(The following is a first-person narrative from Stout Tanks and Kettles’ owner John Watt.)

How I didn’t get enough oxygen into my wort!

The only way to get that beautiful lingering fresh grain flavor of authentic continental (German) lagers is to radically reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in your brew.  For my first brew on our new Low Ox system, I brewed a Munich lager, using high quality German malts.  I wanted to preserve as much of that fresh grain flavor in the beer as possible.  Malts naturally contain an enzyme in called Ascorbic Acid Oxidase (AAO), which is very sensitive to oxygen.  Exposure to oxygen will destroy AAO, and with it that amazing flavor in the malt we are trying to preserve.  At Stout, we’ve been engineering low oxygen home brew systems with the goal of having zero oxygen in the brew.  I recently made my first batch of beer using the Stout Tanks and Kettles’ 20 Gallon low oxygen brewing system.  Unfortunately for me, I did not introduce enough oxygen in this particular batch.  Read on to find out how that is even possible

low oxygen brewing system by Stout Tanks and Kettles 1

Prepare the Hot Liquor Tank.

Prepare the hot liquor tank of your LODO system

I prepped my hot liquor by preboiling the water and purging the head space with carbon dioxide.  Boiling evaporates almost all of the dissolved oxygen that is in the hot liquor.  Using the convenient gas fittings on the hot liquor tank, I purged the head space with CO2 to make sure no oxygen can re-dissolve into the hot liquor.  I also bubbled CO2 up from the bottom gas inlet just to keep a positive pressure in the hot liquor tank  so no oxygen could get back in.  I have a gas manifold and check valves at the tank so I just open the appropriate gas valve when I want to purge the tank.


I cooled the hot liquor to 200F by running cold tap water through the HERMS coil (Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System) while simultaneously recirculating the hot liquor through the tangential inlet.  We include tangential inlets on our hot liquor tanks to prevent temperature stratification.  Hot water rises, so if you don’t circulate, you will end up with different temperature water at different levels in the tank, which will affect your mash temperatures.

Sample valve on the hot liquor tank of your low oxygen brewing system
Sample Valve on the Hot Liquor Tank

Because I wanted to make sure I could eliminate all the oxygen from the brew, I added enough Sodium Metabisulfite (SMB) to get 35 ppm in solution.  SMB absorbs dissolved oxygen chemically (hint).  I also added Brewtan B because I don’t have an RO system.  In order to ensure that no oxygen was re-introduced into the hot liquor throughout the HLT preparation and mash, I periodically purged the head space and bubbled CO2 from the bottom gas inlet.  Using the built-in sample valve on the HLT, I used sulfite test strips to confirm that I still had the amount of SMB I wanted in solution.  Then I quickly cooled the HLT down to strike

Prepare the Mash Tun

To prepare for mashing, I installed a nylon mash bag in the mash tun using the 4 conveniently mounted hooks built right into the inside of the kettle.  Then I placed my malt mill on top and purged oxygen from the tank with CO2 from the bottom inlet to displace as much oxygen as possible.  Then I milled in my conditioned malt, while simultaneously flowing CO2 in through the bottom inlet in order to keep the O2 out.  The mash bag allows me to run my vorlauf and HERMS at high flow rates without worrying about a stuck mash.  My grains fell right into the mash bag.

After the grains were milled, I installed the vorlauf pipe, sparge arm, and strike water hose, which runs down to the bottom of the tun.  After milling in, I quickly placed the lid on top and then installed the lid clamp, and continued purging the tank with CO2 for a short time.  All 3 kettles have a VPRV (vacuum/pressure relief valve) and also a ¼” ball valve in the lid – I opened the ball valve whenever purging the kettle with CO2, which I did frequently throughout the mash.

Mash Tun lid with VPRV, 3 inch tri clamp port, and a 1 quarter inch ball valve


Time to start brewing.  Once the grains were milled, I made a point to mash in within 15 minutes to prevent oxidation of the grains – you are not guaranteed to get oxygen gas completely out of the milled grains when they are dry.  I filled the mash tun from the bottom up, slowly, so I would not need to stir the grains too much.  After the exact amount of water was added, I removed the 3” tri clamp cap, turned on the CO2 for a head space purge, and gave the mash a gentle stir.  I don’t think the stir was actually necessary, but I’m glad I did it, because I noticed that there wasn’t enough water in the mash tun.  Why would that be?  Because of the mash bag – the grains did not push the mash bag out to the full diameter of the kettle, so the grains were higher than they normally would be (there was a gap between the mash bag and the edges of the mash tun).  So, I had to add more water, and next time I will have to assume a higher water-to-grist ratio for my 5 gallon batches.  After filling the tun with enough hot liquor, I replaced the 3” cap and purged the head space some more.  Then, I used the convenient sample valve on the mash tun to grab a sample of the wort to test for SMB.  The color on the test strip was the same as the HLT water, between 25 and 50 ppm (the scale is 0, 10, 25, 50, etc.).  This means that I didn’t add any measurable oxygen to the water or wort yet; if oxygen is present, it consumes the sulfites and then the sulfite measurement will drop.  So, no drop in sulfites means no oxygen was added.  That’s great!


During the mash, I did a rest at 145°F and then pumped the wort through the HERMS coil in the HLT to raise the mash temp to 156°F.  The vorlauf pipe is a nice addition that returns the hot wort under the surface of the mash and it spreads the wort across the mash to ensure an even flow (i.e, no channeling).  Because of the mash bag, I can run the vorlauf at a fairly high rate, which helps keep the temperatures even throughout the mash tun and also speeds up the ramp.  After the 2nd rest, I bumped the mash up to mash-off temperatures.  As a quick side note, I generally set the hot liquor tank about 10° higher than the desired mash temp when using the HERMS.  I monitor the temperature gauge on the outlet of the HERMS coil to prevent overheating the wort.  The flow rate and HLT temperature both affect the output temperature.  A final test of the sulfites showed it was still between 25 and 50 ppm.  Woo hoo! Still no added oxygen.

I again used the sample valve to get wort samples for my iodine tests for conversion.  There was no need to open the mash tun throughout the process, other than opening the ¼” ball valve for venting while I was purging the head space with CO2.

View from the hot liquor tank back into the mash tun
measuring the output temperature of HERMS
Measuring output temperature of HERMS


I sealed the brew kettle except for the 3” cap on the lid and purged with CO2 from the bottom gas inlet before starting the runoff and periodically repeated the purging using the upper gas inlet throughout the mash runoff.  My two peristaltic pumps transfer wort out of the mash tun at the same rate that they add sparge water.  Since the Mash Tun is closed except for the ¼” ball valve and I am keeping CO2 in the headspace, I’m not worried about the water splashing inside the mash tun.  You can’t oxygenate the wort through aeration if there is no oxygen in the atmosphere.  Speaking of that, on a safety note, I made sure I have plenty of fresh air coming into my brewery since I was frequently adding CO2 to the kettles.  My beer doesn’t need oxygen, but I certainly do.

At kettle full, I did yet another SMB test and got another reading between 25 and 50 ppm.  Still no oxygen absorbed.  The brew kettle has its own sample valve, so grabbing a sample was quick and easy without having to open the kettle.  I like to turn the heat up to 200 – 205°F on my brew kettle during runoff so that I don’t have to wait around for wort to start boiling when the runoff is done.

At kettle full, I set the brew kettle temperature to 215°F to get a boil going.  I figure out how many gallons I need to boil off, and use that to figure out what percent of full power to set for the elements.  Brag alert:  All of the electric heating control panels we provide include the ability to adjust the heat of the elements.  Many other systems (commercial and homebrew) cannot do this.  You can download a handy spreadsheet from our website to calculate the power you need to provide to your elements to get your desired boil rate.  To avoid heat stress, I set a low evaporation rate and tried to keep the total boil time under 70 minutes.  By using high quality German malts, I can get away with a lower evaporation rate than normal.  With a wort pH of ≥ 5.4, and using high quality German Pilsner malt, the evaporation rate can be as low as 4% to 6% per hour.  Because I did not have an aggressive boil, I only removed the 3” cap and left the lid otherwise closed.  At first, though, I cranked up the heat percentage to get to a boil faster.  You can guess what happened next – a boil-over!  Fortunately, I noticed it right away just as the foam was rising out of the 3” TC port and cut the heat.  The overflow stayed right in the lid and was easy to clean up – lucky me.

