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Calculating The Size Of Brewery Chiller For A Craft Beer Brewer’s Needs

June 8th, 2016 by

Anyone who enjoys a cool one from time to time is familiar with names like Coors, Anheuser-Busch, and Budweiser. These are industrial scale breweries who are American icons of beer. Today, however, craft breweries are trending high and taking the nation by storm. Small scale craft brewers need brewery chillers for their ales and pilsners just as the big boy breweries do. Whether a brewer produces hundreds of barrels of beer a year or hundreds of thousands, the right chiller is available to meet any need.

A chiller is probably the most important equipment item in a brewery. It is used to cool wort, control the fermentation process as well as simply cool the final product. Even brewers on a small crafting scale can chill like the pros with the right chiller. The important thing is to get the right size chiller for your own production level. It involves a bit of math so get out your calculator and follow the formula below:

Total Tank Volume:  1 bbl tank holds 31 gallons. A 7 bbl tank contains 217 gallons. Multiply the number of tanks you have with the number of gallons the tank holds to get your total tank volume.

Example for (3) 7 bbl tanks:  3 (tanks) x 217 (gallons per tank) = 651 (gallons, total tank volume)

Liquid Load: Discover how much liquid weight your tanks are holding. A single gallon of liquid weighs about 8.33 pounds. Multiply that number with the total tank volume to arrive at total liquid weight in pounds.

Example:  651 (gallons) x 8.33 (pounds) = 5422.83 (pounds, liquid load)

Total Btu:  41 degrees Fahrenheit is the average brewing temperature difference. This temperature is arrived at by subtracting 34 degrees Fahrenheit from 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Multiply liquid load with with temperature difference 41 to arrive at total Btu.

Example:  5422.83 (pounds, liquid load) x 41 (temperature difference) = 222,336.03 (total Btu)

Hourly BTU:  Determine the number of hours in your pull down. This is also called crashing and is the period of time when the temperature of your brew container will drop. For some vessels crash time will be 24 hours, for others it may be 12 hours. Divide total Btu by pull down total hours.

Example:  222,336 (total Btu) ÷ 12 (pull down hours) = 18,528 (hourly Btu)

Once you have calculated your hourly Btu requirement, you may want to increase it by ten or fifteen percent to compensate for additional heat created by pumps or system inefficiencies. Next, a craft brewer will want to know what their heat load is during the fermentation process. There is a formula for that as well:

Total Bricks:  Multiply total bbl with 15 (bricks)

Example using (3) 7 bbl tanks:  21 (bbl’s) x 15 (bricks) = 315 (total bricks)

Total Btu:  Multiply total bricks with 280 (Btu)

Example:  315 (total bricks) x 280 (Btu) = 88,200 (total Btu)

Hourly Btu:  On average, it takes about 70 hours to accumulate heat gain from yeast during the fermentation process, even if overall fermentation time is longer. Multiply yeast heat gain hours with total Btu to arrive at hourly Btu requirements.

Example:  88,200 (total Btu) x 70 (yeast heat gain hours) = 19,518 (hourly Btu)

By knowing your hourly Btu requirements, you can select the right chiller for your needs. Renting a chiller for your brewing needs is one of the best options. Whether it is for a single month or a long term application, the right chiller is available to meet any need for industrial or craft breweries. Renting a chiller gives a brewer more options and assurances, such as:

  • Minimal up-front investment
  • Upgrade or downsize options
  • Damage protection
  • Maintenance
  • Tax incentives
  • Rapid response for delivery and repairs

To select your own brewery chiller, please contact us. We have over thirty years of experience keeping beer and ale the perfect temperature. We have the chiller to meet your need.