First let me say that I am not affiliated with Ss Brewtech nor have they reached out to me for a review. This is an honest review written by a fan of their products. I will try to be as critical as I can. I know this may kill my chances of any potential sponsorship but I rather be honest to people looking for a new kettle.
I knew I wanted this kettle the second I saw it. I love every piece of equipment I have purchased from them thus far and I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this kettle. I had a cooler I was planning to use as my hot liquor tank for the HERMS system I was building. However, I decided I wanted the ability to switch between 10 and 5 gallon batches seamlessly. Our 15 gallon kettle was too wide to submerge our immersion chiller and chilling times took a hit when brewing 5 gallon batches. I was also paranoid the plastic would not be able to take heat emanating from the element. So without further adieu, the 10 gallon Ss Brew Kettle: Brewmaster Edition:
I pre-ordered this kettle about a month before the initial delivery date (estimated at end of January 2017). I was expecting to have the kettle around the same time I would have completed my 220V electric panel for the HERMS. Then we received this email (TL;DR We fucked up. Shipping out the week of February 12th. Sorry.):
We had a little bit of a hiccup in the schedule. We now have a relatively certain ship window locked down (barring very unforseen circumstances beyond our direct control) that has these units shipping out to guys the week of the 12th Feb.
Most of our product launches thus far we’ve done pretty good relative to on time departures / shipping. This one we take a couple week hit from the outside edge of our prior stated window to you (end Jan ’17).
For that we would like to offer up a hearty apology. Sorry for the fail!!! We keep hearing from you in email, and we know many of you are super anxious to get your hands on these kettles! And rest assured we did would we could, and we are doing what we still can do to expedite them on their way to you.
If you are kind of “over it” and have had it with the waiting game on these kettles and you want to pull the cord and just get your money back and move on – we totally get it. Shoot a reply to email@example.com with your name or order number and the support folks can take care of that for you usually same day.
These ended up being a little tricker to fabricate than your typical kettle – and so we had to hit the pause button a couple of times to make sure they came out right. And they did – just took a little longer than we (or you!) wanted.
Again sorry for the Ssuckness and the delay! We take this kind of stuff on the chin, as we are all old school product guys that have been around this block for many decades between us. We like to get things right AND on time.
Ouch. Sorry Ss Brewtech but there goes a point off the total (-1). It wound up working out in the end since our panel box came in a tad late as well. On February 12th, they sent out another email notifying us that our products are shipping out. Due to the volume of orders, not everyone would be getting shipping notices that day. Fortunately, we were not in that bracket and got our tracking number the next day. However, there goes another point for the poor saps that had to wait even longer (-1). They did a great job staying in communication with their customers so I did appreciate that quite a bit. We wound up receiving the package February 20th, a full month after the promised date.
We thought that was it. No more emails, right? Wrong! Here’s where I’m dinging them hard (-2). On February 28th we received the following email (TL;DR We fucked up again. Some of you got acrylic sight glasses instead of glass. Run a test and let us know.):
IMPORTANT PRODUCT NOTICE BELOW – PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO READ THIS
We need to make you aware of an important product issue regarding your BME Brew Kettle(s).
A very small number of the sight glasses on the ball valves for these kettles were inadvertently fitted out with an acrylic material instead of glass. We know the quantity is very limited because against the entire production batch, there was roughly a 2% incoming inspection failure rate (due to chipping of the glass parts when being cut to length from the glass tubing stock). And this small number of acrylic tube parts were mixed in as replacements to the inspection failures – which later ended up in finished goods boxes – some of which were shipped out to you all.
Fortunately, the recovery path is pretty quick and painless. We would like to ask you to simply do a quick temperature test on the sight glass. Please just disassemble the valve, take out the sight glass tube section, then place sight glass tube into an oven preheated to 325F for roughly 1 minute then see if the part softens or deforms. 98% of you will find that nothing happens and life goes on and you got the right part. Just re-assemble your valve, and away you go.
2% of you may find you have a part that needs to be replaced. If that is the case, please just reply to this message (which goes to our support Team – firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll arrange to get you a replacement part sent out within the next 7-10 days max.
In the meantime, please do not brew on your kettle until you have performed a temp test on the sight glass to make sure you don’t have an acrylic part in there.
