The brew kettle may be the most important part of the brewing process. It’s when the wort turns into beer. This is true whether it’s extract brewing that you enjoy, or if all-grain brewing is more your thing. Because it’s such a big part of the home brewing experience, you’ll want to find the right kettle for you. There will be many things to take into consideration. One of the first will be your budget. Once that’s been established, you’ll want to think of what your brewing goals are as well as what you’re looking to get out of it. It’s crucial that your choice reflects how you brew.
Choosing the right brew kettle means finding one that can serve all your needs, even if your tastes and interests change. You’ll need something durable enough to last as long as you are passionate about brewing.
Brew Kettle Options
There are many brew kettles on the market, the choices for styles, accessories, and price are never-ending. You will need to figure out what bells and whistles you need, want, and can do without when choosing your brew kettle. Here are a few features that might interest you and that you will need to take into consideration, prior to making a decision.
Brew kettles are made of metal. This makes them durable and sanitary. However, there are different types of metals from which your kettle can be made.
Stainless steel has long been the standard for food preparation and service. It is relatively lightweight, and is easy to clean and sanitize. It is bolted into place, so it won’t move or shift and cause damage or get damaged.
Aluminum is another common material used in manufacturing brew kettles. It has its strengths, such as being lightweight and its ability to conduct heat better than stainless steel. It is also less expensive. However, it has cons as well. For instance, the color of aluminum kettles will fade or discolor. It does not react well with certain chemicals, which can damage the kettle. In fact, in some cases aluminum can slough off into the brew and mix in with the product.
To prevent this, you can pre-boil some water in the kettle before using it. This will release aluminum oxide, which protects the metal from oxygen. This is good because oxygen can react poorly with aluminum. This process also helps to protect the wort from leaching aluminum.
To get the best of both aluminum and stainless steel, you could go with a tri-clad bottom brew kettle. There are three layers of metal used. Steel makes up the outer and inner layers, with aluminum in between. This provides all of the benefits of improved conductivity and durability, but without reactions and oxidation.
Size of Brew Kettle
Size does matter when it comes to brew kettles. Buying a massive kettle when you only want to brew small batches is a waste of money and space. You also need to make sure that you have enough room in your kettle for what you want to do. You’;ll want to leave enough room to prevent your kettle from overflowing when it boils. Determine what your needs are, and how much you will brew at a time, and go from there.
Extract Brewing 5-Gallon Batch: For this amount of brewing, an 8 gallon kettle will work just fine. It will give you enough space so that it won’t boil over, plus it will not take up an entire room in your home.
All Grain Brewing 5-Gallon Batch: All-grain brewing needs more space than extract brewing, so you will need a bit of a larger kettle. A 10-gallon kettle will do the trick. Wort from all-grain brewing is foamy, so this will provide the space you need. Plus, it is not too big if you decide to do a 5-gallon batch of extract.
Beer in a Bag 5-Gallon: For beer in a bag method, you will need something bigger. You will be boiling up your grains, but also extra water to cover everything. You will definitely need a 15-gallon kettle for this type of brewing.
The key is to make sure that you have enough kettle for the type of brewing you plan on doing. You can also make smaller batches in larger kettles, but you can’t brew larger batches in smaller kettles. Make your choice based on the maximum size that you think you’ll need down the road.
Let’s face it: nobody likes to do math when they don’t have to. Why would you want to perform equations in your head when you just want to brew some beer? You need a kettle that has volume markings etched right on the metal. If you want quarts, then find a kettle with those measurements, keeping in mind that most will have liters and gallons.
There are a few other features that may come in handy, but may not be considered an essential. These add-ons provide extra convenience, but you may decide that you do not want to pay the price for them.
You can’t do a proper boil without tracking the temperature of the wort. You can use your own thermometers, but it’s much simpler if there is one built into the kettle. A thermometer is especially useful if you use a kettle to brew hot liquor. It makes it easier to track the temperature when you heat the sparge water.
