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professional brewing equipment

Professional Brewing Equipment:Design,Components,Choose

Home brewing has become an increasingly popular hobby over the years. As interest grows, many homebrewers start thinking about taking their craft to the next level by opening up their own microbrewery or taproom. However, starting a commercial brewing operation requires an investment in professional-grade equipment that can handle large batch production. This guide will provide an overview of the essential professional brewing gear and systems needed to brew beer on a commercial scale.

Overview of Professional Brewing Equipment

Setting up a commercial brewery requires carefully selecting and installing specialized equipment for each stage of the beer production process. Here are the key components found in a typical professional brewing system:

Equipment TypeDescriptionMain Functions
Mash tunInsulated stainless steel vessel where milled grains are steeped in hot water to extract sugars, starches, colors, and flavors.Mashing process – converts grain starches to fermentable sugars.
Lauter tunVessel with false bottom and sparge arms used to separate sweet wort from grains after mashing.Lautering process – straining of mash and sparging to separate wort.
Brew kettleLarge stainless steel kettle where wort is boiled with hops and other ingredients.Boiling wort sterilizes and extracts hop flavors/aromas.
WhirlpoolSwirling vessel used to separate hop debris, coagulated proteins from boiled wort.Removes trub and precipitates after boiling.
FermenterInsulated temperature-controlled vessels for primary fermentation.Allows yeast to ferment sugars into alcohol and CO2.
Brite tankPressurized vessels for clarifying, carbonating, and storing finished beer.Clarification, carbonation and storage of beer.
PipingFood-grade stainless steel pipes, valves, and pumps to move liquids.Transfers liquids between vessels and stages.
ChillerHeat exchanger to quickly cool boiled wort before fermentation.Rapid wort cooling prevents contamination.
Control panelCentralized electrical control panel to operate equipment.Allows automated control of timings, temperatures, transfers etc.

Additional specialty gear like grain mills, yeast propagators, bottle fillers, keg washers, labeling machines, and more may be needed depending on the specific production goals. Proper installation, cleaning, maintenance and operation procedures must be followed. Food-grade quality and precise process control is critical.

Professional Brewing Systems by Size

Commercial brewing equipment comes in different sizes and configurations to match batch production volumes.

System SizeBatch CapacityTypical Use Cases
Nano brewery1-3 BBL per batchBrewpubs, tasting rooms, small taprooms
Microbrewery3-15 BBL per batchMicrobreweries, restaurant breweries
Regional brewery15-6000 BBL per batchExpanding microbreweries, regional distribution
Large brewery6000+ BBL per batchMajor craft breweries, national distribution

The batch size, number of units, and layout can be customized to meet specific production goals. Nano systems allow brewpubs to brew small test batches on-site while microbreweries can scale up with more tanks as demand increases. The equipment footprint, power requirements, and costs increase dramatically for large regional or national-scale breweries producing thousands of barrels per batch.

professional brewing equipment

Key Components of a Professional Brewing System

While the equipment can vary widely in size, material, and configuration, here are some of the essential elements found in a typical professional brew house:

Mashing Equipment

Mash Tun

The mash tun is a large insulated stainless steel vessel designed to hold the mash during the mashing process, allowing starches in the grain to be converted to fermentable sugars. Commercial mash tuns are temperature controlled andcome in single infusion or stepped-temperature designs. They have a mixer for mash stirring and a false bottom to allow wort separation.

  • Capacity: 10-600 hectoliters
  • Construction: Stainless steel (304, 316 grades)
  • Insulation: Foam or cladding insulation to maintain temperature
  • False bottom: Perforated stainless sheet allows wort collection
  • Mixer: Motorized rakes for mash stirring and temperature consistency
  • Controls: PID controllers for automated temperature regulation
  • Heating: Direct steam injection or external heat exchanger

Lauter Tun

A lauter tun or mash filter separates sweet wort from spent grain after mashing using physical filtration. It usually consists of a steel cylinder fitted with a false perforated bottom and sparge arms for rinsing the grains.

  • Capacity: Matches mash tun batch size
  • Construction: Stainless steel with false bottom and sparge arms
  • Filtration media: slots or tubes for solid/liquid separation
  • Sparging system: Spray nozzles for rinsing grains with hot water
  • Wort collection: Central outlet pipe for draining sweet wort
  • Spent grains discharge: Removes wet grains after lautering

Grist Case/Malt Silo

Grist cases are hoppers used to hold milled malted grains ready for mashing. They have an agitator and bottom screw auger to feed a consistent flow of grist into the mash tun.

