Overview of Large Beer Brewery Equipment
Setting up a large-scale beer brewing operation requires careful selection of brewing equipment to produce high volumes efficiently. This guide provides a detailed look at the essential equipment for a large beer brewery.
We will explore the key equipment types, main functions, design options, specifications, installation needs, suppliers, pricing, and more. Comparisons of equipment performance, pros vs cons, and recommendations are provided to help select the optimal large brewery system configuration.
The major brewing equipment covered includes:
- Brew kettles
- Mash tuns
- Lauter tuns
- Brewing tanks
- Fermentation tanks
- Bright beer tanks
- Filtration systems
- Canning lines
- Kegging lines
- Piping, pumps and valves
- Process control and automation
- Grain handling systems
- Brewhouse design
Additional equipment like cleaning and safety systems, packaging, waste handling, laboratory, utilities, and more will also be discussed.
Essential Functions of large beer brewery equipment
The core functions that the brewery equipment carries out include:
- Milling – Crushing malt grains
- Mashing – Mixing crushed grains with hot water to extract sugars and convert starches
- Lautering – Separating sweet wort from spent grains
- Boiling – Adding hops to wort, sterilizing, extracting flavors
- Whirlpooling – Settling trub and hop particles
- Cooling – Rapidly reducing boiled wort temperature
- Fermenting – Converting sugars to alcohol and CO2
- Maturing – Clarifying, conditioning, carbonating
- Filtering – Removing particles and haze
- Packaging – Kegging, canning, bottling
The brewhouse equipment handles milling to boiling stages. Fermentation tanks carry out fermenting and maturing. Filtration and packaging complete processing. Auxiliary equipment supports all major functions.
Types of large beer brewery equipment
The table below shows the key equipment types needed in a large brewery with their purposes:
|Crushing malt grains
|Mixing crushed malt with hot water for mashing process
|Separating sweet wort from spent grains
|Boiling wort, adding hops
|Settling trub and hop particles
|Rapid cooling of boiled wort
|Alcoholic fermentation of wort
|Conditioning and carbonating beer
|Bright beer tanks
|Clarifying and storaging beer
|Removing particles for clear beer
|Filling beer into cans
|Filling beer into kegs
|Piping, pumps, valves
|Transferring liquids, regulating flows
|Moving and storing malt grains
|Automated monitoring and control
|Automated cleaning of equipment
|Quality testing and analysis
This covers the primary brewing, fermenting, finishing, and packaging equipment along with support systems.
Specifications of large beer brewery equipment
Equipment sizing and specifications depend on required brewhouse capacity and batch sizes. Higher capacities need larger equipment with advanced features.
Key Factors Affecting Equipment Parameters
- Annual beer production capacity
- Batch size or brew length
- Number of brews per day
- Ingredients used – malt, adjuncts, hops
- Package types – kegs, cans, bottles
- Number of beer varieties
- Available space in brewhouse
- Expansion plans for future growth
Equipment Sizing Specifications
The table below shows typical sizing specifications for a 500,000 hectoliter per year large brewery:
|10 metric tons per hour throughput
|1000 hectoliter capacity
|1500 hectoliter capacity
|2500 hectoliter total capacity, 1500 hectoliter working capacity
|2500 hectoliter capacity
|1500 hectoliters per hour cooling capacity
|1000 hectoliter capacity each, 30 tanks total
|1500 hectoliter capacity each, 20 tanks total
|Bright beer tanks
|2500 hectoliter capacity each, 10 tanks total
|1500 hectoliters per hour throughput
|150,000 cans per hour
|1800 kegs per hour
|1000 metric tons grain storage, 200 t/hr handling rate
|150 mm to 500 mm diameter
|150 to 2500 cubic meter per hour flow
This covers key equipment sizing parameters for a large 500,000 hectoliter annual capacity automated brewery.
Key Design Standards
Large brewery equipment must meet strict hygienic design standards for food-grade stainless steel material, sloped surfaces, smooth welds, ease of cleaning, sanitary fittings, and more.
