When I first started brewing with malt extract syrup and a small amount of steeping grains I purchased a 3 gallon stock-pot. This worked perfectly well for extract batches while matching the rest of my top-of-the-line Target Brand Chefmate cookware. It is still the kettle I use for my one gallon batches and has other uses like collecting milled grains and heating up sparge water when needed.
After a few months I wanted to make better beer and learned the importance of boiling as much of the wort as possible. I also wanted to start partial-mash brewing. Anything over 2-3 pounds of grain was too much for the 3 gallon pot, so I upgraded to this 5 gallon pot as my main kettle. This has worked well for two years, but I have outgrown it.
A grist of more than 6 pounds or so pushes this kettle to the limit and I can’t mash the full volume of water like most brew-in-a-bag brewers do. The workaround has been to heat up “sparge” water, and either pouring it over the grain bag or steeping the grain bag in the water as a psuedo-sparge to collect enough wort. This can be unwieldy and messy while lengthening brew day.
A full-size kettle has been on my wish-list for awhile. I would shop around to get an idea of what features I wanted and what I would expect to pay. Almost all of the homebrew websites had sales for Black Friday. I wasn’t expecting to buy a kettle soon, but when I saw this kettle marked down to $135 bundled with tubing, a screen, a barb, and a stainless steel spoon I bit the bullet and made the plunge.
Now I can mash with the full volume of water for one, two, or even three gallon batches. All I will have to do is mash, pull out the bag of grains, and start the boil. A few months ago I purchased four three gallon kegs for only $125. Once I have my kegging system up and running I can brew three gallon batches, all-grain with no need to add malt extract, on my stove top, ferment them in a 5 gallon glass carboy, and rack them right into the keg.
The thermometer will make it easier to track the temperature of the mash. Previously I used a probe thermometer like this with the lid slightly ajar. The screen will keep hop and break material out of the fermenter resulting in clearer and hopefully better tasting beer. The valve along with tubing means no more having to lift several gallons of wort off the stove top.
This is a kettle I can grow with. I already have a propane burner that I received for free with an ingredient purchase. All I need now to do my own all-grain batches like I brew with Andy is buy or build a mash-tun (and have a place outside to brew).
I am going to Beer and Wine Hobby tomorrow to purchase ingredients and supplies for my next two batches. I’ll certainly need a bigger bag. I am excited to use the new kettle this weekend and brew my first beers of 2015!