industrial beer brewing equipment

Overview of 5 BBL Brew Kettles

A 5 BBL Brew Kettle, also called a brewing copper or brewkettle, is a critical vessel in a brewhouse used for boiling wort and adding hops. This guide covers what a 5 BBL brewkettle is, details on configurations and terminology, kettle design considerations, process guidance, customization options, top suppliers and pricing, installation and operation recommendations, and comparisons of different 5 BBL kettles.

What is a Brew Kettle?

A brew kettle, or copper, is a stainless steel vessel used for:

  • Boiling wort after mashing – coagulating proteins, sterilizing, extracting hop flavors
  • Clarifying and separating trub particles via whirlpooling action
  • Holding hot boiled wort prior to fermentation

Key kettle design elements:

  • Heavy duty stainless construction to withstand vigorous boiling
  • Efficient heating system – steam, direct fire, or electric elements
  • Mixing or whirlpool tangential inlets for circulating wort
  • Cone bottom design allows trub to settle

Kettles range from 3-15+ BBL sizes for commercial breweries producing up to 3,000 bbls annually. 5 BBL is a common starter scale.

5 BBL Brew Kettle
10HL Brewing system

5 BBL Brewing Kettle Equipment Guide

Below summarizes key terminology on 5 BBL kettles and brewhouse vessels:

Mash TunConvert mashed grain starches to fermentable sugars via enzyme activation
Lauter TunSeparate sweet wort from spent grains after mashing
Brew KettleBoil wort with hops for bitterness, flavor, aroma
WhirlpoolSpin hot wort to remove trub particles using centrifugal force
Heat ExchangerRapidly cool boiled wort before yeast is pitched to ferment
FermenterFerment sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide

The brew kettle imparts significant flavor and aroma qualities through wort boiling, hop additions, and hot side clarification processes.

5 BBL Brew Kettle Design and Layout

When configuring a 5 BBL brew house kettle system, key elements to consider include:


  • Typically under 7 ft tall to allow manual hop dosing
  • 42-48 inch diameter to prevent boil overs


  • 304 or 316 stainless construction
  • Optional exotic alloys improve heat transfer

Heating System

  • Direct fire, steam jacketed, electric elements
  • Hybrid systems balance speed, precision of temperature ramps


  • Spinning inlet or external recirculation for mixing
  • Whirlpool tangential inlet to spin out particles

Transfer Piping

  • Inlet valves for filling, steaming, recirculation
  • Pump out transfer line, sight glass, volume markings


  • Programmable controllers to track/log temps, valve states, runoff trajectories

Optimize staging distances to prevent stuck sparges while enabling efficient wort transfers.

5 BBL Commercial Brewing Process Overview

The key functions the brew kettle performs in a commercial 5 BBL brewhouse process:

Transfer – After lautering, sweet wort is transferred to the brew kettle at the start of a vigorous 60-90 minute boil.

Boiling – The wort is brought to a rolling boil to sterilize it, halt enzymatic activity, extract hop oils, concentrate sugars and proteins, and develop desired color and flavors. Boil strength impacts hop utilization.

Hop Addition – Hops are added at stages over the boil timeline to contribute targeted bitterness, flavor and aroma attributes to the beer.

Coagulation – Heat and hop compounds cause proteins and tannins to coagulate into particles that will later settle as trub.

Clarification – A whirlpool rest circulates wort to use centrifugal force to spin coagulated particles into a cone at the bottom center of the kettle. This clarifies the wort prior to transferring to the fermenter.

Holding – After chilling, finished boiled wort waits in the sanitized brew kettle for a period before getting pitched with yeast in the fermenter.

The tuning of temperatures, timing, hop dosing, circulation patterns, and holding durations in the brew kettle significantly impacts final beer quality, consistency and efficiency.

5 BBL Brew Kettle Customization

While 5 BBL brew kettles have typical capacity targets and standard features, many customization options exist:

ElementCustomization Choices
Height/DiameterDimensioning based on brewhouse space
Heating MethodSteam, electric elements, direct fire
AgitationMixing pumps or custom tangential inlets
AutomationTailored controllers, sensors, data logging recipes
MaterialsExotic alloys, interior polish, enhanced coatings
GeometryConical vs cylindrical, angle of conical bottom section
PortsSample valves, sight glasses, cleaning ports
OptionsIntegrated whirlpool, wort aeration, heat exchanger

Work with your brewhouse design team to optimize kettle configuration for your HOPPING schedules, vigor targets, and manual vs automated processes.

5 BBL Brew Kettle Suppliers and Price Range

There are a number of reputable kettle suppliers with quality 5 BBL solutions costing $8,000 to $15,000 depending on features. Custom exotic alloy kettles with extensive automation can run over $20k.

