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20bbl brewing equipment

20 bbl brewing system

20 bbl brewing system is a common medium-sized professional brewery setup capable of producing around 620 gallons of beer per batch. This article provides a comprehensive guide to 20 bbl systems covering equipment, design, sizing, customization, suppliers, pricing, installation, operation, maintenance and more.

Overview of 20 bbl Brewing Systems

A 20 bbl brewery system is suitable for producing commercial scale craft beer volumes on the order of 5,000-15,000 barrels annually. Key details include:

Batch Size: 20 barrels or 620 gallons per brew

Annual Production Capacity: Around 5000-15,000 bbls depending on fermentation capacity and brewing frequency

Vessel & Equipment Types: Brew house with mash tun and kettle, fermenters, brite tanks, heat exchange, pumping, and cleaning modules fitted to space

Layout: Equipment can arranged in different layouts from linear to cluster to suit space

Design: Fully automated and integrated or semi-automatic systems available from different suppliers

Spaces: Approx 2000 – 5000 sq ft needed for equipment, supplies, cleaning, storage etc.

Customization: Modular equipment allows extensive customization possibilities

Budget: Around $500,000 to $1.5 million for a complete 20 bbl production brewery

Suppliers: Multiple domestic and international suppliers offering 20 bbl configurations

Brewing Process: Standard professional brewing process involving mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning etc.

20 bbl Brewing Equipment Guide

The key pieces of equipment needed in a 20 bbl brewery include:

Equipment TypeFunction
20 bbl Mash TunMash grains with hot liquor to extract sugars
20 bbl Brew KettleBoil sweet wort with hops for aroma and bitterness
20 bbl FermentersFerment beer with yeast to convert sugars into alcohol
20 bbl Brite TanksClarify, condition and carbonate beer
Heat ExchangersHeat/cool liquids through brewing process
Piping & PumpsMove liquids between vessels
Cleaning ModulesClean and sterilize all equipment
Control PanelsAutomated system operation and data monitoring
Grain HandlingMill, move and store grain
Ingredients/Yeast StorageKeep hops, yeast etc fresh in controlled environment
20bbl brewing system

Brewery Design Configurations

20 bbl brewing systems can utilize different designs and equipment layouts:

Linear LayoutEquipment in straight line for efficient workflows
Compact LayoutClustered vessels to minimize footprint
Multi-level LayoutPlace tanks on top of each other to maximize vertical space
Simple DesignCost-effective manual operation without automation
Integrated DesignFully automated PLC-based brewing operation
Custom LayoutTailor equipment flow and positions to facility

Suppliers offer modular equipment that can be configured into different shapes and arrangements as needed for individual breweries.

Brewing Process Overview

A standard professional brewing process will be used on a 20 bbl system:

  • Mills barley malt into grist
  • Mix grist with hot water in mash tun to convert starches into fermentable sugars
  • Transfer sugary wort to brew kettle and boil with hops for sanitation and flavor
  • Cool boiled wort and transfer to fermenter, add yeast to ferment over 5-7 days
  • Transfer young “green” beer to conditioning tank to mature 1-2 weeks
  • Filter and carbonate bright beer then package into kegs and bottles

The process uses a variety of tanks, pipes, pumps, sensors, and manual operation to convert barley malt into alcoholic beer.

Sizing and Capacity Considerations

When evaluating a 20 bbl brewing system, key sizing parameters include:

ParameterTypical Specifications
Total Brewery Space2000 – 5000 sq ft
Ceiling Height18 – 24 ft clearance
Grain Storage3-5 ton capacity
Beer Aging Capacity60-100 bbls
Electrical Supply150 kVA with 220V connection
Chiller Capacity7 – 15 HP recirculating glycol
Steam Boiler Horsepower20 – 30 boiler HP

Adequate space is needed for all brewing equipment plus raw material storage, finished product inventory, cleaning areas, and maintenance access. Proper sizing for utilities including electric, water, drainage, steam and refrigeration is also critical.

Customization Options

20 bbl brew systems allow relatively extensive customization in areas like:

ParameterTypical Choices
Design & LayoutLinear, L-shaped, compact cluster, vertical stacking, custom
Control SystemManual operation, semi-auto, fully automated PLC + HMI
Grain HandlingFloor malting pit, silo, bulk bag mass, sack storage
Fermentation VesselsUnitanks, open fermenters, wooden vats, hybrids
Additional UnitsCanning line, laboratory equipment, pilot brewery, quality lab
Brewing CapacityExtra vessels and space for expansion capabilities
Water TreatmentVarious prefiltration and postfiltration stages

Experienced suppliers can accommodate preferences for layout, automation, exotic fermenters, quality control labs, wastewater options and other special requests.

Brewery System Suppliers & Pricing

Many equipment manufacturers offer configurable 20 bbl turnkey brewery setups with typical pricing:

VendorLocationPrice Range
ABA Beer EquipmentCanada$700,000 – $1.2 million
Coulee Brew EquipmentUSA$400,000 – $800,000
Markson Brewing SolutionsItaly/China$350,000 – $650,000
McKenna BoilerworksUSA$500,000 – $900,000
UnitankUSA$750,000 – $1.3 million

Pricing varies based on degree of automation, custom features, shipping costs and other factors. Sourcing equipment domestically versus overseas can significantly impact overall 20 bbl brewery cost. Lead times also differ depending on supplier location and demand fluctuations.

