What's the better deal: pot with or without ball valve?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by pointyskull, Jan 11, 2013.

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  1. pointyskull

    pointyskull Disciple (310) Mar 17, 2010 Illinois

    I need a brew kettle upgrade.

    I've waffling back and forth between a new Bayou Classic 10 gal kettle that comes with a ball valve and a thermometer ($270) OR buying a "plain" Bayou Classic ($70) and adding the ball valve and/or thermometer myself. While it would be nice I'm not sure I really need the thermometer (I can always use my existing) but the ball valve is a must.

    Trying to evaluate cost vs ease of modification. Does anyone here have experience modifying a SS pot and/or the ability to offer some how-to advice?

  2. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2009 Maryland

    The 44 qt SS bayou classic is rather cheap (83$ on amazon right now). I have the same pot and added a weldless ball valve (around 30$ for parts) and soon a sight glass (~26$ from brewhardware) for much cheaper than 270.

    I don't see the need for a built in thermometer on my kettle (at this point). I have an electronic thermometer that I use in the mash tun. I just spray it off and toss it in the boil kettle during the boil and leave it in there through chilling.

    I would buy the pot off amazon and install yourself. The Step Bit for drilling (if you don't have one already) is $15 from Bargainfittings.com.

    I actually plan installing a ball valve and sight glass on my 60qt SS Bayou Classic kettle this weekend so I can start brewing 10 gallon batches.
  3. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (695) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    If a ball-valve is a must...get at least a 15 gal kettle to make it worthwhile (10 gal batches).

    5 gal batches with an 8 gal kettle is easy enough and plenty...with no ball-valve or installed thermometer
    Beerontwowheels likes this.
  4. pointyskull

    pointyskull Disciple (310) Mar 17, 2010 Illinois

    That's the part that freaks me out a little - worried I will f*** it up. Never used a Step Bit before....
  5. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2009 Maryland

    Everyone is a little apprehensive their first time. :wink: It's really quite easy and a step bit is almost foolproof. If you use a centerpunch and drill a pilot hole, the step bit process to enlarge the hole is really a piece of cake.
  6. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2009 Maryland

    Check out BobbyM's youtube video on installing a ball valve. His video is top notch. Weldless Ball Valve Install on the Keggle - YouTube
  7. pointyskull

    pointyskull Disciple (310) Mar 17, 2010 Illinois

  8. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    If you buy a decent step bit and a ball valve setup you're probably looking at $15-20 each--so $30-40 and some DIY work. Maybe someone has seen some stuff cheaper, but if it were up to me, I'd pay the coin to have it done by the time I bought the kettle.
  9. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2009 Maryland

    With my post above as proof, I absolutely agree with this advice. I thought the 11 gallon Bayou classic was going to last me, but about 15 batches in, I'm looking to brew a 10 gallon batch every once in a while. Luckily, the 11G kettle will make a nice HLT.
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (308) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    not very difficult to use the bit.
    you need an electric drill or a good cordless drill with plenty of torque.
    mark the center with a sharpie. drill a small pilot hole or indent with a straight bit.
    center the step bit in the pilot, begin slow until the bit grabs.
    steady pressure and steady speed, not very fast. let the bit do the work. s/s is notoriously difficult to work with. if you get it too hot it gets harder and will beat up your bit. keep in mind that a good step bit is 30 or 40 dollars, so don't be too surprised if the bargain bit fails early.

    i have a cajun cooker pot that came with a threaded fitting and cheap valve, i unscrewed the crappy valve and installed a threaded insert and a quality ball valve. maybe $15 in parts and it works perfect. the threads allow for a bazooke screen insert as well.
  11. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (320) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    a built-in thermometer is good if you are using an immersion chiller or recirculating wort from a cfc chiller back to the kettle. Otherwise I guess it's sometimes nice to gauge when about boil is to commence so I can watch for boil-over.
  12. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2009 Maryland

    Great advice from billandsuz. I'd also recommend using some cutting oil. You can find it at Home Depot. Alternatively, I've heard you can use dish soap, olive oil, WD40, etc. The oil helps prevent 'work hardening'.
  13. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (466) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    a little - worried I will f*** it up

    Welcome to the Ball Valve Club . . . your feelings above are the price of admission.

    In addition to the solid advice posted above I offer these tidbits:

    After drilling your pilot hole, gradually expand it with increasing diameter holes (i.e. 1/4, 3/8, 1/2). Most everyone has normal drill bits up to 1/2", this will reduce the workload of your step-bit. Most valves require an opening in the 13/16 to 7/8 range. Shoot for the lowest possible opening for your nipple to pass through the kettle.

    Use your step bit at the slowest possible speed (heat is the enemy). As you cut, the hole will develop some metal spurs that will try and jam your bit . . . resist the urge to blast through at high speed.

    I had good luck using a WD-40 equivalent oil, all you need is something to lubricate and draw away heat.

    One final idea: You will go for the thermometer once you see how easy this is. I did a "practice" mount on a scrap piece of sheet metal to judge how the valve and thermometer would line up. It is difficult to see how the valve handle and thermo face will overlap until they are both flush mounted. This also gives you a chance to get the "feel" of your step bit.
  14. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,229) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Buy the pot and add the valve yourself. I did that, and it's not hard at all. Adding a thermometer to it is pretty worthless in my mind.. Shows the temp of it boil, and where you are cooling wise. It's no harder for me to stick my thermapen in there for a second to see where I'm at cooling wise.

    Under $120 for the pot and the valve installed.
  15. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (523) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    The advice above is all good. However, consider buying a cheap aluminum pot and installing the valve yourself as described above. You will probably save $$$$ compared to stainless and the drilling will be orders of magnitude easier. If you have an aluminum phobia, please ignore this post (or maybe do some research).
  16. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,229) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    While I went from AL to SS, the guy has a point. If you get the layer of oxide on it, go for it. I think for the price of certain SS pots, it's worth it to go after them, easier to clean and scrub down good. Drilling wise, the AL will be way easier, but it's up to you.

    Much like stuff for brewing, you can go cheaper and be fine, and you can go the extra mile and it last a bit longer if thats your thing..
  17. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (523) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    The aluminum will last your brewing lifetime (and your childrens and grandkids, etc). However, it is easier to take care of stainless; no need to avoid caustics or strong acids for cleaning or sanitizing. And the gadget side of me does like the way stainless looks. If you want a cool looking system, go stainless. If you're cheap like me go aluminum (unless you see a stainless mega-bargain). Both will make good beer.
    FATC1TY likes this.
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