beer making equipment

3 BBL Brite Tank Beer Fermentation and Serving Tanks

A 3 BBL Brite Tank is a stainless steel vessel used for fermenting, filtering, carbonating, and serving beer in commercial breweries. With a capacity of 93 gallons or 352 liters, 3 BBL tanks are a popular size for small to mid-sized craft breweries producing ales and lagers on a 3-15 barrel brew system.

This guide covers everything needed to understand 3BBL brite tanks including design, layout, installation, suppliers, pricing, pros and cons, and typical brewery applications. It aims to help brewers compare options and make informed decisions when selecting 3BBL tank systems.

3 BBL Brite Tank Equipment Guide

Brite tanks, also called serving tanks or uni-tanks, perform multiple functions in the brewing process. The main equipment components of a 3BBL brite tank system are:

Equipment TypeDescription
Tank VesselThe primary stainless steel tank that holds beer during fermentation, clarification, carbonation and serving. Includes fittings for cleaning, transfers, monitoring.
Glycol CoolingGlycol chiller unit and coil/jacket to control fermentation temperature.
CO2 InjectionCO2 regulator, stone, tubing for carbonation.
Serving ComponentsFaucets, flow control, lines, couplers for direct draw dispensing to bar.
AutomationLevel sensors, pressure/flow meters, temperature probes, and controls.
FiltrationPump, filter housing, membranes, hoses for clarifying beer.
CIP ComponentsSpray balls, piping, pumps, valves, tanks, chemicals for cleaning in place (CIP).
Fermenter StandsCustom floor stands, ladders, railings for safe access to tank manways and ports.
3 BBL Brite Tank

Typical 3 BBL Brite Tank Design and Layout

3BBL brite tanks come in horizontal and vertical stainless tank configurations. They may be fully custom built or ordered as complete engineered systems with integrated features and automation.

OrientationHorizontal or Vertical stainless tank
ShapeCylindrical with elliptical, sloped, or cone bottom heads
MaterialStainless steel – grade 304 or 316L
Surface FinishInterior polish: 150 grit or better (120 grit floor);<br>Exterior 2B Mill or better
Manway12″-16″ diameter opening at top with camlock, sanitary clamp or bolted entrance
Ports1.5″-2″ Tri-clamp fittings for temperature probes, CO2 injection, transfers
LegsAdjustable stainless steel legs – 6″ – 38″ height
Jacket/CoilGlycol cooling channels welded on exterior of tank or interior cooling coil
Insulation1″-2″ thick spray foam
Automation PackagePumps, valves, sensors, controls in prewired portable or wall mount panel
Serving SystemIntegrated under-tank draft components

Typical dimensions for a 3 BBL uni-tank are 24″-36″ diameter x 48″-72″ straight side shell height. The total height increases to 78″-102″ including the domed top headspace. Weight is 350-700 lbs empty depending on material thickness.

Customization of 3BBL Tanks

Many custom options are available when ordering a 3BBL uni-tank:

ParameterCustomization Choices
Alloys304, 304L, 316, 316L stainless steel
Thickness10 gauge, 12 gauge, 14 gauge
FinishInterior polish from 20 grit (coarse) to 180 grit (mirror)<br>Exterior polish from Scotchbrite to 8 mirror
Port QuantityNumber, size, position and type of fittings
Port ConnectionsTri-clamp, threaded, flanged, butt weld
Automation ExtentMore sensors, pumps – personalized control logic
Insulation Thickness1″-3″ thick spray foam insulation
Cooling DesignGlycol jacket vs. cooling coil; cooling surface area
Rectangular ChambersInternals like cooling coils can be shaped
Serving SetupNumber of faucets, flow control, drip tray, glass rinser

With modular tanks, features like cooling, insulation, automation are handled through add-ons. Fully custom tanks allow the highest integration and optimization to meet specific brewery requirements.

Suppliers and Pricing

Many tank fabricators offer 3BBL brite tanks in stock or built to order. Pricing varies from $4,000 to $15,000 depending on the features and quality:

SupplierBase Price Range
SS Brewtech$4,000 – $6,000
MEP Engineering$5,000 – $8,000
JV Northwest$6,000 – $10,000
Psycho Brew$8,000 – $12,000
ABS Commercial$10,000 – $15,000

Customization, automation, shipping and installation costs extra. Get vendor quotes to compare pricing for the same tank configurations. China-made import tanks from Alibaba start under $3,000 but have higher risk. Quality USA and Canada-built tanks give the best ROI and resale value despite higher upfront cost. Consider full costs over the 15-20 year tank lifetime.

Installation Factors

Proper installation of 3 BBL brite tanks involves material handling, site prep, utilities, permitting and contractors.

TaskInstallation Requirements
Receiving TankForklift 4,000 lb capacity; pallet jack; lifting slings
LocationConcrete floor; ceiling height; doorway width for entry
AssemblyLeak test; interconnect piping, wires, glycol; calibration
Electrical120V/20A circuit; disconnect box; outlets; wire runs
PlumbingPotable water line >15 GPM; floor drain; glycol supply/return
VentilationHood exhaust ducting; 500 CFM system
PermitsFederal – brewer’s notice; state/county – boiler, hoods

Use an experienced tank installer or in house operations team. Get engineering approval for customized platforms.

Standard Operating Procedures

Day to day operation of a 3 BBL brite tank involves fermentation, transfer, carbonation, filtration and cleaning cycles. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for safety warnings and specific procedures.

