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I've had the same 10G aluminum BK since I started AG brewing, about 4 years and 70 batches. I recently left my copper IC in it for a few months and think I may have corroded the aluminum, so it may be replacement time. I am considering stainless steel, but want to know any advantages it brings for just about double the price of aluminum. I should mention that I brew in a bag in this vessel (my bag was sewn custom for this kettle). I also have a step-drill (weldless) installed brewmometer and valve installed in the kettle.

-What are the advantages/disadvantages of SS vs. aluminum? -Will I compromise the stainless coating by using a step drill/pilot hole for the valve and thermometer fittings?

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The main advantage with SS is that it is quite inert - had you had a stainless kettle, the corrosion problem you experienced with the immersion chiller wouldn't have happened.

Since it's happened once, it's quite likely to happen again, meaning you'd end up buying 2 new aluminum kettles (for a total of 3.) So in the long run stainless will work out cheaper.

You won't compromise the passive oxide layer from boring holes, it forms naturally in contact with oxygen - just be sure to clean the part well after making a hole. I drilled many holes in my 3 SS kettles (see my avatar) and I have had no problem in 3 years (although I used a step bit to make only the pilot hole for the conduit punch, which makes a much cleaner hole.)

If you have the money, go with stainless, you won't regret it.

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