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Craft Brewery Tanks

Craft brewery tanks are a key equipment used in beer production in micro and craft breweries.

Craft breweries are a vital part of the American economy, contributing billions of dollars in revenue and creating thousands of jobs. In recent years, the craft beer industry has experienced explosive growth, with new breweries opening up all over the country.

One of the most important pieces of equipment for any craft brewery is the fermentation tank. Tanks are used to store and ferment the wort, which is the liquid that is eventually converted into beer.

There are many different types of fermentation tanks available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this guide, we will discuss the different types of tanks, as well as the factors to consider when choosing a tank for your brewery.

craft brewey tanks

Types of Craft Brewery Tanks

Fermentation, that ancient magic that transforms simple sugars into delicious wines, bubbly beers, and tangy yogurts, relies on a crucial player: the fermentation tank. But these vessels are far from uniform; they come in a surprising variety, each suited to specific needs and offering unique advantages. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of fermentation tanks and explore the diverse options that shape our fermented favorites.

Open-Top Tanks: A Breath of Tradition

Imagine large wooden vats or ceramic crocks, their surfaces teeming with frothy activity. These are open-top tanks, the most traditional option, offering a direct connection to the environment. This allows for natural airflow and temperature fluctuations, mimicking the open-air methods of yore. While these tanks favor spontaneous fermentation and lend a rustic character to certain products, they require careful monitoring and are susceptible to contamination.

Closed Tanks: Tight Control for Consistent Results

For precise control and hygiene, closed tanks reign supreme. Made from stainless steel or even concrete, these vessels seal the fermentation process, allowing for strict temperature and pressure regulation. This creates a predictable environment, ideal for large-scale production and replicating consistent flavor profiles. Closed tanks often feature conical bottoms, facilitating the collection of spent yeast (trub) and promoting clarity in the final product.

The Hybrid Hero: Unitanks, Efficiency Personified

Unitanks, as the name suggests, are all-in-one wonders. Combining fermentation, conditioning, and carbonation in a single vessel, they streamline the brewing process and save space. This efficiency makes them popular in craft breweries and cideries, allowing for experimentation and small-batch production. However, their versatility comes at a cost, as they require specialized cleaning procedures and may not be suitable for products with longer fermentation times.

Beyond Metal and Wood: Exploring Alternative Materials

While stainless steel and wood dominate the scene, other materials offer intriguing possibilities. Glass carboys, reminiscent of science lab beakers, provide excellent visibility for monitoring fermentation. Plastic tanks, lightweight and affordable, are popular for homebrewing and small-scale operations. And then there are the intriguing ceramic vessels, used for specialty products like sake, adding a touch of earthiness and tradition to the fermentation process.

craft brewery tanks

Key Design and Customization Parameters

Choosing the right fermentation tank is crucial for a successful and enjoyable brewing experience. Here are some key factors to consider:

1. Intended Use:

  • What are you fermenting? (beer, wine, cider, kombucha, etc.) Different fermentables have different needs.
  • Scale of operation: Are you a homebrewer making small batches or a commercial brewery with larger volumes?
  • Frequency of use: How often will you be fermenting?

2. Size and Capacity:

  • Batch size: Choose a tank that comfortably holds your desired batch size with enough headspace for foaming.
  • Multiple batches: Consider if you need multiple tanks for simultaneous fermentation or secondary fermentation.
  • Storage space: Ensure you have enough space to store the filled and empty tank.

3. Material:

  • Stainless steel: Popular choice for durability, sanitation, and temperature control.
  • Plastic: Affordable, lightweight, but may scratch and retain odors.
  • Glass: Easy to clean and monitor, but fragile and prone to breakage.
  • Wood: Imparts unique flavors, but requires special care and can be expensive.

4. Temperature Control:

  • Importance for your ferment: Some ferments require strict temperature control, while others are more forgiving.
  • Options: Built-in jackets for cooling/heating, external glycol systems, or ambient temperature control.

5. Other Features:

  • Shape and design: Consider factors like ease of cleaning, access for racking/punching down, and stability.
  • Pressure rating: Important for carbonated beverages or high-pressure fermentation.
  • Accessories: Airlocks, valves, thermometers, sampling ports, etc.

Additional Tips:

  • Budget: Fermentation tanks can range in price significantly. Set a realistic budget and prioritize features based on your needs.
  • Expandability: Consider if you might want to increase batch sizes in the future and choose a tank with room to grow.
  • Ease of use: Choose a tank that is easy to clean, sanitize, and operate, especially for beginners.
  • Research and reviews: Read reviews and compare different brands and models before making a decision.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the perfect fermentation tank for your brewing needs and ensure a successful and enjoyable experience!

