Brewing beer on a commercial scale requires specialized equipment and machinery. Partnering with the right brewery equipment manufacturer is crucial to building an efficient, cost-effective, and high-quality brewing operation. This comprehensive guide provides brewers with a detailed overview of the major equipment, considerations when selecting a fabricator, and best practices for collaborating with manufacturers.
Overview of Brewery Equipment Types and Function
Brewing equipment can be broadly categorized into hot side and cold side machinery. Here is a breakdown of the major equipment types and their role in the brewing process:
|Mash Tun||Insulated stainless steel vessel||Mixing milled grains with hot water to extract sugars and convert starches|
|Lauter Tun||Filtering vessel with false bottom||Separating sweet wort from spent grains|
|Brew Kettle||Boils wort with hops||Sterilizing, extracting flavors, coagulating proteins|
|Whirlpool||Swirling vessel||Settling trub and coagulated proteins|
|Heat Exchanger||Plates for heat transfer||Cooling boiled wort quickly|
|Fermentation Tanks||Cylindroconical stainless vessels||Yeast fermentation of sugars into alcohol|
|Brite Tanks||Pressurized stainless vessels||Carbonating, clarifying, and storing beer|
|Filtration Systems||Depth and membrane filters||Removing yeast and haze particles|
|Canning Line||Automated filling and seaming||Packaging beer into cans|
|Keg Washer||Cleaning system||Cleaning and sanitizing kegs|
|Bottle Filler||Counter-pressure filler||Filling bottles aseptically|
|Conveyors||Automated food-grade belts||Moving ingredients and products|
|Piping||Food-grade stainless steel||Transferring liquids between vessels|
|Control Panels||Touchscreen interfaces||Monitoring sensors, valves, motors|
|Clean-in-Place||Spray balls, pumps||Automated cleaning of interior surfaces|
This covers the major brewing hardware involved in mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, filtering, and packaging beer. Additional equipment like mills, pumps, chillers, valves, sensors, and silos are also essential components.
Brewery Equipment Design and Fabrication Considerations
In addition to understanding brewery equipment functionality, engineers and manufacturers must address key considerations in the design and fabrication of brewing machinery:
|Materials||Stainless steel for food-grade contact, aluminum for some vessels|
|Construction||Welded and polished sanitary fittings, no crevices|
|Sizing||Match equipment dimensions to batch sizes and throughput|
|Ergonomics||Height, access points for operator work|
|Automation||Sensors, valves, motors for automated operation|
|Cleanability||Smooth welds, spray balls, sloped surfaces|
|Maintenance||Access ports, easing dismantling of parts|
|Utilities||Power, water, wastewater, steam, glycol|
|Certifications||ASME pressure vessel code, 3A sanitary standards|
Fabricating brewing equipment requires specialized welding skills, extensive testing, and experience conforming to strict brewing standards. Partnership with suppliers of fittings, valves, pumps, and other components completes the manufacturing supply chain.
Major Brewery Equipment Manufacturers and Suppliers
Many equipment vendors serve the global craft brewing industry. Here are some of the top established manufacturers:
|JVNW||Canby, Oregon, USA||Brewhouses, fermentation, filtration|
|Specific Mechanical||Victoria, British Columbia, Canada||Brewhouses, canning lines|
|Premier Stainless Systems||Escondido, California, USA||Tanks, vessels, custom fabrication|
|Newlands Systems||Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada||Brewhouses, packaging equipment|
|AAA Metal Fabrication||Portland, Oregon, USA||Serving tanks, fermentation, brights|
|American Beer Equipment||Lincoln, California, USA||Tanks, milling, automation|
|Craftwerks Brewing Systems||Lake Orion, Michigan, USA||Brewhouses, fermentation, filtration|
|Psycho Brew||Louisville, Kentucky, USA||Custom fabrication, specialty brewing|
|Sprinkman Corporation||Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, USA||Brewhouses, tanks, fermentation|
Pricing varies dramatically based on size and features. Small 3-5 barrel brewhouses may cost $50,000+ while large 50 barrel systems can run $500,000+. Tanks range from $2,000 for basic fermenters to $100,000+ for 600-barrel CCTs. Packaging lines, automation, and silos also contribute major costs.
