What Is a Brewing Kettle Used For?
Suppose you’ve read up on how to make beer at home, and you’ve taken a particular interest in learning this new and exciting hobby. You’ve known about the steps to brew, you’ve considered how much time you need to invest, and now you’re looking at brewing equipment (like the brewing kettle)!
A brewing kettle is a piece of homebrew equipment that is used to boil and combine your wort with hops, sugars, and other flavors for a period of 1 to 1.5 hours. Brew kettles (or boiling kettles) are essential to the entire brewing process and can be purchased or made at home.
The rest of this article will discuss how to use a brew kettle and provide some suggestions for choosing or buying your own piece of homebrew equipment.
How To Use a Brewing Kettle
Using a brew kettle is simple enough as long as you follow the correct steps. You will use this vessel for nearly the entire brewing process. Keep reading to learn precisely how to start using a brew kettle.
1. Fill Your Kettle
It’s best to use a large basin or pot for a brewing kettle, one that can accommodate at least 7 gallons (26.5 liters) of water, and one that is acceptable to use on the stovetop.
Fill up to ¾ of the kettle with water. If the water hasn’t been filtered, let it sit for a day without a lid to allow the water to rid itself of components (such as chlorine in bottled water) that may ruin your beer’s overall taste.
2. Heat the Water
Temperature is one of, if not the most important, elements of home brewing. So, the next step is to heat the water to the appropriate temperature.
Temperature and grain interaction are critical to the mashout, so ensure your water is heated to no more than 70 °C (158 °F).
A good thermometer, such as this convenient Home Brew Thermometer (available on Amazon.com), is necessary to keep an accurate temperature for the mashout. It’s affordable and easy to use, helping you maintain optimal temperatures for your brew.
3. Mash and Remove the Grains
Once the water has reached between 65-68 °C (149-154 °F), you must complete the mashout. Since you’re using a home brewing kettle versus a professional piece of equipment, there is a specific method to complete the mashout correctly.
Opposing views claim that the mashout isn’t a necessary step in the brewing process. If you’re curious about this step, this article will help guide you in the right direction.
Either way, when the mashout is done, you should remove the grains from what is now called the wort to prepare for the hops and fermentation process. The fermentation process is the only process not completed in the brew kettle.
Your brew kettle may have a built-in strainer or drip bag to catch excess sediments, or you may have to use a sieve to remove the grains manually.
4. Boil Wort and Add Hops
Boiling your grain-free liquid is the next step in using your brew kettle. Place the kettle on the stovetop and heat the liquid to a boil. Once the wort is boiling, it’s time to add your hops to the beer. This will add flavor and aroma to your finished product.
5. Chill the Kettle
Finally, you’ll need to chill the kettle to a temperature of anywhere between 45 and 72 °C (113 to 162 °F). The temperature depends on what kind of beer you’re brewing (lager, sour beer, ale, etc.). To do this, remove the kettle from the stove and sit it in a sink full of cooled water.
These are all of the steps to brew beer using a brew kettle. After the chilling has been completed, the brew can be transferred to a fermentor for the next stage of the process.
Tips for Choosing a Brewing Kettle
There are various kinds of brew kettles you can use depending on a few factors, including your home brewing experience, style, budget, and space limitations. But more importantly, here are some things to consider when choosing a home brewing kettle:
Brewing kettles made of aluminum are generally better than stainless steel products since they’re significantly cheaper. Moreover, aluminum kettles can distribute heat evenly, improving the overall quality of your home brew.
Purchasing a brew kettle is a quick and easy option, and there are so many different kettles to choose from.
Some brewing kettles can be more expensive than others, but it’s only because they come with more features and tools. Essentially, you must use a brewing kettle with a valve, thermometer, and straining bag to make the entire process as convenient as possible.
If you have aluminum pots available at home, you can turn them into a brewing kettle. Building your own brew kettle requires some handiwork, but it can be done with determination – and instructions.
However, it requires certain skills and a myriad of other materials, such as welding tools. You will also need to ensure you have the proper protective equipment to keep yourself safe during the building process.
The bottom line is to invest in a high-quality brewing kettle with useful features that you can use for a long time.
Ideally, brewing kettles should have a 30-50% larger capacity than the volume of liquid you are brewing. That said, a 7-gallon (26.5-liter) brewing kettle should contain only up to 5 gallons (19 liters) of liquid inside for brewing.
The space above the kettle is necessary to prevent overflowing that can result in injuries and waste of ingredients.
The Brewsie Home Brew Kettle (available on Amazon.com) has an 8-gallon (30-liter) capacity, suitable for medium-sized batches. The product is also available in 16-gallon (60-liter) capacity for larger batches.
You can use a brew kettle on the stovetop for almost the entire brewing process. It holds the mash (the water and grain mixture) as well as the wort (the grain-free liquid). The only time your kettle won’t be used is when the wort is fermenting.
Hopefully, you will now better understand how to use a brew kettle.