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What’s The Best BIAB Kettle Size For Me

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SourLover

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I’m looking to save some time on my brew day, and also up the batch volume of wort produced. I’d like to do this by switching some of the beers I brew to the BIAB method. I’ve done one BIAB batch, as a test, in one of my 8 gallon kettles, and I really liked the way it worked out.

I’m thinking of getting a 20 gallon kettle, and I’m wondering if it is the right size for what I want to do. I want to do full volume no sparge non recirculating mashes. What I intend on using this kettle for are 12 gallon batches of 1.050 to 1.065 sour base wort, and 6 gallon batches of 1.080+ wort.

Is 20 gallon the proper size kettle for what I want to do? I know 6 gallons post boil may be hard to chill in a 20 gallon kettle, and if that is the case I could always boil those batches in one of the 8 gallon kettles I currently have.

Also, if this is the right set up, are there any guesses on what efficiency I might get using a .025” crush?
 

odie

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3X batch size is all you need. 5 gal end product needs a 15 gal kettle for the really HG beers. Any lesser beers need not be worried about then.

My biggest beer to date is a RIS with about 25# in the mash. My kettle is about 14gal. Full volume mash left me with "maybe" 1 gal head space as I recall.

But my process results in 5 gal kegged final product with maybe 1/2 pint wort lost from flame out to kegging since I strain all the kettle trub to extract all possible wort to the fermenter and that results in clear yeast cake which means the entire fermenter is racked into the keg leaving only 1 pint total yeast cake and residual beer behind for harvesting.

Granted my process is tailored to extract max wort and have minimal "sacrificial" wort loss...if you are just racking the settled kettle and discarding the bottom trub with all the wort it contains, then you would need to add a little extra grain and water to the mash to account for that lost wort. So I would want that "extra" in my 14 gallon kettle. I suppose could max the kettle out but that leave no margin of error.
 
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SourLover

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3X batch size is all you need. 5 gal end product needs a 15 gal kettle for the really HG beers. Any lesser beers need not be worried about then.
Agree with Odie. I would buy a 15 gallon kettle.
Thanks for the responses, but I might be a little confused here. I agree that the 15 gallon kettle will do the 5 gallon high gravity batches with no problem, but will that same 15 gallon kettle do 12 gallon batches with potentially 30+ pounds of grain depending on the efficiency? It seems like that would be pushing the limits of a 15 gallon kettle, if it is even possible.

Do I need 3x batch size for 1.050 - 1.065 beers? If that's the case then I'd be looking at a 30 gallon kettle instead of the 20 gallon.
 

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Sorry, yes if your planning on doing high gravity 12 gallon batches I would buy the 20 gallon pot. I've done 5 gallon batches with 15-16 lbs. Of grain in my 15 gallon kettle no problem. So 20 seems plenty big to me.
 

odie

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3X batch size will handle a HG beer or anything less.

12 gal batch size will require a (3x12) 36ish gal size kettle for a HG batch.

A standard gravity beer you "might" get by with 2X batch size but probably 2.5X batch is a better choice. I'm not 100% sure since my kettle is 3X so I haven't really paid too much attention on how high the mash level gets on a "standard" gravity beer since I have room to spare in those cases.

I would suggest 2X batch "minimum" for a "lite" beer (pils, hefe, sessions)

2.5X batch for your IPAs, stouts, bocks, etc.

so just figure out what size batches of what gravities you want to make and get a single kettle that will handle any situation that you will encounter.
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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Dovage & Odie, thanks for the input.

I'm glad I asked because I probably would have ended up with too small of a kettle. I think for what I'm going to be doing a 30 gallon will be the best bet. I only plan on buying it once, and the 30 gallon isn't much more than a 20 gallon.

What type of efficiency do you guys usually get on your "standard" gravity and "high" gravity beers? I'm just trying to get a rough idea of where to start when I do my first batch in the new kettle.
 

moreb33rplz

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I have no problem doing high gravity 5 gallon batches with a 10 gallon kettle, so I'd imagine a 20 gallon kettle for medium gravity 12 gallon batches would be fine, though maybe tight for some beers.
 