How to Choose the Right Brewer Equipment Manufacturer
Selecting a qualified brewery equipment fabricator is key to constructing an efficient, scalable brewing operation. Consider the following when evaluating manufacturing partners:
|Criteria||Questions to Ask|
|Experience||How long have they been in business? How many breweries have they built?|
|Specialization||Do they focus on brewhouses, tanks, or full turnkey builds?|
|Scale||What batch sizes and throughputs can they support?|
|Offerings||Do they provide equipment beyond their own fabrication if needed?|
|Process||Can they handle design, engineering, procurement, documentation?|
|Standards||Are vessels ASME certified? Do they meet 3A sanitary standards?|
|Materials||What grades of stainless steel do they use? What fittings and valves?|
|Construction||What are their welding standards and finishing processes?|
|Testing||How are vessels, piping, and welds inspected and tested?|
|References||Can they provide referrals from existing customers?|
|Services||Do they handle installation, training, and aftersales support?|
|Delivery||What are standard lead times and options for expediting?|
|Terms||Will they provide quotes, estimates, budgets? Flexible on payment terms?|
Vetting an equipment manufacturer on these aspects ensures they can deliver functional, compliant, high-quality brewing machinery that matches your production goals and budget. Prioritize experience with comparable breweries in your region and scale.
Tips for Working Effectively with Your Equipment Manufacturer
Once a fabricator is selected, here are some tips for an efficient project build and rollout:
- Discuss production plans, batch sizes, and growth projections so equipment is properly sized.
- Agree on design choices like vessel dimensions, automation, and utility connections early.
- Determine delivery timing and expectations for installation and training.
- Clarify documentation like operating manuals, ASME certificates, drawings.
- Maintain frequent communication and quickly resolve any issues.
- Arrange inspections and testing at key milestones.
- Confirm spare parts, warranties, and aftersales support details.
- Schedule operator training to learn standard operating procedures.
- Complete a thorough shakedown and test brews to validate function.
- Provide feedback to the manufacturer during ramp-up for any needed tweaks.
- Invite them back to offer suggestions once production matures.
This close collaboration with equipment builders ensures the smoothest possible brewhouse construction and startup.
Here are answers to some common questions brewers have about working with equipment fabricators:
What are typical lead times for getting brewery equipment?
- For smaller 3-5 barrel systems, 6-10 weeks. For larger 15-30 barrel systems, 12-20 weeks. Lead times can extend to 6+ months for huge 100 barrel+ brewhouses.
Should I buy domestic or imported equipment?
- Domestic equipment from North American shops may be pricier but allows closer collaboration during design and fabrication. Imported Chinese equipment is cheaper but communication and support may be lacking.
What design choices affect brewhouse efficiency?
- Kettle and lauter tun dimensions, piping diameters, automated back-pressure controls, and advanced brewing software all influence efficiency. Discuss with your equipment manufacturer.
How much testing and documentation is needed for new brewing equipment?
- Extensive weld inspections, hydrostatic and pneumatic testing, material certifications, QA/QC checks, manuals, and ASME stamping provide validation and compliance.
What support do equipment manufacturers typically provide after installation?
- Training on operation, troubleshooting assistance during ramp-up, manuals and parts lists, warranties on components, and field service if needed.
What are the pros and cons of fully automated vs manual brewhouses?
- Automated systems increase efficiency and consistency but reduce flexibility. Lower cost manual operation allows more craft and customization. Determine your production priorities.
Should I upgrade or expand my original brewhouse later on?
- Upgrading piecemeal can be expensive and create compatibility issues. Discuss future expansion when designing your original system for easiest scalability.
Constructing a professionally engineered brewery requires careful selection of an equipment manufacturing partner. Take time to thoroughly assess potential fabricators on experience, capabilities, quality, and services. Effective collaboration during design and post-installation support ensures your brewing dreams become an efficient reality. With detailed planning guided by your equipment builder, opening a new brewery can be smooth and rewarding.