Steam is a popular heating method in craft beer, especially for breweries that are 15bbl and above. Vapor can be used for sanitation purposes and can also be used to heat the caustic. It is used to disinfect the air during wort aeration, and most brewers use pure oxygen to aerate the wort on its way to the fermenter.
Working Method of Steam Heating
In most mash plants, the flow of steam into the vessel can be controlled, similar to controlling a gas fire on a stovetop. With a steam-heated brewing system, there are three alternative methods you can use to heat your brewing tun. Let’s start by looking at the internal piping.
The Advantages of Steam Heating
When using the steam jacket, a large “heated area” is created. Bottom and side jackets are available with optional piping. This allows for accelerated boiling and an excellent evaporation rate.
Even Distribution of Heat
The large heated area results in a more even heat distribution, reducing the chance of scorching or blockage and ensuring a high-quality wort. The cleaning process after steam heating is easier compared to direct fire heating or electric heating.
Steam can be used for various tasks in a brewery, from cleaning kegs to sterilizing compressed air for wort aeration.
Steam can be controlled based on the settings of the mashing tun, making processes and procedures easier to replicate.
Long-Term and Potential Scalability
With proper boiler maintenance and preventive care, boilers can have a long lifespan, making them a worthwhile investment. It can operate in series if an electric steam generator is used.
Disadvantages of Steam Heating
Boilers are expensive to install initially, and they require significant maintenance to keep the generator in top condition. A steam generator is also required, adding to the overall cost.
Depending on the brewery’s location, local regulations may not allow for the installation of boilers inside the brewery. Make sure to check if your area permits the use of steam before choosing this heating method.
On smaller brewing systems, an electric steam generator may be the best option if you want to utilize steam heating.