Overview of Large Beer Brewery Equipment
Large beer breweries require extensive equipment and machinery to produce beer on a commercial scale. This equipment enables key processes like brewing, fermentation, filtration, and packaging. The main types of large brewery equipment include:
- Brewhouse – Contains the mash tun, lauter tun, brew kettle, and whirlpool tank for mashing, lautering, boiling wort, and separating trub.
- Fermentation Systems – Consists of fermenters and conditioning tanks for primary fermentation and aging of beer.
- Filtration Equipment – Plate filters, centrifuges, or kieselguhr filters for clarifying and stabilizing beer.
- Packaging Lines – High-speed bottling, canning, kegging, and cask filling systems.
- Ancillary Equipment – Grain handling, cleaning, quality control labs, cooling, CIP, automation, etc.
The scale and sophistication of the equipment depends on the brewery’s production volume and budget. Key considerations for large breweries include efficiency, consistency, reliability, low operating costs, and flexibility to produce different beer styles.
Types of large beer brewery equipment
There are many equipment options and configurations for large breweries. Here are the main types of equipment for major beer production processes:
Brewhouse Equipment Types
|Single infusion mash tuns
Multiple temperature mash tuns
Wort separation systems
|Enables mashing of milled grains with hot water
Allows mashing at different temperatures
Faster wort separation from grains
High degree of wort clarity
|Conventional lauter tuns
Wort separation systems
|Used for wort clarification after mashing
Quicker lautering and reduced losses
Combine mashing and lautering in one vessel
|Direct fire kettles
Steam jacketed kettles
Gas fired kettles
|Oldest kettle design using burner below
Even heating from steam coils around kettle
Efficient gas heating and lower NOx emissions
|Gentle centrifugal separation of hops and trub
Create a strong vortex for trub removal
Fermentation Equipment Types
|Allow natural yeast contact
Prevent airborne contamination
Combined fermentation and maturation
Bright beer tanks
|Take up less floorspace
Require height for storage
Last conditioning before packaging
Filtration Equipment Types
|Use diatomaceous earth medium
Filtration through cellulose sheets
|Require less floorspace
Allow higher flow rates
|Use diatomite powder for fine filtration
Made of stacked plastic discs
Packaging Equipment Types
|Simple filling under gravity
Fast filling under pressure
Oxygen pickup reduction
|Fill cans by timed volume
Fill to overflowing then seaming
|Single head keg fillers
Multi-head keg fillers
High-speed automated filling
|Manual cask fillers
Automated cask lines
High volume cask ale production
Applications of Large Brewery Equipment
Major beer production processes and the role of key equipment:
|Roller mill, hammer mill
|Crushing malt grains into grist for mashing
|Mixing grist with hot water to convert starches to sugars
|Lauter tun, mash filter
|Separating sweet wort from grain solids
|Sterilizing wort, extracting flavors, coagulating proteins
|Removing hops and coagulated proteins
|Yeast converting sugars into alcohol and CO2
|Conditioning and aging beer
|Removing yeast and haze particles
|Dissolving CO2 into beer
|Fillers, bottle/can conveyors
|Filling beer into kegs, bottles, cans for sale
|Spray balls, pumps, tanks
|Cleaning and sanitizing equipment between batches
Specifications for Large Brewery Equipment
Large breweries require extensive customization of equipment specifications and layout for their production goals, space constraints, and budget. Here are some key considerations for equipment sizing and specification:
- Mash tun size based on batch volume and mash thickness
- Lauter tun sizing for runoff rates and clarification
- Kettle boil capacity for pre-boil volume and evaporation
- Whirlpool design for trub separation efficiency
Fermentation Tank Specifications
- Tank geometry for depth, diameter, and height
- Cooling jackets, glycol chilling, heating
- Yeast handling systems like bottom cropping
- Air injection, CIP spray balls, sample valves
- Insulation, pressure rating, material of construction
- Media grades, surface area, dirt holding capacity
- Plate spacing, gasket materials, clamping design
- Centrifuge feed rate, rotational speed, clarification efficiency
- CIP and COP capabilities
Packaging Line Specifications
- Bottling line throughput in BPM
- Labeling, capping, filling valve controls and operation
- Package conveyance systems, accumulators and timing
- Canning line seamer specifications and operation
- Keg washer capacities and keg tracking systems
Large Brewery Equipment Suppliers
There are many equipment vendors and manufacturers that supply large breweries globally. Some major suppliers include:
|Brewhouses, fermentation, filtration, packaging
|Large regional breweries to mega breweries
|$2 million – $100 million+
|Turnkey brewhouses, centrifuges
|Mid-size to large breweries
|$1 million – $30 million
|Brewhouses, fermentation, packaging
|Mid-size to mega breweries
|$2 million – $50 million+
|Brewing, fermentation, brite tanks
|Craft to mid-size breweries
|$100,000 – $5 million
|Glycol chilling, refrigeration
|All brewery sizes
|$50,000 – $5 million
|Packaging equipment, palletizers
|$250,000 – $5 million
|Grain handling, silos, conveyors
|Larger craft and mid-size breweries
|$50,000 – $1 million
Pricing is highly variable based on customization and features. Second hand equipment can also be sourced from brewery auctions and dealers.
