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It seems that there are very few large batch options. There are obviously the consumer products, then there are a couple "commercial" 5 gallon type systems.

I'm looking to fill multiple 5 gallons kegs for consumption and distribution. I understand that I could do a heavy batch of concentrate in a 5 gallon batch and dilute it with water when I put it into the kegs, but are there any methods available that don't involve the extra step?

If I want to go bigger am I going to have to do something custom?

  • 1
    Welcome to Coffee SE! Can you expand your question a little bit? Is 5 gallon what you need (or too large/small)? There certainly is the option to make a large jar of ``concentrate'', which allows to have quite a lot of end product. See this discussion (if I may recommend my own answer...). – Ivan Kapitonov Nov 12 '15 at 8:28
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    Interesting question. As Ivan asked, what is your concrete target? 5 gallons is a lot. And freshness is really important if you intend to sell. Perhaps better use several smaller systems, delaying the brewing start time in such a way you cater for both quantity and freshness. – Eric Platon Nov 12 '15 at 14:10
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Goals

It sounds like you're starting a small business, in which case, you will quickly outgrow 5 gallon batch sizes as you begin distribution.

Depending on your needs, I would suggest purchasing industrial beer brewing equipment, such as conical fermenters and brite tanks.


Use of Conical Fermenter

Conical Fermenter

The conical fermenter would allow you to long brew a batch, bubble nitrogen or CO2 up from the bottom for agitation (increasing extraction and preventing oxidation), and will let the grinds settle into the bottom shoulder of the tank when the brewing process is complete.


Use of Brite Tanks

Large Brite Tank

Brite tanks come in a range of sizes from ~1 gallon up to tens of thousands of gallons. They are primarily used as a glycol jacketed pressure rated storage vessel for keeping beer (and similar beverages) in optimial conditions before storage. They may also be used as part of the forced carbonation of the liquid in the tank. A brite tank will be useful for your cold brew business as you scale up because it will give you an intermediary vessel to blend out and store batches before packaging.


Scaling up your production

Depending on your business plans and packaging / distribution ability, you will probably want to start with a slightly larger setup that gives you 1) room to grow and 2) the ability to expand without changing process or systems. Beer equiptment is well suited to meet these goals.


Quality, consistency, and some notes on process:

The majority of consumers demand a consistent product with an interesting flavor-profile that they can enjoy every time they purchase your product. Flavor-profile deviations will cause you to loose consumers to a more consistent product in the long run. The following points will help ensure a more consistent product:

  1. blend out batches of cold brew from the fermenters into a single brite tank
  2. use CO2 or nitrogen to prevent oxidation
  3. manual agitation is inconsistent - use a bubbler with CO2 or nitrogrn instead. This will also help with goal 2.
  4. Packaging lines make a huge difference. Invest for growth in a rotary topper, not a 4 or 6 head.
  5. Don't attempt to use the same blend of beans for cold brew, draft cold brew, and nitro.
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If you're going bigger than 5 gallons for commercial reasons, you'd probably want to start looking at small fermentation tanks (https://conical-fermenter.com/40-Gallon-Conical-Fermenter.html). However, an incredibly cheaper option would be to buy a Rubbermaid Brute trash can. It might sound bad, but it's actually USDA approved for storing food. And rather than cutting any holes, you could just siphon the coffee out afterwards with a siphon pump.

I wouldn't be so concerned about the freshness of cold-brew. The nature of cold-brew just isn't as fresh as more traditional methods. Of course, if you want to be extreme about it, you could figure out a way to seal it off, and even purge the oxygen from the container before brewing.

  • It's been my experience that cold brew starts to go "off" after about three or four days. However, I brew spices directly into my coffee so that may change the freshness period. – BESW Nov 20 '15 at 6:09
  • @user3814472 Stainless is kind of what I was leaning towards. As a homebrewer, I've grown a bit concerned about using plastics for cold brewing coffee. Scratches and gouges in the plastic face can become harbingers for bacteria... not good for a cold brew since it will never be boiled/pasteurized. – brendo234 Nov 20 '15 at 6:38
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If you are looking "to fill multiple 5 gallons kegs for consumption and distribution" and want to step up in volume from multiple 5 gal commercial units, take a look at the Toddy Pro Series. There is a 10 and 20 gal stainless model that might work well for you.

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