Commercial brewing equipment refers to the various systems and components used to produce beer on a large scale for commercial sale. Choosing the right equipment is crucial for maintaining quality, efficiency, and profitability. This guide provides an overview of key equipment types, considerations for selection and installation, and suppliers.
Commercial Brewing Equipment Types
|Large stainless steel tank where malt is steeped in hot water to convert starches to sugar and extract flavors/colors from grains
|Separates sweet wort from spent grains through sparging process
|Combines mash tun and lauter tun for efficient extract separation
|Collective term for brewhouse vessels – mash tun, lauter tun, kettle
|Rapidly cools hot wort after the boil
|Closed, temperature-controlled vessels for fermenting beer
|Pressurized serving tank forcarbonating, clarifying, and storing finished beer
|High-temp pressure washer for cleaning and sanitizing kegs
Brewing Process Overview
Commercial beer production involves first making wort via mashing grains in water in the brew kettle and lauter tun. The sweet wort is then boiled and hopped in the brew kettle. After rapidly cooling the hot wort with a heat exchanger or wort chiller, yeast is pitched into the fermenter to ferment the sugars into alcohol and CO2. The still-hazy young beer is then filtered, carbonated, and clarified in brite tanks before packaging into kegs, bottles, or cans. Proper cleaning and sanitization of all equipment is critical to avoid contamination.
Key Equipment Selection Considerations
|Match to desired batch size and production volume
|Factor in space constraints; customize tank geometry as needed
|Semi or fully automated systems improve efficiency
|Modular brew houses allow wider range of recipes/processes
|Stainless steel for durability; heat exchanger for best cold break
|Buy only essential functionalities needed for scale
Commercial Brewing Equipment Suppliers and Pricing
There is a wide range of equipment suppliers catering to different production scales and budgets:
|50 to 800
|Custom fabrication tanks
|80 to 600
|Standard and custom brew houses
|10 to 999
|Budget starter packages
|High-end automated brewhouses
|AAA Metal Fabricators
|99 to 999
|Custom fermenters, brite tanks
Pricing can range hugely – from $10,000 for a basic 7 BBL starter brewhouse to over $500,000 for a 50 BBL automated brewhouse with multiple fermentation and brite tanks.
Factor in additional costs for shipping, installation, integrated control systems, and add-ons like grain handling systems when budgeting. Many suppliers also offer leasing options to improve cash flow for new breweries.
Installation, Operation and Maintenance
|Requires sturdy reinforced foundation and layout per manufacturer instructions
|Steam, water, compressed air lines; glycol cooling systems; wastewater drainage
|Program and test automated temperature controls, pumps, valves, sensors
|Follow start-up SOPs; calibrate sensors periodically
|Daily CIP regimes crucial for sanitation and maximizing equipment lifetime
|Troubleshoot issues promptly to avoid downtime; maintain spare parts inventory
|Expand tanks and capabilities over time to meet demand
Proper utilities, space allocation, cleaning procedures and preventive maintenance are vital for maximizing uptime and attaining best beer quality.
How to Select a Commercial Brewing Equipment Supplier
Important factors when selecting a supplier include:
|Choose an established supplier with proven high-quality equipment
|Look for range of standard and customizable equipment to match needs
|Prior experience equips suppliers to properly size/design equipment
|Ensure supplier will remain in business to support future service needs
|Reach out to existing customers about their satisfaction
|Supplier should handle design, shipping, installation and offer continued operational support
|Large customized systems can take 6 months for fabrication and delivery
|Compare upfront costs vs leasing options across suppliers
Comparing Major Pros and Cons of Equipment Options
|Manual brew house
|Lower upfront cost; more hands-on control
|Less efficient; inconsistencies between batches
|Automated brew house
|Consistency; labor cost savings
|High upfront expense; complexity requires experienced brewers
|Low operational costs if steam boiler already exists
|Slower ramp times; less precise temperature control
|Faster heating; precise temperature control
|Higher operational costs than steam
|Plate heat exchanger
|Very effective; compact size
|High upfront cost; prone to fouling
|Shell & tube heat exchanger
|Lower upfront cost; easy to maintain
|Very large footprint; less efficient heat transfer
Q: What is the most important equipment for starting a microbrewery?
A: The core equipment needed is a brew house with mash tun + kettle of suitable size, fermenters, brite tanks, and a way to chill hot wort quickly. Other critical components are cleaning and bottling/kegging equipment.
Q: What size brew house makes sense for a new nano or microbrewery?
A: A good rule of thumb is to start with a 3-7 barrel brew house and have room to expand. This allows efficient recipes while still producing enough volume.
Q: Is it better to buy new or used brewery equipment?
A: Buying used can reduce startup costs substantially. However it comes with risk of wear/defects and no warranty. Newer equipment tends to be more automated and energy efficient as well. Either option can work if properly evaluated.