Stainless steel is an ideal material for brewing equipment due to its durability, corrosion resistance, and ease of cleaning and sanitation. This guide examines stainless steel beer-brewing equipment, types, fabrication, standards, benefits, suppliers, and provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Introduction to stainless steel beer-brewing equipment
Stainless steel is the predominant material used in modern professional and industrial beer brewing equipment. Its unique properties provide key benefits for brewhouse vessels, fermenters, brite tanks, and other components that come in contact with corrosive ingredients and cleaning chemicals.
- Resistant to caustic cleaning compounds
- Impervious to oxygen interaction and corrosion
- Non-reactive surface won’t impact beer flavor
- High temperature rating and heat conductivity
- Easy to clean and keep sanitary
- Durable construction withstands heavy use
- Fabricated into tanks, kettles, piping, and more
- Allows visual inspection of product
- Meets stringent hygienic design standards
Stainless steel enables efficient brewhouse function, consistency, food safety, and productivity vital to profitable commercial beer production.
Types of Stainless Steel for Brewing
|304||Most common grade, good corrosion resistance|
|316||Added molybdenum improves pitting resistance|
|316L||Low carbon, eliminates carbide precipitation|
|2B||Smooth mill finish best for sanitation and cleaning|
The 300 series austenitic stainless steels offer the optimal balance of sanitation, mechanical properties, weldability, and cost for brewery applications.
Electropolished finishing further enhances smoothness and cleanability.
Typical stainless brewing vessels and components include:
- Brew house kettles – mash tun, lauter tun, brew kettle, whirlpool
- Fermentation tanks – unitanks, conicals, open fermenters
- Serving tanks – brite beer tanks, cask conditioning tanks
- Piping – wort lines, transfers, hop backs, heat exchangers
- Mixers, pumps, filters, conveyors, bottling lines
- Control panels, process automation platforms, sensors
- Platforms, stairs, railings, floor grating and drains
- Storage tanks – hot liquor, water, yeast
- Chillers, glycol jacketed systems, cooling towers
- Clean-in-place (CIP) systems and sanitary fittings
- Grain handling – mills, mashers, conveyors, silos
Integrated modular brewhouse solutions allow custom-tailored stainless steel equipment matching production goals, space, and budgets.
Stainless Steel Standards for Brewing Equipment
To ensure food safety and sanitary design, stainless brewing equipment is fabricated to comply with standards including:
- ASME Pressure Vessel Code – Construction of pressure tanks
- AWS D18 – Welding of stainless steel for sanitary applications
- 3A Sanitary Standards – Hygienic equipment design criteria
- NSF/ANSI – Food equipment safety certification
- ASTM A270 – Specification for stainless steel sheet
- ASTM A967 – Passivation treatments of stainless steel
- ASTM A380 – Cleaning and passivation practices
- Electropolishing per ASTM B912 – Enhanced surface smoothness
- ISO 14644-1 – Air purity standards for food/beverage
Reputable brewing equipment suppliers maintain full compliance and documentation of certifications.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Brewing Equipment
Compared to materials like mild steel or wood historically used in breweries, stainless steel offers major advantages:
- Resists corrosion from ingredients and caustic cleaning chemicals
- Eliminates oxygen interaction preserving beer quality
- Non-reactive surface avoids impacting brew flavor
- Easy to thoroughly clean and keep sanitary
- Withstands heavy physical use and CIP cycles
- Visually inspect tanks for cleanliness and process verification
- Meets food safety and hygiene equipment standards
- Handles high temperatures and heat conductivity
- Durable long service life with little deterioration
- Electropolishing further enhances sanitation properties
- Recyclable and environmentally friendly material
The unique benefits of stainless steel make it an ideal investment for trouble-free beer production.
Selecting stainless steel beer-brewing equipment Suppliers
When selecting stainless steel brewing equipment, key factors to evaluate in manufacturers include:
- Expertise – Specialization in brewhouse fabrication
- Quality – Stringent welding, finishing and inspection
- Testing – FAT and other quality control validation
- Standards – Compliance certification status
- Customization – Range of sizing and options
- Design – 3D CAD modeling and simulations
- Fabrication – Capabilities for all vessel types
- Automation – Process control systems integration
- Service – Installation, operator training, support
- Experience – Proven reputation and client results
- Global capabilities – Solutions for any region
- partnership – Collaborative approach to needs
Leading global suppliers like JVNW offer turnkey brewery solutions from design through installation and provide continuous customer support.
Pros and Cons of stainless steel beer-brewing equipment
- Corrosion resistance for long service life
- Imperviousness to oxygen interaction
- Non-reactive to preserve pure beer flavor
- Withstands repeated high temperature CIP cycles
- Easy to thoroughly clean and sanitize
- Meets stringent hygienic equipment standards
- Durable construction resists heavy-duty use
- Allows visual inspection of product
- Recyclable and environmentally friendly
- Can be electropolished for enhanced smoothness
- Higher cost than materials like mild steel or plastics
- Potential for corrosion if improperly welded or passivated
- Not as great a heat conductor as copper kettles
- Can impart metallic flavors if contacted with bare stainless
- Susceptible to chloride-induced pitting and stress corrosion cracking
- Requires higher welding skills and non-ferrous tools
- Extra attention needed near welds and finish transitions
- Additional surface treatments may be required
With proper design, fabrication, finishing, and maintenance – stainless steel provides superior performance, longevity and value for professional brewing applications.
What are the most common stainless grades used in breweries?
Grades 304 and 316 are predominantly used for the optimal balance of corrosion resistance, fabrication properties, and cost.
What stainless steel surface finish is best?
A uniform 2B mill finish ensures optimal cleanability, corrosion resistance, and sanitation.
What standards apply to stainless brewing tanks?
Key standards are ASME pressure vessel code, 3A sanitary standards, AWS welds, ASTM material grades, and electropolishing.
What stainless steel thickness is typical?
Common material thickness ranges from 1.5mm for vessels up to 6mm for heavy duty vessels.
Why use stainless instead of mild steel?
Stainless steel resists corrosion and oxygen interaction, has high cleanability, and meets hygiene requirements – advantages mild steel lacks.
What welding methods are used on stainless equipment?
TIG welding is most common. Laser and electron beam welding are also used to minimize heat input and distortion.
How long does stainless brewing equipment last?
With proper maintenance, major stainless steel vessels and piping have a service lifespan of 25-30 years or longer.
How is stainless steel joined in addition to welding?
Sanitary clamp fittings, tri-clover connections, and threaded connections are also used for non-permanent joints.
Should stainless equipment be passivated?
Yes, passivation is critical to maximize corrosion resistance especially for welded vessels.
How heavy is stainless brewing equipment?
Thickness, size, and grade determine weight. As an example, density of 304 stainless is ~0.29 lbs per cubic inch.