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Polar Ware 60 qrt. Brew Kettle with Sight Gauge Review

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S-Tuna:
Would something as simple as a small ball valve on the burner inlet help with reducing the gas flow/BTU?

KellerBrauer:
Greetings S-Tuna - yes, point taken.  In fact, I have both a regulator and a needle valve at my disposal.  I happen to have been playing with the burner assembly yesterday and was able to dial the gas flow down considerably while still maintaining the proper fuel/oxygen ratio.  I also did some very rough calculations and discovered I should be able to bring my wort from roughly 140 degrees to boiling with half the capacity of my 72,000 BTU burner (36,000 BTU). However, the uncertainty is TIME. I'm not sure how long it will take to accomplish this.  Plus, I still will not be certain if I can raise the temperature and still be below the maximum temperature limit of 285 degrees Polar Ware warns about to protect their plastic sight tube.

So, the only way to answer the questions I've just outlined, I need to run a test by filling my kettle and firing up the burner.  However, I have two gaping holes in my kettle that are preventing the test and I don't want to spend $50 on a replacement sight glass assembly only to find out it won't work.  So I need to come up with a way of temporarily closing the holes so I can perform the test.  I have some ideas that I'm going to test soon.

I'm sorry S-Tuna, that was a very long and drawn out answer to your question.  But, thank you for your ideas and thoughts.

KellerBrauer:
Well today I conducted an experiment to try and determine the nature of the issue I'm having with the plastic sight "gauge" (Polar Ware doesn't call it a Sight Glass) cracking and to find out if It's possible to boil 11 gallons of liquid and NOT allow the heat at the sight gauge to exceed the 285 degree warning posted by Polar Ware.

First, I trimmed the shield I installed under the sight gauge so I was only shielding the sight gauge and about a half inch on both sides.  I wanted to eliminate, or minimize, the possibility of ununiform metal expansion being the cause - or contributor - to my sight gauge cracking.

Next, I calculated that I would need slightly less than 50% of my 72,000 BTU burner to heat the liquid to boiling point.  I figured 35,000 BTU should be sufficient.

So, I configured a makeshift plug over the lower sight gauge hole that allowed me to fill the kettle without leaking.  Mission accomplished.  I filled the kettle to approximately 11 to 11-1/2 gallons of water at 101 degrees F, fired up the burner and began measuring temperature at various locations and my finding were quite remarkable.

I decided to start my test at an even lower BTU output just to see how the kettle and burner would perform.  The temperature directly above the sight gauge shield was averaging 145 degrees F and remained steady throughout the entire 80 minute test.  However, the "spill-by" temperature around the remainder of the kettle averaged over 485 degrees F. My digital thermometer didn't go any higher.

The results of my boil:  The water temperature raised 38 degrees in the first 20 minutes, 27 degrees in the second 20 minutes after I dialed the head down a bit to approximately 1/3 capacity, 24 degrees in the next 20 minutes and only 17 degrees in the final 20 minutes.  Now, this test was conducted with the lid on.  I was finally able to achieve a boil after 1 hour and 20 minutes @ roughly 33% burner capacity.  However, when I removed the lid, the boil went away.  Put the lid back on and the boil recovered.

So, what I learned is that more than 24,000 BTU's of energy is required to heat 11 gallons of water to boiling point.  Also, the energy loss when the lid was removed was equal to the energy used to heat the water.  Which is why I lost the boil when the lid was removed.

The most remarkable find was that even with the burner dialed down to 33% capacity (24,000 BTU) the spill-by heat was in excess tha 485 degrees F!!!  That's over 200 degrees higher than the manufacturer warns about!!!

So, exactly what is the intended use of this Polar Ware Boil Kettle with a sight "gauge"??  Perhaps they intended for it to be used to make soup.

Bottom line is If you're looking for a boil kettle with a sight glass for brewing beer, look at someone other than Polar Ware.....unless of coarse you intend on making a nice broth or consomme and your heat source is no hotter than a couple candles.

KellerBrauer:
Greetings All - well, my saga continues.  I finally received a response (through my local brewing supply shop) from LD Carlson (the distributer for Polar Ware) who passed on the note from The Vollrath Company, LLC, who purchased Polar Ware.  And, as I suspected, the respondent, Brad Johnson, Quality Systems Manager, had absolutely no idea what the problem was, what I have done to reduce the problem or what needed to be done to correct the problem.  His response was almost as if there was no problem at at all with my very expansive boil kettle.

The response was "The site glass must be seeing too high of temperatures. If he can?t reduce the temp the site glass is subjected to then his idea of removing the site glass may be his best bet.".

When confronted with my question on how to close the openings in my kettle after I remove the sight gauge, his response was "These options would be the responsibility of the end user though not Vollrath."

So, I responded - through the chain of people - and challenged this person to come and review this post which offers a very clear description to the entire situation.  I even put a link in the message.

Now I will wait to see if this person will come and actually learn what's going on and offer a solution.  Ultimately, however, you can't fix stupid.....I was stupid for buying a boil kettle with a plastic sight gauge.

Stay tuned.....

KellerBrauer:
Greetings All - this will be my final entry into this thread on the dysfunction of the Polar Ware 60 qrt. Brew Kettle with Sight Gauge.

Three weeks ago, I challenged Brad Johnson, Quality Systems Manager from Polar Ware, to demonstrate, or explain, how to boil 11 gallons of wort without allowing their plastic sight "gauge" to exceed 285?F stated in their sales literature.  I believe Mr. Johnsons lack of response in this three week period is quite definitive; or, simply put, it cannot be done.

So, for those of you who have found this thread by querying "Polar Ware 60 qrt. Brew Kettle With Sight Gauge Review", now you have my full story.  Polar Ware builds and is selling a product that simply cannot be used for the purpose for which it's advertised and sold and they have been given ample opportunity to defend their product and prove me wrong and they have failed to do so.

Further, I have lodged a complaint with Consumer Afairs and will soon lodge a complaint with he Better Business Bureau.  I have also posted a review of this product on Amazon.com and will continue to inform my brewing brethren via any social media possible to stay away from the Polar Ware Brew Kettle with Sight Gauge as it WILL NOT perform as it is intended.

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