SupplierPrice Range
Specific Mechanical$9,000 – $13,000
Stout Tanks$8,000 – $12,000
Premier Stainless$10,000 – $14,000
Pro Engineering$9,000 – $13,000
Portland Kettle Works$12,000 – $16,000

Additional stainless fabrication suppliers to evaluate include AAA Metal Fabrication, Stellar Brew Equipment, The Vintner Vault, Craftwerk, Spike Brewing, and Psycho Brew. Chinese manufacturers can hit lower price points but generally lack quality controls or customization flexibility compared to US shops.

How to Choose a Reliable Brew Kettle Supplier

Critical factors in selecting a brew kettle partner include:

CriteriaEvaluation Aspects
Build QualityMaterial grades, precision fabrication, welds, finishing
Feature SetStandard platform vs customizable options
Customer ServiceResponsiveness, order support, issue resolution
ReferencesOther customers vouching for product and service
Production TimesExperience meeting lead time targets
ValuePrice relative to quality level and features
TermsPayment schedule, warranty coverage, maintenance options

Thoroughly evaluate vendors on complete picture criteria, not just upfront equipment pricing. Leverage industry references to guide selection. See what existing brewers have to say about supplier relationships beyond the sale.

5 BBL Brew Kettle Installation, Operation and Maintenance

Correct kettle installation, operation, and preventative maintenance ensures performance longevity, safety and beer consistency:

InstallationMounting, welding connections, wiring elements, testing valves/piping before first batch. May require contracting.
Operation**Following HOPPING, cleaning, transfer standard procedures each batch. Monitoring temps, flows, valve states.
MaintenanceInspecting seals, gaskets, replacing worn parts, cleaning, leak checks, instrument calibration.

Work closely with your equipment provider for installation guidance, operator training, and suggested maintenance programs per batch and annually. Draft SOPs covering kettle procedures during knockout, transfers, cleaning, inspecting, and troubleshooting.

Key Advantages Between 5 BBL Brew Kettle Configurations

Principal alternatives along with relative pros and cons include:

Electric KettlePrecise temp control <br> No boiler required <br> Lower operating costsSlow ramp up and down <br> Higher install cost
Steam KettleFaster heating <br> Lower install cost <br> Proven longevityLess precise control <br> Needs steam source
Direct Fire KettlePowerful rapid heating <br> Lower equipment costLess consistent control <br> Safety considerations

Evaluate options against production goals – batch cycle times, automation plans, vapor emissions regulations etc. If focusing on specialty beers, optimize for precision temperature manipulation over speed.

Key Brew Kettle Investment Considerations

As a core brewhouse component shaping beer quality over years, judiciously investing in a brew kettle entails:

  • Prioritizing stainless steel grades and fabrication quality – impacts longevity
  • Considering expansion plans – space, production scaling, automation goals
  • Focusing on heating control precision if brewing delicate beer styles
  • Comparing kettle ROI vs other brewhouse equipment investments
  • Researching suppliers thoroughly – chat with existing customers on performance
  • Budgeting for installation, training, maintenance beyond unit price

Avoid oversizing relative to batch targets losing efficiency and control advantages from customized, smaller dimensioning. But ensure adequate height for hop dosing ergonomics and foaming head space. Seek to balance value, consistency, and flexibility for current and future plans when investing.

5 BBL Brew Kettle


Q: What is typical pricing for a new 5 BBL brew kettle?

A: A 5 BBL brew kettle typically costs $8,000 – $15,000 depending on material choices, heating systems, and feature sets from US stainless fabricators. Fully customized systems with exotics and automation can exceed $20k.

Q: What are standard dimensions for 5 BBL kettles?

A: Many 5 BBL kettles are around 84 inches (7 ft) tall x 42-48 inches wide. Exact sizing depends on batch targets, vigor space, and layout. Custom dimensional configuring is common.

Q: Should I choose steam, electric, or direct fire heating?

A: Each system has pros and cons. Steam offers rapid heating important for some beer styles but precision temperature control is harder. Electric gives precise control for delicate beers but slower. Direct fire brings vigor but variability. Many kettle use hybrid heating approaches.

Q: How many hop additions do 5 BBL kettles support?

A: Most 5 BBL kettles offer 3-5 hop addition ports positioning hops for early kettle bitterness, late kettle flavor, and aroma stages. More custom ports can be included.

Q: What material should I choose for my brew kettle?

A: 304 stainless steel is standard for most 5 BBL kettles. 316 has higher corrosion resistance. Optional exotic metals like copper can enhance conductivity and boiling action but add cost.

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