As we prepare to launch our brand new customisable all-in-one brew kettle, Brew Tank, I catch up with the brains behind it all, Gareth Davies.
You’re very passionate about All-in-One (AIO) brew kettles. Why?
Because they enable us to easily make amazing beer! Of course, you can make decent enough beer in a saucepan, but I do believe that the advances in equipment have played a huge role in the popularity of homebrewing. In the past, homebrewing could be complicated and laborious – and since it often produced poor results homebrew got itself a bad reputation. People would turn up their noses when you brought out your own beer. These days, they’re emptying your kegs and putting in orders for your next batch.
Condensing the beermaking process into one tank allows this amazing craft to become more accessible to more people, and a new generation of homebrewers has been created. And it’s this fantastic equipment that has inspired us at Dark Farm to produce the Brew Tank.
“I couldn’t find a quality, customizable AIO brew kettle to match my budget – so I designed one myself!”
Why did you take on the challenge to design a new AIO brew kettle?
I started homebrewing with a BrewZilla, which I used for about three years. I liked it at first, but after I’d been brewing for a bit I found that the BrewZilla lacks the freedom to expand your kit or explore new techniques. I also found that having all the components built in is really annoying when things inevitably go wrong, break down or get blocked. Replacements are hard to make and fixing things can be difficult, especially mid brew. Yet I didn’t have the budget to upgrade to something like an SS Brewtech. This is where I came up with the Brew Tank concept!
Don’t get me wrong we’re not reinventing the wheel, just creating a blank, well built canvas for you to enjoy brewing at whatever level you choose and at your own budget. We don’t want to tell you how to brew, we want to provide you the freedom to brew the way you want. Without having to shell out a fortune!
“The Brew Tank is ideal for homebrewers who want more control over their brewing”
Who is the Brew Tank designed for?
For any level of homebrewer. Whether you’re an experienced homebrewer or just starting out the Brew Tank works for you. You can be as creative as you want, or you can simply plug and play and make that first beer. The versatility of the Brew Tank is truly amazing – if you like to keep to strict brewing techniques you can do so with confidence, or if you want to experiment a bit more then the options are endless.
The Brew Tank is some serious quality kit for seriously fun homebrewing. Tell us about the build.
Yeah, it really is! That was important to us when we set out to make it. In developing the design for The Brew Tank we’ve worked very closely with our manufacturer who has loads of experience of producing brew kettles. In fact, they manufacture brew vessels for one of the high end major players in the market – for both commercial breweries and homebrewers.
The Brew Tank base unit has a capacity of 40L or 60L and has a dual walled construction for outstanding installation, made from 1.5mm stainless steel. This is where the name “Brew Tank” came from. When you pick up the Brew Tank you will instantly feel its weight, quality and, most importantly, its longevity. I once dropped my Brewzilla – it made a major dent in it. That’s not going to happen to this bad boy, it’s as tough as a military tank!
Explain the Tri Clamp System you use. What exactly are they?
The various connections on the kettle and lid are all fitted with tri clamp fittings providing a multitude of options for your setup and changeable throughout your brew. If you’re not familiar with tri clamp fittings they are a simple, watertight connection (using a silicon gasket) between two components, like a valve and pump, for example, secured by a hand-tightened clamp. Tri clamp fittings are regularly used within the brewing industry due to their robustness and ease to keep clean and sanitised.
What will homebrewers love about the Brew Tank Brew Kettle?
That it’s super flexible and easy to maintain! I’ve now been using the prototype Brew Tank since spring and honestly say that it has revolutionized my homebrewing and at the same time created a more enjoyable brew day. [Editor’s note: I can vouch for this! Here at DF HQ we’re getting to drink some seriously good brews, without the grumpy Gareth when things go wrong! Which means he brews more often so there’s always a range of great beers to choose from. Win!]
Having the option to change the setup for each brew is a huge advantage. For example, I started off using 3KW heater; then I wanted to play with a temperature controller so I switched to 2.2KW on my next brew. Later, I was lucky enough to have a 32 amp circuit installed in my brew room so I could then use a 6KW heating element. All this was done on the same system and by simply loosening a clamp and switching over the elements.
Now I’m not saying you actually need three heating elements – it’s just an example to brag how easy it is to change an integral part! Which you might want to do as an upgrade or for maintenance. Pumps on incorporated systems are a pain when they get blocked (or fail) – you have to dismantle your whole kettle to fix them. Ha – but not on the the Brew Tank! Here you position your pump externally – saving you time and cutting out that frustration should you pump get clogged.
Another good example is my latest brew. I removed the recirculation hose and pump (which is generally how I brew) and this time sealed the lid and stewed the grains. The dual walled insulation kept my mash temperature steady for 60 mins without the need for additional heat – good for the wallet and the environment! After a 40 minute boil I nailed my original gravity with a 77% efficiency.
People are really excited about being able to customise the Brew Tank to their budget. What choices do they have here?
Being able to hand pick and even upgrade your components was an key factor in the development of the Brew Tank. Take your wort pump, for example. The cost of these can vary from as little as £35 to £300+ so if you did ever want to bump yourself up to a fancier part at a later date it’s easy to do so.
There is also a huge selection of goodies you can buy to fit the Brew Tank, like viewing windows to keep a close eye on your brew (wort/trub). Or filters to clean your wort or use as a hop rocket. And a sprayer to recirculate your wort over the grain bed. You can also attach a still, or convert the Brew Tank into a fermentation chamber. We’ll be selling a lot of these awesome add-ons on our website, and I’m sure we’ll come across more great Brew Tank additions to crank up your brewing experience. (Be sure to let us know if you have functions you would like!)
Q&A – questions from the homebrew community
‘Will the Brew Tank work with my current chiller?’
Yes, it was very important to us that the Brew Tank can be used with your existing equipment. Generally, all chillers, hops spiders etc will work alongside the Brew Tank.
‘Do I need a sparge water heater?’
Like the other AIO equipment if you want to sparge then you will need an additional heating tank. I’ve actually been playing around with no sparge brewing with great results and we’ll be writing more about this in the months to come.
What type of controller comes with the Brew Tank?
To get you going, we will be selling these Brew Tank packs with an InkBird temperature controller. But our boffins down at HQ are developing our very own temperature controller which will allow you to control high powered heating elements – these need to be vigorously tested for obvious reasons, and will only become available at a later date.
Does it have a built-in whirlpool inlet?
To help to clear your wort at the end of the boil, we’ve added an additional inlet at a 45 degree angle. You will then be able to pump your wort into this to create a whirlpool effect inside your Brew Tank.
We’re launching with a limited quantity of Brew Tanks. And we like to reward pioneers who like to be the first to own an exciting new bit of kit.
So this first batch of Brew Tanks will have a very special price (for the first 40 units sold) starting at £375.
Hop Clubbers will get their usual 10% discount on this great deal too! Plus we’re offering further discounts on future purchases of Brew Tank accessories after you buy your first unit. So you can add on to your Brew Tank when your budget suits you.
Availability: We’re expecting to ship our first batch in August 2021 but you can secure yours now – either with full payment or a refundable deposit.