Spike Brewing Kettle Review (2019). READ before buying?
Having rigged up a few DIY brewing setups over the years, I was always under the impression that all brewing kettles were more or less similar and did the same job despite their differences in material and build. Upgrading to Spike’s brewing kettles; I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Spike’s 15-gallon kettle replaces my current one, and they offer their brewing systems as Spike and Spike Plus models with the Plus model featuring some smart upgrades.
Features of Spike Brewing Kettle
- The one feature that stands out is that the kettles are modular; they can be used as the Boil Kettle (BK), Mash Tun (MT) or the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT).
- High quality, sanitary TIG-welded kettles are NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) listed and complied with their high standards.
- Heavy duty 1.2mm thick 304 stainless steel walls gives the kettles a robust build making it last for years.
- Front to back handles helps save about 12 inches of set up space on a 3-kettle single tier system. The handles also function as a lid holder.
- Partially rolled top lip along with offering stiffness to the kettle is also easy to clean and maintain, unlike fully rolled lip that collects liquid and gunk.
- Tri-clad bottom with an aluminium core sandwiched between layers of stainless steel gives a uniform temperature distribution.
Whether you are building a new set up or upgrading your old gear, the kettle is at the heart of any brewing rig. There are numerous options on the market - aluminium or stainless, welded or weldless, a number of ports, and innovative designs. What I loved about Spike’s kettles is that they are modular and one kettle can take up the function of any of the three tanks in an all-grain brewing set up. Before upgrading to their 3 kettle single tier system, I replaced my old stainless Boil Kettle with the Spike 15 gallon V3. Immediately the advantage of their Tri-clad bottom became apparent with my propane burner. The heat distribution was smooth and uniform along the bottom and sides of the kettle. In previous thin-walled kettles, I’d noted temperature differences of a couple of degrees across the kettle while the Spike V3 with its thick walls had about half a degree of difference. So that avoids hot spots and differential heating.
Homebrewers often favour kettles because of their dished bottoms that naturally allow kettle trub to collect. I find it has more downsides to it than advantages such as the convex outside shaping being unstable on burner platforms and uneven heat distribution. Spike’s kettles have a fair amount of thought put into their design in the form of “stepped bottom” on the inside to collect trub while maintaining efficiency and a flat bottom on the outside for stability and uniform heat distribution.
While being stable and robust, the Spike Kettles are also appropriately sized. With a height-width ratio of 1.2:1, my 15-gallon kettle works perfectly for smaller batches as well. While brewing large batches, there’s enough room for boil over and have the least impact on efficiency.
There are times when some of the ingredients used in the boil can deteriorate a kettle made out of softer metal like aluminium, while on the other hand, a robust stainless steel kettle is almost indestructible and lasts for decades. Having experimented with aluminium kettles in the beginning years of my brewing journey, vessel deterioration is something I’ve observed personally. These 1.2mm thick 304 stainless kettles are not only impervious to chemical deterioration but can also take the abuse of an average home brewer.
The kettle’s welded fittings are a bit of a luxury for me upgrading from weldless fittings. The pristine, sanitary welds are easier to clean and maintain as they have fewer nooks and crannies.
Brewers who have used clunkier lids would come to appreciate this thoughtfully designed version of the Spike. It can be removed and rested on the kettle handle as you go about your task. It is an excellent upgrade as you don’t have to find a place for the lid.
The kettle handles are covered in wear resistant silicone grips that make it easy to carry while avoiding a burn. Anybody who has thoughtlessly grabbed a kettle handle during a full boil would understand what I mean here.
Internal volume markings give you an exact idea of how much liquid there is in the kettle. The markings go a long way in helping you prepare consistent batches. Although Spike maintains it is permanently etched into the stainless steel wall, they recommend not using aggressive abrasive cleaners on them. After over a dozen batches the markings on my kettle still look brand new.
- Robust 1.2mm stainless steel walled construction with 5mm tri-clad bottom suitable for electric, propane or induction heating systems.
- Interior wall markings make it easier to determine liquid levels at all times giving you precise control of the amount of wort needed for the recipe
- Rugged food-grade welded couplers that are leak proof and easy to clean
- Customizable pick up tubes with Spike’s proprietary Push-to-connect design
- The optional 3-piece ball valve extends out about 6.5 inches from the side of the kettle to keep its lever away from the heat. The lengthy design could grab you while you walk by especially if your brewing set up is in a crowded garage or basement.
Why this kettle is Worth Your Money ?
Although it is slightly on the pricey end compared to most other kettles on the market, Spike’s adherence to quality and innovative design is worth paying for. Great design often equates to great looks, and this is true in case of Spike’s gorgeous looking kettles.
I’ve been able to brew over 10 batches of beer with consistent taste and quality thanks to their smart features that allow precise process control. Other than a few tweaks to make their valve’s profile and to add a hook to the lid, there are no changes I’d want to be done on these kettles.