Best type of valve for brewing beer

This video describes the different kinds of valves used in brewing beer and discusses benefits and drawbacks of butterfly and ball valves, threaded and tri-clamp. It helps one make an informed decision on which type of valve is best for a brewing application. (See how to disassemble and reassemble the BREWHA valve starting at 5:45 of the video.)

Click here to go to the Sanitary Valve product page


Transcript of the video:

Hi, in this video we are going to be looking at the different kinds of valves that are available to you as a brewer, and discussing the various advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of valves, in order that you might be able to make a better decision on what kind of valve you want for your brewing equipment.

Valves are divided, at least valves used in brewing applications, are divided by two different means; one is the way that it is connected to the pipe or fitting or the vessel, and the second is the kind of closure system that exists inside the valve.

The two main kinds of valves in terms of connection are threaded valves that have an NPT type threading that can thread on to a pipe, and the other of course is the tri-clover/tri-clamp type connection that uses a gasket and a clamp that fits over to hold it on to the pipe, or vessel or fitting. The types of closures that exists—there are two main kinds. The first is a ball valve type closure, with a ball that turns [to close the port], ¼ turn of the valve will go from completely closed to completely open, and [the second is a] butterfly valve, which has a thin disc inside the valve; it also operates on the principle of a ¼ turn will go from fully closed to fully open.

So starting with the threaded ball valve, one of the advantages of this valve is that it is probably the most inexpensive valve out there. Some of the disadvantages include that the threads can retain contaminants; sediments can be retained in the threads and they can be very hard to clean out. Additionally, the inside of the housing, if it is a typical one piece or two piece housing like this, it can be difficult to get to the inside of the valve and some sediment might remain trapped inside the ball and Teflon housing. But they are inexpensive and they are versatile, rugged and durable valve that are often used.

The second kind of valve is a butterfly valve. This butterfly has the tri-clamp connection (or the tri-clover/tri-clamp) so it connects readily and can be easily pulled off and a particular vessel or pipe can be quickly isolated. This one comes with a half and a full locking position so it is easy to find that and know where your valve position is. It is fairly light-weight and a relatively inexpensive valve as there is not a lot of material in it. One of the disadvantages of this valve is that it is not easy to disassemble [for cleaning]. It has screws in it [which need tools to open]. Also, the closure mechanism/disc inside it presses up against resilient silicone on the inside, which means it is not going to give you as good of a seal as a ball valve, and as we will see on some of these later valves, the seal is not able to be tightened so the longevity of the valve will not be as long. Another disadvantage is that even in the fully open position, you will always have the closure mechanism or disc, right down the middle of the valve, and this means in effect that even if you may have a large opening on the valve, it is divided in two by the disc that goes right down the middle and material could hang up on this; hops could hang up on this, and it kind of counteracts the benefit of having a large port system.

There are a couple different kinds of butterfly valves, there are high-performance butterfly valves which are more expensive, but the middle piece which closes it moves off slightly to the side by how they have arranged it inside the valve. What you are giving up, however, is that there is larger cavity in there, which will be able to trap other material as well. One other item with the butterfly is that it is able to trap sediment underneath the disc, in between the resilient silicone and the wafer, and it is very hard to clean out.

The third valve that we are looking at here is a ball valve with a tri-clamp/clover connection on it. This one is a three-piece valve. Some of the advantages are, uniform to all the tri-clamp ball valves like this, in that they can be disassembled [for cleaning].

The disadvantage of this kind of valve is that they have bolts and you need wrenches to pull it all apart and look at the inside so it can be more difficult and time consuming to get in. This particular valve has a small opening or bore or ‘port’ size and you can see when compared to the butterfly here, it is significantly different in the volume that can pass through. If you are trying to put a more viscous or thick material like trub/yeast through it, it will have a lot more difficulty moving through there in terms of the opening size than it would with a larger opening like on this valve. So this kind of a ball valve with a small opening would be useful in a wort type application where fully cleaning it out might not be as important and certainly where it will be fully liquid and you won’t be worried about plugging it up.

Next are the full sanitary valves that have the tri-clamp connection [and opening mechanism]. This is one that we sell, it has a larger 7/8” opening. The benefit of these valves is that they can be fully disassembled in a matter of seconds in order to clean it on the inside. Just by taking the top nut off, removing the handle, and loosening the clamp, you are able to pull it apart in a few seconds. The valve opens up and you can see right inside it to see if there are any sediment or debris that might have been trapped behind the ball or inside the valve, it is very easy to quickly pull apart and physically clean it up.

With the BREWHA 3-in-1 system, this is important at the end of the brew day to pull these apart and get rid of the physical debris. It is not necessary to worry about the microbial contaminants because the heat of the boil in the 3-in-1 will take care of that.

You can see how it quickly comes apart; here is the stem on the valve, there is the silicone gasket, there is the ball that sits down inside the valve, and there is the housing for the valve. It is very easy to put back together as well….within 30 seconds you can disassemble and put your valve back together again. When putting the handle on you want to look through and make sure it is in the right orientation. I see it is now open so I put it in the open position…thread the nut back on…and it is all done.

The final valve that we are looking at is a large, full-port …it is a 1-3/8” valve, with 1.5” tri-clamp connections. It is the same as these other sanitary/tri-clamp valves, but the benefit of this valve is that it is fully open. It has the same opening as the butterfly valve, however the benefit [over the butterfly] is that it can fully get out of the way, so you can see right down through the valve, whereas with the butterfly valve there is always this piece that goes down the middle of the valve that will be in the way. So in terms of ensuring that you can move your trub/yeast through it and it won’t get plugged up, this valve is better than the butterfly valve in my opinion. The one disadvantage of a large valve like this is that it is heavier and going to be more expensive. It is a very durable and long-last valve—it is often used in high-pressure situations because of its durability and ruggedness whereas a butterfly valve wouldn’t be for that.

So these are the main valves that are offered for brewing applications. There are of course gate valves and globe valves and other different kinds of valves but these are the main ones that are offered.

So thank you very much for watching. If you have any questions about valves, specifically the BREWHA valves, then feel free to send them in using the form on the website. Thank you for watching!

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