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Microbrewery Setup Guide

Microbrewery Setup Guide

Microbreweries are popping up all over the brewing industry. Whether you work at a brewery or brew beer at home, setting up a microbrewery is one way to turn that passion into a career.

Table of Contents

What is a microbrewery?

A microbrewery is a facility that brews beer, just like a traditional brewery, but on a much smaller scale. These businesses typically sell locally, not nationwide like the big-name breweries.

  • Quantity: The general definition of a microbrewery produces no more than 15,000 barrels of beer per year.
  • Batch size: Microbreweries typically brew on a small scale.
  • Type of brewing: The beers brewed in microbreweries often have seasonal or themed flavors. Brewers may try a variety of methods to brew a very unique beer. They may focus on a specific style or have one signature beer.
  • Limited distribution: Most microbreweries do not distribute their beer on a large scale, or even at all.
  • Taxes: Microbreweries typically face lower taxes than larger breweries.
What is a microbrewery?

Process of Starting a Microbrewery

Micro/Commercial Brewery Systems

Micro/Commercial Brewery Systems use a wort keg, lauter tun, and kettle/whirlpool to start the process. These three large micro-brewing equipment can be used with smaller equipment such as fermenters and energy equipment, as well as other accessories such as centrifuges, pasteurizers, canning lines, etc. They are designed for large batches of beer (7-barrel brewing systems or more), while other systems take up less space but are not as flexible in terms of batch size.

Brewhouse Equipment

Brewhouse Equipment is similar to brewery systems, but on a much smaller scale; they are typically used by small businesses such as bars or restaurants that only serve home-brewed beer (brewery capacity is less than 7 barrels). This type of system includes all four major components (wort keg, lauter tun, kettle, and fermenter), but does not include pumps or heat exchangers for cooling the hot wort during fermentation – these parts must be purchased separately if needed.

Other Equipment Considerations

In addition to the brewing system and brewpub equipment, there is other equipment to consider, such as centrifuges to clarify the beer, pasteurizers to extend the shelf life of the beer, and canning lines to fill the beer into cans. You should choose equipment based on your brewing goals and budget.

Microbrewery Equipment Types

Two-Vessel Systems

Two-Vessel Systems combine the functionality of the mash tun and lauter tun into one vessel, and the boil kettle and whirlpool into another vessel. This setup is ideal for small brewers or brewers with limited space, as it requires less equipment and a smaller footprint.

Three-Vessel Systems

In a three-vessel system, the wort tun, lauter tun, and boil kettle are separate vessels, while the whirlpool functionality is integrated into the boil kettle. This configuration allows for greater control over the brewing process and is ideal for larger operations.

Four-Vessel Systems

Four-vessel systems include separate vessels for the mash tun, lauter tun, boil kettle, and whirlpool. This configuration allows for maximum efficiency and control of the brewing process and is ideal for larger breweries or those seeking to optimize production.

Brewery Essential Equipment

No matter which configuration you choose, there are four essential pieces of equipment needed to set up a successful brewery.

  • Mash tun: The wort vat is the starting point of the beer brewing process. It is used to mix crushed grains with hot water to form wort, which is then separated into wort and lees.
  • Filtration Tank: The filtration tank is used to separate the wort from the lees. This process, known as filtration, involves draining the wort through a false bottom while rinsing the leaves with hot water to extract as much sugar as possible.
  • Boiling Kettle: In the boiling kettle, the wort is heated and boiled to sanitize it and extract flavor from the hops. This stage of the brewing process is critical to developing the flavors and aromas needed for the finished beer.
  • Heat Exchanger: A heat exchanger is used to rapidly cool the wort after boiling, which is essential to prevent off flavors and promote proper yeast activity during fermentation.
  • Fermenters: Fermenters, also known as fermenters or single tanks, are where cooled wort is mixed with yeast to begin fermentation. These tanks come in a variety of sizes and materials, the most common of which is stainless steel.
  • PUMPS AND PIPING: Efficient pumps and piping are essential for transferring liquids between vessels during the brewing process. Investing in high-quality pumps and well-designed piping systems will ensure smooth operation and reduce the risk of contamination.
Process of Starting a Microbrewery

Microbrewery Setup Costs

Setting up a microbrewery can require a significant capital investment, depending on factors such as the size of the operation, the quality of the equipment, and the level of automation. Typically, microbreweries cost between $100,000 and $1 million to set up. Keep in mind, however, that there are ongoing costs to consider, such as maintenance, raw materials, and labor.

First and foremost, the size of the brewery plays a crucial role in determining the total cost. Generally, larger systems require a higher investment, but they can also increase your production capacity. Therefore, it is crucial to find a balance between your budget and your production goals.

Next, the quality of the equipment is an important factor to consider. While investing in high-quality equipment may seem expensive upfront, it usually leads to more reliable and consistent brewing results. In addition, it will save you money on maintenance and replacement costs in the long run.

Next, the level of automation you choose can significantly impact the cost of your brewery. While basic control systems are more affordable, advanced automation systems can be expensive. However, these systems can improve efficiency, consistency, and ease of operation, which may offset the initial investment over time.

Finally, don’t forget about ongoing costs, as they are an important aspect of a microbrewery’s budget. Regular maintenance, purchasing raw materials, and hiring skilled labor are all costs you need to consider when planning your brewery setup.

Tips for setting up a microbrewery

What type of brewing kit does a microbrewery need?

You will need to pay for the reliability, quality, and technical support of your brewery, but the extra money may be worth it. There will also be other start-up costs, such as the cost of renovating your premises, kegs, and other ancillary brewing and business equipment. If you don’t have an existing route to market through a pub or tavern, then for a microbrewery to be viable you will need to consider a larger brewery. We recommend a minimum size of 10 barrels to produce economically viable cask ale and a substantial profit.

Provide your brewery with enough room to expand

From the first point of view, anyone setting up their microbrewery needs to make sure that they can scale up. This may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re trying to get your microbrewery off the ground, but soon enough, most microbreweries will outgrow their original factory. Make sure you have enough space on your site to expand your microbrewery unless you are prepared to build it from scratch again. Often the first stage will be to plan for a larger or a few licensed breweries and fewer fermenters, and then only expand the fermenters.

How much space do I need for my microbrewery?

A 3bbl plant only needs 30-50 square meters to operate. For a 10bbl factory, you need at least 120-180 square meters. Relocating a brewery is expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the disruption of beer production, which is not good for your regular customers.

Proper craft beer market analysis

Craft beer is a very friendly business. There is a “brotherhood” of microbrewers, and it’s not uncommon for microbrewers to help each other out. However, despite the close relationship with your brewer, they are still your competition. Is your local market saturated with other micro facilities? If your business plan is primarily concerned with the production and distribution of cask ale, then remember that your market will initially be primarily local.
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Get a turnkey solution for brewery equipment
If you plan to open or expand the brewery, you can contact Micet Craft directly. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment according to your brewing process. Of course, we will also provide you with a complete turnkey solution. Also, if you plan to expand the brewery, we will provide you with customized solutions.

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