Installation & Facility Requirements

Properly installing a 20 bbl brewing system requires appropriate facility infrastructure:

SpaceAt least 3000-5000 sq ft to operate
MezzaninesUpper levels if ceiling height limited
Electric150 kVA 3 phase power supply needed
Plumbing2 inch water lines for brewing water
DrainageFloor trenches and sinks to drain 1000+ gallons
VentilationHoods to vent steam from boil kettle
FloorsSlope for drainage + chemical/impact resistance
DoorsLarge doors for equipment & material transport
Outdoor SpaceGrain silos and ingredient delivery access

Ensuring adequate power, water, drainage and an appropriate layout are critical to operate efficiently. Both indoor and adjacent outdoor facility areas need to be prepared.

20 bbl Brewery Operation

To produce quality beer day-to-day, the following good practices should be followed:

  • Clean and sanitize all equipment thoroughly between each use
  • Check piping and pumps for any residual debris before transferring
  • Verify tanks have proper volume markings and sensors are calibrated
  • Use precise scaling for grain, hops and other ingredients
  • Take wort and beer samples throughout process to check quality
  • Follow cooling profiles and pitching rates when adding yeast
  • Monitor fermentation progress with density measurements
  • Use microscope to ensure yeast health and pitching of new cultures
  • Follow packaging best practices for sanitation and DO pickup prevention
  • Track batches comprehensively through the brewery software

Attention to detail in cellaring protocol makes a real difference in achieving consistency.

Maintenance Factors

Ongoing maintenance helps maximize longevity of a 20 bbl system:

AreaRecommended Maintenance
PumpsQuarterly teardown to inspect impellers and seals
ValvesAnnual valve actuation, repacking and lubrication
GasketsBiannual replacement of faded or warped gaskets
SensorsYearly calibration check on density meters
Weld InspectionAnnual weld inspection, address any cracks
BearingsReplace brew kettle bearings every 2-3 years
Paint/CoatingsSpot repair flaking epoxy or stainless finishes
Parts InventoryStock common spare parts like seals, valves, fittings
RecordkeepingTrack completed maintenance via brewery ERP software

Catching small issues early prevents unplanned downtime and improves safety. Keeping a log of maintenance activities provides helpful documentation and insight into asset lifecycles.

20 bbl brewing system

Choosing Between Brewery Suppliers

ConsiderationEvaluation Questions
Quality & ReliabilityWhat is their reputation and track record? What warranties/guarantees offered?
CustomizationCan they accommodate special layout requests? Unique fermenter or grain handling needs?
Lead TimeHow long from order to delivery? Does it fit construction schedule?
BudgetWhat payment and financing terms can they offer? Any leasing?
Support & ServiceWhat installation support and operator training is included? Ongoing technical support?
Component IntegrationDoes PLC/HMI tie vessels together out-of-box or require custom programming?
Auxiliary OptionsCan additional modules like canning lines, quality labs be integrated now or later?
ReferencesCan they provide references from breweries with comparable systems to call?
Company StabilityHave they been around for a while? Good prospects to service in future?
Location & LogisticsWill they oversee equipment shipping or is that handled separately?
Control PreferencesIs a specific level of automation desired? How customizable is system operation?

Narrowing down top 2-3 supplier options then evaluating head-to-head on key factors facilitates making the right strategic decision when selecting a 20 bbl brew house equipment partner. Additional points like sustainability initiatives and community involvement can also weigh in for brewery owners aligning business values with vendors.

Comparing Pros and Cons of 20 bbl Systems

Higher efficiency than smaller systemsMore equipment to maintain than smaller manual systems
Automation improves consistencyAutomation and PLC programming adds cost
Individual vessels support flexibilityLinear layout takes up more floorspace
Modular design enables phased expansionsUpfront capital investment higher than smaller builds
Production volume suits many taproomsRequires an adequately sized tasting room or distribution channels
Supports wide variety of beer stylesHandling equipment at this scale requires forklifts for safety

20 bbl breweries strike a balance between more personalized craft batches and larger industrial volumes. The equipment scale affords efficiency without compromising character.


What does a complete 20 bbl brewery include?

A full 20 bbl production brewery setup consists of brewhouse vessels, fermentation tanks, brite tanks, glycol chilling system, hot liquor tank, pumping stations, automated electrical control system, grain mill and handling equipment, silos/storage, and cleaning system.

What size building is needed for a 20 bbl system?

Plan for a ~3000-5000 sq ft facility to comfortably fit a 20 bbl brewhouse layout plus fermentation area, storage, maintenance access and office functions.

Can a 20 bbl system brew smaller 10 bbl batches?

Yes, the equipment can be operated at reduced volumes more suited for a 10 bbl batch size if demand warrants, providing operational flexibility.

What is the difference between 20BBL and 20HL?

20 bbl and 20 hectoliter (HL) systems are equivalent in batch size and capacity – both represent 20 barrels or ~620 gallons per batch. HL is a metric unit while BBL is imperial.

How many beers can a 20 bbl system produce per year?

Approximately 150-300 batches can be brewed annually on a 20 bbl system depending on production schedule, yielding 5000-15000 barrels yearly. More fermentation tanks allow higher throughput.

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