I reset the heat level for the elements and restarted the boil.  During this time, I cleaned out the mash tun, which was really easy.  I removed the lid clamp and lid, and lifted the mash bag out and dumped the bag of grain into a wooden bucket for delivery to a nearby farm for their goats and chickens.  There was minimal residue under the false bottom.  And, it was a lot easier than scooping the grains out.

SPENT GRAINS IN MASH BAG of a Low Oxygen Brewing System
emptied SPENT GRAINS IN MASH BAG of a Low Oxygen Brewing System

After the boil was done, I took another sulfite test and the levels were still at 25-50 ppm.  Amazing – I didn’t expect that.  I did my normal whirlpool routine in the brew kettle using the built-in tangential inlet, and pumped the wort into my trusty 7.3 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter.  I still use the very first conical fermenter we ever produced.  Another sulfite test and I got the same results.  This means that I made a batch of beer and introduced practically NO measurable oxygen throughout the entire hot side process.  I was really happy about that.  Our products work extremely well.  Maybe too well, because here is where things went a little bit sideways.  Not too bad, but enough to affect the final result.

I thought I would be able to get the wort down to my pitch temperature of 42°F by chilling my tap water further by filling the hot liquor tank with ice and water and running my tap water through the HERMS coil in the hot liquor tank after passing through my all stainless steel counter-flow chiller.  I hadn’t tried it before, and I paid the price for my guess.  It dropped the temperature, but not nearly enough.  I got my wort down into the 60’s (°F).  So, I turned on the peltier coolers  on the fermenter and waited an hour, but I could wait no longer.  This is a delicate moment in low oxygen brewing.  The yeast need some oxygen in the wort for the first phase of their growth cycle, but we don’t want too much exposure to oxygen to destroy the AAO enzyme and ruin that beautiful lingering fresh grain flavor in my Munich Helles malt. Fermentation needs to start within 6-8 hours in the fermenter in order to prevent oxidation at this stage.

I pitched my 2 liter yeast starter and then oxygenated the wort using my wand for about 60 seconds.  Normally, I oxygenate for 20-30 seconds for a 5 gallon batch, but because of all the sulfites still in the wort, I decided to oxygenate longer to make sure that the sulfites didn’t steal all of the O2 from the yeast.  I did another sulfite test and the measurement was still near 25 ppm.  So, I oxygenated for another 60 seconds or so and tested again.  The sulfite levels hadn’t noticeably dropped.  I repeated this one more time, then decided enough was enough.  I sealed the fermenter and let nature take its course.  I concluded that the SMB and yeast would have to fight it out for all the oxygen I introduced.

At this point, I started to suspect that my sulfite test strips were defective, because they were showing so little oxygen uptake.  I couldn’t believe our system worked so well keeping oxygen out.  So, I took a sample of fresh water and tested that.  It read 0 ppm, so I concluded the test strips were just fine.  Later on, I conferred with Bryan Rabe at the low oxygen brewing website and he confirmed that he measured < 0.1ppm total O2 uptake using his Stout Tanks and Kettles’ low oxygen system.  He’s got a DO meter and can check it more accurately than I can.

The bottom line is that it ended up taking almost 24 hours for the fermentation to start, which meant that the oxygen I added to the wort had ample time to do its evil work.  I performed the remaining steps according to plan, but the damage was already done.  The beer is actually really good, but it lacks the lingering, fresh grain flavor I covet.

So, why did I say that I didn’t add enough oxygen to my brew at the beginning of this blog?  Because I added 35ppm of SMB thinking that my process would be adding oxygen that needed to be “consumed” by the sulfites.  But, our low oxygen tanks did their job and the process didn’t add any measurable oxygen to the wort, which left a lot of sulfites hungry for oxygen.  I tried to compensate by adding extra oxygen when I pitched, but I probably didn’t add enough satisfy the sulfites and to get the yeast going quickly enough.  While the wort was in the fermenter, it had enough time to absorb enough oxygen to destroy the Ascorbic Acid Oxidase (AAO) and the lingering fresh malt flavor it provides.  The better solution to this problem will be to trust our low ox equipment, and not add nearly so much SMB, if any at all.  That way when I oxygenate the wort, the yeast will have enough oxygen to quickly replicate and consume the oxygen before it can destroy the fresh lingering grain flavor I am after.

So, here are my takeaways after brewing my first batch with my Stout Tanks low oxygen brewing system:

  • Trust the equipment. It is designed to keep oxygen out of the entire brew process.
  • Don’t add any Sodium Metabisulfite, or add very little (perhaps a few ppm only). It’s better to keep the oxygen out than it is to absorb it with SMB.
  • Larger yeast starter. Use a 3 liter starter to ensure that the batch takes off faster.  I realized too late that my starter wasn’t going to be big enough, and hoped for the best.  Hope is not a good strategy.

Give us a call if you would like to learn more about low oxygen brewing.  We would love to talk with you about how you can start your own low ox brewery.


click button shop low oxygen brewing systems


Part of the magic of Kombucha is the flavor of the tea.  Kombucha brewers will use different varieties of tea, and brew it in different strengths.  Most kombucha brewers like to have the water temperature of their tea to be slightly below boiling point to get the best flavors.  Once the tea has fully steeped, most brewers like to add sugar to their tea while it is still hot.  Why?  Because it is easier to dissolve sugar in hot water.

Stout Tanks and Kettles sells brew kettles heated by electricity, steam, natural gas or propane.  Energy efficiency is a big priority for us, and getting your water hot when you need it is important.  Many of our electric brewing systems come with controls that can heat the water on a timer so that your brew day can start early.  Some brewers like to boil their water for a while first to evaporate off the chlorine that many municipalities add to the water.  The chlorine can affect flavor and kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your SCOBY.

Most brewers will brew a highly concentrated tea, and then dilute it with cold water to bring the temperature down to a range that will be comfortable for the SCOBY.  Depending on the volumes of your brew, it may be necessary to use a counter flow chiller, a plate chiller or other heat exchanger to bring the temperature down quickly.  Heat exchangers allow you to recapture the heat of your tea and use it to brew another batch, increasing your energy efficiency, lowering your carbon footprint and increasing the amount of Kombucha you can brew in a day.  A heat exchanger allows you to quickly get your tea down to the optimal temperature for your particular SCOBY.

Bacteria and Yeast thrive in slightly different temperatures.  Bacteria like it cooler.  Yeast like it warmer.  The temperature range to make them both happy is between 78º and 82º F.   If you can control the temperature in your fermentation vessel, you can favor either side of the symbiosis.  If you want to favor the bacteria, drop the temperature a few degrees.  The bacteria will generally be active between 65º and 80º F.  If you want to favor the yeast, raise the temperature of the Kombucha between 75º and 85º F.

Many of our fermenters are jacketed, which means that the tanks are wrapped in a stainless steel jacket that allows you to pump cooled or heated glycol around the tank, which allows you to control the temperature inside the tank.  Home brewers will often rely on the air temperature of the room where they brew Kombucha to control the temperature of fermentation, but at larger volumes its just not possible to control the liquid temperature of the Kombucha by controlling the air.  At commercial scale, it is just more energy efficient to directly cool or heat the liquid.

In most fermenters, yeast usually gain the upper hand.  They are first in the fermentation process, and fermentation actually releases heat, further encouraging the yeast over the bacteria.  If the yeast get the upper hand in your SCOBY, they will produce more alcohol than the bacteria can digest.  This can make it hard to maintain the flavor profile you want, and to get the alcohol by volume (ABV) down to legal limits.  Your SCOBY will become dominated by yeast over time, leaving the bacteria weaker.  In most breweries, a glycol chiller will help keep your Kombucha at the perfect temperature.

We also can provide complete automation of your brewery, from controlling the heat in your tea brew kettle, to maintaining the temperature in your fermenters, and running the pumps that move your Kombucha from brew kettle to fermenters to your bottling or kegging system.

Many homebrewers have tried to create lagers with that “true German flavor” but never actually achieved it.  Another way to describe the elusive taste is “fresh, lingering grain flavor”.  Brewers try decoction mashing, triple decoctions, melanoidan malt, flaked barley, and so on without success.  If you want to make authentic continental lagers, then a proven method is to eliminate oxygen from your brewing process starting with your brewing water and unground malt and ending with wort in the fermenter with less than 1 ppm of dissolved oxygen.  This is called Low Oxygen Brewing.

There is a lot of information about Low Oxygen Brewing on the internet, so we won’t repeat it here.  Suffice it to say that it requires keeping the dissolve oxygen below 1 ppm throughout the entire brewing process in order to preserve the fresh, lingering grain flavor so it gets all the way into your beer.

At Stout Tanks and Kettles, we have partnered with the Low Oxygen Brewing team to develop a brewing system that gives you the ability to practically eliminate oxygen pickup.

Here are the features of the Low Oxygen Brewing System, kettle by kettle.

Hot Liquor Tank

  • Sealable lid to keep oxygen out of the kettle during the brew, with 2-4 psi pressure capacity.
  • Lower CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Upper CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Sample valve for sampling and testing water during the brew without introducing oxygen into the kettle.
  • Lid port for venting CO2/N2 when purging.
  • Lid port for pressure relief valve.
  • 3” TC lid port for venting and adding metabisulfites or other additives.
  • External sight glass allows you to monitor water level without opening the kettle.
  • Large capacity so you don’t need to top up the HLT during most brews (27 gallons for our ½ bbl system).
  • Large HERMS coil for both quickly cooling your hot liquor from boiling to strike temperature as well as to raise the temperature of the mash tun.
  • Tangential inlet to improve heat transfer with the HERMS coil and eliminate thermal stratification.
  • Ports for your element, float switch, and thermowell (thermowell is included with kettle).
  • All TC ports and fittings with (2) 1” butterfly valves.
  • (2) stainless steel bars for neatly mounting your pump underneath the kettle (kettles with legs).

Mash Tun

  • Sealable lid to keep oxygen out of the kettle during the brew, with 2-4 psi pressure capacity.
  • (4) upper hooks hold a mash bag (not included) to allow fast vorlaufs without getting a stuck mash and super easy and fast cleanup – just lift the bag out and empty the grains into your disposal bin.
  • Lower CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Upper CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Sample valve for sampling and testing wort during the brew without introducing oxygen into the kettle.
  • (4) recirculation fittings at top of mash tun so you can connect your strike water hose, sparge arm and vorlauf pipe, then seal the mash tun and leave it closed until you are done mashing (the 4th fitting is for your upper CO2/N2 gas inlet).
  • Lid port for venting CO2/N2 when purging.
  • Lid port for pressure relief valve.
  • 3” TC lid port for viewing the mash, venting and adding additives with the lid on.
  • Bottom drain outlet maximizes drainage and improves mash tun performance.
  • False bottom.
  • Thermowell
  • All TC ports and fittings with (2) 1” butterfly valves.
  • (2) stainless steel bars for neatly mounting your pump underneath the kettle (kettles with legs).

Brew Kettle

  • Sealable lid to keep oxygen out of the kettle during the brew, with 2-4 psi pressure capacity.
  • Lower CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Upper CO2/N2 gas inlet for purging tank of oxygen.
  • Sample valve for sampling and testing wort during the boil without introducing oxygen into the kettle.
  • Lid port for venting CO2/N2 when purging.
  • Lid port for pressure relief valve.
  • 3” TC lid port for venting and monitoring kettle with lid on.
  • External sight glass allows you to monitor water level without opening the kettle.
  • Whirlpooling Features
    • Tangential inlet with 1” TC butterfly valve for whirlpooling wort at the end of the boil.
    • 5” tall trub dam to keep hops and trub out of your fermenter.
    • Conical bottom to keep more hops and trub in the kettle and out of your fermenter.
  • Wort outlet with 1” TC butterfly valve.
  • Bottom cleanout port with cap for easy draining and cleaning of the kettle.
  • Ports for your element, float switch, and thermowell (thermowell is included with kettle).
  • All TC ports and fittings with (2) 1” butterfly valves.
  • (2) stainless steel bars for neatly mounting your pump underneath the kettle (kettles with legs).

Our Low Oxygen Brewing Systems (LODO) are currently THE ONLY QUALITY LOW OXYGEN KETTLES ON THE MARKET.  These low oxygen brewing systems provide the ability to seal off oxygen from water and wort, and also minimize oxygen uptake throughout the brewing process.

  • Improve the overall quality, flavor, and freshness of your beers, even IPAs
  • Preserve the fresh malt flavor
  • Obtain the lingering fresh grain flavor you only find in fresh Continental style

By properly using the provided CO2/N2 purge ports, pre-boiling your hot liquor, purging or flushing your hoses, spunding your beer, etc., you can eliminate the use of Metabisulfite in your brewing process and achieve sub 0.1ppm dissolved oxygen levels.




Hot Liquor Tank vs. On-Demand Water Heater

It costs a lot of money to open a brewery, and you might ask, “Do I really need to spend all that  money?”.

Some brewers look for immediate savings is in the brewhouse by eliminating a hot liquor tank.   Do you need a 3-vessel brewhouse, with a mash tun, brew kettle and a hot liquor tank?   Or can you get by with a 2 vessel brewhouse, just the mash tun and the brew kettle?  Some people claim that the hot liquor tank (or “HLT”) is just a glorified hot water tank anyway, and you can brew beer just fine without it.  Other’s claim that the hot liquor tank is an essential part of their brewing process, and it would be hard to brew without it.

So, can you get buy without a hot liquor tank?  The answer, of course, depends.  There are plusses and minuses.  Tradeoffs must be considered before decisions are made.

One common strategy to replace the HLT is to install an on-demand water heater, otherwise known as a tankless water heater.  The up-side of an on-demand water heater is they can be very efficient at heating water.  Most of them run on natural gas and are almost or over 90% efficient with their energy.  Because natural gas is a low-cost source of energy, the cost of raising the temperature of your strike water from ground temperature to your mash-in temperature can be every economical.   So getting hot water from a tankless heater can be pretty cheap.

By eliminating the HLT from your brewhouse, you have saved the cost of one vessel, which can be a significant investment.  But what are the down-sides?  What do you give up when you eliminate the hot liquor tank?120 Gallon Hot Liquor Tank used in Pro Breweries

One of the big things you give up is time.  Many tankless water heaters are limited in the volume of hot water they can produce.  When mashing in, it can sometimes take quite a while for a tankless heater to reach your strike temperature.  The higher the temperature you need for your strike water, the longer the tankless water heater will hold the water in the heat exchanger.  Tankless water heaters will reduce the flow of water until the water hits the target temperature.  Depending on your starting groundwater temperature, the actual gallons per minute (GPM) of your tankless water heater can be significantly below the stated rate.

At 4 gallons per minute, it will take almost 25 minutes to fill a 5 BBL mash tun completely.  How long does your mash last, and how long will it take to fill the mash tun?

Another thing you give up is precision mashing.    Many of our brew houses come standard with HERMS coils.  HERMS stands for Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System.   With a HERMS coil you recirculate your wort through a heat exchanger coil in the HLT.  You can precisely control the temperature of the mash by how quickly you recirculate the wort through the HERMS coil, and by how hot you keep the water in the HLT.

Some brewers like to step mash.  Step mashing is raising the temperature of the mash in stages.  This is much easier with a HERMS coil in your hot liquor tank because you can precisely control each step of the mash.  This is hard to do with a tankless water heater that has only a single temperature setting.

120 Gallon Hot Liquor Tank used in pro breweries

Another tradeoff is volume.  Many brewers opt for an oversized HLT simply because it is handy to have a lot of hot water around for clean up, especially if you are using a CIP cart.  The pump on your CIP cart drawing from an HLT can give you a large volume of hot water fast.  Sometimes faster than any water heater can.

An electric HLT can also provide convenience.  With a Stout Tanks and Kettles electric brewing system, it is possible to set your HLT on a timer so it can start heating your water overnight while you sleep.  Your HLT can be automatically making hot water while you are still at home making your coffee.  You can show up in the morning to hot strike water, ready to brew beer.

HLT’s can also save energy.  At the end of your boil, when you run your beer through the heat exchanger on the way to the fermenter, you can put all of that heat back into your HLT for your next brew.  For those brewers that double batch, or brew back to back days, this can save a significant amount of energy.  Heating your strike water can be almost half of the energy you use in your brewery.

Finally, and HLT makes it easier to treat your water for Ph, minerality, chlorine and other impurities.  For brewers who treat their water, the HLT can be very helpful.

So in the end, whether you build your brewhouse with 2 vessels or 3 is really about your personal preferences.  Many great beers have been brewed without a hot liquor tank.  And for cash strapped start-ups, getting started can be better than waiting until you can afford the perfect brewery.   But if you can afford it, the HLT can make your brew days easier and more enjoyable, and help you make great beers.


They came… they sampled… breweries were crowned.   Here some quick stats to review before we go over the winners of the 2018 Great American Beer Festival: (data courtesy of the Brewers Association)

  • 32nd edition of the GABF competition
  • 8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries
  • 2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
  • 293 judges from 13 countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
  • Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
  • 280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
  • 306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
  • 537 first-time GABF entrants
  • 31 first-time GABF winners

Great American Beer Festival Winners 2018

AND NOW… THE GABF 2018 Winners (in alphabetical order):


  • Gold: Quadtum Leap – Revelry Brewing Co., Charleston, SC
  • Silver: Lock, Stock and Brandy Barrel – Maize Valley Craft Brewery, Hartville, OH
  • Bronze: Solzhenitsyn – Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Media, PA


  • Gold: Whitewall Wheat – Crank Arm Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC
  • Silver: #4.5 Dry Hopped Saison – Brown Truck Brewery, High Point, NC
  • Bronze: Mischief – The Bruery, Placentia, CA


  • Gold: Pecos Amber Lager- Texas Beer Co., Taylor, TX
  • Silver: Märzen – Sudwerk Brewing Co., Davis, CA
  • Bronze: Oktoberfest – Lager Heads Brewing Co., Medina, OH


  • Gold: West Coast Swing Amber- The Mitten Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
  • Silver: Sepia Amber- Hopping Gnome Brewing Co., Wichita, KS
  • Bronze: Avalon Amber Ale – Slack Tide Brewing Co., Cape May Court House, NJ  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)


  • Gold: Alpha Force Double Tap – Uberbrew, Billings, MT
  • Silver: Black the Riipper – Riip Beer Co., Huntington Beach, CA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Midnight Moonlight – Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH


  • Gold: Davy Brown Ale – Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Buellton, CA
  • Silver: Groundswell Piloncillo Brown Ale – Groundswell Brewing Co., Santee, CA
  • Bronze: Wallops Island – Rocket Frog Brewing Co., Reston, VA


  • Gold: Gateway Cream Ale – Lockport Brewery, Bolivar, OH
  • Silver: Dayblazer Easygoing Ale – New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
  • Bronze: El Sully – 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA


  • Gold: Raspberry Twist Lager – Garage Brewing Co., Temecula, CA
  • Silver: Cherry Blonde – Ignite Brewing Co., Barberton, OH
  • Bronze: Tropic Maelstrom – Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey, CA


  • Gold: Bine – Root Down Brewing Co., Phoenixville, PA
  • Silver: Not an IPA (P.S. it’s an IPA) – Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Portsmouth, NH
  • Bronze: West Coast IPA is Dead! – Green Cheek Beer Co., Orange, CA


  • Gold: Lager – Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Boone, NC
  • Silver: American Lager – Castle Island Brewing Co., Norwood, MA
  • Bronze: Lumino – Unsung Brewing Co., Tustin, CA


  • Gold: B.Right On Pale Ale – Ocean Beach Brewery, San Diego, CA
  • Silver: Neighborhood – Ventura Coast Brewing Co., Ventura, CA
  • Bronze: Charlatan – Maplewood Brewing Co., Chicago, IL


  • Gold: Rocket 100 – The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
  • Silver: NZ Pils – Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor, MI
  • Bronze: Howdy Beer – The Post Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO


  • Gold: Kveik 1 – Shades of Pale Brewery, Park City, UT
  • Silver: Brevity – Brewery Silvaticus, Amesbury, MA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Wicked Shifty – Shoe Tree Brewing Co., Carson City, NV


  • Gold: Hooligan Stout – Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Winthrop, WA
  • Silver: P2P – 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
  • Bronze: Black Cliffs – Boise Brewing, Boise, ID


  • Gold: Green Battles IPA – Pinthouse Pizza North, Austin, TX
  • Silver: Easy Runaway – Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Winthrop, WA
  • Bronze: Lucky Day – Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA


  • Gold: Sweet As Pacific Ale – GoodLife Brewing Co., Bend, OR
  • Silver: Goofy Footed – Escape Brewing Co., Trinity, FL
  • Bronze: Easy, Breezy, Beautiful – Cloudburst Brewing, Seattle, WA


  • Gold: Miner’s Gold – Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT
  • Silver: Fuzztail – Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR
  • Bronze: Hefeweizen – Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, OR


  • Gold: Sunshine Express – Butcherknife Brewing Co., Steamboat Springs, CO
  • Silver: Strata IPA – Worthy Brewing Co., Bend, OR
  • Bronze: Flavor Country – Austin Beerworks, Austin, TX


  • Gold: Odin’s Sword – Big Island Brewhaus, Kamuela, HI
  • Silver: Death and the Maiden – Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA
  • Bronze: Bangor Slate Baltic Porter – Two Rivers Brewing Co., Easton, PA


  • Gold: Chicago Overcoat – Midnight Pig Beer, Plainfield, IL
  • Silver: Barnacled Manatee – Walking Tree Brewery, Vero Beach, FL
  • Bronze: Bear Temper – Trustworthy Brewing Co., Burbank, CA


  • Gold: 5 Branches Biere de Garde – Munkle Brewing Co., Charleston, SC
  • Silver: Biere de Garde – Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, TN
  • Bronze: Abby Blonde – Thirsty Monk Pub Brewery, Denver, CO


  • Gold: Jean-Claude Van Blond – Wit’s End Brewing Co., Denver, CO
  • Silver: Singel – Hardywood West Creek, Richmond, VA
  • Bronze: Blonde Betty – Smuggler’s Brewpub, Telluride, CO


  • Gold: BJ’s Quad – BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, Boulder, CO
  • Silver: Kung Fu Smurf – Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI
  • Bronze: Deduction – Taxman Brewing Co., Bargersville, IN



  • Gold: Foxy Lady – Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA
  • Silver: Blood-Orange Wit – Great Basin Brewing Co. – Sparks, Sparks, NV
  • Bronze: Kumquat Saison – Smog City Brewing, Torrance, CA



  • Gold: Funk Yeah – Beachwood Blendery, Long Beach, CA
  • Silver: Triad – IMBIB Custom Brews, Reno, NV
  • Bronze: I Am Only Memories – Orpheus Brewing, Atlanta, GA



  • Gold: Midwatch – Figurehead Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
  • Silver: Qualified – Taxman Brewing Co., Bargersville, IN
  • Bronze: Sol Hominis (The Sun Of Man) – Save the World Brewing Co., Marble Falls, TX


  • Gold: Tripel Carmel-ite – Flix Brewhouse – Carmel, Carmel, IN
  • Silver: Belgian Tripel – Village Idiot Brewing Co., Mount Holly, NJ
  • Bronze: Neighbor Girl – Paradigm Shift Brewing, Massillon, OH


  • Gold: Biére Blanche – Pedal Haus Brewery, Tempe, AZ
  • Silver: Optimal Wit – Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
  • Bronze: Allagash White – Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME


  • Gold: Baywindow – 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
  • Silver: Germophile – Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe, NM
  • Bronze: Nevada Weisse – IMBIB Custom Brews, Reno, NV


  • Gold: Guten Bock – Gilded Goat Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
  • Silver: New Kids on Maibock – Independent Brewing Co., Bel Air, MD
  • Bronze: Blind Tiger Bock – Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, Topeka, KS


  • Gold: Bohemian Pilsner – Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Tysons Corner, McLean, VA
  • Silver: Pompey’s Pilsner – Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT
  • Bronze: Bird Park – North Park Beer Co., San Diego, CA


  • Gold: C’mon Sunshine – Birds Fly South Ale Project, Greenville, SC
  • Silver: Terroir Pinot Gris – Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
  • Bronze: Touch of Brett Mandarina – Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR


  • Gold: Maduro Brown Ale – Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  • Silver: Brown Claw – Kern River Brewing Co., Kernville, CA
  • Bronze: Knee-Knocker Porter – Crow Hop Brewing Co., Loveland, CO


  • Gold: White Legs Jalapeno Wheat – Tribute Brewing Co., Eagle River, WI
  • Silver: Chamuco – Künstler Brewing – San Antonio, TX
  • Bronze: San Antonio Hatch Lager – Ranger Creek Brewery, San Antonio, TX


  • Gold: Coco for Coxness – Copperpoint Brewing Co., Boynton Beach, FL
  • Silver: Genesee Brew House Pilot Batch Dark Chocolate Scotch Ale – Genesee Brew House, Rochester, NY
  • Bronze: Chocolate Macadamia Nut Stout – Kilowatt Brewing, San Diego, CA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)


  • Gold: Pale Ale – Omission Brewing Co., Portland, OR
  • Silver: MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale – Portland Brewing, Portland, OR
  • Bronze: Prickly Pear – Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT


  • Gold: Shooter McMunn’s – Lost Rhino Brewing Co., Ashburn, VA
  • Silver: It’s My Island – Pocock Brewing Co., Santa Clarita, CA
  • Bronze: Know Ego – Groundswell Brewing Co., Santee, CA


  • Gold: Saison – Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth, MN
  • Silver: One Arm Farmhouse Ale – Hobbs Tavern & Brewing Co., West Ossipee, NH
  • Bronze: Hayshaker – Gunwhale Ales, Costa Mesa, CA


  • Gold: Coffee Cream Ale – Kiitos Brewing, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Silver: Mystery Airship 4.0: Temple Cascara Golden Ale – New Helvetia Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA
  • Bronze: First Call – Modist Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN


  • Gold: Speargun – Snake River Brewing Co., Jackson, WY
  • Silver: Breakfast Stout – Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
  • Bronze: Udder Chaos – RAM Restaurant & Brewery – Seattle, Seattle, WA


  • Gold: Iron Horse Lager – Great American Restaurants – Sweetwater Tavern Centreville, Centreville, VA
  • Silver: The Bennie – Granite City Food & Brewery, Olathe, KS
  • Bronze: Nighthawk – Enegren Brewing Co., Moorpark, CA


  • Gold: Grandpa Tractor – Barley Forge Brewing, Costa Mesa, CA
  • Silver: Freiheit Oktoberfest Wiesn – Wayfinder Beer, Portland, OR
  • Bronze: Figtoberfest – Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Westlake Village, CA


  • Gold: Midwest Red IPA – Masthead Brewing Co., Cleveland, OH
  • Silver: Roundhouse – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Bronze: Bad Polaroid – Werk Force Brewing Co., Plainfield, IL


  • Gold: Get Up Offa That Brown – Golden Road Brewing – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Silver: My Brown Eyed Girl – Thornapple Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
  • Bronze: No. 3 Brown – The Freehouse, Minneapolis, MN


  • Gold: Castillo IPA – Alaro Craft Brewery, Sacramento, CA
  • Silver: Silverspot IPA – Pelican Brewing Co., Pacific City, OR
  • Bronze: Hoppy Poppy IPA – Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Buellton, CA


  • Gold: Drift – First Magnitude Brewing Co., Gainesville, FL
  • Silver: Hold The Reins – Brink Brewing Co., Cincinnati, OH
  • Bronze: Fools & Babies – Green Cheek Beer Co., Orange, CA


  • Gold: Liquid AC – Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA
  • Silver: Provider – Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN
  • Bronze: Zest A Peel – Triple C Brewing, Charlotte, NC


  • Gold: Feral Brute – Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton, CA
  • Silver: Terroir Pinot Noir – Alesong Brewing & Blending, Eugene, OR
  • Bronze: Chips & Salsa Cream Ale – Cogstone Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, CO


  • Gold: Dissent – Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN
  • Silver: Malpais Stout – La Cumbre Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
  • Bronze: Shut Up & Adore Me – Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA


  • Gold: Happy Amber – MadTree Brewing 2.0, Cincinnati, OH
  • Silver: ESB – Hillman Beer, Asheville, NC
  • Bronze: Bull Kelp ESB – San Juan Island Brewing Co., Friday Harbor, WA


  • Gold: Cool for the Summer – Lakes & Legends Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN
  • Silver: Coco Piña Gose – Coastal Empire Beer Co., Savannah, GA
  • Bronze: Hawaiian Lion Toasted Coconut & Coffee Porter – Big Top Brewing Co., Sarasota, FL


  • Gold: Passionate Envy – 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
  • Silver: Purple Line – Smylie Brothers Brewing Co., Evanston, IL
  • Bronze: Cherry Wheat – Sierra Blanca Brewing Co., Moriarty, NM


  • Gold: Pink Passionfruit Sour – BearWaters Brewing Co., Canton, NC
  • Silver: Kirby Pucker No. 21 – Eastlake Craft Brewery, Minneapolis, MN  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Flaming Fury – Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Elmsford, NY


  • Gold: Réserve Dorée de Pêche – Wooden Robot, Charlotte, NC
  • Silver: Sour Cherry Sour – Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
  • Bronze: Zoned AG Golden Raspberry – Corralitos Brewing Co., Watsonville, CA


  • Gold: Legendary Red – Golden City Brewery, Golden, CO
  • Silver: Little Red Cap – Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO
  • Bronze: Alt 1848 – Utepils Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN


  • Gold: Smooth Like Jazz – Revelry Brewing Co., Charleston, SC
  • Silver: Delaminator Doppelbock – Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
  • Bronze: St. Nigels’ Doppelbock – Front Range Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO


  • Gold: Colorado Kölsch – Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
  • Silver: Kascadia – 54°40’ Brewing Co., Washougal, WA
  • Bronze: Veedels Bräu Kölsch – Crooked Lane Brewing Co., Auburn, CA


  • Gold: Oktoberfest – Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
  • Silver: Oktoberfest – RAM Restaurant and Brewery, Lakewood, WA
  • Bronze: Oktoberfest – Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas, TX


  • Gold: Netflix and Pils – Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO
  • Silver: Pilsner – pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR
  • Bronze: Pilsner – Ardent Craft Ales, Richmond, VA


  • Gold: Bananenhängematte – FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, CA
  • Silver: Alviso Mills Hefeweizen – Santa Clara Valley Brewing, San Jose, CA
  • Bronze: Doppel Blur – Circle Brewing Co., Austin, TX


  • Gold: Puckerberry – High Hops Brewery, Windsor, CO
  • Silver: Aurochs Blonde Ale – Aurochs Brewing Co., Emsworth, PA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Dark Ale – Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland, OR


  • Gold: MadeWest Standard – MadeWest Brewing Co., Ventura, CA
  • Silver: 1956 Golden Ale – Bootstrap Brewing Co., Niwot, CO
  • Bronze: Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale – Bosque Brewing Co., Bernalillo, NM


  • Gold: Two of Tarts – Upland Brewing Co., Bloomington, IN
  • Silver: Salty by Nature – Root Down Brewing Co., Phoenixville, PA
  • Bronze: Brewer’s Day Off – D9 Brewing Co., Cornelius, NC


  • Gold: Pendragon – Royal Docks Brewhouse and Cannery, Massillon, OH
  • Silver: Hazelnut Crunch – North By Northwest Restaurant and Brewery, Austin, TX
  • Bronze: Wheatstone Bridge – Tin Whiskers Brewing, St. Paul, MN


  • Gold: Pushing Trees – Central Standard Brewing, Wichita, KS  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Silver: The BIG Lubelski – Divine Barrel Brewing, Charlotte, NC
  • Bronze: Zungen Brecher – Home Brewing Co., San Diego, CA


  • Gold: Belgian Honey Blonde – No Clue Craft Brewery, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Silver: Honey Comb Cream Ale – Rock Bottom Brewery, Denver, CO
  • Bronze: Basil Better Have My Honey – Low Tide Brewing, Johns Island, SC


  • Gold: Nobility – Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA
  • Silver: Northern Lights – Moonraker Brewing Co., Auburn, CA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Unbridled Enthusiasm – Third Space Brewing, Milwaukee, WI


  • Gold: Happy Days – Claremont Craft Ales, Claremont, CA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Silver: Robot – Stereo Brewing Co., Placentia, CA
  • Bronze: Cinder Beast – Sunriver Brewing, Sunriver, OR


  • Gold: Kill the Lights – The Tap Brewery, Bloomington, IN
  • Silver: The Shroud – Bravery Brewing, Lancaster, CA
  • Bronze: Shimmergloom – Loowit Brewing Co., Vancouver, WA


  • Gold: Mai Tai P.A. – Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill, Monterey, CA
  • Silver: Guayabera – Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  • Bronze: The Penske File – Faction Brewing Co., Alameda, CA


  • Gold: Wooden Teeth – Turtle Mountain Brewing Co., Rio Rancho, NM
  • Silver: Nano – OG Lager – Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, OH
  • Bronze: Cerveza Delray – Brew Detroit, Detroit, MI


  • Gold: Scarlet Fire – Tighthead Brewing Co., Mundelein, IL
  • Silver: TAPS Irish Red – TAPS Fish House and Brewery, Corona, CA
  • Bronze: DEFCON Red – Comrade Brewing Co., Denver, CO


  • Gold: New England Style Double IPA – Black Market Brewing Co., Temecula, CA
  • Silver: DDH Double IPA – Corridor Brewery & Provisions, Chicago, IL
  • Bronze: Contains No Juice – Alvarado Street Brewery, Salinas, CA


  • Gold: Voodoo – Tin Roof Brewing Co., Baton Rouge, LA
  • Silver: Sippin on Dank 2.0 – Kings Brewing Co., Rancho Cucamonga, CA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Bronze: Madame Psychosis – Fiction Beer Co., Denver, CO


  • Gold: Keller Pils – Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN
  • Silver: STS Pils – Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA
  • Bronze: NashZwickel – Nashville Brewing Co., Nashville, TN


  • Gold: Altitude Banquet – Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, Laramie, WY
  • Silver: Awesome Beer Rice Lager – State Room Brewery, San Rafael, CA
  • Bronze: Super Awesome Lager – Austin Beerworks, Austin, TX


  • Gold: Druif – pFriem Family Brewers – Hood River, OR
  • Silver: Citra Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch – Wiley Roots Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
  • Bronze: Coming to Fruition: Cherry – Oregon City Brewing Co., Oregon City, OR


  • Gold: Chuckanut Dunkel – Chuckanut, Burlington, WA
  • Silver: Duck River Dunkel – Goat Island Brewing, Cullman, AL
  • Bronze: Babee Bock – Brew Kettle, Strongsville, OH


  • Gold: Hell Yes – The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
  • Silver: Chuckanut Helles – Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
  • Bronze: House Lager – Jack’s Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA


  • Gold: Shoshone Stout – Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
  • Silver: Oats – Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA
  • Bronze: Wall of Sound – Stereo Brewing Co., Placentia, CA


  • Gold: Drunkard’s Cloak – Banded Oak Brewing Co., Denver, CO
  • Silver: Old Scrooge – Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA
  • Bronze: Rail Gun Wee Heavy – BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee, CA


  • Gold: Sawtooth Ale – Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
  • Silver: Copperline Amber Ale – Carolina Brewery, Pittsboro, NC
  • Bronze: Saint Arnold Amber Ale – Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX


  • Gold: Golden Prairie Doppel Alt – Argus Brewery, Chicago, IL
  • Silver: False Hope – Spilled Grain Brewhouse, Annandale, MN
  • Bronze: Lampshade Porter – Starr Brothers Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM


  • Gold: Gordgeous – NoDa Brewing Co., Charlotte, NC
  • Silver: Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale – Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, WI
  • Bronze: Phantoms Pumpkin Spice Barleywine – Philipsburg Brewing Co.- The Vault, Philipsburg, MT


  • Gold: Lomporter – Lompoc Brewing, Portland, OR
  • Silver: Porter – Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
  • Bronze: Ghost Rider Porter – Big Ugly Brewing Co., Chesapeake, VA


  • Gold: Rye Dawn – Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA
  • Silver: Unite the Clans – Third Space Brewing, Milwaukee, WI
  • Bronze: Rise Up Rye – Gun Hill Brewing Co., Bronx, NY


  • Gold: Real Heavy – Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX
  • Silver: Skag – 6th and La Brea, Los Angeles, CA
  • Bronze: Kilt Switch – 903 Brewers, Sherman, TX  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)


  • Gold: Taildragger Clan-Destine – Saddle Mountain Brewing Co., Goodyear, AZ
  • Silver: Saint Arnold Oktoberfest – Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX
  • Bronze: It Takes a Tribe Red Ale – Goat Patch Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, CO


  • Gold: Natural Bridge: Vienna Lager – Eppig Brewing, San Diego, CA
  • Silver: Noble Miner – Burgeon Beer Co., Carlsbad, CA
  • Bronze: Stonefly Session Ale – Three Creeks Production, Sisters, OR


  • Gold: The Coachman – Societe Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
  • Silver: Little Downtown Tom – Three Mile Brewing Co., Davis, CA
  • Bronze: Mosaic Reprise – Little City Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC


  • Gold: St. Chuck’s Smoke – Rogue Ales Issaquah Brewhouse, Issaquah, WA
  • Silver: Pro-Pro Porter – Wormtown Brewery, Worcester, MA
  • Bronze: Raucher – Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor, MI


  • Gold: Civil Rest – Little Brother Brewing, Greensboro, NC  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)
  • Silver: Hoofer’s Hef – Bankhead Brewing Co., Rowlett, TX
  • Bronze: Hefeweizen – Standard Deviant Brewing, San Francisco, CA


  • Gold: Graham Cracker Porter – Denver Beer Co., Denver, CO
  • Silver: Double Stack – Great Notion Brewing, Portland, OR
  • Bronze: I Did It All For The Cookie – FiftyFifty Brewing, Truckee, CA


  • Gold: Apricot Saison – 105 West Brewing Co., Castle Rock, CO
  • Silver: Sunken City – Insight Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN
  • Bronze: Rustic Sunday – Birds Fly South Ale Project, Greenville, SC


  • Gold: Moozie – Brink Brewing Co., Cincinnati, OH
  • Silver: Udder Love – Beachwood Brewing, Huntington Beach, CA
  • Bronze: Melk Stout – Columbus Brewing Co., Columbus, OH


  • Gold: Oktoberfest – SKA Brewing, Durango, CO
  • Silver: 13.Five Ofest – Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery, Arrington, VA
  • Bronze: Vienna Lager – Grains of Wrath Brewing, Camas, WA


  • Gold: Barrel Aged Japance Off – Denver Beer Co., Arvada, CO
  • Silver: Redrum – Duck Foot Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
  • Bronze: beWILDering C – Ten Pin Brewing Co., Moses Lake, WA  (STOUT TANKS AND KETTLES SYSTEM)


  • Gold: 3 Barrel Circus – River Dog Brewing Co., Bluffton, SC
  • Silver: Duck Duck Gooze – Port Brewing Co. / The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
  • Bronze: Oak-Aged Sour – Propolis Brewing, Port Townsend, WA


  • Ocean Beach Brewery, San Diego, CA


  • Root Down Brewing Co., Phoenixville, PA


  • The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX


  • Brink Brewing Co., Cincinnati, OH


  • Lewis & Clark Brewing Co., Helena, MT


  • pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR


  • FiftyFifty Brewing -Truckee, CA



Gold Medal: Deer Crossing

Brewing Company: Little Harpeth Brewing Co.

Brewmaster: Jesse Brown

AHA Member: Chris Allen


Silver Medal: Gone for a Burton

Brewing Company: Rock Bottom Brewery

Brewmaster: Erik Pizer

AHA Member: Jim Todd


Bronze Medal: La Bomba

Brewing Company: Cheluna Brewing Co.

Brewmaster: Jennifer Perez

AHA Member: Chris Cardillo



Gold Medal: TransAtlantique Kriek

Brewery Name: New Belgium Brewing Co.

Collaborating Brewery Name: Oud Beersel

Beer Style: Golden Sour Ale with Cherries


Silver Medal: Pixie Dusted

Brewery Name: Firestone Walker Barrelworks

Collaborating Brewery Name: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Beer Style: Wheat Blonde Ale Fermented in Neutral Oak Barrels with Pixie Tangerines


Bronze Medal: Mocha Hipster Bomb

Brewery Name: Quarter Celtic Brewpub

Collaborating Brewery Name: Palmer Brewery and Cider House

Beer Style: Export Stout with Cold-Pressed Coffee, Chocolate and Lactose





What is the best heat source for your brewing equipment?

This long debated question has no simple answer.  There IS no “best” heat source.   Our brewing equipment is designed to work with all kinds of heat sources and our  recommendations are based on your brewing needs and setups.   Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we have outlined below for your convenience.


The popular choice  for 2 bbl brewing systems to 10 bbl commercial brewing systems.

Electric Brew Houses


  • Highest efficiency:  100% of heat generated is transferred to the water or wort
  • Excellent control of the brewing process.  (Note:  our control systems provide pinpoint accuracy in temperature control).
  • Predictable cost
  • No concerns about carbon monoxide, open flames or explosive gases
  • Can be highly automated if desired


  • Cost of electricity is typically higher than gas, BUT it is often offset by much higher brewing efficiency.
  • Up front cost is usually higher than gas fired, but lower than steam boilers and steam piping.
  • Your building needs to have enough amperage available to heat the kettles and operate everything else (varies according to the system size).


The popular choice for home brewers and small commercial operations.

Direct Fire brewing system


  • Can be lowest upfront cost (depending on installation)
  • Many brewers are accustomed to gas fired kettles
  • Some brewers prefer the caramelization that can occur with gas fired systems


  • Probably the highest long term cost; gas is typically only 25% to 50% efficient
  • You will likely need to provide make-up air and provide an exhaust system for your direct fired gas system. (your city may require a professional mechanical engineer to provide a plan for your building and installation)
  • Some buildings will need fire suppression systems
  • In some states (e.g., CA and TX), the emissions regulations and requirements on gas burners result in significant added costs and reduced efficiencies


The popular choice for pro brewers and large commercial operations.

Steam brewing system


  • When combined with direct fire boiler, you get good (but not best) efficiency and low energy cost


  • Highest cost of brew kettles and heat source (boiler system)
  • Generally, not very cost effective at a small scale
  • In some states (e.g., CA and TX), the emissions regulations and requirements on gas boilers result in significant added costs and reduced efficiencies


If you are still unsure as to what system will work best for you and your brewery setup, please call us directly at (503) 372-9580 to discuss options, or take a look at some brewing equipment options for brewing by the barrel or brewing by the gallon.

Benefits of the Vorlauf Pipe

  • Prevents channeling of your mash bed (a common problem with using a hose for your vorlauf).
  • Avoids hot side aeration during vorlauf by eliminating splashing when recirculting your mash wort; the outlet is submerged just an inch or two below the liquid level.
  • You don’t have to keep worrying about your grain bed and moving grains back to level the bed.
  • Adjustable length works for many recipes.

  How to use:

  1.  Loosen the nut, then adjust the length of the pipe so that the outlet is about an inch below the liquid level of your mash.
  2. When running your vorlauf, check that you are not splashing your wort – adjust the length as needed to prevent splashing and hot side aeration.
  3. After mash in, attach the vorlauf pipe to your mash tun’s upper re circulation fitting.


Vorlauf Pipes for homebrewing

Choosing the Correct Size.

What size will work best for your brewery setup?  Check out the following available sizes and call us directly with any questions.  We are committed to helping you make delicious craft brews and are here to help in any way that we can.




As a coffee roaster or café owner, it is up to you to manage the variables in your coffee to create the perfect cold brew recipe.  The variables include:

  1. Origin of coffee
  2. Roasting style
  3. Grind size
  4. Water temperature
  5. Brew time
  6. Water chemistry

The origin of the coffee and the roasting style are at the heart of the magic of coffee.  Sourcing and roasting the right coffee for your cold brew flavors will have the biggest impact on the quality of your cold brew.

cold brew coffee system

Most roasters start out with the largest grind size they can to maximize the flavor that makes it to the coffee.  Set your grinder to the largest size you can, and work backward from there.  Most coffee brewers have found that the larger the grind size, the more control they have over the flavor of the cold brew.   The volatile chemicals that make up the flavor and aroma of coffee are very evanescent.  They combine quickly with oxygen.  Oxidation can quickly change the flavor of the coffee.


How do you prevent this?

By choosing a larger grind size, you are limiting the surface area of the coffee bean, and thereby reducing oxidation of the coffee.  Because water is such a good solvent, it can soak deep into the bean and bring those flavors out into the cold brew.  The magic is in the time that it takes for water to bring those flavors out of the bean.

Size Matters.

The grind size will have an impact on the type of filtration system you want for your cold brew system.  The size of particle you put into your cold brew will affect the clarity of the brew.  Our cold coffee systems are designed to manage particle size so that you can control how clear your cold brew looks in the glass.  We use a number of filtration systems that can filter your coffee down to a parcel size of 1 micron, if necessary.

Other Factors to Consider.

Time and temperature are also big factors to balance.  The greater the temperature of your brew, the less time it takes to brew.  The colder the brew, the longer the brew time.  Of course heat also affects the rate of evaporation of the volatile coffee flavors, and the rate of oxidation.

What is “Warm Bloom?”

Some brewers like to use a “warm bloom” to their cold brew, where they start with water slightly above room temperature to pull flavors out of the bean more quickly.  After the warm bloom, the brew is allowed to cool to room temperature.  Room temperature varies from room to room, and from day to day, and from during the time of day.

Control water temperature with your cold brew coffee system

Temperature Options

If you can’t control the air temperature in your brewery you might consider controlling the temperature of the brew.  We sell glycol chilling systems as well as electric or direct fire heat that can help you control the temperature of your cold brew.  Depending on the size of your cold brewery, it might make sense to consider adding temperature control to your cold brew system. 

Water Chemistry

The chemistry of the water will also have an impact on the flavor of cold brew.  The Ph of your water and the mineral content of the water will vary the flavor of your coffee.  We can help you develop a reverse osmosis filter system or other water treatment system to manage the flavor of your cold brew.

We are here to help.

Talk to us about how we can help you control the temperature in your system.   Check out our Cold Brew Coffee Systems and call us directly with your specific questions.


Decisions.. Decisions..  One of the more enjoyable dilemmas that brewers face is choosing a brewhouse setup.   One of the first decisions brewers get to ponder is whether to go with a skid mounted brewhouse, or choose a traditional brewhouse with stand-alone components.  There are so many factors to consider in this decision, and there are so many Pro’s and Con’s to balance.  The good news is that there are NO wrong answers.  The choice is yours. 