Craft Brewery Tanks

craft brewery tanks Suppliers and Pricing

Equipping your brewery with the right tanks is crucial for producing high-quality, consistent beer. But with a multitude of suppliers and varying price points, navigating the craft brewery tank market can be daunting. Let’s delve into the key players and pricing considerations to guide your informed decision.

Supplier Landscape:

  • Established Manufacturers: Renowned names like Stout Tanks, Ss Brewtech, and Blichmann Engineering offer a vast selection of tanks, from small fermenters to large brite tanks. Their experience translates into quality products, often backed by warranties and reliable after-sales support. Expect premium pricing commensurate with their reputation.
  • Regional Fabricators: Local or regional fabricators can be a cost-effective option, especially for smaller breweries. They may offer custom designs and flexibility, but research their experience and certifications to ensure quality and safety standards are met. Prices can vary depending on size, complexity, and materials used.
  • Online Retailers: Online retailers like MoreBeer! and Northern Brewer cater to homebrewers and small-scale breweries. They offer a curated selection of tanks, often at competitive prices, but customization options might be limited. Factor in shipping costs when comparing prices.

Pricing Factors:

  • Size: As expected, larger tanks cost more. A standard 10-barrel fermenter can range from $2,400 to $8,895, while a 15-barrel brite tank can set you back $5,856 or more.
  • Material: Food-grade stainless steel is the industry standard, but its thickness can impact price. Opting for thicker gauges (e.g., 3mm vs. 2mm) ensures durability but increases cost.
  • Features: Jacketed tanks for temperature control, carbonation capabilities, and integrated CIP systems add convenience but come at a premium. Decide which features are essential for your brewing process and budget accordingly.
  • Customization: Bespoke designs or unique specifications will naturally raise the price compared to standard models. Consider if customization aligns with your specific needs and budget.

Beyond Price:

Remember, price isn’t the sole factor. Evaluate factors like:

  • Lead Time: How quickly do you need the tanks? Local fabricators might offer faster turnaround times compared to established manufacturers with high demand.
  • Warranty & Support: Does the supplier offer a warranty and reliable after-sales support? Unexpected issues can be costly, so factor in the value of these services.
  • Reputation: Research the supplier’s reputation for quality, customer service, and adherence to industry standards. Online reviews and industry forums can offer valuable insights.

By understanding the supplier landscape, pricing factors, and additional considerations, you can make an informed decision that equips your brewery with the right tanks to fuel your craft beer journey.

Tips for Selection, Installation and Operation

SelectionDefine production goals and capacity needs. Get input from brewers on preferred shapes, fittings and features.
InstallationEnsure adequate floor space, drainage, ventilation, utilities based on tank choices. Hire technicians experienced in tank assembly.
OperationFollow standard brewing protocols for each tank type. Monitor temperature and pressure closely. Use recommended cleaning chemicals and procedures.
MaintenanceInspect fittings, seals, gaskets, valves regularly for leaks and replace as needed. Use food-grade lubricants on movable parts.
brewey tanks

Choosing the Right craft brewery tanks Supplier

ReputationSearch industry forums for customer reviews. Ask local brewers about their experiences.
Craft focusSupplier specializes in tanks for small scale production rather than mass manufacturing.
CustomizationRange of options for size, shape, fittings, automation, custom branding.
Lead timeFrom order to delivery based on demand forecasts.
WarrantiesYears and terms of coverage for materials, fabrication defects and performance.
BudgetCompare pricing from multiple vendors for desired volume and features.


Q: What is the typical price per gallon of brewery tanks?

A: For new stainless steel tanks, prices range from $100-$300 per barrel (31 gallons), with economies of scale at larger volumes. Used tanks can cost 50-75% less.

Q: Should brew kettles and fermenters be cylindrical or conical?

A: Conicals allow easier collection of yeast and trub. Cylindrical with a cone bottom is a budget option. Commercial breweries often use cylindrical for versatility.

Q: How many BBLs of fermentation tanks does a 3,000 BBL/year brewery need?

A: As a rule of thumb, total fermentation tank volume should be 4-5 times yearly production volume. So 12,000-15,000 gallons of tanks for 3,000 barrel annual output.

Q: What thickness of stainless steel is best for brewing equipment?

A: Minimum thickness is 1.5mm (16 gauge) but 2mm sheets (14 gauge) provide better durability and insulation. Thicker steel increases cost significantly.

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