Article

Large-Scale Homebrew Systems

Be sure to check out the comparison chart of all the models covered here at the bottom of this article.

Homebrew systems have gone BIG. Large three- vessel brewing systems are simply a thing of beauty and come in sizes ranging from 5-gallon (19-L) to 5-barrel. And there are even some large batch single-vessel, all-in-one systems that stack up to their three-vessel counterparts. Roll one of these big boys out onto the driveway and you’ll most likely have the whole neighborhood brewing with you in no time.

I put together a 20-gallon (76-L) propane Fire Actuated Recirculating Tun system many years ago with digital temperature switches, relays, electric solenoid valves, and thermistors. It took almost six months to complete the build, but at the time the options to buy a pre-built system were scarce. I doubt I would have built a system if some of these newer all-in-one brewing systems were available when I was brewing larger batches. The only options at the time were through-the-roof expensive, so building a system kept costs down and allowed me to tinker with cheap metal and fire. Win-win for me.

If you take a look at the larger all-in-one brewing system landscape today it is a very different story. There are many price points, manufacturers, sizes, and system configurations to choose from. You will find many of these larger systems come outfitted with control panels. Control panels can have touch screens and the whole brewing process can be automated and controlled from a smartphone. Many of these big batch systems are fully automated, although each is unique in design, functionality, and as homebrewers are well aware of —what works best for one person may not be best for another.

These types of systems have been used for a long time as test batch systems for larger breweries and smaller micro/nano breweries. Sam Calagione, of Dogfish Head Brewery, got his start on a 5-gallon (19-L) 3-vessel Brew-Magic system, and many of these systems can be found in craft breweries small and large. If you ever plan on transitioning from hobby brewing to professional brewing, or if you just want to get into brewing larger batch sizes, it might be a good idea to start looking at one of these larger systems now. Recipes can easily be scaled up, but the dynamics of larger kettles and automated control panels take some getting used to.

For this story, I looked at the most popular big batch systems currently available to see what sets each one apart, and then highlighted some of their best features.

BLICHMANN ENGINEERING PRO PILOT SERIES

Available in 5-gallon (19-L) to 1-barrel, Blichmann Engineering has made a top-of-the-line electric, three-vessel brewing system. Their new horizontal brew systems come complete with all of Blichmann’s innovative products. It comes in various batch sizes adorned with 3 BoilerMaker electric kettles with 240 v BoilCoils, two Riptide Brewing Pumps, Therminator Wort Chiller, and two Tower of Power Controllers. All of this is built onto a large stainless steel table with the necessary hoses and fittings. Mash, sparge, boil, and chill, all in one complete system. 

The BoilerMaker kettles come with Linear Flow Valves that allow for precise control of flow and disassemble for easy cleaning. Borosilicate sight gauges are mounted to the side of each kettle. The dip tubes all come with rotating racking arms to allow you to adjust them for clearer beer. The mashtun comes with the patented button louver false bottom and Blichmann’s AutoSparge. The boil kettle comes with a whirlpool fitting and an adjustable viewing thermometer. 

Batch size: 5 gal. to 1 bbl (19 to 117 L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $4,999–$6,999
www.blichmannengineering.com

BREW-BOSS DELUXE 240 VOLT ELECTRIC BREWERY

A 240 volt electric 15-gallon (57-L) COFI (Center Out Forced Infusion) system with a unique brew stand that includes an integrated rotating hoist/boom and electric winch. 

Each system includes 20-gallon (76-L) TIG welded kettles with various ports and utilizes a large mash infusion filter basket. The Brew-Boss controller steps you through the brewing process with voice commands and tracks your brew session on an included 10-inch (25-cm) Android tablet. 

The highlight of this system has to be the Brew-Boss automated pellet hop feeder. Fill each chamber with hops and set the time you want the hop addition and the system does all the work for you. 

Batch size: 15 gal. (57 L)

System Type: COFI Heat Source: Electric Pumps: Yes Chilling: Optional

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $2,499
www.brew-boss.com 

BREWHA BIAC

The BREWHA BIAC (Brew in a Conical) combines heating, mashing, boiling, chilling, and fermenting all inside one mobile conical unit. Sizes range from 8 gallons to 5 barrels (30 to 587 L)

To brew, water for mashing is added and heated. A large colander style basket is then inserted and grain is added. Mash temperature is regulated by the temperature controller and heating element. When mashing is complete, the grain is removed by raising the colander. The wort filters through the spent grain and down into the vessel for boiling. Sparge water can externally be heated and added to rinse the grains. After the boil, the wort is chilled by passing cold water through the cooling jacket. After cooling, cold break is dumped out of the bottom port, the wort is aerated, and yeast can be added. Fermentation temperatures are regulated with the cooling jacket and temperature controller. When fermentation is complete, you can bottle or keg the beer. 

