3 BBL brewing equipment allow craft brewers to produce 3 barrels or 93 gallons per batch. With flexibility for small-scale recipes yet increased output over homebrew levels, 3 BBL systems are popular starters for taprooms, brewpubs, and microbreweries.
A full 3 BBL brewhouse comprises the mash tun, lauter tun, brew kettle, whirlpool, heat exchanger, fermenters, brite tanks, and other infrastructure to control the end-to-end brewing process. Configurations balance automation, efficiency, and budget.
This guide covers equipment options, layout considerations, customization, suppliers, comparisons, and FAQs to help assess 3 BBL systems. Understanding these factors allows finding the ideal fit for production goals and brewing style.
3 BBL Brewing Equipment Guide
Major components in a 3 BBL brewing equipment perform key functions during beer production.
Mash tuns mix crushed grain with hot water, allowing sugars and flavors to dissolve into the resultant wort. Design affects efficiency and labor time.
|Infusion Mash Tun||Insulated stationary vessel facilitating infusion mashing|
|Lauter Tun||Separate mash filtration unit utilizing screens or false bottom|
The brew kettle boils wort from the mash, letting brewers control hopping, clarification, and concentration before cooling and fermentation.
|Direct Fire||Powered by gas/steam burners underneath|
|Indirect Heat||Heated externally by steam jackets or coils|
|Electric||Fast heating/cooling from adjustable electric elements|
Whirlpools use centrifugal motion to separate hop particulates from freshly boiled wort, preparing the clearer liquid for fermentation.
|External Whirlpool||Dedicated tank that accepts transferred wort|
|Integrated||Spinning dip tubes inside the brew kettle|
Rapid wort cooling is handled by compact heat exchange units, quickly dropping temperatures in preparation for yeast.
|Plate Heat Exchanger||Thin stacked plates enable rapid heat transfer|
|Shell & Tube||Tubes contain wort surrounded by coolant|
Primary fermentation and conditioning require temperature-controlled stainless steel vessels tuned to yeast needs. 3 BBL brewing equipment have multiple 3 BBL fermenters.
|Univariate||Combined fermenting and aging in one tank|
|Cylindrical||Traditional cylindrical stainless tank|
|Conical||Allow yeast sedimentation at the bottom|
3 BBL System Suppliers and Pricing
Numerous brewhouse engineering companies provide 3 BBL brewing equipment configurations. Base pricing varies based on materials, features, and customization.
|Specific Mechanical||$120,000 – $350,000||American-made custom brewhouses, modular options|
|Premier Stainless||$90,000 – $250,000||Asian import systems with lower budget points|
|Portland Kettleworks||$175,000 – $275,000||Focus on welded sanitary construction|
|Craftwerk||$180,000 – $240,000||German-engineered stainless systems|
|Stout Tanks||$100,000 – $200,000||Highly configurable Chinese import tanks|
The 3 BBL brewing equipment Brewing Process
While recipes and configurations differ, the essential brewing steps utilize 3 BBL equipment as follows:
- Measure out and mill malt grains per the recipe
- Mix grains with 175°F water in the mash tun for sugar extraction
- Recirculate wort during mashing phase for even conversion
- Sparge (rinse) grains with hot water to extract remaining sugars
- Transfer wort to the brew kettle and bring to a rolling boil
- Add hops during the 90+ minute boil following recipe scheduling
- Create whirlpool motion to clarify and settle particle matter
- Rapidly cool boiled wort using the heat exchanger to 58-68°F
- Transfer cooled wort to primary fermenters and pitch yeast
- Allow approximately 1-3 weeks primary fermentation
- Transfer beer to conditioning tanks for settling and flavor maturation
- Optionally transfer further to brite tanks for clarity, carbonation, etc.
- Package fermented beer into kegs, cans, or bottles.
Designing Your 3 BBL brewing equipment Brewery Layout
An efficient equipment layout minimizes transfer distances and eases cleaning:
|Linear Flow||Straight line layout from start through fermentation|
|Vertical Stacking||Modules stacked together in compact footprint|
|Custom Shaped||Unique designs fitting the space|
General 3 BBL layout principles:
- Position mash tun above mill room at same level
- Locate brew kettle lower to enable gravity transfers
- Have heat exchanger feed into fermenters from above
- Group process steps together into “zones”
- Build self-draining floors with adequate drains
- Allow room for grain/ingredient storage and packaging
- Leave space for cleaning tools, pumps, hoses, etc.
