Craft Beer Heating Methods
Craft beer heating methods are commonly categorized into three types: direct fire heating, electric heating, and steam heating. To understand the evolution of craft beer heating methods, we need to go back to 1992 in China when the first small-scale beer teaching and testing equipment was installed at the Wenzhou Institute of Light Industry. At that time, stainless steel utensils and large jars were rare sight, and the processing technology was basic with limited use of argon arc welding. Consequently, the appearance of most stainless steel tanks was ordinary despite having functional capabilities.
After 2008, with the introduction of foreign brewing elements and Master Gao’s craft beer culture, this beer culture became popular among the younger generation in China. This led to another wave of development in craft beer equipment, resulting in a new level of design and processing. Over the span of 30 years, the heating methods of beer equipment have evolved from direct fire (wood, coal), steam, and electric heating tubes to indirect heating with heat transfer oil and direct fire heating with burners (LNG, LPG). Steam heating has transitioned from using jacket heating to built-in and external heaters.
Direct Fire Heating
In direct fire heating, the pot bottom is heated directly by a flame, similar to cooking on a stove. Although this method has high thermal efficiency, it is no longer environmentally feasible due to pollution concerns and is no longer used.
Steam is generated through the combustion of electricity, gas, fuel oil, or bio-particles. Local electric steam generators are commonly used in areas with three-phase electricity, offering a low failure rate, minimal daily maintenance, and compliance with environmental protection policies. However, regular maintenance of the demineralized water system and prevention of fouling in the electric heating tube are essential to prevent damage and leakage. Gas-fired boilers, whether using LNG or LPG, face gas safety concerns and occasional ignition issues. They require regular maintenance throughout the year, and the transportation and replacement of gas tanks for LPG burners can impact the surrounding environment. Despite these challenges, gas heating methods can replace electric energy with gas chemical energy, reducing the demand for electricity. On the other hand, oil-fired boilers require more attention compared to gas-fired ones due to diesel fuel addition, odor volatility, wax formation in winter, and impurities that can block the oil circuit. However, they can solve the problem of no gas supply or insufficient electricity. It’s important to note that special equipment exceeding a certain capacity must be reported to the relevant authorities.
Electric heating is widely used, especially in the brewhouse equipment for the leaching mash process, but it is rarely used in the mash pot for warming the mash. One challenge with electric heating is the significant heat accumulation on the surface of the electric heating tube, making it difficult to dissipate heat quickly and potentially causing material burning. Additionally, the surface is hard to clean, leading to decreased equipment usability. In some countries, strict boiler supervision and a desire to avoid complications have led to the use of electric heating tubes with heat transfer oil. Electric heating tubes offer the highest direct heating efficiency, and heat conduction can solve the issues of burning and difficult cleaning. However, new challenges arise with temperature control accuracy, requiring empirical values to prevent excessive heating. Bio-particle heating boilers align with environmental protection policies but may face restrictions, especially in urban areas due to potential smoke exhaust effects. They are recommended for use in non-residential areas within the effective area due to cost-effectiveness.
Burner Direct Fire Heating
In burner direct fire heating, the burner is detached from the boiler and installed on the bottom of the heating pot. The combustion chamber is insulated with refractory materials, except for the pot’s bottom, resulting in high efficiency. The chimney can be equipped with casing pipes for heat recovery through water circulation. This method avoids legal restrictions and saves boiler space, making it superior to electric heating tubes. However, the price of direct fire heating equipment is higher than that of steam heating, so careful consideration is required.
Choosing a Turnkey Brewery Solution
When selecting a heating method, it is essential to consider the energy conditions at the beer equipment installation site and make decisions accordingly. If you plan to open or expand a brewery, you can contact ACE for corresponding beer equipment solutions and professional technical support. ACE looks forward to cooperating with you and providing turnkey solutions for your brewery equipment needs.
If you are planning to open or expand a brewery, please contact us directly. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment according to your brewing process. We can provide a complete turnkey solution, including customized solutions for brewery expansion.