The BrewBuilt™ 20 Gallon Brew Kettle was generously provided by MoreBeer in exchange for an honest review. The information below is my own unbiased opinion.
I was incredibly eager to get my hands on the newly designed line of BrewBuilt™ Brew Kettles. While BrewBuilt has offered kettles in the homebrewing space for a while, they have been releasing new equipment and expanding on what they already offer. MoreBeer was generous enough to partner with me on this review by supplying the kettle in exchange for an honest hands-on review. I had really high expectations heading into this and I’m happy to say the kettle doesn’t disappoint.
Initial Impressions and Unboxing
My BrewBuilt 20-gallon Brewing Kettle came nicely packaged and free of defects in a very large box. Being such a shiny polished vessel, my fear was a big fat blemish to ruin the whole unboxing experience for me. BrewBuilt’s second-generation kettle includes a mirror finish both inside and out and two sanitary welded tri-clover ports. This is my first time seeing or handling a 20-gallon kettle in person and I honestly cannot believe how massive it.
The BrewBuilt kettle feels very sturdy overall with thick walls and an even thicker bottom base. The kettle is heavy, without being unwieldy or totally outrageous to move around. I honestly think it’s the perfect balance between heavy-duty while still being easily maneuverable. I’m definitely a little intimidated by it after brewing in a 10-gallon kettle for so long. The total capacity is actually closer to 22 gallons, making it perfect for double or maybe even some low gravity triple batches.
BrewBuilt Kettle Overview
The 304 stainless steel 20-gallon kettle measures 17.7″ W x 21.2″ H with 1.2mm thick walls and an induction-capable 4mm tri-clad bottom. Overall, the dimensions are nearly identical to the Ss line of kettles and very close to the Spike line of kettles. If you’re interested in brewing indoors, it looks like the Spike Condenser lid would be a solid fit, although I have not personally tried.
The kettle features a unique notched lid with a removable silicone cutout that can be used for hanging accessories on the kettle rim while the lid is shut. This is perfect for hop spiders or even hanging recirculation setups during the mash (it’s like they knew I had a Hangover Recirculation arm).
The kettle lid is a little lighter than I initially expected. It’s something I noticed right away as I removed it from the box. It does not feel quite as thick as my Ss Brewtech lid and will give a little if flexed. Not sure I’d say it’s a negative but figured I’d mention it. The lid sits very nicely atop the kettle with no wiggling or warping.
My biggest question with this kettle was how well the lid/notch would hold up to containing steam. Since I brew indoors, I use a steam condenser to manage steam from the boil. My fear was the notch would be a weak point for steam to escape. I did a preliminary boiling water test and am happy to report that with my steam condenser ON, no steam escaped through the lid or silicone plug. With the steam condenser OFF, some steam did sneak through the plug, which is to be expected.
My only other thing to note here is the silicone plug could get sliced up from the edges of the lid. The good news is they sell replacements for $4.99 if it breaks down from wear.
The Mirror Finish
The feature I’m most excited about with the BrewBuilt Kettle is the polished mirror finish. The inside and outside are nearly flawless and will absolutely come in handy during cleaning. I’ve never been a fan of kettles that have what I can only describe as a rough-textured matte finish. While they hide scratches, junk just seems to adhere much better, making it more difficult to scrub. I’ll plan on only wiping the kettle down with a very soft sponge as needed.
I had a frustratingly hard time photographing the inside of the kettle because it was so shiny. I gave up on trying to capture the essence of it since my camera kept focusing on my own reflection or the ceiling lights. Just take my word for it that it’s shiny as hell—I don’t think my pictures honestly do it justice except for the first image.
All kettle handles (lid included) are wrapped in silicone for safe handling when heated. This is an absolute non-negotiable for me at this point. But the best part of all, there are no studs or bolts punched through the kettle wall where the handles attach. The kettle handles are welded in the same way their X1 conicals are. While sanitization is not nearly as much of a concern on the hot side, I love how it’s an ultra-smooth finish throughout the entire inside. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate not having to clean around rivets or plugs.
Sanitary Tri Clover Ferrules
The BrewBuilt kettle features two 1.5 inch tri-clover ferrules on the face of the kettle. These fittings have been the industry standard in the commercial brewing world for a long time, but of course, now homebrewers are following suit. Once you go tri-clover you never go back…They’re more sanitary and offer endless capabilities of leak-free connections. In my opinion, it’s one of the best investments I ever made. I also don’t miss Teflon tape one bit.
I’m by no means a welding expert but the ferrule welds themselves look very clean to me. The ferrules attach at a straight angle to the kettle wall and are incredibly smooth on all surfaces. Once again, great for cleaning. I can’t speak to the 10-gallon model, but you can fit two butterfly valves on each front port with a staggered alignment. I plan on going completely over the top with TC fittings on this kettle so I’m really eager to hook it all up. This is especially beneficial for clean in place (CIP) practices. The kettle is simply too big to clean any other way. TC connections will only make the CIP process that much more reliable.
My only complaint about this kettle is the lack of one additional TC port for electric brewers. While I plan on adding my own weldless ports for my heating element, sensor, and steam condenser, I wish there was ONE more port on the bottom of the kettle. I’m confident in my ability to add weldless TCs (and also have the tools to do so), however, it does factor into the cost when pricing out a new kettle. That being said, this kettle is an absolute beast of a value-buy at $275 with no added accessories. If you’re a propane brewer, then please ignore everything I just said as it doesn’t pertain to you whatsoever.
Update: BrewBuilt plans to release a 3-port TC kettle for electric brewers May 2021. I’ll be really curious to see the price point on that but I’d imagine it will be competative.
Outside of that, I really don’t see any negatives about this kettle. I guess if I had to pick on something I’d say the lid is on the lighter/thinner side. It’s not something I honestly care about since I mounted my steam condenser on the sidewall of the kettle as opposed to the lid anyway. I’d have to compare a kettle lid of another 20g kettle to really have an opinion.
As an aside, I can confirm this kettle was the hardest to drill through of my old 15g Gas One kettle and my legacy10g Ss Brewtech kettle. Thick walls!
1 ForgeFit® Stainless Butterfly Valve 2 ForgeFit® Stainless Butterfly Valves
I’m really pumped about this kettle. It’s very high quality, well built, heavy-duty, and beautiful. If you’re looking to build an electric setup, it’s only a few minor modifications/tools away from being everything you need. I have already started to modify and use this kettle as my new eBIAB solution for 10-gallon split batches. Please stay tuned as I plan on documenting my entire build process and all the necessary parts really soon. You’ll absolutely save yourself some money by piecing together a solution on your own, it just requires some DIY initiative and planning.
I was originally attracted to this kettle because it looks so nice and I’ve heard really positive things about BrewBuilt’s gen 1 kettles. I actually really like how you can buy the kettle ‘naked’ and configure it with whatever accessories you may already have on hand or look to invest in. BrewBuilt does offer other configurations and sizes (10, 15, 20. 30, and 50 gallons) available that come with a butterfly valve OR a ball valve, however, you will likely still need to invest in a tri-clover pickup tube to avoid dead space in the bottom of the kettle.
Overall, I’d absolutely recommend the BrewBuilt kettle for anyone looking to upgrade to a high-quality kettle. For the price, it’s really well built and a great buy in my opinion.
Now I’m just dreading the day I add my first scratch.