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Direct Fire Brew Kettle – The Pros and Cons

Direct Fire Brew Kettle – The Pros and Cons

There are three main brewery heating options when it comes to brewing. They are:

  • Electric heating
  • Steam heating
  • Direct fire

Direct Fire Brewing

Brewing uses an open flame as a heat source. It usually a firebox below the brew kettle. Compared to steam it’s easier and cheaper to install. When compared to electric it’s more expensive and there’s more regulations to overcome.

If you brewing in a remote area direct fire is easier to install as you can use propane tanks linked directly to the burner.

Safety Issues of This Heating Option

As you’re working with an open flame there are obvious safety issues. There are typical safety issues when using fire:

  • Turning the kettle on allows a solenoid to open leading to the turning of the electronic pilot light
  • If this fails the system completely shuts down.
  • If the pilot light is good then a solenoid opens to the gas sensor allowing it flow.
  • The air blower then helps feed the burner for a hot consistent flame.

Advantages of a Direct Fire Brew Kettle

The initial costs of installing direct fire are less expensive than with steam. Plus, it’s easier to calibrate too. As you just use a burner and don’t need at dedicated boiler room, it also takes up less space.

As the burner is directly below the kettle, there’s no pipework and no traps are needed thus making installation mush easier than steam.

You can easily switch between propane and natural gas if both are available at your location. Which can lead to less downtime.

Disadvantages of this Heating Option

There’s a greater chance of caramelization with direct fire. This can lead to off-flavors for lighter beers such as lager.

As you use an open flame you need to check local regulations and building codes. This might slow down your path to brewery opening.

There is a greater chance of localized heating with this heating leading to scorching. If the wort becomes scorched it makes cleaning up after a brew more difficult.

Direct Fire Kettle Conclusions

The heating option is best when you’re in remote locations or if you’re in a built-up area and a steam generator is allowed. It’s cheaper to run than electric heating although more expensive to install.

Ths heating option is choice for brewers who can install steam and if the brewhouse is above 12HL meaning it would draw too much power to use electric.