On behalf of the entire Team here, we sincerely apologize for the miss here. Like any product company worth its salt, the best thing a company can do is communicate quickly, honestly, proactively, and work to get customers back up and running / happy as soon as possible. That is what we will endeavor to do here!!!
Ssorry again for the hassles everybody! Please know that this pains us to no end – and not a day goes by we aren’t trying to optimize processes and mitigate against issues like this.
That said, we did like their packaging (+1). They always package their products in two boxes with plenty of extra foam and cardboard support. You can rest assured knowing your kettle comes ding, dent, and scuff free, no matter how rough the journey.
Build Quality (4/5)
Things I dinged them for were spotty welds (-1) and quite a bit of weld dust (-1). The weld dust washed off easily but the welds could have been ground down a bit better. The inside of the kettle, however, is seamless. It’s hard to tell if it was stamped from one piece of sheet metal or welded together. This thing is build like a tank and the rubber handles feel sturdy enough to support all that weight. With 1.2mm 304 Stainless Steel and a 2mm 304 Stainless Steel base, this thing screams high quality (+1). The dip tube, however, feels very flimsy and I’ve found it to wander to different positions during my brew days (-1). The total volume comes out to about 12 gallons which is more than anyone can ask for and certainly more than their competitors can offer on similar 10 gallon kettles.
The part you all have been waiting for. I couldn’t be happier with this kettle. This thing is a monster boiler. It met and exceeded all expectations. The tri-clover fittings are a huge upgrade from the non-brewmaster edition 1/2″ weldless fittings. The extra port for a thermometer or probe is typical of Ss brewtech but keeps them competitive. The groundbreaking and industry first stainless 3-piece ball valve with built-in sight glass is a major victory for Ss Brewtech. The tangential whirlpool inlet removes the need for any additional tubing and cleaning. Each brew day is rewarded with minimal trub/hop debris pickup and a beautiful cone at the center of the domed bottom. I keep forgetting to take a picture since it’s at the end of the brew day and we’re usually several beers in by then. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
Electric: We drilled a hole into the back of the kettle for our heating element. The lowest we could go is at about the 3 gallon mark. Though this requires us to stir the wort during the boil, it is a minor inconvenience. Boil times are almost instant with the element. We even reduced the power required to boil with this kettle compared to the 15 gallon kettle.
Gas: Ladies and Gentlemen, it is clear that this kettle was build for a propane burner. We have only brewed on gas once so far but we were blown away. We set our regulator at max output and within a few minutes, we had a boil over. The heat is retained within the base so well that you could barely feel the flames while standing right next to it. The domed bottom allowed for a larger surface area to be heated and the slits in the base allowed for more oxygen to reach the flames while keeping out any wind. We reached our desired boil intensity with the regulator set to almost closed. We used the smallest amount of propane during our 60 minute boil than we ever have. The bubbles in the boil were small and in large numbers, indicating a very even boil.
Induction: Not recommended by Ss Brewtech or myself. The domed bottom is ever so slightly higher than the edge of the base, making it impossible to get an induction cooktop to contact the kettle surface.
When looking at this kettle, I priced out a normal 10 gallon kettle with the same fittings. If I had purchased a non-brewmaster edition kettle from Ss Brewtech, it would have cost me $189. Add to that the stainless whirlpool tubing, stainless whirlpool elbow, and sight glass and the total would have risen to $250. For $300, you can have the brewmaster edition kettle that already comes with a whirlpool arm welded to the kettle, all tri-clover fittings, an integrated sight glass, domed bottom, wind and thermally protected base, and 2 extra gallons of volume. That’s all for an extra $50. The upgrade to tri-clover alone would have cost that much. Count me in…
Overall impression (Total: 21/25)
I know my score of this product is biased due to the bad delivery that you will likely not experience. However, the delivery impacts my view of how Ss Brewtech does business and it plays a large role in customer satisfaction. I feel my deductions were justified for this reason. Take that information as you will and use it. That said, I am very satisfied with the product itself. This kettle is unique and no other competitor, in my honest opinion, has anything similar out on the market right now. If you’re looking for the ideal kettle to put on a propane burner, this is it. If you are looking for an electric kettle, there may be other products that can serve that purpose better. As a dual gas(mobile) + electric(home) user, I couldn’t be happier. If there is any interest, I could ask a friend to do a side by side test with his Spike Brewing kettle (electric & gas) and possibly a Blichmann (gas) as well.