What Is The Difference Between A Two-Vessel And Three-Vessel Brewhouse?
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What Is The Difference Between A Two-Vessel And Three-Vessel Brewhouse?

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 01-06-2023      Origin: Site

A brewhouse can be defined as the heart of a brewery operation where the production of beer takes place. It is the place where malted barley is mashed with water, boiled with hops, and then fermented with yeast to create beer. In the beer manufacturing process, the brewhouse plays a crucial role in determining the quality and quantity of beer produced. The brewhouse consists of several components, including the mash tun, hot liquor tank, brew kettle, and various other accessories. Brewhouses are classified based on the number of vessels they have, and the two common types are two-vessel and three-vessel brewhouses.

The two types of brewhouses have significant differences in their design, layout, and operation. The essential difference between the two lies in their respective vessels and how they are used during the brewing process. Generally, a two-vessel brewhouse combines the hot liquor tank and mash tun into one vessel, while a three-vessel brewhouse separates the mash tun into a dedicated vessel, creating three different vessels used for the brewing process. In this article, we will elaborate on the differences between the two types of brewhouses.

Overview of Two-vessel Brewhouse

Two-vessel brewhouses are perfect choices for small or medium-sized breweries, or for those who want to brew a limited variety of beer styles. The brewhouse has two primary vessels, the mash tun/hot liquor tank (MLT) and the kettle/whirlpool. In a two-vessel brewhouse, the MLT vessel serves a dual purpose, acting as both a mash tun and a hot liquor tank. Usually, the mash is prepared in the MLT vessel and then transferred to the kettle/whirlpool vessel, where it is boiled with hops and other ingredients.

The boiling process is completed, and the liquid is passed through a hop filter, eliminating the hop debris, and then transferred to the heat exchanger for cooling. The cooled wort is then sent to the fermenter for the fermentation process.


Advantages of Two-vessel Brewhouse

1. Space-Saving: The two-vessel brewhouse is relatively compact, taking up much less space than a three-vessel brewhouse, which requires an extra vessel.

2. Cost-effective: Generally, two-vessel brewhouses are cheaper to build, operate, and maintain than three-vessel brewhouses. The reason behind this is that the brewing process requires fewer components in a two-vessel brewhouse, resulting in less capital expenditure.

3. Faster Turnaround Time: Due to the direct transfer of wort from the mash tun/hot liquor tank to the kettle/whirlpool vessel, the brewing process is more efficient and faster. It reduces the processing time and increases the production capacity of the brewery.

Disadvantages of Two-vessel Brewhouse

1. Compromised Quality: In a two-vessel brewhouse, the MLT vessel acts as a mash tun and a hot liquor tank, which can have significant implications on the quality of the beer produced. There may be temperature issues, and the water-to-grain ratio may not be optimal, leading to reduced beer quality.

2. Limited Flexibility: Two-vessel brewhouses are not as flexible as three-vessel brewhouses when it comes to recipe development, as the MLT vessel has a limited capacity to accommodate multiple recipes.

3. Increased Risk of Cross-contamination: Two-vessel brewhouses have heightened cross-contamination risks, as they have limited vessel access and cannot handle cleaning processes without disrupting the brewing process.

Overview of Three-vessel Brewhouse

A three-vessel brewhouse separates the three significant processes of brewing into their dedicated vessels, namely the mash tun, hot liquor tank, and kettle/whirlpool. In this design, the mash tun vessel is solely dedicated to the mash process, while the hot liquor tank is reserved for controlling the temperature of the water added to the mash.

In the kettle/whirlpool vessel, the mixture is boiled with hops and other ingredients, and then cooled via a heat exchanger. A three-vessel brewhouse provides more flexibility in recipe development and the ability to produce a more diverse range of beer styles.


Advantages of Three-vessel Brewhouse

1. Optimal Quality: By separating the mash tun and hot liquor tank from the kettle/whirlpool vessel, three-vessel brewhouses provide optimal conditions for brewing high-quality beer. The vessels also allow for precise temperature control and the water-to-grain ratio, critical aspects that ultimately contribute to the quality of the beer produced.

2. Greater Flexibility: Three-vessel brewhouses are more flexible when it comes to recipe development and brewing different beer styles. The dedicated vessels can handle a broader range of recipes and may allow for simultaneous brewing of different beer styles.

3. Sanitation: Three-vessel brewhouses have the advantage of being more easily cleaned and sanitized than two-vessel brewhouses. The dedicated vessels can be cleaned independently without disrupting the brewing process, thereby reducing the risks of cross-contamination.

Disadvantages of Three-vessel Brewhouse

1. Larger Physical Space: Three-vessel brewhouses are relatively large and require ample space to install. It may not be ideal for small craft breweries with limited space.

2. Slower Turnaround Time: Three-vessel brewhouses can be slower than two-vessel brewhouses due to the additional vessel, longer transfer times, and extra moving parts in the brewing process. This can limit production capacity and increase brewing time.

3. Increased Cost: Generally, three-vessel brewhouses are more expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain than two-vessel brewhouses. The added complexity, components, and vessels result in higher cost implications.


The brewhouse is an integral part of the beer brewing process, and the choice between a two-vessel and three-vessel brewhouse will depend on a variety of factors such as production capacity, brewing style, and budget. While two-vessel brewhouses are great for small and medium-sized breweries that have budget constraints, three-vessel brewhouses are ideal for large breweries that want to produce different beer styles or need the flexibility to scale up production. Ultimately, it comes down to the brewer's specific requirements and preferences when choosing between the two.

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