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Commercial Brewing Equipment

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

EquipmentDescription
Brew kettleLarge stainless steel tank where malt is steeped in hot water to convert starches to sugar and extract flavors/colors from grains
Lauter tunSeparates sweet wort from spent grains through sparging process
Mash filterCombines mash tun and lauter tun for efficient extract separation
Brew houseCollective term for brewhouse vessels – mash tun, lauter tun, kettle
Wort chillerRapidly cools hot wort after the boil
FermenterClosed, temperature-controlled vessels for fermenting beer
Brite tankPressurized serving tank forcarbonating, clarifying, and storing finished beer
Keg washerHigh-temp pressure washer for cleaning and sanitizing kegs
commercial brewing equipment

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

ParameterDetails
CapacityMatch to desired batch size and production volume
DesignFactor in space constraints; customize tank geometry as needed
AutomationSemi or fully automated systems improve efficiency
FlexibilityModular brew houses allow wider range of recipes/processes
QualityStainless steel for durability; heat exchanger for best cold break
BudgetBuy 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:

SupplierPrice RangeOfferings
Xiameter50 to 800Custom fabrication tanks
JV Northwest80 to 600Standard and custom brew houses
Premier Stainless10 to 999Budget starter packages
Stout Tanks9999High-end automated brewhouses
AAA Metal Fabricators99 to 999Custom 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.

commercial brewing equipment

Installation, Operation and Maintenance

ActivityDetails
InstallationRequires sturdy reinforced foundation and layout per manufacturer instructions
UtilitiesSteam, water, compressed air lines; glycol cooling systems; wastewater drainage
ControlsProgram and test automated temperature controls, pumps, valves, sensors
OperationFollow start-up SOPs; calibrate sensors periodically
CleaningDaily CIP regimes crucial for sanitation and maximizing equipment lifetime
RepairsTroubleshoot issues promptly to avoid downtime; maintain spare parts inventory
UpgradesExpand 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:

ConsiderationRationale
ReputationChoose an established supplier with proven high-quality equipment
OfferingsLook for range of standard and customizable equipment to match needs
Production experiencePrior experience equips suppliers to properly size/design equipment
Business stabilityEnsure supplier will remain in business to support future service needs
ReferencesReach out to existing customers about their satisfaction
ServicesSupplier should handle design, shipping, installation and offer continued operational support
Lead timeLarge customized systems can take 6 months for fabrication and delivery
Payment termsCompare upfront costs vs leasing options across suppliers

Comparing Major Pros and Cons of Equipment Options

EquipmentAdvantagesDisadvantages
Manual brew houseLower upfront cost; more hands-on controlLess efficient; inconsistencies between batches
Automated brew houseConsistency; labor cost savingsHigh upfront expense; complexity requires experienced brewers
Steam heatingLow operational costs if steam boiler already existsSlower ramp times; less precise temperature control
Electric heatingFaster heating; precise temperature controlHigher operational costs than steam
Plate heat exchangerVery effective; compact sizeHigh upfront cost; prone to fouling
Shell & tube heat exchangerLower upfront cost; easy to maintainVery large footprint; less efficient heat transfer
commercial brewing equipment

FAQ

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.

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