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I am shopping for a brew kettle so I can upgrade to full volume boils. Many pots have ball valves.

I can think of two reasons to use a ball valve

  • Drain through it to avoid picking up the kettle to pour wort into the fermentor
  • Transfer wort through a counterflow chiller

I don't plan on doing either of these things any time soon, so it seems like I'm better off avoiding the extra complexity and possible leaks.

Should I reconsider and get a ball valve on my kettle?

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You can always add one later. I have them on all my kettles and they're helpful, but not a necessity for basic brewing. I'd say the biggest thing mine do for me is allow me to use a pump for recirculated chilling. But you can always go on stages, adding a valve (the weldless kits work great) and pump, etc. as need and finances dictate.

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    Let me add I've been brewing full boil for 14 months with no ball valves. I usually have a partner to help pour, but I can pour it by myself if I think through what I'm doing. This is strictly a money saving thing for me. I plan to add them over time. – uSlackr Aug 20 '14 at 3:14
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The biggest reason you want one, in my experience, is that using an auto siphon with your kettle will quickly ruin it if you ever need to move hot liquid. I use my kettle to heat may mash and sparge water, so it's nice to be able to just connect high temp tubing to the valve. Otherwise, if you are only using it for wort, and you chill your wort to a temperature the plastic can handle (~80F or lower) before racking, you can use your auto siphon without causing it to crack.

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