Available Options and Customization
- Brew kettle designs – direct fire vs indirect steam heating
- Fermenter configurations – open vs closed tanks
- Maturation systems – horizontal vs vertical tanks
- Filtration types – plate filters, centrifuges, DE filters
- Packaging flexibility – canning, kegging, bottling ability
- Process control systems – manual, automated, or fully automated
- Level of customization – standardized vs customized
- Brewhouse layouts – linear vs compact multi-level
Brewmasters can select optimal options based on production needs and beer types. Equipment can be highly customized.
Installation and Layout
Proper installation and layout of the brewhouse equipment is crucial for an efficiently functioning large brewery.
- Machinery must be securely fastened to foundations
- All tanks need stable platforms and stairs for access
- Piping and pumps must have proper alignments
- Electrical, utilities, and data connections enabled
- Integrate process control and automation systems
- Calibrate sensors and test all functions after installation
Brewhouse Layout Considerations
- Logical sequential flow from raw materials to packaging
- Efficient transfers between processes with piping and pumps
- Unobstructed access for handling and maintenance
- Sufficient space for grain receiving and storage
- Room for laboratory, offices, and other support functions
- Ability to easily expand capacity in the future
The brewhouse should be laid out for an optimized material and information flow.
Operation and Maintenance
Reliable operation and preventative maintenance of equipment is key for maximum uptime.
- Strictly follow operating procedures for each equipment
- Monitor process parameters like temperatures, pressures, flows
- Coordinate proper sequencing of equipment during brewing
- Keep records of batches, performance, issues
- Perform cleaning and sanitization procedures
- Daily inspections and walk-arounds to check for issues
- Periodic servicing as per manufacturer guidelines
- Replacement of wear parts like seals, gaskets, filters
- Address any leakage, corrosion, or damage issues
- Validate instrument and valve calibrations
- Maintain spares inventory of critical parts
Suppliers of large beer brewery equipment
Reputable brewery equipment manufacturers offer customized brewhouse solutions for large beer production facilities.
Key Brewery Equipment Suppliers
The table below shows some leading global suppliers of integrated brewery equipment and systems:
|Brewhouses, fermentation, filtration, control systems
|Turnkey brewhouses, tanks, CIP, automation
|Brewhouse modules, tanks, heat exchangers, filtration
|Brewing tanks, fermenters, processing
|Brew kettles, mash tuns, wort systems
|Brewhouse engineering and manufacturing
|Brewing tanks, fermenters, bright beer tanks
|Glycol chilling, carbonation, cooling systems
These companies offer complete large brewery equipment supply, engineering, installation, and support. Local dealers are available in most regions.
The total capital investment for a large 500,000 hectoliter greenfield brewery can range from 150 million to 500 million USD depending on the level of automation, imported vs local equipment, and other factors.
Pricing estimates for some key equipment in a large brewery are:
- Brew kettle – $500,000 to $2,000,000
- Fermentation tanks – $100,000 to $250,000 each
- Filtration system – $500,000 to $1,500,000
- Canning line – $2 million to $5 million
- Keg line – $1 million to $3 million
- Automation system – $2 million to $5 million
Financial models based on production capacity are used to estimate overall brewery cost.
Selecting a Brewery Equipment Partner
Choosing the right equipment partner is crucial for successfully executing large brewery projects.
Key Criteria for Equipment Partner
- Proven experience in large brewery projects
- Flexibility to customize equipment and layout
- Capability to supply integrated solutions
- Strong engineering expertise
- Global manufacturing and project execution footprint
- Local presence for support and training
- Stable financial position and track record
- Positive reputation and client references
- Focus on timely delivery and quality
Partner Selection Process
- Develop functional requirements
- Research potential suppliers
- Send out request for quotations
- Evaluate proposals on technical criteria
- Assess suppliers on commercial criteria
- Visit reference sites for major vendors
- Negotiate contract and finalize selection
Taking the time to systematically find the right partner can avoid many project issues.
Pros and Cons of large beer brewery equipment
There are a number of advantages with potential limitations when scaling up to large commercial brewing systems.