Some nice features are the automated valves and temperature sensors to give you many options for customizing the system to fit your specific brewhouse needs. The BREWHA BIAC can also be used for producing wine and even spirits with the optional condensing assembly. 

Batch size: 5 gal. to 3+ bbl (19 to 352+ L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Optional

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $2,999–$18,019
www.brewhaequipment.com

COLORADO BREWING SYSTEMS NANO BREWER DUAL

Looks like a shark cage, but brews whale-size batches. This professional brewing system comes in three different sizes, with 100-, 200- and 300-gallon (380-, 760-, 1,140-L) vessels. With its unique design, this system can brew a full volume batch of one beer or two completely different beers simultaneously. 

The average time to brew two batches of beer with this system is 3.5–4 hours +/- meaning that you can brew up to 4 barrels of beer with the 100-gallon (1,140-L) version in a single 7–8 hour brew day.  

Manufactured and assembled in the USA. In addition to being a full fabrication facility, Colorado Brewing Systems is also an accredited UL 508a panel shop which allows them to manufacture their systems in-house from start to finish. 

Batch size: 62+ gal. (380+ L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric Pumps: No Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $9,300–$15,900
www.cobrewingsystems.com 

BREWMATION ELECTRIC SYSTEMS

Brewmation’s electric 2 barrel R&D three-vessel brew house’s hot liquor tank and brew kettle are each powered by three 6KW heating elements (total 18KW per tank). The mashtun is heated by a 6KW RIMS tube.  At the heart of the system is Brewmation’s advanced touchscreen controller that takes care of controlling the tank’s temperatures, water pump control via the digital flow meter, the wort pump control (for RIMS circulation), and the two variable speed peristaltic pumps (for sparging). The hot liquor tank can be set via the touchscreen’s timer so it can heat your strike water just in time for your arrival to the brewery. The system can also be accessed remotely offering full control of the system via a PC, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. 

Brewmation has systems powered by electricity and steam, ranging in size from 12 to 20 barrel, with both RIMS and HERMs mash heat types.

Batch size: 12 bbl to 3+ bbl (59 to 352+ L)

System Type: RIMS/HERMS Heat Source: Electric/Steam Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $7,000–$25,675
www.brewmation.com 

MOREBEER! LOW RIDER DIGITAL BREWSCULPTURE V4

The Low Rider is a natural/propane gas-powered, single-tier

(3 vessels) HERMS system that allows you to look into and interact with every kettle without the need for a step or ladder. Wort is transferred via electric pumps. Morebeer! fabricates all of their brew sculptures in their metal shop using 304 stainless steel and TIG welds. 

 Every Low Rider Digital system comes with a digital brewing controller, sparge assembly, whirlpool fitting, chiller, and mash kettle screen. The boil kettle includes etched volume markers and the lid has a notch for hanging hop bags. The Low Rider can also be ordered without the integrated digital controls for around $2,000 less.

Best of all . . . test drive for 60 days and return with no hassle. 

Batch size: 10 to 20 gal. (38 to 76 L)

System Type: HERMS Heat Source: Natural gas/propane Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $6,495-$6,795
www.morebeer.com  

HIGH GRAVITY WORT HOG SYSTEMS

The Wort Hog 1–2 barrel system from High Gravity is a customizable system for electric brewers available as both HERMS or RIMS. They offer many add-ons, but the base system includes a control panel, kettles, pumps, sparge arm, and chiller. Add a work table and a fermenter and you have yourself a full brew house. 

The control panel that comes with each system manages the temperature for the hot liquor tank and mashtun with multiple switches for the pumps and heating elements. 

High Gravity says they will take care of any problem with the controller as long as you own it,  this is basically a lifetime guarantee. 

In addition to the 1-2 barrel system, High Gravity offers Wort Hog single-vessel and two-vessel systems for anywhere from 5–40 gallons (19–151 L) batches.

Batch size: 5 to 40 gal. (19 to 151 L)

System Type: HERMS/RIMS Heat Source: Electric Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $2,388–$5,230
www.highgravitybrew.com 

PSYCHOBREW 3-BURNER MADNESS (CS)

This PsychoBrew fully turnkey 2.5-barrel pilot brew system is ready to rock out some big brews right out of the box. It includes three 100-gallon (380-L) American-made kettles and a fully automated control panel.  

A beefy 70 plate chiller cold crashes hot wort before being passed over the oxygen stone and thermometer. The system is outfitted with two 18 horsepower recirculating pumps, a stainless steel burner top, powder coated steel frame, aluminum diamond-plate protective front and finished off with heavy-duty casters for mobility. 