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I think 20 gallons is plenty big for the beers you're talking about (1.050 to 1.065). I've done 5.5 gallon batches for years in a 10 gallon kettle, and on average they were 1.065 to 1.070. If you think you will do 12 gallon batches of higher gravity beer, I would go larger, like 25 gallons. This kettle on BrewHardware is 25 gallons: Brewmaster - 25 Gallon Kettle

The description says:
"While 25 gallons seems like an odd size, it happens to be the perfect size for up to 15 gallon "Brew in a Bag" BIAB batches with a typical OG max of 1.080 with a whopping 50 pounds of grain."

If you decide to go with the 20 gallon kettle, you can always brew high gravity beers in slightly smaller batch sizes. One factor to consider is the size and handling of the kettle. In my opinion, a 20 gallon kettle is very big and heavy, and a 30 gallon kettle will huge. If you need to move it a lot, or clean it while holding it in a sink, the smaller size will be an advantage.
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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If you decide to go with the 20 gallon kettle, you can always brew high gravity beers in slightly smaller batch sizes. One factor to consider is the size and handling of the kettle. In my opinion, a 20 gallon kettle is very big and heavy, and a 30 gallon kettle will huge. If you need to move it a lot, or clean it while holding it in a sink, the smaller size will be an advantage.
I actually never considered the cleaning part of it. It's challenging enough cleaning 8 gallon kettles in a kitchen sink.

I don't think I need to do any high gravity beers in a quantity larger than 6 gallons. I'm mainly looking for something that I can speed up the brew day with, and also get more sour base wort volume from.
 

Dovage

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Dovage & Odie, thanks for the input.

I'm glad I asked because I probably would have ended up with too small of a kettle. I think for what I'm going to be doing a 30 gallon will be the best bet. I only plan on buying it once, and the 30 gallon isn't much more than a 20 gallon.

What type of efficiency do you guys usually get on your "standard" gravity and "high" gravity beers? I'm just trying to get a rough idea of where to start when I do my first batch in the new kettle.
I usually can get in the high 60% to low 70% for efficiency. I usually not super scientific with my process so it varies. On my Anvil Foundry I'm in the low 60s so far after 3 batches.
 

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20 gallons of beer works out to be about 213 bottles of beer or roughly 8.8 cases, plus or minus a couple bottles. That’s alot of beer, especially if you’re brewing high gravity beer, anything 1.075+.

Purely for my own curiosity, how many people are you brewing beer for or how much beer do you drink that you “need” to brew 20 gallons at a shot? And how frequently do you plan to brew this volume?

I’ve gone the other way, down to 3 gallon batches from 5 gallons. I like to brew often and have variety, not drink the same beer for months at a time. If I brew 4 beers, I have about 5 cases. If you brew 4 beers, you have about 35 cases.

I know people brew big batches, I just don’t understand how people are going through so much beer before it starts going bad.

It’s the old joke: If you measure beer in gallons and you don’t think 20 gallons is alot of beer - you might be a homebrewer.
 
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SourLover

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I usually can get in the high 60% to low 70% for efficiency. I usually not super scientific with my process so it varies. On my Anvil Foundry I'm in the low 60s so far after 3 batches.
Thanks for the input. I was probably going to assume low 60’s to start with and see how it all shakes out.


20 gallons of beer works out to be about 213 bottles of beer or roughly 8.8 cases, plus or minus a couple bottles. That’s alot of beer, especially if you’re brewing high gravity beer, anything 1.075+.

Purely for my own curiosity, how many people are you brewing beer for or how much beer do you drink that you “need” to brew 20 gallons at a shot? And how frequently do you plan to brew this volume?

I’ve gone the other way, down to 3 gallon batches from 5 gallons. I like to brew often and have variety, not drink the same beer for months at a time. If I brew 4 beers, I have about 5 cases. If you brew 4 beers, you have about 35 cases.

I know people brew big batches, I just don’t understand how people are going through so much beer before it starts going bad.

