Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Steam vs. direct fire

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Montréal, QC
    Posts
    160

    Steam vs. direct fire

    I'm about to purchase a 7bbl system for a brewpub and I wonder if it makes sense to go with steam rather than direct fire. I know the pros and cons on larger systems for I've worked with a 15bbl and 20bb in the past, but is there something I should consider/be worried on a smaller scale?

    Cheers!

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Florence, Alabama
    Posts
    313
    This is relevant to my situation as well, am curious about the ups and downs of both. I have even seen some Electric BKs in that size. My gut tells me that isn't a great idea, but I would like to know what experiences people may have had

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Athens, NY
    Posts
    422
    I've used both on a 7bbl scale and I would say that they both have their pluses and minuses. I used to work on a system that had a direct fire propane kettle and electric HLT (we had very cheap electric prices in that town). The direct fire kettle was great, very vigorous rolling boils and no waiting around for the boil to get up to temperature. Really good carmelization in the kettle too. The electric HLT was crap though. Took 12 hours plus to heat ground water up to 190 which made planning ahead of time a necessity (if you forgot to turn on the HLT before leaving for the night, there was no way you could brew the next day....). I guess the biggest positive was that there was no boiler to deal with. No steam traps. No condensate return pumps etc...

    Now I work on a 7 bbl steam jacketed system. I like it just fine. It certainly is nice to be able to heat up water in the HLT very quickly and the boil is strong. My biggest complaint is that I end up waiting for the boil to start for 20-30 minutes after runoff is done, but that's because my bottom jacket doesn't have a separate shut off valve, so I can't turn the jackets on until they're covered by wort. This is a flaw with the installation of the steam piping, not the actual brewhouse itself.

    I can't think of a really strong reason to go with direct fire vs. steam. I would say it depends on what kind of brewhouse you get a better deal on, what propane & electrical prices are for your brewery, and whether you have space/desire to have a boiler.

    If you're planning on ever brewing smaller batches (like 3-5 bbls of a strong ale in your 7 bbl system) then I would say that the direct fire is a better choice because you won't have to worry about covering the jackets in the kettle.
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Beer Guy
    Crossroads Brewing
    Athens, NY

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Seven Points, TX
    Posts
    49

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Muskego, Wisconsin
    Posts
    108

    Direct fire

    Quote Originally Posted by Zucker Bee
    I'm about to purchase a 7bbl system for a brewpub and I wonder if it makes sense to go with steam rather than direct fire. I know the pros and cons on larger systems for I've worked with a 15bbl and 20bb in the past, but is there something I should consider/be worried on a smaller scale?

    Cheers!

    Ben
    If you decide to use a direct fire gas burner, don't use a flat bottom, there would be potential for warping and make it harder to clean out.
    Our mash tun and kettles use gas fired burners. We never have the build up on the bottoms of those kettles. We run 2 400,000 btu burners on each kettle and 250,000 btu on the mash tun. 1 kettle is 25 years old.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by triple
    If you decide to use a direct fire gas burner, don't use a flat bottom, there would be potential for warping and make it harder to clean out.
    Our mash tun and kettles use gas fired burners. We never have the build up on the bottoms of those kettles. We run 2 400,000 btu burners on each kettle and 250,000 btu on the mash tun. 1 kettle is 25 years old.
    What kind of look do the bottoms of your vessels have? Are they small conical? Rounded?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •