Craft brewing has exploded in popularity in recent years, with more and more small breweries opening up to meet the growing demand for unique, quality beers. For many startup craft brewers, selecting the right brewhouse equipment is one of the most important decisions to make when opening a brewery.
A 20bbl craft brewing equipment is a common size for many craft breweries getting off the ground. This size provides enough capacity for producing beer to supply a taproom and local distribution without requiring massive upfront equipment investments.
This comprehensive guide covers key considerations for 20bbl breweries – from equipment selection, to layout, to suppliers, installation and beyond. Whether you’re starting from scratch or upgrading capacity, use this resource to make informed decisions on 20bbl brewhouse systems.
Overview of 20bbl craft brewing equipment
A 20bbl brewhouse produces 20 barrels of beer per batch. With typical batch sizes of 5-10bbl for startup craft brewers, a 20bbl system allows efficiently scaling up capacity while remaining right-sized.
Some key features of 20bbl brewing systems:
- Batch size: 20 barrels (620 gallons)
- Typical annual production capacity: 3,000-7,000 bbls
- Vessels: Mash tun, lauter tun, kettle, whirlpool, fermenters
- Floor space needed: Approximately 1,200-1,500 sq ft
- Height: Systems range from 10-25 feet tall depending on configuration
- Power requirements: Approximately 150-400 amps, 208 or 240 volt, 3 phase
20bbl systems strike an ideal balance – large enough for production goals and small enough for flexibility. Let’s look at key equipment in more detail.
Mashing and Lautering Equipment
The mash tun and lauter tun are where the brewing magic begins. Malt is mashed to convert starches into fermentable sugars. Then the wort is lautered to separate out sweet liquid from grain solids.
The mash tun mixes crushed malt with hot water for mashing. Key features:
- Cylindrical or rectangular stainless steel vessel
- Insulated to maintain consistent mash temperature
- Agitators for mash mixing
- Temperature sensors
- Volume markings
- Bottom drain valves
- Steam-jacketed or direct fire heating
The lauter tun is used for the separation and clarification of wort from the mashed grain. Key features:
- Cylindrical or rectangular stainless steel vessel
- False bottom with narrow slit spacing to filter out grains
- Rakes and agitators to move grains for better filtration
- Spray nozzles for sparging
- Wort collection channels
- Sight glasses to monitor clarity
- Volume markings
Mash filters or brew in a bag systems are also options which combine mashing and lautering.
The brew kettle, also called the copper or brewing kettle, is where wort from the lauter tun is boiled with hops. Key features:
- Stainless steel tank with rounded bottom
- Direct fire or steam-jacketed heating
- Agitator or stirrer
- Hop dosing ports and whirlpool inlet
- Side or top manways for access
- Sight glasses and temperature sensors
- Knock out valve for transferring wort to whirlpool
- CIP sprayball for cleaning
Upgrades like digital controllers and automated systems are available.
After the boil, the wort is transferred into the whirlpool vessel. Here cold break material and hops settle out before the clear wort is pumped out to a chiller and fermenter.
- Cylindrical stainless steel tank
- Tangential wort inlet to create swirling action
- Conical bottom to collect trub
- Side manway and sight glass
- Rotating rakes or scrapers to push settled solids
- Knock out valve at bottom
Fermentation and Aging Tanks
The cooled wort is transferred into fermenters where yeast is pitched to convert sugars into alcohol and CO2.
- Cylindroconical stainless steel tanks
- Sizes vary depending on desired batch sizes
- 5-7bbl unitanks are typical for 20bbl systems
- Temperature control jackets for cooling
- Pressure resistant for carbonation
- Sanitary fittings – blowoff, sample valve, manway, CIP
- Level and pressure sensors
Aging tanks may have wood or other additions for flavoring.
20bbl craft brewing equipment Guide
When selecting a 20bbl brewhouse, there are many equipment options and layouts to evaluate. Use this guide to understand key equipment pieces and configuration considerations.
Brewing System Configurations
20bbl brewing systems can be configured based on budget, space constraints, and brewing preferences.
2 Vessel Brewhouse
The simplest and most affordable option combines mashing and lautering in a single mash filter vessel.
Pros: Lower equipment cost, smaller footprint
Cons: Less flexibility, lower efficiency
3 Vessel Brewhouse
This traditional configuration has separate mash tun, lauter tun, and brew kettle. Provides flexibility for step mashing and better efficiency.
Pros: Flexibility, high efficiency
Cons: Larger footprint, higher cost
4 Vessel Brewhouse
Adds a separate mash mixer vessel for doughing in the mash before transferring to lauter tun. Allows for very flexible mash regime.
Pros: Maximum efficiency and flexibility
Cons: Largest footprint and highest cost
Consider expansion plans when selecting system configuration. It may make sense to install piping connections for future vessels upfront.
