Pro Brewing

Brewing with Electric, Direct Fire, or Steam?

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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.

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