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brewpub boiler operations

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  • brewpub boiler operations

    What do you those of you who operate brewpubs or small breweries do regarding turning your boiler on/off? I run a 7 bbl brewpub and am currently brewing 3 times a week. So on non-brewdays I usually have the boiler off. The problem I'm running into is on brewdays. Right now I come in very early in the morning (I live very close by) and turn on the boiler and kettle, leave and then come back an hour+ later to start mashing in.

    I'd like to speed things up a bit so I'm wondering how many people have their boilers hooked up to a timer, or just don't turn them off at all (or only turn them off on weekends)?
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Brewer
    Brooklyn Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America
    Hyde Park, NY

  • #2
    Ours is a small brewpub as well, with a sectional steam boiler, and unless we are shut down for a week or more we leave it on. There is a lot of heat/pressure stress to the system during start up, so when we restart we will cycle on and off a couple of times to preheat the boiler prior to developing pressure. Equally important and often ignored is the stress from the vacuum caused by shut off and cooling. We try to remember after shutoff to relieve the vacuum on the system after it cools, just crack a valve and that helps to de-stress the system. Since the boiler contributes to heating the brewery we don't consider it a money problem in the winter, but above all repairs and replacement costs are crazy high compared with the cost of idling for a few days per week.


    • #3
      leave it on

      You'll have to decide for yourself when you hit the tipping point where the extra gas costs for keeping it running make sense, but I will say that we experienced an improvement in boiler performance reliability when we quite shutting it down between uses.
      Steve Bradt
      Regional Sales Manager
      Micro-Matic Packaging Division
      Eastern United States and Canada


      • #4
        We leave ours on. Similar situation brewing 3 days a week in brewpub.

        Firing up a cold boiler and heating up the system takes a lot of energy. I also agree that this can be stressful on the boiler itself.


        Liam McKenna


        • #5
          I don't have a boiler, but I do have an inline water heater. Seems like you could dough in with hot water first and start mash while boiler is firing up.
          Keith Yager
          Head Brewer/Owner
          Yellowhammer Brewing Co.


          • #6
            My boiler just has a switch on/off. When someone says that their boiler is "idling" is there a setting on your boiler for that? Or are you just closing off all the valves and letting it cycle on/off on its own?

            To respond to the original post, I only brew about once a week, and I turn my boiler off when not in use. I usually come in the day before a brew day to heat up the water. If I get it about 10 or 20 degrees higher than my mash in temperature, then it will cool down to the right temperature by the next morning.
            Troy Robinson
            Quirk Brewing
            Walla Walla


            • #7
              When I am idling the boiler its just left on, and I don't go to the trouble to shut off the master supply valve, but one could. Hope this helps. Remember after shut downs to blow down pretty good, just as the system starts to develop a few pounds of pressure. This will keep your boiler in good clean shape as well as having soft make up water and good treatment chemical protocols.