It’s the old joke: If you measure beer in gallons and you don’t think 20 gallons is alot of beer - you might be a homebrewer.
I’m definitely not looking to brew 20 gallon batches. I’m really looking to do 12 gallon batches of sour beer base wort, with the occasional 6 gallon high gravity batch.
I only brew between November and April for the most part, and I always take off work to do it, so if I can get 12 gallons done in less time than it took me to get 6 gallons done before, I’m in great shape.
I couldn’t fathom bottling 20 gallons of beer. It takes me long enough already just to do the limited bottling that I do.
 

bwible

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Hey I think I got confused - you did say 12 gallons. I think it was a 20 gallon pot that was mentioned, then a 30 gallon. My bad
 

theothermillion

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I wish I had known about the x3 rule for high gravity beers. I tried my first 5gal batch of a high grave (1.098 OG goal) and really screwed it up by not having enough space with my 10 gal. Ended up sparging almost with almost 3 gal to get my pre-boil where I wanted it ( looking back, I should have just made it a small batch). Screwing up is half the "fun" of learning!
 

bwible

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I wish I had known about the x3 rule for high gravity beers. I tried my first 5gal batch of a high grave (1.098 OG goal) and really screwed it up by not having enough space with my 10 gal. Ended up sparging almost with almost 3 gal to get my pre-boil where I wanted it ( looking back, I should have just made it a small batch). Screwing up is half the "fun" of learning!
That’s what I do. I brew 3 gallons at a time. I have a 5 gallon Gott cooler, which is not 3x. But it holds 12.5 pounds of grain, which is plenty for 3 gallons. I can get to 1.090 and if I want to go higher I can add extract or brown sugar, etc. to the boil.

I picked up a 15 gal keg converted mash tun so I have that to use now. But its overkill. That might be nice to do a parti-gyle mash with and get 3 beers out of one mash. Laborious, but I’d like to do it just to be able to say I did it.
 

theothermillion

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That’s what I do. I brew 3 gallons at a time. I have a 5 gallon Gott cooler, which is not 3x. But it holds 12.5 pounds of grain, which is plenty for 3 gallons. I can get to 1.090 and if I want to go higher I can add extract or brown sugar, etc. to the boil.

I picked up a 15 gal keg converted mash tun so I have that to use now. But its overkill. That might be nice to do a parti-gyle mash with and get 3 beers out of one mash. Laborious, but I’d like to do it just to be able to say I did it.
Sounds like you aren't using BIAB method
 

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For 5.5 gallon batch I use 8.25 gallon of water to start with in a 64QT kettle (16"dia x 19" h). It sits perfectly on 3.5KW Avantco induction heater. I made over 150 BIABs using this setup.
 

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I’m definitely not looking to brew 20 gallon batches. I’m really looking to do 12 gallon batches of sour beer base wort, with the occasional 6 gallon high gravity batch.
Go with the 20 gallon kettle. I have a 20G Spike that I have been BIABing with for 5 years. I typically do 9G into the fermenter in the 1.050-1.070 range and have PLENTY of room. Worst case for 12G of 1.065 would be that you couldn't quite do a full-volume mash, having to add some water at the boil. You could also easily do the 6G even at extremely high gravity like 1.20. For a 1.065 brew, you should be able to get ~80% efficiency; I routinely get that with 0.039 mill gap.

Like already mentioned, wieght and size are big factors. My 20G pot with ball valve, ports, and a boil condenser attached is pretty heavy and not trivial to move and clean. 30G would be unwieldy if you couldn't CIP.

I should add that using the boil condenser reduces the evaporation loss, so my total water need is slightly lower. If you will be brewing indoors, that's worth considering. My 20G Spike also sits nicely on the 3.5KW Avantco, which is sufficient power for even 12G batches thanks to the boil condenser.
 
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My biggest beer to date is a RIS with about 25# in the mash. My kettle is about 14gal. Full volume mash left me with "maybe" 1 gal head space as I recall.
I'm a bit later here but just want to agree with these #'s being close to what I saw as well on my last RIS. 5 gallon batch, about 25lbs grain, about 1.5 qt / lb water ratio, and ~ 11-12 gallons of space used up in the mash tun cooler.

Just another data point if it helps.
 

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25-30 gallon pot is the way to go. I haven’t looked back since upsizing to 10 gallon batches. All the effort of brew day isn’t worth only 5 gallons of beer to me. I’m doing 14-15 gallon batches (pushing the limits of my 1/2 bbl keg fermenter) and love the extra headspace in my 26 gallon pot. More than enough room for 90 minute hard boils on Pilsner heavy grain bills.
 

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I haven’t looked back since upsizing to 10 gallon batches.
This is a good reminder how we can all differ. I enjoy taking ime to do the process and like smaller batches to experiment with ingredients.

There's no right or wrong way to do it, and I'm not suggesting you or anyone change. Just interesting to see that everyone has their own preferences and needs.
 

apache_brew

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This is a good reminder how we can all differ. I enjoy taking ime to do the process and like smaller batches to experiment with ingredients.

