Are you considering shifting over to a different (and more reliable) brewing preference from your current system? Although you might be totally comfortable with your trusty and reliable propane rig, there are many good reasons to consider using an induction burner instead.
Induction brew kettles are all the rage in the homebrew scene, with state-of-the-art systems now more affordable than ever. While the cost of a full-blown system may have given you a reason to hold off in the past, you might be surprised at just how affordable they have become over the past few years.
Here we go over some of the best induction burners and kettles on the market. Check them out and you just may be convinced to give this brewing method a try!
- 1 Our Top Induction Burners & Kettles
- 2 What Is the Difference Between Induction & Electric Brewing?
- 3 Important Features & Drawbacks
- 4 The Best Induction Burner & Kettle?
Our Top Induction Burners & Kettles
1. Mai Cook Electric Induction Cooktop (Editor’s Choice)
The Mai Cook Stainless Steel Cooktop Burner made serious waves when it was released on the market. After all, most induction stoves were previously too expensive for home brewers to afford, so the only ones who could really afford to buy them were owners of hotels and restaurants. With the Mai Cook, however, this more expensive type of brewing was finally within the reach of the masses.
The induction burner itself runs on 240 volts, giving it more than enough heating power for 5-gallon batches of wort. It could probably handle a bit more–say 8 gallons–but 10 gallons would probably be pushing it.
When working with the recommended load, the Mai Cook is quite impressive. On the highest setting, 8 gallons of water can be brought to about 162°F in about 40 minutes. From there, it takes only a further 25 minutes to get to a strong roiling boil.
The Mai Cook Burner comes with a host of cool features that make using it an absolute gas…er joy. It automatically detects whether or not you are using a ferromagnetic kettle, and it shuts down when you lift the pot off.
One slight issue we had is the necessity to run it off 220 volts. It shouldn’t be a problem to have the appropriate circuit installed, however, and the benefits you get from this burner in return make it worth it.
- Reasonably priced induction burner
- More than enough power for 5-gallon batches
- Quality build and construction
- Detects kettle material automatically
- Needs a 220-volt power
2. Avantco IC3500 Induction Burner
The Avantco IC3500 Countertop is an induction burner for brewing. It aims to deliver superior heating power and performance. Designed specifically for fast heating, it can get liquids up to near boiling temperatures in just over a minute.
The Avantco Burner has a wattage range of 500 to 3500 watts. Temperatures can range from 140°F to 460°F, making it suitable for most of your homebrew.
Unfortunately, this induction burner suffers from a number of issues. There isn’t a lot of variance with regard to how hot it gets, and it seems that it goes from “not nearly hot enough” to “way too hot” in just a few clicks.
Most of the heat also seems focused in the center of the induction burner, so you have to keep stirring your wort in order to prevent it from burning in spots.
- Fast heating induction burner
- Not a wide variance in the temperature range
- Heat is focused on the center of the induction surface
- Emits a high-pitched sound at the highest setting
1. Bayou Classic 10-Gallon Brew Kettle (Editor’s Choice)
The Bayou Classic 10-Gallon Induction Brew Kettle is intended specifically for malt extract brewing, although it can be adapted for all-grain by purchasing a false bottom. Consisting of a domed lid, a spigot, and thermometer, it provides everything you need to produce quality brews with minimal effort.
The spigot is equipped with a ball valve. The side-mounted brew thermometer can measure temperatures from 60°F to 220°F. Both the thermometer and the spigot are easily attached via bulkhead fittings, ensuring a totally watertight seal.
Some of the features of the Bayou Classic may not seem all that significant, but they do make everyday brewing tasks much easier. The gallon and quart measurements are placed on the interior of the kettle, for example, making it easier to see the level of the liquid. Both the spigot and thermometer are heat-shielded so that they will provide reliable performance for years.
- Can be adapted for all-grain brewing
- Side calibrations are read from the kettle’s interior ensuring more accurate reading
- Side-mounted stainless steel thermometer
- Light but durable construction
- Material is a bit thin
2. Megapot 1.2 Induction Brew Kettle
The MegaPot 1.2 makes home brewing fast, efficient, and easy. The body of this induction brew kettle is made of high-grade stainless steel, making it both reliable and easy to clean. There is even a stainless steel band encircling the upper rim, which improves durability and makes the unit look classier.
