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500l brewing system

Dreaming of brewing your own craft beer? If you’re looking to take your hobby beyond the homebrew kit and into the realm of semi-professional brewing, then a 500L brewing system might be your perfect match. This versatile system allows you to scale up your production, experiment with new recipes, and potentially even open your own microbrewery! But before you dive headfirst into the world of wort and hops, let’s explore everything you need to know about 500L brewing systems.

Features of a 500L Brewing System

A 500L brewing system, also known as a 5bbl (barrel) system, is the workhorse of many microbreweries. These systems typically come equipped with several key components:

  • Mash/Lauter Tun (MLT): This vessel is where the grains are steeped in hot water to convert starches into sugars. Many 500L systems feature a combination MLT/Kettle, simplifying the brewing process.
  • Kettle: The wort (sugar-rich liquid) is boiled in the kettle with hops to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor. Some kettles also have a whirlpool function to separate the wort from the spent grain (called trub).
  • Hot Liquor Tank (HLT): This tank holds hot water at various temperatures for different stages of the brewing process.
  • Fermentation Tanks (Fermenters): Yeast is added to the cooled wort in these tanks, where it ferments the sugars into alcohol and CO2. 500L systems may have multiple fermenters to allow for continuous brewing.
  • Brite Tank: After fermentation, beer is transferred to a brite tank for conditioning and clarification before kegging or bottling.
500L brewing system

Choosing the Right Equipment

When selecting a 500L brewing system, consider these factors:

Number of Vessels:Do you want a simpler 2-vessel system (MLT/Kettle combo) or a more complex 4-vessel system (separate MLT, Kettle, HLT, and Brite Tank)?
Heating Method:Direct fire, steam, or electric heating each have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of efficiency and cost.
Automation Level:Do you prefer a manual system or one with a control panel for automated brewing processes?
Material:Most systems are constructed from 304 or 316 stainless steel, with 316 offering better corrosion resistance.
Size and Layout:Ensure the system will fit comfortably in your brewing space and consider the layout for efficient workflow.

Brewing Process with a 500L System

The brewing process in a 500L system follows the same basic steps as homebrewing, but on a larger scale. Here’s a simplified overview:

  1. Mashing: Grains are mixed with hot water in the MLT to convert starches into sugars.
  2. Lautering: The wort is separated from the spent grain through a lautering process.
  3. Boiling: The wort is boiled in the kettle with hops for bitterness, aroma, and flavor.
  4. Cooling: The wort is rapidly cooled to pitching temperature for the yeast.
  5. Fermentation: Yeast is added to the wort in the fermenters, where it converts sugars into alcohol and CO2.
  6. Conditioning: After fermentation, the beer is conditioned in a brite tank for clarification and carbonation.
  7. Packaging: The finished beer is kegged or bottled for distribution or enjoyment!

Capacity, Space, Design & Customization

The beauty of a 500L brewing system lies in its ability to be customized to your specific needs. Here are some key considerations:

  • Capacity: A 500L system can typically produce one to four batches of beer per day, depending on the style and fermentation times.
  • Space: These systems require a dedicated brewing space. Factor in the footprint of the equipment, as well as space for cleaning, storage, and keg filling.
  • Design: Many manufacturers offer modular systems that can be expanded upon in the future. Consider your long-term brewing goals when selecting a design.
  • Customization: Some manufacturers allow for customization options, such as adding a hop back for additional dry hopping or a glycol chiller for more precise temperature control.

500L Brewing System Price Range

The price of a 500L brewing system varies depending on several factors, including:

  • Features: More complex systems with additional vessels and automation will naturally cost more than basic setups.
  • Material: 316 stainless steel offers superior corrosion resistance and typically comes at a premium compared to 304 stainless steel.
  • Brand and Reputation: Established brewing equipment manufacturers may command higher prices than lesser-known brands.
  • Level of Customization: Custom features and modifications will add to the overall cost.

Here’s a table outlining a general price range for 500L brewing systems:

Price RangeSystem Features
~$40,000 – $60,000Basic 2-vessel system (MLT/Kettle combo), manual controls, 304 stainless steel
~$60,000 – $80,0003-vessel system (separate MLT, Kettle, HLT), semi-automated controls, 304 stainless steel
~$80,000 – $120,000+4-vessel system (separate MLT, Kettle, HLT, Brite Tank), high level of automation, 316 stainless steel, potential for customization

Installation, Operation & Maintenance

Installing a 500L brewing system requires proper planning and execution. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

  1. Site Preparation: Ensure your brewing space has the necessary electrical, plumbing, and drainage capabilities to support the system.
  2. Equipment Assembly: Most reputable suppliers will provide installation instructions and may even offer on-site assistance.
  3. System Calibration: Calibrate thermometers, gauges, and control panels to ensure accurate readings during brewing.
  4. Operation Training: Many suppliers offer training programs to familiarize you with the operation and maintenance of your new system.