Key Equipment Characteristics
Beyond the basics, additional factors impact performance and cost. Evaluate options on:
- Manual: Basic systems require manual operation
- Semi-automated: Motors, actuators, sensors add some automation
- Fully automated: Programmable recipe-based brewing
- Direct fire burners: Affordable, potential scorching
- Steam jacketed: Consistent, efficient, expensive
- Electric heating: Precise, expensive operating costs
- Stainless steel: Durable, sanitary, expensive
- Mild steel: Affordable, prone to corrosion
- Exotic alloys: Enhanced performance, very expensive
- Welded: Strongest bonds, difficult alterations
- Bolted: Easier to modify, potential for leaks
Evaluate options to select the right balance of cost, functionality and quality.
Key Equipment in a 20bbl craft brewing equipment
Here are typical 20bbl brewhouse equipment components:
|20bbl capacity, steam heated, rakes
|20bbl capacity, automatic rakes
|25-30bbl capacity, steam heated
|3-5 x 7bbl unitanks
|1.5hp, 15,000 BTU/hr
|2 roller mill, adjustable
|Carbon filter, softener
Additional equipment like pumps, valves, pipes, instrumentation, and controls are required.
20bbl Brewhouse Design and Layout
Careful planning of the brewhouse design and layout makes brewing operations much more efficient. Here are key considerations for 20bbl brewery layout:
Design the brewhouse layout to optimize clean ingredient flow and minimize backtracking:
- Grain handling and storage → Milling → Mashing → Lautering→ Boiling → Whirlpool → Cooling → Fermentation → Packaging/serving
This linear workflow minimizes crossed lines and improves efficiency.
Take advantage of gravity:
- Position mash tun higher than lauter tun for natural grain transfer
- Place whirlpool and fermenters lower than the brew kettle for downhill wort flow
Minimizing pumping reduces operating costs.
Slope floors about 1″ per foot towards drains. This allows for cleaning and avoids standing water.
Allow ample space around vessels for safe operation and maintenance access. 3-4 ft minimum spacing is recommended between tanks.
Minimize utilities runs by planning out locations for:
- Power – size electrical panels and conduit runs appropriately
- Water – optimize piping routes
- Compressed air – extend drops to key equipment
- CO2 – plan manifold with drops to tanks
- Glycol – insulate chilled lines
Consider floor space usage carefully to allow for additional tanks and future expansion.
20bbl Brewhouse Standards and Code Requirements
Brewery equipment must meet certain standards and comply with plumbing, electrical, construction, and safety regulations. Here are key considerations:
Brewhouse Vessel Fabrication
Tanks should be welded following ASME pressure vessel codes using certified welders. Stamped vessels may be required depending on jurisdiction.
- Use UL listed electrical components
- Size appropriately for equipment power demands
- Meet NEC and local codes for conduit runs, panels, disconnects
- Class 1 Div 1 rated equipment if hazardous dusts present
- Sanitary welded or tri-clamp fittings only
- Sloped drainage meeting wastewater codes
- Certified backflow preventers, pumps, valves
- Meet local plumbing authority regulations
- Noncombustible construction for dust hazards
- Fire sprinkler and suppression systems
- Sufficient egress routes and emergency exits
- Reinforced flooring for heavy equipment loads
- Seismic bracing for tanks meets codes
Consult with qualified engineering and contracting firms during the design phase to ensure regulatory compliance.
20bbl craft brewing equipment Suppliers
Choosing the right equipment supplier for your 20bbl brewhouse is key to getting a system that meets your brewery’s needs. Here are top suppliers to consider:
|American Beer Equipment
|Marks Design & Metal Fabrication
Pros: Experience building full brewhouse systems, can provide turnkey solutions
Cons: Limited flexibility, long lead times
|Altamonte Springs, FL
Pros: Lower cost, custom sizing, high quality tanks
Cons: May require separate sourcing of other equipment
Evaluate options based on quality, lead time, and service reputation. Get quotes from multiple vendors.
20bbl Brewhouse Pricing
Pricing for a complete 20bbl brewhouse system typically ranges from $250,000 to $500,000 installed. Here’s how costs break down for key components:
|$20,000 – $50,000
|$25,000 – $60,000
|$30,000 – $100,000
|$15,000 – $35,000
|$10,000 – $25,000
|$5,000 – $15,000 each
|$20,000 – $50,000
|$10,000 – $30,000
|$250,000 – $500,000
Lower cost systems tend to have manual operation, mild steel vessels, and basic fittings. Fully automated systems with exotic alloys and state-of-the-art controls reach the higher end of pricing.
Carefully evaluate options to invest where it counts most for your goals. Focus on quality for key vessels, automation to improve consistency, and leave room to expand later.
