Beer undergoes fermentation in traditional open fermentation tanks, commonly known as pre-fermentation. Post-fermentation occurs in a closed fermenter called post-fermentation. Due to equipment miniaturization and limited floor space, the one-pot method is adopted. This tank is used for both pre-fermentation and post-fermentation processes, reducing costs and saving floor space. The new process involves a one-pot fermentation tank with various styles, shapes, and configurations.
Selection of Fermenters in Craft Beer Equipment
The front fermentation tank is used for pre-fermentation, with the pond made of wood, steel plate, or concrete dug underground. The surrounding area is covered with asphalt and tiles. Cooling coils are utilized to lower the temperature by circulating cold water and removing heat generated by fermentation. The air in the fermentation tank room needs to be purified to minimize the risk of bacterial infection.
- Some customers in craft beer equipment still prefer to use this fermentation method. However, this type of container is outdated. Nowadays, a stainless steel plate is used for the fermentation tank. It is placed in a well-ventilated room with suitable temperature, where cooled wort is added, along with pure-bred or wild yeast for fermentation. Belgian Lambic Sour Beer is pre-fermented in this manner, making it difficult to replicate its unique local characteristics and environment.
- In addition to the cuboid fermentation tank, there is also a cylindrical front fermentation tank. This double-layer atmospheric pressure container has polyurethane insulation and a Maitreya plate cooling jacket outside the inner tank. Ice water circulation can be used to remove heat generated by fermentation. The tank is equipped with a stainless steel flat cover that can be power-assisted for lifting, ensuring the entry of minimal bacteria. It can also be lifted for convenient cleaning of foam cover, dead yeast, hop lees, and wort hot coagulum left by the pouring tank. The lower flat bottom has a slight slope to facilitate complete drainage, and temperature control is precise, promoting optimal fermentation.
The Fermentation Tank
In general, fermentation tanks are made of SUS304 stainless steel, welded using argon arc. Some customers prefer 316L material, which increases the cost but yields the same result. From a practical standpoint, it is sufficient to use 304 stainless steel for parts in contact with the material, while the outrigger can be welded with the inner tank to provide support. The outer layer can be made of color steel plate, aluminum titanium plate, or even carbon steel with spray paint. The insulation material does not necessarily have to be polyurethane; large breweries typically use perlite for their fermentation tanks.
- The purpose of this explanation is to emphasize that suitability is key. As long as the desired result is achieved, other factors are flexible. If the budget is limited but an all-stainless steel tank is desired, wineries focused on production rather than display can consider using an aluminum-titanium plate for the exterior.
- Due to pressure requirements, the upper part of the tank is designed as a head or cone, while the lower cone aids in yeast discharge. Typically, the cone has a 60° slope, but other angles such as 72°, 75°, and 90° can be used to reduce the overall height, though it may complicate sorting.
- Accessories for the fermentation tank include manhole doors and butterfly valves, as well as positive and negative pressure safety valves, mechanical pressure regulating valves, sampling valves, rotary wine valves, pressure gauges, bimetal thermometers, and carbon dioxide charging titanium rods.
- The positive and negative pressure safety valve serves as the last line of defense for tank safety, protecting against both positive and negative pressure. The tank can potentially collapse even with low negative pressure, so this valve is essential. It is often combined with the mechanical pressure regulating valve, installed on the CIP cleaning pipe, and provides both positive and negative pressure protection. The mechanical pressure regulating valve maintains constant pressure inside the tank. High-end options include water-sealed mechanical pressure regulating valves, incorporating a transparent cup that allows for observation of emerging bubbles.
- For sampling purposes, the recommended valve is one with a screw cap on top. Although more expensive, it offers superior sealing performance and durability. Additionally, it can be fitted with a screw defoamer. Valves without side handles or a damaged front handle pad are generally not problematic.
- Pressure gauges and bimetal thermometers are typically reliable. Shockproof pressure gauges are preferable, and bimetal thermometers serve as a general temperature indicator. Temperature control within the tank is achieved using more accurate temperature sensors and controllers. Some decorative properties can also be incorporated.
- The rotary wine valve has been used in China for over a decade and is now a mature technology. It helps avoid the yeast layer, resulting in higher beer yield at an affordable price. The added value of the extra beer alone justifies its use.
- When it comes to the limited height of manhole doors, upper manholes are preferred because they are located higher and do not come into direct contact with the fermentation broth, reducing the risk of contamination and condensation in the summer. Side manholes address limitations in room height, allowing the door to be opened.
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The engineers at ACE Craft have provided a comprehensive overview of fermenter selection and accessories for craft beer equipment. If you are planning to build a brewery, please contact us. Our professional engineers will create the perfect beer equipment plan and help you realize your dream. We look forward to collaborating with you!
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