Drawing off hot wort with a syphon is something homebrewers have been doing for a long time. However, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way. A ball valve will remove wort faster and with little effort on your part. Hot wort in a kettle is not exactly easy to move, and with a ball valve you won’t have to. There are a couple of different types of ball valves, however. A ball valve has either a welded or weldless fitting. Weldless fittings have been known to leak, since they use gaskets, which can fail over time. Welded ball valves do not leak, but they cannot be replaced if they are damaged. If a weldless ball valve is damaged or isn’t working properly, you will have to replace the entire kettle to fix the problem.
Dip Tubes are also called pickup tubes. They help you maximize the amount of wort you are able to pull from the vat while minimizing the amount of sludge left in the bottom of the kettle. Some people use a siphon for this, but with a dip tube you do not have to tip the kettle or move it around to get everything.
People who use a stir paddle while brewing probably want a dip tube that is installed on the side of the kettle. This helps to siphon off wort while leaving residue. When you are paddling your wort, the extra hops will spin to the middle of the whirlpool, so you can remove the wort swirling around the sides.
Higher-end brew kettles often have screens and false bottoms to help filter out residue. With these kettles, you probably want a tube that’s at the bottom. That way it will remove only the filtered wort and not the stuff leftover above.
No matter what, some residue will also slip through. To help prevent this, you can use a hop spider, which will act as an extra filter to keep everything clean.
If you enjoy using a flame to heat your kettle, that’s completely fine. However, you probably want to keep things safe. Using gloves that are resistant to heat will help keep you from burning. Electric burner kettles often come with the option to be made with a silicone coating. This will make sure that the halde and the exterior are cool enough for you to move the kettle around and manipulate it if need be.
Induction kettles are very popular. The heat is much easier to control and track than fire kettles, and they heat up much faster. This means that your wort will get hot quickly, and you can keep the temperature at a consistent level throughout the process. It removes a lot of extra work that is no longer necessary with today’s technology. This is especially useful for people who make big batches. Being able to control the temperature makes the heating more even and consistent.
There are some options that come with only the die-hards and those who have the disposable income to afford them. Brew kettles with these extras are the top of the line.
The trub is all of the leftover proteins, hops and sugars that are left after you drain your wort. You do not want any trub to get into the syphoned off wort, so you need to do whatever you can to prevent contamination. A trub dam will block trub from getting into your fermentor. It’s a simple piece of metal that gets welded near the valve, but it provides an essential service.
Sight gauges provide an extremely accurate representation of the volume of the kettle. You can see from the outside of the kettle, which makes it simple to see where things are at. Some kettles may also have sight glass, allowing you to see right inside. Kettles with gauges usually also have thermometers, so you can have all the information you need at one glance.
No, this isn’t for hiding secret documents or sneaking things past security guards and police officers. A false bottom will hold liquid wort but prevent anything more solid, such as the trub, from getting into that space. Mash turn kettles are especially appropriate fits for this type of accessory. As always, keep the bottom clear of clogs so that the wort will always filter smoothly.
A hop screen is another accessory that helps prevent contamination from the trub. It works like a strainer to filter out all of the excess trub from the wort. These screens can get clogged, so you will need to consider what ingredients you use and how you siphon off wort before you decide to purchase a screen.
Thinking about how you brew and what accessories will make your brewing life easier will help you choose what kettle is perfect for you.
Top Brew Kettles
Now we’ve gotten down to the nitty gritty. Here are some of the best picks for brew kettles on the market. Some of them are for those on a budget, and some of them are for those who want all of the bells and whistles. Really consider your brewing goals so that you can make an informed decision on your next brew kettle purchase.
Cost-Effective Brew Kettles
Stout Tanks and Kettles – 7 Gallon Fermenter
When you need a fermenter that’s the absolute ideal size for home brewing, then this 7-gallon conical fermenter is what you are looking for. This fermenter is manufactured with stainless steel, so it is much more durable than its plastic counterparts.