PsychoBrew also has 2-vessel and 4-vessel systems that range from 2 barrel to 7 barrel sizes.

Batch size: 2 to 3.5 bbl (235 to 409 L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Natural gas/propane Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $15,950–$22,900
www.psychobrewllc.com  

MOREBEER! TIPPY DUMP DIGITAL BREWSCULPTURE V4

The Tippy Dump is an innovative natural/propane gas brewing system that features a tipping mashtun. A standard garbage can slides up next to the system and all the spent grain slides out without any lifting or scooping. The design of the system has a small footprint making this a great option for brewers with limited space. 

The “large” version comes with 22-gallon (83-L) kettles, while the “XL” version comes with 30-gallon (114-L) kettles. I have brewed on one of these systems and a cool feature is that the hot liquor tank sits underneath the mashtun and provides heat during the mashing process. The system includes a digital brewing controller, sparge assembly, whirlpool fitting, chiller, and mash kettle screen. The boil kettle includes etched volume markers and the lid has a notch for hanging hop bags. The Tippy Dump can also be ordered without the integrated digital controls for around $2,000 less.

For those vertically challenged, they have a built in flip out step to make viewing and interacting with the mashtun a little easier. 

Batch size: 10 to 20 gal. (38 to 76 L)

System Type: HERMS Heat Source: Natural gas/propane

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $6,295-6,995
www.morebeer.com 

RUBY STREET BREWING SYSTEMS

The Fusion and Alpha integrated brewing systems are the latest creations from Ruby Street Brewing. Featuring 25- or 45-gallon (95- or 170-L) tri-clad bottom kettles, these systems can brew batch sizes from 10 to 31 gallons (38 to 117 L). These extremely compact brewing systems are loaded with premium features including large 10-inch (25-cm) burners, stainless steel pumps, and tri-clover fittings throughout.  

Both systems are available in natural gas, propane, and full electric configurations with a suite of available options to customize the unit for your brewing needs. 

Available gas digital control option offers PID temperature control on the hot liquor tank and direct-fired mashtun with full electronic ignition and safe flame sensing technology on all three burners.  

Batch size: 10 gal. to 1 bbl (38 to 117 L)

System Type: HERMS

Heat Source: Electric/natural gas/propane

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $4,199–$7,599
www.rubystreetbrewing.com  

SABCO BREW-MAGIC SYSTEMS

SABCO has created some larger versions of their popular pilot

Brew-Magic V350MS system. The 2X and XL series include all the great features expected with a SABCO system, but they have upped the volume. 

The SABCO Brew-Magic 2X System (with 30-gallon/114-L kettles for 10- to 25-gallon/38- to 95-L batches) and SABCO Brew-Magic XL System (with 52-gallon/ 197-L kettles for 1.5 barrel batches) took five years of prototyping by brewing scientists to get these systems exactly how they wanted them. 

The 2X system features a lower configuration frame for easy kettle access and observation while the XL system has a single-tier stand with three 304SS kettles for the HLT, mash (with grain-dump trunnion), and boil. Both systems include a control panel that features an LCD touchscreen and can be controlled via smartphone. They’re fitted with dual magnetic drive pumps, clean in place (CIP) fittings and jet burners for each kettle. 

During the boil, the brewer may begin mashing a second batch and the MagicSoft software will independently track both batches. 

Batch size: 10 gal. to 1.5 bbl (19 to 176 L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric/gas (hybrid) Pumps: Yes Chilling: Optional

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $6,995–$16,750
www.brewmagic.com 

SPIKE BREWING SYSTEMS

Spike Brewing builds turnkey brewing systems available in 10- to 50-gallon (38 to 189-L) kettle sizes. This HERMS system includes stainless steel kettles, a 50a PID controlled brewing panel from Electric Brewing and a HERMS coil. 

All the essentials for setting up and brewing are included like heating elements, pumps, valves, pickup tubes, mash screens, food-grade tubing, and quick connect fittings. 

The kettle lids include silicone handle grips and they offer an optional counterflow chiller.  You can add on a heavy duty 16ga 304 stainless steel brew table to place the entire system on.  

Batch size: 5 gal. to 1 bbl (19 to 117 L)

System Type: HERMS Heat Source: Electric Pumps: Yes Chilling: Optional

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $4,750–$6,950
www.spikebrewing.com 

SPEIDEL BRAUMEISTER

A compact brew house that takes care of brewing, lautering, hop boiling, whirlpooling, and cooling all in one kettle. Brew batches from 5 to 132 gallons (19 to 500 L) with the various sizes of available Braumeister systems. The fully automatic brewing controller takes over the brewing of recipes and runs through all the brewing phases with exact times and temperatures. 