Equipment Installation, Operation, and Maintenance
Proper installation, operation, and maintenance are crucial for large brewery equipment to function effectively:
Installation Best Practices
- Careful incoming inspection before installing
- Calibration to specifications after placing equipment
- Integrate controls and sensors properly
- Clean and sanitize thoroughly before first use
Standard Operating Procedures
- Staff training for equipment operation
- Following manufacturer instructions
- Logging runtime hours and tracking performance
- Monitoring energy and utility usage
- Daily visual inspection of equipment
- Scheduled preventative maintenance
- Regular sensor calibration
- Replacing wear items like gaskets before leaks
- Keeping maintenance logs for each equipment
Following standard safety procedures during equipment operation and maintenance is also critical. Proper installation, operation, and preventative maintenance will maximize uptime, equipment lifetime, and return on investment.
How to Select a Large Brewery Equipment Supplier
Choosing the right equipment supplier is key for large brewery projects. Consider these factors when selecting a vendor:
- Relevant experience – Supplied similar scale breweries before?
- Equipment quality – Stainless steel grade, welds, finishes, reliability
- Customization – Ability to customize to your specific needs
- Lead time – Production and delivery timeframes
- Installation services – On-site installation support offered
- Ongoing support – Response time, service engineers accessible
- References – Feedback from existing customers
- Pricing – Total costs including shipping, installation, extras
- Payment terms – Deposits, progress payments available
Get quotes from multiple vendors and review proposals carefully. Prioritize suppliers with proven experience, equipment quality, and service over lowest pricing. Investing in high quality equipment from reputable suppliers will pay dividends over the full lifecycle.
Pros and Cons of Large Brewery Equipment
There are many advantages of investing in high quality commercial brewery equipment:
- Increased efficiency and repeatability
- Faster brewing and packaging times
- Ability to scale up production volume
- Reduced labor requirements
- Improved beer quality and consistency
- Lower operating costs long-term
- Added flexibility for specialty beers
- Higher upfront capital investment
- Complexity requires skilled operators
- Additional maintenance requirements
- Inflexible for significant process changes
- Long lead times for installation and delivery -Require careful customization and planning
The return on investment from large brewery equipment comes from producing beer profitably at scale over decades. Carefully weighing the pros and cons during planning helps ensure a system optimized for your situation.
What are the typical costs for a large brewhouse system?
A 50 barrel brewhouse for a regional sized brewery can range from $2 million to $7 million depending on the configuration and features. Mega breweries with 500 barrel brewhouses can spend $10 million to $100 million.
What size fermenters are best for large breweries?
Regional breweries may use 500-1000 barrel fermenters. Larger breweries use massive tanks up to 3500 barrels. The optimal size balances utilization, inventory management, and capital costs.
How fast can modern bottling lines package beer?
High-speed bottling lines can package 1500 to 2500 bottles per minute. Lanes of fillers working in parallel provide large packaging throughput.
Should we buy new or used equipment?
Used equipment can save substantially on costs, but may involve refurbishing and reduced lifespan. New equipment has longer service life but higher capital costs. Evaluate based on budgets and production goals.
What maintenance is required on brewhouse equipment?
Daily inspections, gasket replacements every 1-2 years, chain lubrication, pump rebuilds every 5 years, kettle interior coatings every 10 years. Follow manufacturer guidelines.
How are modern brewhouses energy efficient?
Steam generation efficiency, variable frequency drives on motors, heat recovery, automated process control, and ongoing optimizations reduce energy usage per barrel of beer.
How long does it take to install a large brewing system?
Installation timeframes vary based on scale and complexity. Typical large project installation, calibration, and commissioning may take 6-12 months. Planning well ahead is crucial.
What expertise is needed to operate brewhouse equipment?
Commercial brewing equipment requires trained brewers with mechanical aptitude, troubleshooting skills, and experience following brewing process control procedures safely.
How can we ensure high beer quality with equipment?
Careful cleaning and sanitation, temperature and flow control, avoiding oxygen pickup, gentle product handling through packaging, and brewing trials ensure optimized beer quality.
Should we use separate equipment for each beer type?
Dedicated tanks by beer provide flexibility but require more tanks. Intelligent scheduling, cleaning, and changeovers allow efficient mixed production on shared equipment.