As a proven leader in the craft brewers industry, our Brewery Design Consultants will work with you to determine the best setup for your current, and future, brewing needs.  Having worked alongside professional brewers for more than a decade, we offer the following insight that may help you decide which setup is right for you and your brewery:


Why choose a Skid Mount for your Brewery?  

The Pro’s:

  1. The obvious:  It looks cool!  The first thing people notice about a skid mounted brewhouse is just how cool it looks.  With a mash tun and a brew kettle each mounted on one side of the central platform, the brewhouse has an eye-catching symmetry.  The hard piping gleams, with its perfect 90° elbows lined up perfectly, and rows and rows of shiny valves placed precisely in order.  With every detail thought out, and every component in its most perfect location, it is no wonder why so many brewers want to have a skid mounted brew house.
  2. Convenience:  The biggest factor many brewers consider is the convenience.  With 2 vessels mounted on the same skid, the brewhouse is one item to buy, ship and install.  A skid mounted brewhouse can simplify your space planning requirements in your brewery because you just need to find a place to park the skid.  No matter where you choose, the Mash Tun and Brew Kettle are always going to be next to each other in the perfect alignment.  With everything already installed on the brewhouse, and put into the perfect location, it is easy to set up a skid mount system.  Except for utility and steam connections, most skid mount systems do not required skilled trades in order to get up and running.
  3. More Fun:   Another reason brewers may choose to use a skid mount for their brewhouse is an obvious one: it is fun!  With every detail planned out for you, the valves are always in the right spot, and it is easy to see what you are doing.  With the pumps already mounted directly to the skid, it can be easier to move wort around.  There is no need to find and move the pump cart and connect up the hoses to proper connection.  Everything is already connected.  You just have to open the right valves.
  4. It is Easier to Relocate:   A skid system can be convenient to relocate.  If you brewery grows, and we hope that it does, you will need to reconfigure your space.  It is easy to move the skid around on its own wheels.  It is also easy to move to another location or another brewery if you find another site.  Either way, our team of Brewery Design Consultants are happy to advise you on your best options.   Brewing Equipment

The Con’s:

  1. Expense:  All the above mentions convenience may come with additional cost.  The cost of the stainless steel skid and all that hard piping (and valves) can add considerable expense to the brewhouse.  Costs include the materials cost for the skid, and all the labor to cut and weld the skid together and to attach the brew kettle and mash tun to the skid.  All of the hard piping also has to be cut, bent and mounted onto the skid.  Each contact point requires a weld and some time to polish.  There is also the cost of shipping the extra weight of the skid and the piping.
  2. Harder to Move in a Tighter Space:  Moving a skid system in a tight space can be a little more difficult.  Skid systems require a bigger door to get them into a building and a bigger forklift to get them off the truck.  Before you buy a skid system make sure you can get it into the building and move it easily into space.
  3. Sanitaion:  One thing that many people fail to consider early is sanitation.  Hard piping can be harder to clean inside the pipes.  It can require a lot of water and chemicals to Clean In Place.  It can take extra time as well.

Why choose a Traditional Brewhouse?

The Pro’s:

  1. Cost:  Cost is often a deciding factor behind choosing a traditional brewhouse.  The individual components are easier to manufacture than a skid mounted system, and without the additional materials in skid and piping, there is just less to buy and ship.  A traditional brewhouse offers all the functionality of a skid mount system with less stainless steel, less labor to manufacture, and less weight to truck to your brewery.
  2. Hoses are Cheaper:  Brewer’s hose costs much less by the foot than stainless steel piping.  With a traditional brewhouse, you can use one length of hose for several steps in the process, getting by with one hose, where a skid system requires a length of pipe for each function.  Many skid systems have 2 or 3 sets of parallel pipes.
  3. Better for Non-Traditional Space:  Traditional brewhouses can be easier to fit into non-traditional spaces.  If your building has odd shapes and spaces, it can be easier to fit a traditional brewhouse than a skid mount.  Many historic buildings have space constrictions like smaller doors, posts and columns in inconvenient locations, and lower ceilings. The size of your brewhouse may be limited to the smallest opening in your building.  You can place the individual components in the most space efficient way possible.   Sometime just a slight movement or realignment can make all the difference in how you use the space.
  4. Control over Configuration:  You can configure your brewing system exactly the way you want it.  If you have strong opinions about the proper angle of your brew kettle versus the mash tun, then a traditional system is for you.  Some brewers like to maximize the ergonomic placement of their equipment, which is much easier when the pieces can all move independently.
  5. More Room to Grow:  Traditional systems also offer more flexibility as you grow or change your process.  It is easier to add components or new steps to your brew process if you have unlimited creativity in the placement of the brewhouse.  Adding a new whirlpool or hop back to your process, or upgrading the plate chiller might be a little simpler if you can reconfigure the placement of all the other components.


  • Hoses:  When it comes to brewer’s hose, some brewers love the flexibility that a few lengths of hose can provide.  They love the ease of cleaning, and the ability to hang hoses to dry.  Others dislike the clutter of hoses on the ground, and prefer to have as many pipes as possible fixed in place.



If money and space are not limits for you, and you want the luxury of a well-designed brewhouse, there is a skid system with your name on it.  If you are on a budget, have limited space, or need the flexibility to change your brewhouse as your brewery grows, you might find yourself in a traditional brewhouse.  The good news is, you can make great beer with both.  If you would like to get a quote for your brewery setup, follow this link to start the conversation. 



Yeast requires an initial burst of oxygen to metabolize the sugars with a form of respiration, but the bulk of the work that yeast does is in fermentation, which does not require oxygen.  In fact, when brewing beer with yeast, many brewers take steps to actively limit the amount of oxygen in the beer to reduce oxidation of volatile flavor compounds.

Yeast are quite happy to survive in an environment with all Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and no oxygen (O2).  During the most active phase of fermentation, yeast produces enough carbon dioxide to displace all of the oxygen in their fermentation vessel.  Beer brewers use conical fermenters to blow off all the excess oxygen out of airlocks in the top of closed fermenter.  Cones at the bottom allow brewers to harvest the yeast and used it again, brew after brew.


Wine makers need to control oxygen very tightly to avoid the three ways that oxygen can ruin wine:

  1. Chemical Oxidation
  2. Enzymatic Oxidation
  3. Microbial Oxidation

When oxygen is present, it will chemically bond with certain polyphenols in the wine.  Enzymes also use oxidation to break down complicated flavor compounds in wine.  Certain strains of bacteria found in wine will also turn wine into vinegar.  Similar strains of bacteria are present in kombucha.  These bacteria need oxygen to convert the ethanol (alcohol) in kombucha to acetic acid, which is responsible for that wonderful tart flavor in kombucha.


Some of our kombucha fermentation tanks have aeration stones built in.  These stones were originally invented to carbonate beer by infusing carbon dioxide into the tank under pressure.  We’ve found the aeration stones to be a good way to dissolve oxygen directly into your kombucha, right where the bacteria need it.

At Stout Tanks and Kettles, we are working on developing the best fermentation vessels for the symbiosis of the yeast and bacteria, including providing the oxygen that bacteria need.  Many kombucha brewers prefer open top fermenters so that the oxygen can directly dissolve into the surface of the kombucha.  Surface O2 can really enhance bacterial activity.  One of the downsides of open top fermenters is flying insects.  Nobody wants flies or gnats in their kombucha, so we are developing ways to provide surface oxygen without giving flying bugs free access to your kombucha.  Many brewers will use cheesecloth to keep insects out, but cheesecloth is not usually fine enough to keep all of the bugs out.

One important consideration for many kombucha Brewers is the ratio of surface area to volume in the tank.  Without aeration, all the oxygen in the kombucha has to enter from the surface of the kombucha.  We can custom design a fermenter for you in whatever shape you want to optimize the surface area to the volume of your fermenter.

To get started, take a look at some of our stainless steel kombucha fermenters and feel free to contact us directly with any questions about our kombucha brewing systems.