Choosing a Boiler for your Brewery

For some reason, we see lots of low pressure boilers, which were actually built for space heating applications, installed in breweries.  During a recent conversation with Mike Leeming, National Sales Manager for Parker Boiler, we debated the reasoning behind the decision.  Was it related to price?  Given the large investment required for a brewery, were they cutting corners when it came to the boiler?  Was it lack of due diligence?  They knew what they needed in all the other areas in the brewery, so they just took the first thing that came along when it came to the boiler.  Maybe the boiler was just an afterthought?

We never came to a definite conclusion, but we did agree upon this.  Just as not all beer is created equally, so too are not all boilers created equally.  The beer that you pick up at your local Seven Eleven is fine for an afternoon at the beach, but it’s not the same as the handcrafted IPA that you get at your local microbrew.  So many folks think a boiler is just a boiler, but Parker Boiler is that handcrafted IPA that won’t let you down – it’s the premier steam producer known for reliability, safety, longevity, and lifecycle.

Parker Boiler knows that to make the best product possible, you need the best ingredients and equipment possible.  So, let’s talk a bit about brew-house boiler sizing, the rules of thumb, and industry standards.  Here’s a simple chart for an example of common brewery equipment steam requirement:

                                                                       6.22% Evaporation                   10% Evaporation
  System Size                                                (without agitation)                   (With agitation)

15 Barrel Brewery

15bbl Mash Tun                                                     9.37 BHP                                    9.37 BHP

15bbl Kettle                                                         10.25 BHP                                  13.69 BHP

30bbl Hot Liquor Tank                                             5.87 BHP                                    5.87 BHP

Total BHP Requirement                                         25.49 BHP                                  28.93 BHP

From here we need to consider other factors as well, such as maybe other uses for steam in your operation such as sanitation, keg washers, sparge tube in the brew kettle, etc.

All the above factors must be considered for a properly operating brewery operation and can be the difference in that large brewery investment functioning as you imagined and designed with optimal production or just getting by or even worse compensating for poor equipment function due to improper steam supply.  But don’t just take my word for it; Tom Taylor, a long-time Parker Boiler distributor in Portland, Oregon has installed over 50 brewery boilers and has the unique perspective of dealing with the kettle and equipment makers then assessing the operation once it has started.  I am willing to bet, given all he’s seen, that he too would not recommend using low pressure boilers in breweries.