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What's your opinion on them? Have you ever used one? I was thinking of buying one (specially designed for brewing, even has a tap on). How is it different from the more traditional methods? Is it worth the cost?

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Could you add a link to the product you are considering buying? There is nothing wrong with electric breweries, but I hesitate to comment considering I know nothing about the rest of the system, other than its electric. –  TinCoyote Feb 24 '10 at 21:35
    
I'd like to see how this gets answered. I have always wanted to build an electric HLT that was capable of heating water to strike temp. That way I could set it on a timer and have strike water ready to go before I got up or came home from work. This would seriously shave some time off the all grain brewday. –  brewchez Feb 25 '10 at 12:48
    
The product I had in mind is Brewferm's BREWING KETTLE 27 l ELECTRIC. It is made of stainless steel,has a volume of 27 lts, heating element of 1800 watt and an adjustable thermostat 30-100 degrees C. It is suitable for batches of up to 20 lts and even has a tap. Here's a picture of it brouwland.com/content/assets/photos/057/0570951.jpg The pro version has also a digital thermostat and a timer, but I think the considerable price difference gets it out of most homebrewers' shopping cart. –  Tetragrammaton Feb 26 '10 at 18:54
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3 Answers

I suggest you build your own. There is a great how to build a heat stick thread on homebrew talk.

I have heard that carmelization is not an issue using immersion heater elements.

In order to provide enough heat for a rolling boil you will need 220 VAC and at least a 4000-5000 watt element I believe.

Electricty is dangerous, so is propane. Make sure you take every precaution neccessary. And use a GFCI.

I use a heat stick for raising the steps in my MT, heating strike water, and heating my sparge water.

I use an Ultra Low Watt Density electric heater element in my RIMS to control mash temperature..

No problems so far with carmelization.

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The brewferm electric kettles have a power of 1.8-2 kW, so I believe 4-5 kW would be too much. After all, we are talking about a company producing reliable products for homebrewing, so I wouldn't doubt the kettle's ability to boil 20 litres of wort. Could you provide the homebrew talk link for that byo article? –  Tetragrammaton Mar 4 '10 at 13:15
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It just must take a very long time to reach a boil. It takes my 1500W heat stick well over an hour to heat 5 gallons to a boil. cedarcreeknetworks.com/heatstick.htm homebrewtalk.com/f51/heatstick-awesome-142803 homebrewtalk.com/f51/electrical-primer-brewers-145019 –  Tim Weber Mar 8 '10 at 20:12
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What's your opinion on them?
My opinion is that I have always worried about wort caramelization on the heating element. I wonder how hard that is to clean and does a poor cleaning job effect performance of the element. I would really be interested in an electric HLT, that I could set to a timer. That way I could have water heated to my strike temp before I get home from work. Then I can just mix the water and grains in my mash tun and I am off to the races... now that would be cool and save time.

Have you ever used one?
Never have.

How is it different from the more traditional methods? Should be the same as traditional brewing. Boiling is boiling. I defer to my comments on the element itself above.

Is it worth the cost?
If it makes good beer and makes the process enjoyable to keep you happy... its worth it. Definately a good option for people that want to brew indoors or on a condo patio or something.

I hope this answers your original questions.

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setting a stirring bar in the wort should lower the hottest temperatures developing in the areas near the element by sweeping cooler wort to the coil. This should eliminate carmelization. Additionally it will quicken the heat up time since the coil will transfer heat faster to a cooler localazide wort.

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