20bbl Brewhouse Installation
Installation is a complex process requiring coordination of contractors for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, drainage, and other trades. Here are tips for smooth installation:
- Hire an experienced brewery contractor as the general contractor to manage all trades
- Complete building construction before starting equipment installation
- Check equipment dimensions against floor plan before delivery
- Uncrate and inspect equipment promptly upon delivery
- Follow equipment manufacturer instructions for assembly
- Protect tanks during installation to prevent damage
- Complete piping, wiring, and utility connections last
Expect the installation process to take 2-4 months for a full 20bbl brewhouse system. Do not rush contractors – a well executed installation ensures long term reliability.
20bbl craft brewing equipment Operation
Operating a 20bbl brewhouse requires proper training and procedures to maintain safety and quality:
- Follow all manufacturer operating instructions
- Develop SOPs for each piece of equipment and the full brewing process
- Monitor and log all parameters – time, temperature, pressure, pH, etc.
- Take samples at each stage to check quality
- Label and track each batch
- Look for opportunities to improve consistency
- Perform preventative maintenance on schedule
- Immediately troubleshoot any issues arising
With good operation, a 20bbl system can consistently produce quality beer batch after batch.
20bbl Brewhouse Maintenance
To keep a 20bbl brewhouse running reliably for years, queues like switch gears the manufacturer operating and maintenance manual instructions.:
- Perform CIP (clean in place) after every brew
- Take vessels and piping fully apart for deep cleaning quarterly
- Replace gaskets, seals, and consumables like screens periodically
- Lubricate and inspect agitators and motors
- Calibrate sensors and control instruments annually
- Check tank welds and fittings for any cracks or leaks
- Touch up any scratched surfaces or corrosion
- Verify electrical and utility connections are tight
- Test safety relief valves
- Keep detailed records of maintenance and repairs
Preventative maintenance minimizes unexpected downtime and extends the life of brewhouse equipment.
How to Choose 20bbl craft brewing equipment Supplier
Selecting the right brewhouse supplier is critical for getting a system that meets your specific brewery’s needs. Here are key criteria to evaluate:
- Years in business and number of systems installed
- Portfolio of brewery projects with references
- Expertise specifically with 20bbl brewhouses
- Materials, fabrication standards, and QA/QC processes
- Manufacturer certifications and compliance
- Reputation for durable, long lasting equipment
- Flexibility to meet your specifications
- Range of options and upgrades offered
- Design support and layout recommendations
- Capability to deliver complete turnkey system
- Single point of contact and accountability
- Warranty and post-installation support offered
- Availability of manuals, parts, and maintenance
- Responsiveness if issues arise
- Pricing for features and quality required
- Life cycle cost including maintenance
- Financial stability of company
Visit facilities, request references, and contact existing customers to fully vet suppliers before committing.
Key Considerations for a 20bbl Brewhouse
Deciding on a 20bbl brewhouse system is a major investment. Keep these guidelines in mind:
- Choose equipment configuration aligning with your space, budget, goals
- Invest in quality vessels with certified fabrication
- Consider level of automation and flexibility required
- Design an efficient brewhouse layout and material flow
- Size utilities adequately – electric, water, glycol, steam, drainage
- Select equipment with future expansion in mind
- Vet and compare multiple equipment suppliers
- Plan installation with an experienced contractor
- Develop SOPs and train staff on processes
- Stay on top of preventative maintenance
While the upfront cost is substantial, a thoughtfully designed and maintained 20bbl brewhouse system will reliably produce quality craft beer for years to come. Use this guide to make the best equipment decisions for your brewery’s success!
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about 20bbl brewhouse systems:
What is the typical brewhouse efficiency for a 20bbl system?
With a well-designed 3 or 4 vessel brewhouse, expect brewhouse efficiency between 75-85%. This depends on factors like grain crush, mash pH, sparge process, and lauter tun design.
What size boiler is needed for a 20bbl brewhouse?
A 30bbl steam-heated kettle is typical for a 20bbl system, providing extra capacity for evaporation and loss. Direct fire kettles may be smaller around 25bbls.
What size chillers are typically used for 20bbl brewhouses?
A 15-30 horsepower glycol chiller is usually appropriate, sized to cool the peak hot wort flow from a 30bbl brew kettle. A dual chilled water and glycol system is recommended.
How many fermenters are optimal for a 20bbl system?
Plan for 3-5 fermenters in the 7-10bbl size range. This allows you to brew back to back 20bbl batches while maintaining flexibility for fermentation capacity.
What wastewater requirements apply to a 20bbl brewhouse?
You’ll need an adequate drain system and may need a pretreatment system or permit for discharging the high strength wastewater. Consult your local regulations.