The brewers guide

steam boiler brewery

Purchasing a boiler is one of the most important investments for a brewery. The boiler lies at the heart of your brewery as it supplies all the steam. The steam provides all the needs for heating up anything in the brewery:

“The biggest use is for boiling the full volume of beer with the hops.
We have 50 or more uses of steam around the brewery because there’s lots of little tanks and equipment that need heating up for cleaning etc. and to put a little system in for each would be extraordinarily expensive.”
– Andrew Leman, Timothy Taylors

Steam is generally more efficient, safer and offers more precise temperature control than other methods so it’s no wonder breweries prefer this method of heating. High-quality dry steam is vital to producing the best quality beer.

We are putting together a series of guides to help you choose the best options for your steam brewery…

Our first guide covers 8 of the most overlooked factors when considering a boiler purchase and how you can overcome them. 

1 – Boiler outputs are expressed differently to the steam requirement for your machines. For example, if you need 700kg/hr steam at 7bar you would need to include the word ‘actual’ when talking to your boiler manufacturer.
The boiler-maker will then need to make allowances for blowdown and other losses for the system.

2 – If there is a risk of steam getting into the finished product, make sure the boiler water treatment chemicals you order are food safe.  That means, among others, using sulphite or ascorbic acid as an oxygen scavenger and avoiding Amines for example.

3 – You must notify your local planning office if you are adding a new boiler or making changes to an existing one. You don’t need to go through a long planning process but they will, for example, help to ensure the chimney is the right height for your location.

4 –Make sure you have enough gas. You will find a big yellow sign by your gas meter which will state a minimum and maximum pressure but you’ll need to check with the gas supplier how much gas you’re allowed to consume per hour – don’t trust the range on the meter!

5 – The room where you’re planning on placing the boiler must be well ventilated. So, if you are not buying a pre-packaged boiler house you will need 4 cm² of free air space at low level and 2 cm² at high level for each kW of burner input.  Since louvered or grilled vents are typically only 50 – 60% free air space you need to take that into account too.

6 – Boilers require different levels of automation depending on how frequently they are attended. Include your attendance level in any enquiry to prospective suppliers.

7 – Choosing the right type of boiler is important. If you are not using steam every day, you may want to consider a rapid steam generator. Sites that use steam all day would benefit from the improved steam quality obtained from the horizontal shell type boilers.

8 – Consider what your load profile is. You may have 5 separate pieces of equipment that add up to a potential requirement of 5000kg/hr – but what is the likelihood of that happening? You may only need 3000kg/hr at peak demand. It is really common for people to oversize the boiler by sizing for unrealistic peaks. Minimum demand is also important; it’s quite fashionable to ask for 10:1 turn down but if your minimum load is only 25% of the peak demand then you’re wasting money asking for anything more than 4:1

Further guidance reading: Visit the Combustion Engineering Association website www.cea.org.uk to access best-practice guides and training.

For any specific information you may require, please get in touch with our friendly team of steam experts