Benefits of Large Brewery Equipment
- Higher efficiency and lower labor
- Automated monitoring and control
- Consistent brewing at large scale
- Flexibility for multiple products
- Faster production and turnaround times
- Lower operating costs per volume
- Easier to manage brewhouse operations
- High upfront capital investment
- Complex equipment requiring skilled personnel
- Additional maintenance requirements
- Limitations on specialty brews or experimentation
- Less hands-on control over processes
- Reduced ability to tweak recipes and procedures
The scale advantages must be balanced against reduced flexibility when designing large breweries.
Comparison of Brewhouse Options
There are several options to consider when it comes to key brewhouse equipment selection for a large brewery.
Brew Kettle Systems
Direct Fire Kettles
- Lower upfront cost
- Simple configuration
- Greater operator control
Indirect Steam Kettles
- More energy efficient
- Lower contamination risk
- Steady heating control
Direct fire kettles offer greater flexibility and control for brewmasters, while indirect steam kettles provide efficiency and consistency benefits.
- Allow more yeast reactions
- Give brewmaster flexibility
- Enable deliberate oxidation
- Prevent outside contamination
- Allow CO2 recovery
- Maintain positive pressure
Open fermenters provide more options for crafting flavor, while closed fermenters give benefits of security and pressure control.
Horizontal Maturation Tanks
- Easier cleaning access
- Rolled to mix yeast evenly
- Require more floor space
Vertical Cylindroconical Tanks
- Compact footprint
- Allow taller heights
- Yeast settles effectively
Horizontal tanks provide better access and blending but take up more area, while vertical tanks save space but can limit height.
By understanding the trade-offs, optimal configurations can be selected for a large brewery based on specific brewing objectives.
Trends in Large Brewery Technology
Brewing equipment continues advancing with automation, efficiency, flexibility and sustainability being key focus areas.
- Integrated brewhouse automation – For touchscreen recipe control, batch scheduling and production monitoring
- Energy recovery – Reusing heat, CO2 and water across processes
- Smart sensors – Monitoring tank volumes, temperatures and fermentation progress
- Modular compact systems – For flexible small batch brewing in limited spaces
- Multi-product handling – Quick changeovers between beers, kegs, cans on shared lines
- Water optimization – Reducing water needs and reclaiming effluent
- Electrification – Using more electric heating for efficiency and renewables integration
Adopting advanced technologies allows large breweries to craft higher quality and variety of beers sustainably and efficiently.
Q: What are the most critical factors when selecting brewing equipment?
A: Key factors are production capacity needs, degree of automation, number of beer varieties, quality and consistency targets, capital budgets, and future expansion plans.
Q: Should we invest more upfront for highly automated equipment?
A: Automation provides labor, efficiency, quality and consistency benefits, but requires higher upfront investment. The payback period must be evaluated based on specific production economics.
Q: What are the best materials for brewing equipment?
A: Stainless steel alloys like grade 316, 304, and 430 are most suitable for food-grade brewing equipment and easy to maintain. Specific alloy selection depends on the process.
Q: How much space is needed for a large 500,000 hectoliter brewhouse?
A: A 30,000 square meter building footprint is typical for a brewery of this annual capacity. This includes the brewhouse hall, fermentation room, warehouse, and utilities areas.
Q: Should we choose an international vs local equipment supplier?
A: International suppliers provide advanced technology and integrated solutions. Local suppliers can offer better support. Often a combination is optimal based on specific equipment and project considerations.
Q: How long does it take to install a large brewhouse?
A: With detailed engineering and project planning, a typical brewhouse installation and commissioning timeline is 12-18 months from contract signing to first brew. Proper sequencing and resource allocation is key.
Q: What are the most important preventative maintenance tasks?
A: Checking for leaks, corrosion, insulation, worn gaskets, sensor calibration, lubrication, cleaning & sanitization, and minor repairs help avoid major breakdowns.
Q: How much resin or DE powder is needed for a beer filter?
A: For a 1500 hectoliter per hour capacity diatomaceous earth filter, approximately 10 kg of DE powder is consumed per 100 hectoliters of throughput.