I'm just beginning all grain and starting to put together my lists. I have a 5 gallon kettle that I used for extract batches. I plan on upgrading to a 11 gallon boil kettle. Will the 5 gallon kettle be enough to hold my heated up water for 5 and 10 gallon batches?

2 Answers 2


The HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) interestingly isn't there to hold wort or anything with alcohol (liquor here is referring to a liquid being used in a process). It has a simple job: It holds and heats water to be used in the mash. You also add salts such as gypsum in the HLT.

With 10 gallon batches, a 5 gallon HLT absolutely not big enough.

That being said, the answer to your question (on a 5.5 gallon batch) really depends on a case by case basis relative to your grain bill, boil time, sparge process, lauter deadspace, batch size and evap rate. To help clarify I'll use an example.

Say I'm doing a 5.5 gallon batch on a 13.5 lb grain bill with a grain absorption factor of 0.1 gal/lb, boil time at 60 minutes, evap rate of about 20%, deadspace at .5 gallon and plan on batch sparging. Since I'm at a 20% evap rate, I need about 7 gallons for my boil. I would probably want to have about 4.72 gallons of strike water and 4.13 gallons of sparge water. Since the grain absorbs about 1.85 gallons, this would yield 7 gallons for the boil. In this specific case, if you filled and heated the HLT with your sparge water during the mash you'd be OK. But I honestly recommend getting a bigger pot for your HLT.

If you start playing with the numbers, you can easily go over 5 gallons. For example even if you were doing 5 gallon batches, having a different grain bill or larger evap rate will absolutely increase the amount of water you'll need out of that pot.

I hope this helps.

  • 1
    "HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) interestingly isn't there to hold any liquor or wort" - that's not correct. When used in the brew water is referred to as "liquor" in brewing parlance.
    – mdma
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 19:18
  • @mdma: Thanks for pointing that out, I have updated my answer. Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 19:26
  • 1
    @WalzenBrew Chris' approach is how you want to size your HLT. My tl;dr would be: figure out how much water (or liquor, if you prefer) you need in the mash of your biggest beer and get a kettle at least big enough for that. If you don't want to refill for the sparge, double it.
    – Tom McCann
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 23:16
  • @TomMcCann Great suggestion! I think I'll go that route. Cheers
    – WalzenBrew
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 16:42

I would say that it's not sufficient for 10 gallon batch unless you're happy refilling, 3-4 times. I brew 10 gallons and have a 20 gallon HLT which I fill to 18-19 gallons at the start of brewday, and use all of it.

For a 10 gallon batch, many target 11-12 gallons into the fementor. This means a preboil volume in the order of 14-16 gallons depending upon evaporation rate. Grain and hop absorption accounts for the remainder.

I have 20/20/20 gal for BK/MLT/HLT - I based my sizes on what is described in theelectricbrewery, and I think they are about right for what's needed for a 10 gallon batch. The MLT is probably the one that is least used, since I don't often brew big beers. Although I recently brewed a 14% RIS and the 20 gallon MLT was full with grain.

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