  The 200 L (pictured here) systems have a large malt basket that can be lifted out of the kettle after mashing and the boil can begin in the same vessel. The kettle has a built-in double jacketed cooling system and can drop hot wort temperature down to yeast pitching temperature in 50 minutes using ice water. 

Batch size: 5 to 53+ gal. (19 to 200+ L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Yes

MSRP: $1,883–$14,560
www.speidels-braumeister.de/en/

STOUT TANKS 12 BBL PILOT SYSTEM

Stout Tank’s three-vessel brewhouse is built with individual 20-gallon (76-L) kettles on stands for making 15 gallons (57 L) of beer. These individual stands allow a variety of placement options for the kettles and each kettle is polished to a mirror finish. The mashtun kettle has a bottom dump port and bottom drain valve for easy cleanout and transfers. 

The brew kettle has been thoughtfully designed with a tangential inlet for whirlpooling, trub dam, and cleanout port. An extra-large 58-inch HERMS coil is included for hitting and maintaining the desired mash temperature. The systems are customizable, with upgrades including advanced control panels from Brewmation and everything a brewer needs for a full pilot system. Stout Tanks specializes in helping the brewer design any system with the amenities they want.

Stout Tanks also offers similar kettles for 1 barrel batches. 

Batch size: 15 gal. (57 L)

System Type: HERMS Heat Source: Electric Pumps: Optional Chilling: Optional

Programmable Brewing Steps: Optional

MSRP: $2,400–$7,137
www.stouttanks.com 

Ss BREWTECH 1 BBL NANO BREWHOUSE

Ss Brewtech has made a little brother of their Pro Brewhouse, which is a fully hard-piped electric RIMS system with a patent-pending valve tree. This new design puts all of the critical process valves directly in front of the brewer. The included control panel manages all the heating elements, pumps, and temperature changes. 

The system has a precision-milled false bottom instead of a punched one, allowing a faster vorlauf and clearer wort. The mashtun has been designed with a unique grain-out door for quick tipping and dumping of the grain from the kettle. 

A carbon block water filter plumbed directly into the frame allows on-demand access to filtered water anytime. 

Batch size: 31 gal. (117 L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $14,995
www.ssbrewtech.com 

Be sure to check out the comparison chart of all the models covered here at the bottom of this article.

UNIBRÄU PRO

The Unibräu Pro allows you to mash, boil, and ferment all in the single vessel. It reduces the number of vessels you need to brew by being your temperature controlled fermenter, your mash tun, and your boil kettle. It is built with all 304 stainless steel with 1.5-inch sanitary fittings throughout for easy sanitation. They included quick take apart sanitary ball valves for easy cleaning and offer optional stainless steel brewing elements with an integrated twist lock connector. 

This system is similar to a brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) setup. You bring your water to the desired mash temperature and the system recirculates the wort over top of the grain bed. The heater elements mounted under the mash bed can be fired on for control of the temperature. Once the mash is completed, the mash basket is raised out of the vessel and the boil begins. After the boil, the cooling coil lid is added and chilling starts. Once the wort is chilled, you can pitch your yeast into the fermenter. 

The Unibräu Pro comes in 11.9-gallon (45-L) and 26.4-gallon (100-L) sizes. The smaller size has an extra element port and can be configured for 120V or 240V power to suit worldwide power configurations. 

Batch size: 11.9 to 26.4 gal. (45 to 100 L)

System Type: RIMS Heat Source: Electric

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: Optional

MSRP: $2,399–$3,659
www.brausupply.com

SYNERGY BREWING SYSTEMS PRO PILOT SYSTEMS

The 26-gallon (98-L) Synergy Brewing Pro Pilot System (pictured here) is perfect for larger homebrewers or professionals who might be looking to start their own brewery. This brewing system is capable of producing anywhere from 10- to 30-gallon (38- to 114-L) batches in a single run, while their smaller Pro Pilot 15 Gallon System can produce from 5- to 20-gallon (19- to 76-L) batches.

Each size comes with high-efficiency laser slotted stainless steel false bottoms, boil braid hop strainer, 40 plate stainless steel wort chiller, two stainless steel Chugger pumps, lockable casters, maple mash paddle, and a water filter kit, among other amenities.

 Batch size: 5 to 30 gal. (19 to 114 L)

System Type: HERMS Heat Source: Propane

Pumps: Yes Chilling: Yes

Programmable Brewing Steps: No

MSRP: $3,325–$3,850
www.synergybrew.com