Features such as graduated volume markers on the interior and riveted (as opposed to welded) handles further enhance the kettle’s quality look and feel. But it is really the tri-clad bottom that sets it apart. Designed to distribute heat more evenly, this feature makes it easier and quicker to get your wort to a vigorous boil.
It’s not all good in MegaPot land, however. The spout and the gasket–typically the weakest points in any brew kettle–suffer from poor construction. The area around the thermometer also has a tendency to leak, which is never a good sign.
- Rugged stainless steel construction
- Silicone handles prevent scorching
- Riveted handles
- Graduated volume markers on the interior
- Poor quality construction in the spout and thermometer
- Thermometer connection tends to leak
What Is the Difference Between Induction & Electric Brewing?
Induction differs from electric brewing in both the equipment used and the process by which heat is applied. One of the most important things to remember is that the cooktop or burner used in the former does not actually generate heat. This alone makes it markedly different from conventional electric brewing, in which electric hotplates generate considerable heat.
In contrast, induction burners give off eddy currents that react with the iron in the brew kettle. It is this vessel that heats up, eventually bringing the contents to a boil. In order for the process to work, it should be made of ferromagnetic material or have iron content. This is the second essential component for induction brewing.
Induction is a much more efficient way to transfer heat from the source to the content, which in this case is your wort. When you use an electric burner for brewing, the electric plate will first have to heat up, before heat is transferred to the vessel. Only then will it begin to heat up the wort.
The current works directly on the kettle when you use an induction burner for brewing. The process of heating up the stovetop is eliminated entirely, resulting in no loss of heat.
How do you know if your brewing kettle is ferromagnetic? As the term suggests, ferromagnetic material will react to a magnet. If a magnet sticks to it, then it will be suitable.
There was a time when this brewing method was a costly option. There were very few induction brew kettles and burners available on the market, and most were prohibitively expensive. Most homebrewers therefore had no choice but to use its electric counterpart.
Over the years, however, stovetops and kettles intended for induction brewing became a lot more affordable. The aforementioned Mai Cook Stainless Steel Cooktop is a good example, and these and other burners became more cost-effective for home brewers.
Important Features & Drawbacks
We already touched upon the most significant advantage of induction burners in the previous section, which is its more efficient heat transfer method. In addition to that, the process and the equipment used also offer a number of other benefits.
No external control panel necessary. With most induction burners, the control panel is built-in to the circuitry, with no need for user setting.
No harmful emissions. Unlike propane burners that give off harmful chemicals, it emit no fumes whatsoever. They can therefore be used indoors with no risk to health and no danger of fires or explosions.
Consistent results. Induction burners make it easy for you to achieve the same results every time. There is no need to constantly monitor and adjust the heat in order to prevent the solution from boiling over. With most of these equipment, you simply set the wattage to the recommended setting, and adjust as needed in order to achieve a rolling boil.
Lower cost. Induction burners are more cost-effective to operate than both its propane and conventional electric counterparts. One user estimated his cost at $5 per brew when using propane. When he shifted, this was cut down to $0.60 per brew.
Induction is by no means a perfect process, and it does have some drawbacks as well.
Reduced control over temperature. With induction brewing, you essentially give up the use of a temperature sensor. Compatible burners, therefore, can’t be used as part of a Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS).
May be underpowered when brewing large batches. Many induction burners max out at 3500 watts, which is sufficient for 5-gallon batches. However, this could prove to be insufficient for 10-gallon batches.
Specific equipment required. You will need to invest in ferromagnetic brew pots and kettles for the burner to work.
Higher initial cost. Although they have come down in price, induction burners still cost considerably more than propane ones.
The Best Induction Burner & Kettle?
As far as induction burners go, the Mai Cook Stainless Steel 3500W Electric Induction Cooktop is the clear winner. Offering a superb combination of power and features, it handles five-gallon loads like a champ, easily taking your wort from heating to boiling and all points in between. Sure, you might struggle a bit to handle 10-gallon loads, but it is doable with a bit of patience and perhaps a bit of added insulation.
After purchasing the Mai Cook burner, you will of course need an induction brew kettle, and the Bayou Classic 10-Gallon Brew Kettle is the obvious choice. The cheapest valve kettle-thermometer combo you can get in this price range, it is a solid and reliable unit that you can depend on for years to come. For the money, you simply can’t do better than the Bayou Classic.