  • Capacity: 1-20 MT
  • Construction: Steel or stainless with dust-tight seals
  • Milling: Attached roller or hammer mill for grain crushing
  • Agitator: Keeps grains mixed and flowing
  • Screw conveyor: Meters grist transfer to mash tun

Wort Production Equipment

Brew Kettle

The brew kettle is a large stainless tank where the wort is boiled with hops and other ingredients to extract flavors, aromas, and sugars while sterilizing the wort. Commercial kettles have automated features for temperature control, boiling, whirlpooling, and knockout.

  • Capacity: 10-600 hectoliters
  • Construction: Stainless steel (304, 316 grade)
  • Direct fire/steam heating: Achieves boiling temperature
  • Wort aeration: For hot wort oxygenation pre-fermentation
  • Internal calandria: Prevents scorching from direct heating
  • Automated wort knockout: Smooth transfer to whirlpool or chiller

Whirlpool Vessel

The whirlpool is a tank used to separate hop debris, coagulated proteins, and trub from the boiled wort after knockout. Spinning the wort creates a vortex that collects solids in the center for removal.

  • Capacity: Matches brew kettle batch size
  • Construction: Stainless steel tank with tangential inlet
  • Spinning mechanism: Rotating rakes or fixed inlet tube
  • Trub collection: Conical bottom allows removal of sedimented solids
  • Wort outlet: Side outlet for transferring clarified wort

Fermentation and Processing Equipment

Fermentation Tanks

Insulated stainless steel fermenters allow commercial beer fermentation under controlled conditions. Temperature regulation, air injection, and cooling jackets promote rapid, healthy fermentation by yeast.

  • Capacity: 10-600 hectoliters
  • Construction: Stainless steel sanitary fermenters
  • Insulation: Foam or panel insulation to maintain temperature
  • Temperature control: Electric heating and glycol cooling jackets
  • Pressure capable: Allows closed transfers and carbonation
  • Yeast handling: Top cropping, bottom harvest, or cone options
  • CIP sprayballs: Clean-in-place sanitation heads

Brite Tanks

Also known as bright beer or serving tanks, brite tanks are for clarifying, carbonating, and storing the finished beer ready for packaging and distribution. They are highly polished stainless tanks capable of withstanding pressure.

  • Capacity: Varies based on packaging line capacity
  • Construction: Mirror-finish stainless steel (electropolished)
  • Insulation: Often uninsulated since beer is cold
  • Carbonation: Infusion of CO2 for natural carbonation
  • Serving: Direct draw to taps, fillers, and packaging
  • CIP sprayballs: Clean-in-place sanitation heads

Heat Exchanger

A plate and frame heat exchanger provides rapid cooling by transferring heat from hot wort to cold water or glycol, bringing the wort down to pitching temperature for yeast inoculation.

  • Construction: Stacked stainless steel plates for heat transfer
  • Flow configuration: Counterflow cooling as fluids pass through alternating plates
  • Cooling media: Chilled water or propylene glycol
  • Cooling jackets: Additional exchangers for fermenter temperature control
  • Automatic control: Modulating cold side flow based on wort temperature

Glycol Chiller

The glycol chiller is used to cool and recirculate chilled propylene glycol to the fermenters, brite tanks, and heat exchanger to maintain proper temperatures.

  • Construction: Pump tank with external evaporator unit
  • Glycol concentration: Food-grade propylene glycol solution
  • Redundancy: Multiple refrigeration circuits for reliability
  • Chiller capacity: Sized to match total connected load
  • Pumps: Circulation pumps for good heat transfer
  • Controls: Thermostats, VFDs to maintain setpoint temperatures

Packaging Equipment

Bottling Line

Fully automated bottling lines allow for rapid small-batch runs ideal for craft breweries. They generally include a depalletizer, rinser, filler, capper, labeler, packager, and palletizer.

  • Fillers: Gravity or counterpressure fillers ensure proper fills and dissolved CO2 levels
  • Cappers: Spinning heads apply crown caps or twist-off closures
  • Labelers: Automatic self-adhesive label application
  • Output: Up to 30,000 bottles per hour (small systems are much slower)
  • Changeover: Tool-less change parts allow rapid product changeover
  • Controls: Touchscreen HMI with recipe storage for each product

Keg Washer and Filler

Keg processing systems clean, sanitize, purge, fill, and seal kegs while maintaining sanitary fills. Fully automated models have integrated washers, fillers, crowners, and conveyors.

