Horizontal bladder serving tanks
Does anyone have any experience with Mylar bladder serving tanks. Pros and Cons. of using. I have seen pictures in used brewing equipment ads on European systems using this method. It seems ideal for maintaining proper carbonation levels and also avoiding large gaseous head space in large serving tank to avoid loss of aroma compounds i.e hop aromas. I keg everything I serve right know and would like to consider using these if they do not have any glitchs.
Your 2 cents most welcome
I've never used them, but I know at least on UK company tried using bladders in bulk tanks (typically 8 hl) a good few years ago, both as serving tanks and as tanks to transport beer from the brewies to the pubs. I understand they suffered with split bladders, and obviously since they didn't bother cleaning the tank, tehy suffered horrible infection problems
(Hi again Dick - & no, I'm still not brewing!)
anyway, to the subject at hand -
I used horizontal plastic-lined 10Hl tanks for over a year in a brewpub in London (UK)
the brewery was German-built (BTB - Brau-Tech Bochum, their website seems to be down, don't know what 's happened?)
but the tanks & plastic-liners came from Dutch firm Duotank
By UK standards I brewed a diverse range of beers (pale & dark lagers, wheat, fruit, brown, pale & red ales, etc) we didn't filter or fine, just cold sedimentation first in FV, then a bit more in serving tank.
As long as they had at least a few days cold in both FV & ST they would drop perfectly bright, with the happy exeption of the German & Belgie wheaties (oddly tho, the 75% wheatmalt beer I brewed with UK ale yeast dropped star-bright!)
You've got to be quite careful of CO2 levels in the beer before transferring it- but there's a knack & mostly I didn't have to adjust (but as long as you have the right fittings you may add more to the ST, but taking some out is trickier!) .
The other advantages include being able to simply use compressed air to drive beer to the bar; not having to worry about increasing CO2 levels in the beer as you might with a CO2 topped tank.
There were a few glitches to our system (I started a few months after opening) it was always intended to brew & serve a wide range of styles, yet no-one thouhgt about having separate temp controls to give an 8degC lager, 12degC ale, etc - they were all the one temp.
What else? - before I started work there I was told by friends (local brewers) that the brewery had suffered from infections.
Once I began regimented line-cleaning, sanitising the beer-contact tank-fittings & kept general tank area cleaniliness infection problems ceased & IMO beer quality was consistent & good. As there were no lab facilities to check beer/yeast health, etc, I stopped using local brewer's yeast & sourced quality dried yeast instead (ale, lager & weizen) repitching several times, as long as I was happy with the yeasts character & performance.
Not having to filter, keg, rack, fine, centrifuge, or force carbonate, or otherwise mess about with the beer was a real plasure to me as both drinker & brewer.
(you should have seen the smug looks on some of the less knowledgeable real ale geeks, who, on seeing the "keg " fonts would denounce us as brewing heathens, when in fact the beers, even the dreaded(!) lagers were as "real" as any cask - & unfined too)
It's not a perfect system, but it suited me perfectly & I'd certainly use them again in a brewpub if I could.
cheers & let us know what you decide?
nr Liverpool, UK.