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3 Barrel Mash Tuns for Craft Brewing

A 3 BBL Mash Tun is a key vessel in the brewing process, facilitating the steeping of milled grains to convert starches into fermentable sugars. This guide covers 3 barrel (BBL) mash tun design, specifications, manufacturing, selection criteria and operation for craft breweries.

Types of 3 BBL Mash Tuns

Mash Tun TypeDescription
InsulatedHeated/refrigerated outer jacket
Steam jacketedSteam heating coils surround vessel
InfusionSingle temperature mash
Multi-stepProgrammable temp rest profiles
Semi-lauterInternal false bottom
LauterRake or roller mechanism

Commercial mash filters provide efficiency and automation but are expensive. Small producers often use basic infusion tuns with false bottom or direct fire heating.

3 BBL Mash Tun

Overview of Mashing Process

The typical mashing process consists of:

  • Milled grain is mixed with hot water and allowed to steep 30-90 mins. Enzymes convert starch into sugars.
  • Temperatures between 150-160°F are held for sachharification rest. pH is adjusted.
  • Optionally, further rests enhance fermentability, body or head retention. Step mashing improves efficiency.
  • Wort is lautered by draining liquid through grain bed and sparging to extract sugars.
  • Clear wort moves on to the boil kettle and spent grains removed.

Precision temperature control and uniform wetting during mashing are critical to hit target parameters. Agitation between rests helps stabilize.

3 BBL Mash Tun Specifications

Total Capacity90-100 gallon batches
MaterialStainless steel (ideally 304 grade or better)
Dimensions48-60” diameter; height varies
Batch SizeUp to 3 bbls (~93 gal)
Trimsight/light glass, sample valve, aeration stone
Weight650-1200 lbs empty
Floor Space~6’x6’ footprint

Additional specs like thickness, fittings, heating system types vary greatly across mash tun designs and manufacturers.

3 BBL Mash Tun Manufacturers & Pricing

CompanyPrice Range
JV Northwest$9500 – $16,000
SS Brewtech$8800 – $14,500
Spike Brewing$7500 – $12,000
Ss Brewtech$7000 – $10,000
Blichmann$6500 – $9500

Quoted pricing indicates mash tun vessel only without controllers or accessories. Budget higher for turnkey automated systems rather than basic tun configurations.

3 BBL Mash Tun Installation

LocationNear brewkettle for wort transfer
MountingLevel stable surface; custom stand
ConnectionsInlets, returns for heating system
LayoutFloor drains, pumps, power
ControlsTemperature sensors, automation
TestingCheck valve seals, sample flows

Proper layout right from design stage prevents major issues. Place tun 18-24” off ground for ergonomic handling of grains during mashing in and out.

Operating 3 BBL Mash Tuns

Pre-mashHeat strike water 10°F higher than target rest
Doughing inMix grist into tun slowly to wet all grain
Saccharification restHold ~155°F to convert starches, adjust pH
Further stepsProgram and hold protein or sugar rests if needed
LauteringRecirculate then drain wort; sparge grains
CleanupRemove all spent grains post mash

Automated processes assist with temperature steps, lautering speed and vorlauf cycles. But small batches often use manual methods due to cost.

Mash Tun Maintenance

Per brewClean surfaces, gaskets, seals
MonthlyInspect valves, fittings, sensors
QuarterlyTest heating system; replace filtrate plates if needed
YearlyFull disassembly & cleaning; replace gaskets/seals

Thoroughly clean and dry interiors after each use to avoid growth of mold or bacteria. Strict sanitation prevents contamination issues during brewing process.

How to Select a 3 BBL Mash Tun Vendor

Design & featuresVessel shapes, customization options
Heating methodsDirect fire, steam, hot liquor
Level of automationManual valves vs automated systems
Construction qualitySurface finish; weld inspection
Warranty & supportDocumentation provided, ease of service
Company reputationIndustry experience, client references
BudgetSystem price; options affordable

Get multiple quotes for product comparisons on pricing and key criteria like automation, configurability, after-sales support etc.

Pros and Cons of 3 BBL Mash Tun Systems

Flexible specialty recipesManual steps labor intensive
Ideal batch size for craft brewingAdditional accessories add cost
Simpler licensing vs 7 bbl+Drainage, space, infrastructure needs
Lower operating costsLearning curve for new operators
Customization for unique processResale value lower than larger turnkeys

The 3 barrel scale balances production flexibility with manageable investment for small producers. Determine growth plans when selecting mash tun size and features.

3 BBL Mash Tun


Is direct fire or steam heating better for mash tuns?

Direct fire allows faster ramp times and better efficiency but needs more operator attention. Steam heating maintains steadier rests for automation but slower heating without a vigorous boil.

How much does an automated 3BBL mash filter system cost?

Fully automated lauter tuns with rakes or rollers run $30,000+ for 3BBL capacity. More complex than kettles or fermenters. Basic false bottom tuns with manual operation much cheaper at $7000-$12000.

What are the most common problems with 3BBL mash tun systems?

Stuck mashes, uneven heating or temperature spikes, slow runoffs, leaks at valves/fittings, clogged heat exchangers or filter plates and issues with insulation or heating control systems. Proper maintenance and cleaning mitigate most problems.

Should I buy a used mash tun to save money initially?

Used equipment can work well if carefully inspected and tested first. Have a boilermaker check seams, welds and seals. Examine internal surfaces and filters closely. Test heating system and automation if present. Ensure no contamination history.

How many times can mash tun components be reused?

With thorough CIP cleaning after every use, vessels and false bottoms can be reused for many years. Key wear items like heating coils, filter plates, ball valves and seals need replacement every 2-4 years depending on usage intensity.


Optimally designed and operated mash filtration systems help craft brewers precisely control conversion processes when developing specialty recipes. 3 BBL configurations balance flexibility and affordability for small batch innovation. Careful project planning for layout, drainage, accessories and automation assists trouble-free operation and maintenance for many years of quality production.

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