- Accommodate adjustable fermenter stands
- Plan layout for future expansion as required
Engineering partners typically provide free 3D modeling and layout services during quote processes to visualize plans.
Options for Customizing 3 BBL brewing equipment
While turnkey systems work out-of-box, customization unlocks capabilities:
|Automation||Computerized monitoring and control, sensor-driven automation for transfers, cleaning, etc.|
|Brewing||Additional specialty vessels, upgraded mash tuns/kettles, etc.|
|Fermentation||More tanks, variable pressure, custom chilling/heating, hybrid units|
|Packaging||Integrated canning/bottling lines, keg washers, labeling|
|Infrastructure||Multi-level platforms, custom room shapes/sizes, raised decking|
|Branding||Logos, custom colors/materials, badging, lighting|
|Safety||Alarm systems, spill containment, ventilation, explosion-proof motors|
|Sustainability||Heat reclamation, solar power, energy-efficient vessels|
While adding cost, customization allows specialty recipes, higher efficiency, unique spaces, tailored branding, and future flexibility.
How to Select 3 BBL Brewhouse Suppliers
With many equipment options, focus on balancing cost, quality, features and service:
|Brand Reputation||Proven track record for high-quality brewhouse engineering suited to needs and budget|
|Construction||Fully welded and polished sanitary stainless interiors from quality grade materials|
|Sizing||Standard vs custom tank dimensions to fit space and production|
|Automation||Level of automated monitoring and control vs manual operation|
|Efficiency||Insulation, precise temperature controls, circulation for mash/boil efficiency|
|Options||Wide range of modular add-ons and customization available|
|Lead Times||Typical delivery windows from order placement are 12-20 weeks|
|Services||Design consultation, 3D modeling, shipment logistics, installation guidance|
|Payment Terms||50% down flexible payment plans commonly available, financing options|
|Location||Domestic provides easier support while imported systems allow lower budget|
Ideally find the best intersection across cost, quality, reliability and services for brewing needs via quotes.
Comparing Pros and Cons of 3 BBL brewing equipment
As with any major investments, brewhouse solutions have tradeoffs:
- Flexible batch size suits small craft recipes
- Lower capital costs than larger 5+ BBL systems
- Simpler infrastructure needs for space, energy, etc.
- Allows traditional hands-on brewing techniques
- Leaves room to incrementally expand over time
- Lower efficiency vs highly automated systems
- More labor-intensive per volume than bigger brewhouses
- Limits packaging line throughput in cans/bottles
- Tighter margins with higher ingredient costs per barrel
- Care required to ensure consistency between small batches
The 3 BBL scale strikes an effective balance – adequate for taprooms while remaining compact enough for artisan methods.
What size space is typically needed for a 3 BBL setup?
- Around 1,500 – 2,000 sq ft to accommodate all brewing and fermentation equipment plus workspace, packaging, storage areas and more. Exact footprint depends on layout, ceiling height, and efficiency.
What is the annual barrel output capacity of 3 BBL equipment?
- Approximately 400-500 barrels or 12,500-15,500 cases per year if brewing 1-2 times weekly. Output levels ultimately depend on batch frequency.
What are typical 3 BBL brewhouse consumables/maintenance?
- Replacement pumps, gaskets, hoses every 2-4 years. Annual sensor calibration. Cleaners and lubricants each cycle. Worn part replacement as needed.
What brewing expertise is best to operate a 3 BBL system?
- Homebrewing familiarity is helpful. Typically 1-2 trained brewers can fully operate the system. External training courses add skills. Some automation reduces labor.
What is the lifespan of a properly maintained 3 BBL setup?
- Around 10-15 years with routine care before any major overhauls needed. Refurbishing at that stage can further extend the usable lifespan.
Can I package beer in cans with 3 BBL equipment?
- Yes, manual and semi-automatic canning lines sized for 3 barrel output are produced by several packaging machinery companies to allow canning.