There's no right or wrong way to do it, and I'm not suggesting you or anyone change. Just interesting to see that everyone has their own preferences and needs.
For sure.

I only reinforced my suggestion with my own experience based off the comment the OP had on potentially doing 12 gallon batches.
Having 2 young kids, my brewing has slowed down to a batch every 2-3 months.
 

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I wish I had known about the x3 rule for high gravity beers. I tried my first 5gal batch of a high grave (1.098 OG goal) and really screwed it up by not having enough space with my 10 gal. Ended up sparging almost with almost 3 gal to get my pre-boil where I wanted it ( looking back, I should have just made it a small batch). Screwing up is half the "fun" of learning!
I didn't mean to imply there was a "3X rule"...just my personal experience was that my biggest beer so far (25# grain bill) used the entire kettle for the BIAB mash. I needed almost 15 gal total mash volume to net 5 gallons in the keg. I think my OG was around 1.110-1.120 "before" 2 lbs of pure maple syrup. It's a 14% beer.

but if y'all want to call it the "3X rule" for BIAB kettle size that's fine with me...
 

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I didn't mean to imply there was a "3X rule"...just my personal experience was that my biggest beer so far (25# grain bill) used the entire kettle for the BIAB mash. I needed almost 15 gal total mash volume to net 5 gallons in the keg. I think my OG was around 1.110-1.120 "before" 2 lbs of pure maple syrup. It's a 14% beer.

but if y'all want to call it the "3X rule" for BIAB kettle size that's fine with me...
Sounds amazing! I diffidently want to be making high gravity beers so I'm now looking for a 15 gal kettle :) I think simplifying it by calling it a 3X rule makes since. You are on to something!
 
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cbier60, tracer bullet, apache_brew, odie: Thanks for all of the helpful information. I'm going to be looking for a 25 - 30 gallon kettle. Although I think the 20 gallon would "probably" do it, the fact that it might not do it, concerns me more than additional 5-10 pounds of kettle weight, and the potential hassles of cleaning the larger kettle.
 

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There's info out there that I've found to be pretty accurate, of grain taking up 1/12 gallon per pound. So, if you imagine a large, high gravity batch which you might produce (maxing out your kettle, whatever it is) think of how much water and grain you'd have in at once. Divide the grain poundage by 12, and add that to the gallons of water, for a total gallons of space that'll get used up.

Then add something like 33% if it's a rare event, 50% maybe if it's a common event, and you should be able to get a size in gallons that'd work.

Just as a sanity check.

(As an example, say a 6 gallon (as you mentioned, feel free to go higher) Russian Imperial. Go nuts, use 30 pounds of grain. 10 gallons of water to give you around 1.33 quarts per lb. Grian will use up around an additional 2 and a half gallons of space, once it's wet. You're looking at 12.5 gallons of occupied space... Go higher for the kettle obviously, the grains won't take it all in at once and you'll want room to stir and not slop it out, but - if my #'s are right a 20 gallon kettle would be plenty for this.)
 

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I am in the process of deciding on a bigger kettle as well. I do ~5G batches now (typically 5.5 or 5.6 into the fermenter actually) and barely have enough volume in my 10.25G kettle for around 14# of grain. I am wanting to do a batch that requires about 25# of grain and this obviously exceeds my current kettle. A 15G or 16G kettle should be fine, but 20G wouldn't be too big, really. This is for full volume BIAB batches (no sparging, etc.).
 

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I am wanting to do a batch that requires about 25# of grain and this obviously exceeds my current kettle. A 15G or 16G kettle should be fine, but 20G wouldn't be too big, really. This is for full volume BIAB batches (no sparging, etc.).
My RIS is 25# grain full volume mash. My kettle is probably just shy of 15 gal if filled to the absolute top. As I recall I have an inch or two free space with 25#. Just enough to stir the mash without making a mess. That's how I kinda just generalized the 3X batch size to pick a good all around kettle size for about anything you wanna BIAB.
 

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I’m looking to save some time on my brew day, and also up the batch volume of wort produced. I’d like to do this by switching some of the beers I brew to the BIAB method. I’ve done one BIAB batch, as a test, in one of my 8 gallon kettles, and I really liked the way it worked out.

