Step 3: Transfer wort (the sugar water) to your boil kettle before adding hops for flavor, color, and aroma and bring to a boil

I needed a pot that would handle enough water for 10-gallon batches. I didnt want to spend over $400 for something I could build for less than $300. And by doing it yourself you can add the hardware you want and put it at an angle that works best for your stand and setup.

Items needed to build the Boil Kettle:

  • $100 Stainless Pot with Lid
  • $10 1/2" Ball Valve
  • $10 3" Glass Thermometer
  • $40 Site Glass
  • $5 1/2" Barbed Hose Fitting
  • $15 1/2" Weldless Bulkhead Fitting ($5 x 3, one for the valve, one for thermometer, & one for Site Glass)
  • $5 1/2" Nipple Fitting

Tools Needed:

  • Drill
  • 1/2" Drill Bit
  • Crescent wrench
  • Socket set
  • Teflon Tape
Other items needed during this brewing step:
  • $40 Propane Burner and Burner Stand (optional, depending on your set-up)

Instructions:

Depending on your gravity stand or setup try to imagine the most convenient place for the valve in relationship to the handles. I went with centered but I have seen some others directly under one of the handles (sideways-looking to me, but maybe that works better). I measured the distance and then also included the thermometer right above it.

Using a punch, make a dimple for the drill bit to follow.

Drill hole, using plenty of Drill Oil or WD-40. I did this over a towel in the lawn to catch the oil and metal shavings. You don't want to step on these later. Start slowly until you are through the steel and then apply more oil. Hold drill firmly and at the correct angle. Push hard and you should have an even hole.

Once you have a clean hole, use a file to get rid of any burrs. These can cut you when you are cleaning later and could also tear up a gasket when you are installing.

Now you are ready for your second hole (if using a temperature gauge). Some want the gauge lined up while others want it on one side or the other for ease of use.

Tip: Be sure not to mount your temperature guage too high. I mounted mine right at the 5-gallon mark so I could still use it for smaller batches

This is a larger pot so you will want to give the setup some thought. Will you use this for large and small batches? Will you also use this as the boil kettle or change to the BK in the future? Might you eventually plan to convert to electric and need to leave space for the future probe?

Also, how wide is your burner? does flame have a chance at working its way around and up the side of the kettle?

Tip: Be sure not to mount your temperature guage too low. If exposed to direct heat from the burner you can burn up the fittings or even ruin the thermometer.

Tip: Be sure not to mount your temperature gauge and site glass too high. I mounted my thermometer right below the 5-gallon mark so I could still use for smaller batches. The site glass sits much lower.   

I measured very closely with this one. I wasn't as concerned with the thermometer on the HLT, but I wanted this thermometer to be just under the 5-gallon mark. Coupled with the site glass I would add I thought this would make my job easier...nothing worse than cooling wort and then realizing you don't have the 5 gallons you thought you had as it goes into the fermenter.

By this time I am feeling overly confident. I quickly measure the hole placement for the ball valve and knock this one out too. Somehow I must have slightly bounced the bit a little higher than originally planned. Again, my most important measurement was the placement of the thermometer...but I couldn't afford the two to touch either. I made it by millimeters. It looks great but I was pretty nervous when I added the ball valve. Be careful. Take your time. Wasting a kettle this early in my brewing career could have ruined me.

I had 2 options I liked on the site kettle. More than I wanted to spend and I probably could have made something cheaper (this is the Budget brewery, after all) but I splurged. I spent too much on a cool smokestack-looking site glass. Tempered glass, all enclosed, fits great. I drilled out one more hole.

Note: You don't really need a site glass. You can easily etch markings on the inside of your kettle or just measure it with a long spoon. personally, I want to leave the lids on as much as possible and minimize the amount of times I have to put something into the wort, especially after it is cooling. The site glass allows for me to know just how much is in there at all times.

You are ready to install the fittings. My first time through was pretty frustrating on the HLT. I certainly over-tightened  and my rubber washers became pinched, leaving space for water leaks. I also didn't use enough Teflon tape between the fittings. Remember, this is metal on metal and not going to fit perfectly. I initially wanted this to be a very solid fitting but with the tape and gaskets this is going to wiggle a little; the goal is to make it not leak, not to make it feel like a welded fitting. Plan on doing this 5 or 6 times each until it is all sealed. A few drips of water isn't a big deal but I didn't want it dripping on the burner and never want to waste wort.