Brewing kettle/pot advice

Hey all,

I know there is a heap of information out there regarding different options for brewing kettles/pots but thought seeing as I intend on using BrewPi for brewing I would ask here.

I am in the process of trying to move to all grain brewing from extract. Initially I will just start with BIAB but eventually hope to move to a full 3 pot HERMS system like Elco’s. I want to make sure what ever equipment I buy for a BIAB single pot system will be usable later.

Currently I am brewing 23L batches. I don’t see myself going to bigger batches any time soon as I just purchased a new 30L conical fermenter and nothing bigger will fit in my fridge anyway.

Some of my questions are:

  1. Am I safe with a 30L pot or should I go bigger? If I go with say a
    50L pot will there be disadvantages to brewing 23L batches in a
    large pot?
  2. What sort of pot is ideal? There are heaps of cheap stock pots
    available here in New Zealand but the stainless is quite thin (about
    1.5mm I think). Some of there more expensive ones do have a thicker base. I could get one of these and try and further insulate it. The
    other option is to try and get hold of an old keg and turn it into a
    brewing pot.
  3. What size heating element should I
    be looking at? Can’t really go above 2300W as plug outlets are only
    rated at 10A. If I go for anything bigger I have to start looking at
    special plugs and outlets.
  4. Where to place the thermowell for BIAB? I
    notice all Elco’s temperature sensors for his HERMS setup are on the
    inlets and outlets so if I add another hole for a thermowell for
    BIAB it will be redundant later. I could drill a hole in the lid

Keen to hear what others are doing (maybe even with some pictures).

Go at least 50L with your pot. You need to count for losses due to wort absorbed in the gain, evaporation during boil, kettle trub etc. You’ll probably find you need to start off with about 30-35 liters of water to end up with 23L into the fermenter, add 5-8kg grain to that and a 50L pot is getting fairly full.

In my experience cheap trademe pots are perfectly adequate if you are using electric. I don’t think that the pot thickness will have a dramatic effect on insulation properties. If you’re planning to use the brewpi to control mash temp then insulation is not required anyway (just use a wire rack or something to keep the grain bag off the element).

2300 watts is about the minimum you could get away with I think. If possible see if you can get a sparkie to install a 15A wall outlet and go for a 3 - 3.5kw element. You’ll spend a lot less time waiting for your pot to boil!

Finally, consider getting a pump to slowly recirculate your mash. If you’re using the brewpi to control mash then this is will help to ensure a uniform mash temp. Then you can install the temp sensor in-line.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Unfortunately we’re in a rental property at the moment so can’t really do any rewiring. I’ll probably stick with BIAB while we’re living there and move to a better setup when we have our own place with some more space.

While I’m doing BIAB I’ll just stick with stirring manually I think. My goal is to eventually have a setup like Elco’s

@burn already gave you good advice.

  • I concur with at least 50L for the pot
  • 2300W is slow, but you might have to just do with what you can get. What I have done for a while is put my pot on my gas stove (big pot on all 4 burners), heated it up to 67 deg. Then I put it in my ferm fridge and closed the door. Due to the isolation of the fridge, it only dropped 2 degrees over an hour.
  • A thick bottom is only desired if you go for gas.
  • For know, you could just dump the sensor in from the top. Our 7 euro sensors can handle it. They have good sealing and a silicone cable. If you are on gas, you can just use BrewPi to track and adjust manually.
  • Another option might be to get an induction plate. BrewPi could control it electrically and you will not have direct heat in the kettle.

Thanks Elco. What I was trying to do is to build a BIAB electric setup that can then be turned into my HLT pot later on. HERMS coil would be used for cooling while I do BIAB. Might have to end up using a smaller element for now and upgrading to more power when I have the luxury of being able to re-cable for higher current.

That could work, just make sure you build some mesh grid around the element so it will not be able to touch your BIAB bag.

I am much interested in the last bullet point. I have been thinking for quite a lot of time to automatically control my induction plate, but I am scared of opening it, because I could not find sufficient (and sufficiently reassuring) information about how to do it. Any pointers?

Can’t you just switch the power cord? Does it have digital controls?

Yes it does. Switching the power cord would not turn it on. And even pushing the on/off button with a solenoid does not much, since it defaults to a very low power setting.