I’m thinking of getting a 20 gallon kettle, and I’m wondering if it is the right size for what I want to do. I want to do full volume no sparge non recirculating mashes. What I intend on using this kettle for are 12 gallon batches of 1.050 to 1.065 sour base wort, and 6 gallon batches of 1.080+ wort.

Is 20 gallon the proper size kettle for what I want to do? I know 6 gallons post boil may be hard to chill in a 20 gallon kettle, and if that is the case I could always boil those batches in one of the 8 gallon kettles I currently have.

Also, if this is the right set up, are there any guesses on what efficiency I might get using a .025” crush?
I’d love to hear the process for your 8 gallon batch. I’m a newbie and want to do the same thing. Any recommendations or things I should know? Maybe a step by step guide? I’m looking for a recipe as well
 
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SourLover

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I’d love to hear the process for your 8 gallon batch. I’m a newbie and want to do the same thing. Any recommendations or things I should know? Maybe a step by step guide? I’m looking for a recipe as well
I do 5-6 gallon batches in in 8 gallon 3 vessel system. If I knew what I know now, I would have bought larger kettles to start with. I will still do 5-6 gallon 1.070 and lower batches on this system going forward.

I just purchased Spike Brewing's 30 gallon kettle to do some larger BIAB batches. Another, if I knew what I know now, I'd probably have gone straight to BIAB, after doing a couple of extract batches, instead of the 3 vessel system. I've got nothing but great things to say about the few small batch BIAB batches that I've done. Definitely check out this post, if you haven't already.


When I decided to jump into this, I watched way too many videos and read way too many articles. There's a lot of information out there, especially on this site. You'll have to do your research, because what works for one person, may not work for another. There's a lot of people on this site that are extremely helpful to those of us that are just getting started in the hobby.

Check out the recipes section on this site. There's definitely a lot of great recipes on this site. Also, if you search through this site you'll find a lot of recommendations for what beginning brewers should brew. Here's one link below.


I've read so many great posts on here it's hard to remember them all. Here's one that to me is definitely worth reading.

 

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I do 5-6 gallon batches in in 8 gallon 3 vessel system. If I knew what I know now, I would have bought larger kettles to start with. I will still do 5-6 gallon 1.070 and lower batches on this system going forward.

I just purchased Spike Brewing's 30 gallon kettle to do some larger BIAB batches. Another, if I knew what I know now, I'd probably have gone straight to BIAB, after doing a couple of extract batches, instead of the 3 vessel system. I've got nothing but great things to say about the few small batch BIAB batches that I've done. Definitely check out this post, if you haven't already.


When I decided to jump into this, I watched way too many videos and read way too many articles. There's a lot of information out there, especially on this site. You'll have to do your research, because what works for one person, may not work for another. There's a lot of people on this site that are extremely helpful to those of us that are just getting started in the hobby.

Check out the recipes section on this site. There's definitely a lot of great recipes on this site. Also, if you search through this site you'll find a lot of recommendations for what beginning brewers should brew. Here's one link below.


I've read so many great posts on here it's hard to remember them all. Here's one that to me is definitely worth reading.

You made the right call going with a 30. IMO you bought the right brand too. If I were buying a new kettle it would be from Spike. I bought a 25g kettle years ago and wished many times it were a 30g. Can always use less, but it won’t go more. I kick myself fo not buying a 30.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I wish I had known about the x3 rule for high gravity beers. I tried my first 5gal batch of a high grave (1.098 OG goal) and really screwed it up by not having enough space with my 10 gal. Ended up sparging almost with almost 3 gal to get my pre-boil where I wanted it ( looking back, I should have just made it a small batch). Screwing up is half the "fun" of learning!
This is my general plan. I have a 10 gallon kettle. I have found that works fine for just about all my beers. I can fit enough grain for around a 1.070 beer (target 5.5 gallons into the fermenter). The only higher gravity beers I make are Belgians (which have sugar added to the boil so the mash works fine) and a yearly batch of Imperial Stout. I can brew a 4 gallon version of the stout with a full volume mash. The last time I brewed a 5 gallon batch (5.5 gallons into the fermenter) and I just worked in a sparge. The addition of the sparge boosted my efficiency so I came in about 10 points higher than expected!

Honestly, I feel that 12 gallons kettles would be perfect for me...but I would rather deal with a sparge step for big beers than the extra size and weight of a 15 gallon kettle for every batch.
 
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