) for many years. While you can get away with the hot PBW rinse method for keeping them clean, especially hot side. I'd take apart the valves more often for anything 'cold side'. Just because you can't see things there doesn't mean there's not something that could do harm to your brew present. It's not a guarantee in either direction.

Another benefit of the TC fittings is how you can easily index them as you want. Not something that's easily done with NPT connections. You can even rotate the fittings while you're using the system/item without issue. I've done it on both the kettles and conical fermenters without a single drop falling. It's simply the nature of the seals in place.

Yes, TC kettles (and fittings) are more money to purchase. If you have the budget for it [IMO/IME] it's money well spent.
 
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HazyBeer

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Correct. I wasn't trying to get in the weeds with a technicality, but just wanted you to know Spikes volume markings are the same as SS, BrewBuilt, Megapot, Brausupply etc. It’s usually the cheaper equipment that is embossed making it slightly harder to clean.

Regarding your other complaints about quality, this is one of the nice things about being a Spike owner - their customer service. If you don’t think something is right, reach out to them.
The issues are only cosmectic and speak to the fact that it is to some degree "hand made" which is cool. I can deal with a slightly crooked handle. Thanks!
 

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I have the 15 gallon SSBrewtech kettle, and I'm very happy. Etching, easy to clean.

* I would also recommend you go bigger than you think you need. If you go 15 gallon you can easily do double batches or larger beers. Buy once, cry once.
 

Golddiggie

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Something else in favor of Spike.
I sent an email yesterday asking about getting some of the TC connectors they use for the HERMS coil. I want to use that as the connecting piece for a new MT sparge arm I'm making. Within an hour (or so) I had a reply with a link to purchase the requested item (and count). It's already shipped out too.

IME, the high level of customer support/service is one of the items that keeps me going back. Good communication from them also helps. I've sent messages to other companies that take longer (sometimes never sending a reply at all). Which gets frustrating when you're trying to get the information in order to purchase something.
 
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