Maintaining your 500L brewing system is crucial for optimal performance and longevity. Here are some essential maintenance practices:

  • Cleaning: Regular cleaning of all equipment surfaces after each brew is essential to prevent bacteria growth and off-flavors in your beer.
  • Sanitization: Sanitize your equipment before each brew to eliminate any potential contaminants.
  • Calibration: Periodically recalibrate thermometers and gauges to ensure their accuracy.
  • Preventative Maintenance: Perform preventative maintenance checks on pumps, valves, and other mechanical components to identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

Choosing the Right Supplier

Selecting the right supplier for your 500L brewing system is a critical decision. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Reputation: Research the supplier’s reputation for quality equipment, customer service, and after-sales support.
  • Experience: Look for a supplier with experience in designing and manufacturing 500L systems.
  • Customization Options: Does the supplier offer customization options to suit your specific needs and brewing goals?
  • Warranty and Support: Ensure the supplier offers a comprehensive warranty on the equipment and ongoing technical support.
  • Cost: While cost is certainly a factor, prioritize quality and service over finding the absolute cheapest option.

Comparing Pros and Cons of 500L Brewing Systems


  • Increased Production Capacity: Scale up your brewing compared to homebrew systems and potentially brew enough for commercial sales.
  • Greater Control: 500L systems offer more control over the brewing process compared to homebrew setups.
  • Professional Features: These systems often incorporate features like whirlpools for hop separation and heat exchangers for efficient temperature control, leading to more consistent and higher-quality beer.
  • Potential for Commercial Brewing: A 500L system can be the foundation for launching your own microbrewery, allowing you to experiment with recipes and potentially turn your passion into a business.


  • Significant Investment: 500L brewing systems require a substantial upfront investment compared to homebrew kits.
  • Space Requirements: These systems are not compact and necessitate a dedicated brewing space with proper utilities.
  • Complexity: Operating a 500L system involves a steeper learning curve compared to homebrewing. You’ll need to understand the brewing process in detail and be comfortable maintaining the equipment.
  • Regulations: Depending on your location, there may be regulations or licensing requirements for operating a commercial brewing system.

Making the Leap to a 500L System

Deciding to invest in a 500L brewing system is a significant step. Carefully consider your brewing goals, budget, and available space before taking the plunge.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are your long-term brewing goals? Do you simply want to produce more beer for personal enjoyment, or do you have aspirations of opening a microbrewery?
  • Do you have the space to accommodate a 500L system? Factor in not just the footprint of the equipment, but also space for cleaning, storage, and keg filling.
  • Are you comfortable with the learning curve involved in operating a complex brewing system? There’s a significant difference between homebrewing and managing a 500L setup.
  • Have you researched the legalities and regulations involved in potentially selling your beer? Depending on your location, there may be licensing or permitting requirements.

If you can answer these questions with confidence, and you’re passionate about taking your brewing to the next level, then a 500L system might be the perfect choice for you.


What is the difference between a 2-vessel and a 4-vessel system?A 2-vessel system (MLT/Kettle combo) simplifies the brewing process but offers less flexibility. A 4-vessel system (separate MLT, Kettle, HLT, Brite Tank) provides more control over each stage of brewing and allows for quicker turnaround times between batches.
Do I need a glycol chiller?A glycol chiller is not essential but allows for more precise temperature control during fermentation, which can lead to a more consistent final product.
How much beer can I produce with a 500L system?The amount of beer you can produce depends on the style of beer and fermentation times. Generally, a 500L system can produce one to four batches per day.
Can I expand a 500L system in the future?Many manufacturers offer modular systems that can be expanded upon with additional tanks or components as your needs evolve.
What kind of after-sales support do suppliers offer?Reputable suppliers will offer warranty coverage on the equipment and ongoing technical support to assist you with any questions or troubleshooting.

By carefully considering the information presented here, you can make an informed decision about whether a 500L brewing system is the right choice for your brewing aspirations. With dedication and a thirst for knowledge, you can brew delicious craft beers and potentially turn your passion into a rewarding pursuit.

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