The stainless-steel construction also means that it has solid features that are welded to the body and immovable. The size lends itself to providing quality brewing of up to 5 gallons. If you’re looking to boost your brewing efforts, then this is a great pick.
Stout Tanks & Kettles – 10 Gallon Brew Kettle
This 10-gallon brew kettle does more than just brew. It doubles as a whirlpool tank as well. A whirlpool tank separates the wort and the hot break before the cast out. This kettle is made from stainless steel that will help you control the home brewing process and protect the brew against outside tastes seeping into the mix.
Mid-Level Brew Kettles
The kettles in this category cost a bit more than the two above, but they provide additional features and accessories to go with the higher cost.
The great thing about brewing equipment is that it does not have to be strictly for beer. These 12 to 18-gallon brewing products can handle the brewing and fermenting of several types of beverages. This can include cider and kombucha, for example. Even if you are looking to work with meade, we have you covered with a wide selection of options.
It’s possible that what you need isn’t listed here on the site. If that’s the case, do not hesitate to give us a call to see if we can help. We not only have further stock available that is not online, but we also have experts on staff that you can discuss your needs with. They can provide guidance on what products would be the perfect fit for your home brew experience.
12 to 18 gallons is a great size for home brewing. It’s big enough to hold a sizeable amount, but also small enough that you can easily find space for it in your home. Equipment of this size is great for when you want to expand your brewing horizons.
For some of us, we have the disposable income and the passion for brewing that makes shelling out for the best products the only option. Here are some choices if luxury brewing is the only way to go for you.
When you have made the step from home brewing to micro brewing, then you need to upgrade your equipment. 1 BBL brewing systems are a great option for accelerating your growth and being able to have enough to sell. The 1 BBL systems in stock are solidly constructed and made from stainless steel which makes them a breeze to clean. When you are moving up into micro brewing, then you need equipment that is not just easy to clean, but that also provides reliable performance.
There are several types of brewing equipment in which you may be interested. They can include conical fermenters, hot liquor tanks, and brew pumps. Always invest in the equipment that you need, even if it seems like it might be tight with your budget. To make a healthy profit, you will need certain pieces of equipment that help you with your process and allow you to brew more beer. Contact us today for help and information regarding making the move from home brewer to micro brewer.
Commercial Size Brew Kettles
If you are looking for bells and whistles, then look no further. This option provides the convenience of having several features, and is also extra sanitary since it is designed so that the threads do not touch the wort. It functions as both a brew kettle and a whirlpool tank to make it easier to separate the break from the wart. Along with this, it has several accessory ports, and sight glass to get a great view of everything happening with your brew.
Stout Tanks & Kettles – 5 BBL Electric Brew Kettle
One of the best ways to save on the brewing equipment you need to support your hobby is by purchasing products that are flexible. This kettle is another brew kettle and whirlpool combination, which saves you space as well. It also offers many access ports, sight glass, and a beautiful mirror finish that will make your kettle the envy of all.
Stout Tanks & Kettles – 7 BBL Direct Fire Brew Kettle
You can get a kettle with not only all the features, but also one that has a focus on safety. This brew kettle has heat shields on the side and on the bottom to protect both you and the heating components underneath. The sloped bottom and the racking arm make separating wort a breeze without fear of damaging any equipment or injuring yourself. In addition to this, it has all of the features you can expect from a luxury brew kettle.
If You Love to Brew, Then You Need the Right Kettle
One of the best thing about home brewing is that you can do it however you want. You can try new things, and you can stick to old standards. However, you want to make sure that you have a kettle that fills your primary needs, but is also flexible if you want to experiment. No matter what kettle you choose, even the cost-effective ones, you will be able to make the beer you want. If you’re a beginner, start with a beginner kettle and work your way up as your skills and interests evolve.
The main thing is that you can create and brew beer that you love, and that you love to serve to friends and family. Now all that’s left to do is to choose a kettle and get brewing!