  • Washer: Hot caustic wash and pressurized rinse cycles
  • Purge and Pressureization: CO2 purge and pressurization of empty kegs
  • Counterpressure filler: Ensures precise fills without foaming
  • Crowner/Seamer: Automated keg lid fitting and seaming
  • Output: Up to 300 kegs/hour (dependent on keg size)
  • Conveyors: Automated infeed and outfeed with keg turnover
  • CIP cycles: Clean-in-place of filler valves and lines

Canning Line

High-speed canning lines are designed for larger output needs. They integrate a depalletizer, rinser, filler, seamer, pasteurizer, labeler, packager and palletizer with full automation.

  • Fillers: Volumetric or gravity fillers calibrated for precise fills
  • Seamer: Spinning heads that seal the can lid and rim
  • Pasteurizer: Tunnel pasteurizer for packaged product stability
  • Output: Up to 300 cans/minute (dependent on can size)
  • Changeover: Tool-less change parts for rapid product changeover
  • Controls: Programmable PLC recipe storage and control

Professional Brewing Equipment by Function

Here is an overview of the main equipment types used in commercial breweries categorized by the key functions in the production process:

FunctionEquipment Used
MillingRoller mill, hammer mill, grist case
MashingMash tun, direct fire kettle, steam jacketed kettle, infusion tank
LauteringLauter tun, mash filter, grant
Wort boilingDirect fire kettle, steam jacketed kettle, whirlpool
CoolingPlate heat exchanger, glycol chiller
FermentationUni-tank, CCT, open square fermenter, cone or top cropping tank
MaturationUni-tank, brite tank, horizontal or vertical beer tank
FiltrationPlate and frame filter, diatomaceous earth filter, centrifuge
CarbonationBrite tank, uni-tank, carbonation stone
PackagingBottling line, keg washer/filler, canning line, pouch filler
CIPSpray balls, pumps, tanks, cleaning chemicals

Additional equipment like grain handling, water treatment, laboratory testing equipment, piping, steam, compressed air, and process control systems are also required.

professional brewing equipment

Professional Brewing Equipment Design Considerations

Designing a brewhouse involves many considerations including production goals, space constraints, budgets, and workflow. Here are some of the key factors in selecting and laying out professional brewing equipment:

  • Batch size – The required finished batch size(s) dictates fermenter and brewhouse sizes.
  • Production volume – Current and 5-year production volumes impact equipment capacity and expansibility.
  • Floor space – Equipment footprint and vertical clearance must fit within the available plant space.
  • Process flow – Optimized layout and piping reduces transportation distances and manual effort.
  • Utility requirements – Electrical loads, plumbing, drainage, ventilation, and other utility needs must be met.
  • Equipment heights – Proper height differences allow use of gravity flow transfers.
  • Automation level – Manual, semi-auto, or fully automated systems impact labor requirements.
  • Cleaning – Equipment should be easy to access and clean-in-place compatible.
  • Flexibility – Ability to handle different batch sizes, new products, seasonal changes.
  • Upgradability – Ability to easily expand capacity in the future by adding modular tanks as needed.
  • Budget – Matching capital expenses to financial capabilities and growth plans.

Careful planning is required to create a smoothly functioning professional brewhouse tailored to your specific brewing goals.

Professional Brewing Equipment Suppliers

There are many equipment manufacturers and suppliers that offer commercial brewing equipment and complete brewery installation services. Here are some of the leading suppliers in the market:

CompanyLocationEquipment Offerings
JV NorthwestCanby, Oregon USABrewing systems, fermentation, brite tanks, filtration, automation
Premier Stainless SystemsEscondido, California USAManual and automated brewhouses, cellars, steam systems
Psycho BrewLouisville, Kentucky USA10 bbl to 30 bbl brewhouses, fermenters, brite tanks
American Beer EquipmentLincoln, California USANano and microbrewery systems, fermenters, bright tanks
AAA Metal FabricationPortland, Oregon USABrewing vessels, fermenters, serving tanks, distillation equipment
GVWMeckenheim, GermanyBrew houses, fermentation, filtration, controls
KronesNeutraubling, GermanyComplete brewing lines, packaging equipment
Alpha Brewing OperationsPompano Beach, Florida USABrewpub systems, fermentation, brite tanks, parts
Pro RefrigerationEverett, Washington USAGlycol chilling, cooling systems, refrigeration

When selecting a supplier, it is important to consider their experience level with commercial brewing projects, equipment quality, design services offered, lead times, and ongoing support capabilities. Consulting with a qualified professional can help navigate the complexities of planning and purchasing professional brewing equipment.

