Poll

Which method do you use for your big-batch brewing?

Steam
Electric
Gas
Bacon
No pants

Author Topic: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?  (Read 2159 times)

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2334
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« on: November 09, 2011, 05:16:34 AM »
I've seen several options for gas and electric turnkey breweries, as well as some semi-home-built LPG-powered ones. All my electricity comes from Nukes so it's not terribly expensive, gas comes from Russia and is expensive, and steam, I dunno how they do that. Heating element in a water reservoir?

What's the benefit of heat stick versus steam heat?
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2011, 05:43:58 AM »
I am currently running a frankenbrewed 3bbl electric brewery. I have no real problems with it except having to clean the elements. If one of the elements crusts up it can burn and ruin a batch so the cleaning regimen is essential. there are reports out there that say that electric elements can give an odd "grassy" like flavor to bittering hops so some people bag them, but I have never had this issue and I use pellets directly in the boil. Electric is also quiet, which is really nice.

Anything larger that a 7 bbl system and you pretty much need to go with direct fire or steam.

We are in the process of building a 10 bbl brewhouse and we looked at going with steam jacket. Steam gives a more even heat and doesn't scorch as much on the bottom of the kettle making clean up easy. Steam is also quiet since you will have the boiler located in a separate sealed off room.

The problem is the boiler, you are going to spend at least $30K to have a boiler installed and they have to be maintained constantly. You have to have an RO system to feed the water into the boiler to keep the coils from calcifying. You have to have it state inspected. We just weren't ready for all of that and the additional 30K was going to put us over our budget so we went with direct fire. I also bet your "turn key" system doesn't include a boiler.

On our next system we will go with steam, but direct fire is easier to install and mostly maintenance free except for cleaning. It also ended up being cheaper to just run larger ID gas piping over to brewhouse than to run more electric, and we will need the electricity we currently have near brew house for keg cleaner and pump, and small electric pilot system.

So, I would say if you are going 3 bbl go with electric. 7 bbl it is a toss up between electric and gas, depends on your building requirements. If you can afford steam and are ready for a bit of a learning curve it is probably the best option as far as efficiency goes.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 05:49:03 AM by majorvices »
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline bo

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2011, 06:20:54 AM »
How do you clean your elements? Chemical or abrasive pads and elbow grease.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011, 06:31:15 AM »
I used to use PBW but now i just use a green scrubby pad and "floss" then clean. As long as you clean them after every brew it takes no more than 10 minutes for 2 elements.
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline bo

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 06:50:56 AM »
Green scrubby is what I've been using and you're right, do it every time or it gets crusty and can cause off flavors. I have also taken them out completely and soaked them in CLR. This helped a little, but I'm not sure it was worth the effort.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 07:11:26 AM »
While I haven't done it, I have seen breweries that have their electric elements attached to tri-clamps. Then you just disconnect the clamp and remove the element. That would have been my route had I gone electric on the new build.
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2334
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 08:49:12 AM »
Major, how do you do temp control on your heat sticks? I've looked at TheElectricBrewery.com but it looks like a LOT of ordering from specialty shops over(my)seas.
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline blatz

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2448
  • Paul Blatz - Jupiter, FL
    • View Profile
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 11:47:10 AM »
Major, how do you do temp control on your heat sticks? I've looked at TheElectricBrewery.com but it looks like a LOT of ordering from specialty shops over(my)seas.

phil

I just finished up putting together my electric brewery from theelectricbrewery.com (though it has to wait about 3 months for first usage) - Kal actually has most of the major components available for purchase pre-built now or in kit form - you won't need to order quite as much from specialty shops.  I bought the elements, HERMs coil, wiring and control panel pre-built. I did all the kettle work myself which will require a bunch of parts, but I got virtually all of them from morebeer.com.

just FYI.

Edit: I just remembered you are looking to open a brewpub and will likely need larger than 1BBL batches - scratch the above...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 11:48:46 AM by blatz »
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7208
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2011, 12:48:13 PM »
I would say go with the electric. More economical and there will be less heat loss. Plus you can further increase the efficiency by insulating the kettle(s) and HLT(s). All the energy goes directly into the wort instead of mostly into the surrounding air.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 01:09:30 PM »
Well, let me first say that I'm not very knowledgeable about electric, one of my partners did all of the work on the kettle. But basically we have 2 5500 watt elements and we just run them. Once it reaches boil I spray a quick burst of water on the boil over and then it settles into a nice roiling boil. I wish I had two more elements that I could turn off once we reached boil to accelerate reaching boil but I don't.

I really like electric on the size brewery I am running. It's easy to do yourself, mostly maintenance free and very efficient.
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

jaybeerman

  • Guest
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 03:37:55 PM »
phil they may use elec boilers in your area due to the price differences.  i don't have any thoughts other than to say that it's possible that you could go elec steam - might be worth checking into if going larger than 3 bbl.  cheers, j

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2011, 04:02:03 PM »
Electric boiler is still going to cost the same installation as gas. I had the boiler and the steam fired kettle all lined up until I found out the price for installation - ouch!!! fricken OUCH!!!
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6299
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2011, 04:28:43 PM »
BTW I think its funny that the majority of people have chosen "gas" because most of them are just choosing what they know. At some point in time I would like to build an electric homebrewery at my house. Electric breweries are really, really nice. They are more efficient, quicker to heat and, as I said above, quiet. Not sure if it is applicable much over 7bbl but for anything that size or smaller I highly recommend it.
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline bo

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2011, 04:57:45 PM »
I agree. Although, kind of new to it, electric is the way to go. Controlling can be tricky, but I'm slowly getting that under control as well. The lack of noxious fumes is a real plus and no worries about wind, except for some heat loss.

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3151
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Steam vs Electric vs Gas?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2011, 05:51:23 PM »
Not sure if it is applicable much over 7bbl but for anything that size or smaller I highly recommend it.

I'd say electric brewing becomes unpleasant (though not impossible) once you have to climb into the kettle to clean the element(s). That was by far the least pleasant and most dangerous part of my day.
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
http://seanterrill.com/category/brewing/