Many enthusiasts of craft beer, particularly those considering opening a craft brewery, are unsure about the optimal heating method for their brewing system.
Two popular heating methods for craft breweries are electric heating and steam heating. The choice of heating method will impact the brewing process and, naturally, the design of the brewing equipment will differ as well. So, what is the best way to heat brewing equipment? This age-old question remains unanswered as there is no definitive “best” method. Our brewing equipment is designed to accommodate various heating methods, and we offer advice tailored to your specific brewing needs and setup. Each heating method has its own advantages and disadvantages. For your convenience, ACE will outline these pros and cons below.
Electric heating systems are a popular option for commercial brewing systems ranging from 50L to 1000L. Electric heating mashing equipment includes heating pipes in the kettle to ensure maximum heating efficiency. 100% of the heat generated by electric heating is transferred to the water or wort. This type of heating is commonly found in homebrew systems and small commercial breweries, and it allows for easy temperature control.
However, electrically heated brewery equipment typically requires 300-500A and 3-phase 480 volts. These requirements are not standard in most parts of the world, which means you will need various licenses, electrical service upgrades, and infrastructure before you can safely brew your first beer. Moreover, monthly electricity costs can have a significant impact on the profitability of a craft brewery. Additionally, electric heating is known for its slow heating rate, which can prolong the brewing time. We recommend electric heating for small brewing systems up to 1000 liters.
Advantages of Electric Heating:
- High-efficiency heating for small brewing equipment, with 100% of heat transferred to water or wort.
- No worries about carbon monoxide, open flames, or explosive gases.
- Relatively cost-effective for beer equipment ranging from 200L to 1000L. Highly automated control available if needed.
- Excellent temperature control during brewing.
- Predictable costs.
Disadvantages of Electric Heating:
- Electric heating cost is usually higher than steam heating, but this is often offset by higher heating efficiency.
- Initial equipment cost is usually higher than direct fire heating, but lower than steam heating.
- In a craft brewery, sufficient current is required to heat the kettle and perform other operations (which varies depending on the size of the brewing system).
- Electric heating has a slow heating rate and can prolong brewing time.
- After brewing is complete, the electrical components need to be removed for cleaning, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
ACE 5BBL Electric Heating Brewhouse Equipment
Steam heating systems are a popular choice for professional breweries and large commercial breweries. Saccharification chamber equipment typically has a steam jacket welded to the inner shell. Since the steam jacket is in direct contact with the equipment, steam provides the fastest heating rate. Being the fastest heating method, steam jackets require significant initial brewery construction costs to incorporate special pressurized steam jackets, traps, and condensate return systems. Additionally, most local authorities require expensive permits and inspections for operating steam generators/boilers, which can delay brewery start-up times. You will also need to hire a professional and costly contractor to pass inspections and securely connect the high-pressure steam fiber optic to your kettle.
Advantages of Steam Heating:
- Rapid heating method for large brewery construction.
- Combined with gas/electric/oil-fired boilers, you can achieve good (though not optimal) heating efficiency and lower energy costs.
- Easier to clean compared to electric heating.
Disadvantages of Steam Heating:
- It is the most expensive heating method due to the need for boiler and steam system installation.
- Not cost-effective for microbrewery equipment.
- In some countries, local authorities require inspections and permits for operating steam generators/boilers, resulting in high licensing and inspection fees that can delay brewery start-up times.
ACE 30HL Steam Heating Brewhouse Equipment
|Heating Options||Steam Heating||Electric Heating|
Tank Structure Features
|The kettle/HLT is built with a steam jacket for steam heating.||The kettle/HLT is equipped with internal electric heating coils.|
|The kettle and HLT share the same set of steam boilers, along with appropriate steam piping and valves, etc.||Not applicable.|
|LPG, natural gas, or electricity. The boiler supplier can advise on the suitable boiler capacity based on the required thermal power.||Not applicable.|
|It is recommended to have a separate small room (1-2 square meters) adjacent to the brewhouse to house the steam boiler.||Adequate electrical power supply.|
|Within 30kw for the entire brewhouse (including pumps, chillers, motors, etc).||Generally high. For example, a 500L system typically requires over 80KW.|
Recommended Use Capacity
|Brewhouses above 500L in size.||Brewhouses ranging from 50L to 1000L.|
Each customer’s installed brewing system is unique. We believe that electric heating is most likely the best choice for small commercial systems (2 to 10 barrels), while steam heating is most likely the best option for larger systems. In general, ACE custom designs brewing equipment of various sizes and employs a range of heating methods based on the brewer’s specific conditions and preferences.