ActivitySOP Overview
FermentationFill yeast-pitched wort; set glycol temperature profile; monitor density daily
Beer TransferOpen inlet/outlet valves; use CO2 or pump for closed transfers
Force CarbonationSet CO2 pressure to ~15 PSI based on temperature; rock tank
Beer FiltrationRecirculate through 0.5 micron filter; confirm clarity
ServingSet serving pressure based on line length and size; check foam, taste
CIP CleaningMix caustic and acid solutions; clean spray balls, pumps; meet contact times

The manufacturer, local brewers or master brewers groups can provide best practice recommendations for ideal fermentation, cellaring and serving. Join online forums for community advice too.

Maintenance Requirements

Preventative maintenance ensures safe operation, consistent quality, and maximum lifespan from 3BBL brite tanks.

SystemMaintenance TasksFrequency
GasketsInspect tank doorways and fittings; replace worn gasketsMonthly
ValvesDisassemble, clean and lubricate valvesQuarterly
SensorsCheck calibration of level, pressure and temperature sensorsQuarterly
Coil/JacketInspect for leaks or damage; pressure testAnnually
PumpsReplace seals; lubricate; check impeller conditionAnnually or per runtime hours
FittingsVerify tri-clamp torque; replace faulty fittingsAs needed
CO2 RegulatorChange internal cartridge; lubricateEvery 5 years

Keep maintenance logs to track tasks, inventory parts, and plan capital upgrades.

Budget approximately 5% of the tank system cost per year for maintenance and repairs. Having backup stock of spare parts minimizes downtime if repairs are needed.

Choosing Brite Tank Suppliers

Many factors go into choosing the right 3BBL brite tank provider for your brewery:

ConsiderationEvaluation Criteria
BudgetCompare vendor quotes; define must-have features
Lead TimeProduction schedule: days to weeks from order to delivery
CustomizationAbility to tailor tank design and automation to brewery preferences
ConstructionWelds, fittings, surface finish – indicators of quality
WarrantiesCoverage duration for tank, glycol unit, other components
ReferencesCheck reviews and testimonials from past customers
Customer ServiceResponsive sales and technical support team

Get free design quotes from 3-5 suppliers before down selecting. Arrange on-site visits to existing tank installations for other local breweries if possible.

Comparing 3 BBL Brite Tank Options

All 3 BBL uni-tanks are not made equal. Use the following criteria to critically evaluate options from different vendors:

Advantages of 3 BBL Brite Tanks

  • Flexible multi-purpose fermentation, filtering, serving, storage
  • Large enough for commercial batches; fits through 36″ doorways
  • Scalable tank capacity for growing craft breweries
  • Cost effective and energy efficient compared to 1 or 7+ BBL sizes
  • Pre-engineered systems quick to install; customizable designs
  • Rugged stainless steel easy to maintain and long lifespan
  • Optional automation simplifies operations

Disadvantages & Challenges

  • Too small for mass production; difficult to fully automate
  • Mobile serving tanks don’t suit fixed draught line installations
  • Shorter vessels prone to foaming with high carbonation beers
  • Quality issues reported with China import tanks
  • Budget custom builds can lack engineering rigor
  • Glycol jackets less efficient than interior cooling coils
  • Difficult access for stirring yeast during fermentation

Engineered brite tanks balance functionality, efficiency, economics, and ease of use for the projected production scale and brewing needs. Carefully evaluate options before ordering.

Typical Brewery Applications

3 BBL brite tanks have the right capacity for a number of beer production applications:

Taproom Serving1 to 3 tanks for ales, lagers, and specialties support a small tasting room
Pilot BreweryTest recipes; educate brewers; support 3-5 BBL brewhouse
Retail BrewpubServe guest beers alongside 500-1500 BBL/year capacity
Barrel-AgedExtended wood aging under pressure transfers to brite tank at finish
Quality LabFrequent yeast harvesting; propagate pure cultures; QC testing
R&D CenterInnovate recipes on 3 BBL before scaling up batches

Choose vertical or horizontal tanks to best fit brewhouse layout, cellar height, and serving logistic needs. Glycol cooling offers more stable temperature control than jacketed fermenters. Get a chiller unit sized 30-50% beyond tank capacity for faster ramp down during peak summer heat.

Automate tank cleaning and closed transfers where possible to improve efficiency. Consider mobile serving options today that can convert to fixed draft lines later as business grows.

3 BBL Brite Tank


Q: What size brewery is a 3BBL brite tank suited for?

A: A 3BBL unitank fits best in a small to medium craft brewery producing 150-1000 barrels per year on a 3-15 BBL brewhouse. The capacity matches well for scaling test batches to full production or serving taproom favorites.

Q: How many 3BBL tanks are needed to supply a taproom?

A: We recommend a minimum of 2 brite tanks – one serving beer while the second cleans and sanitizes. An additional 1-2 units allows you to ferment, filter and carb ales and lagers simultaneously for more variety.

Q: Should I choose a vertically or horizontally oriented brite tank?

A: It depends on your goals and constraints – vertical tanks fit in more cellar layouts but horizontal tanks allow easier cleaning and access. Both work well once properly designed and configured.

Q: What design customizations make the most difference?

A: Focus customizations on features that truly impact production quality and efficiency based on your specific beer types and business model. Glycol cooling, yeast harvesting, flexible fermentation and streamlined cleaning automation are common choices to differentiate tanks.

Q: Should I buy Chinese import tanks to save money initially?

A: Import tanks can have quality issues and little vendor support. Carefully evaluate construction, warranty and total cost of ownership vs. benefits. For critical production equipment, reputable North American suppliers generally make the best long term investment.

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