Professional Brewing Equipment Pricing

Price ranges will vary significantly based on the level of automation, capacity, materials, quality, and features. As a rough estimate, here are typical price ranges for professional brewing equipment:

EquipmentPrice Range
1-3 bbl direct fire brew system$25,000 to $60,000
7 bbl electric brew system$100,000 to $250,000
15 bbl automated brewhouse$250,000 to $500,000
30 bbl steam brew system$400,000 to $800,000
60 bbl brewhouse and cellar$1,000,000 to $3,000,000
Fermenters$2,000 to $8,000 per barrel
Brite tanks$1,500 to $4,000 per barrel
Glycol chiller$20,000 to $60,000
Grain handling system$10,000 to $100,000
Keg washer/filler$50,000 to $150,000
Bottling line$100,000 to $500,000
Canning line$200,000 to $1,000,000

Quotes from equipment suppliers should be obtained during the planning and budgeting phase to get accurate pricing for your specific production goals and features needed. Completing a brewhouse design package will also provide an estimate of total installed costs including installation and site work.

How to Choose a Professional Brewing Equipment Supplier

Selecting qualified brewing equipment suppliers, designers, and installers is one of the most important decisions in starting a brewery project. Here are some tips for choosing professional brewing equipment partners:

  • Review past brewery projects in your desired size range
  • Look for equipment expertise with your preferred brewing styles
  • Evaluate quality of workmanship and components
  • Understand lead times and availability for the planned timeline
  • Assess capabilities for installation and ongoing service
  • Check references from existing customers
  • Review feedback and ratings on brewing forums
  • Ensure availability of parts, manuals, and troubleshooting assistance
  • Consider providers that offer design, installation, and controls
  • Compare pricing between several vendors
  • Assess financial stability and longevity of vendor
  • Evaluate options for shipping, customs, import duties
  • Clarify all warranty terms and conditions
  • Look for CE, ASME, UL, OSHA conformance as applicable
  • Choose flexible, customizable, and upgradeable systems
  • Consider automation capabilities and ease of use
  • Review options for remote telemetry and troubleshooting
  • Develop long-term partnerships beyond the initial sale

Taking the time to thoroughly evaluate suppliers using this criteria will help find the right partners to bring your professional brewing dreams to reality.

Installing and Operating Professional Brewing Equipment

Once the brew system arrives onsite, proper installation and operation is key to efficiency, safety, and product quality. Here are some best practices for brewery equipment:


  • Follow all rigging and installation instructions from the manufacturer
  • Use experienced contractors for any required plumbing, electrical, HVAC, or site work
  • Check for any shipping damage and test components prior to hookup
  • Verify all utility connections meet equipment requirements
  • Perform calibration and test runs initially with water
  • Examine welds and joints for any leaks after line pressurization
  • Review control system programming and sensor tuning with equipment technician
  • Document as-built configurations and baseline operating parameters


  • Follow standard operating procedures and recipes developed for each system
  • Check hot and cold side temperatures at established intervals
  • Take samples throughout the process to confirm mash conversion, OG, etc
  • Monitor fermentation progress with gravity and temperature readings
  • Inspect vessels, valves, gaskets, and fittings regularly for any leaks
  • Perform preventive maintenance as scheduled
  • Follow all cleaning and sanitation procedures
  • Track batch/lot information for traceability
  • Record any deviations or issues that occur


  • Establish routine inspection and PM schedule based on manuals
  • Lubricate pumps, motors, chains, bearings, and moving parts
  • Watch for unusual vibration, leaks, fouling, noise, loose fittings
  • Repair or replace any worn or damaged components
  • Descale heat exchange surfaces and steam equipment periodically
  • Regenerate filters and ion exchange beds when needed
  • Keep spare gaskets, seals, fittings, and common parts on hand

Following proven startup, operating, and maintenance practices will help achieve consistent quality beer production and maximum uptime.

Key Takeaways and Recommendations

  • Carefully select equipment to match your production scale, growth plans, budget, and styles. Get quotes from multiple vendors.
  • Design an optimized brewhouse layout for work flow, production expansion, and ease of operation.
  • Choose high quality equipment built to sanitary standards out of stainless steel.
  • Automate processes like boiling, fermentation, cleaning for labor savings.
  • Partner with suppliers and contractors who understand brewing and provide ongoing support.
  • Plan installations for sufficient utility capacities and site work requirements.
  • Develop SOPs and train staff on proper use, cleaning, and maintenance.
  • Monitor and log key parameters throughout the process. Follow recipes closely.
  • Perform preventive maintenance and take care of equipment to maximize longevity.

With careful planning and selection of professional brewing equipment tailored to your needs, you can produce consistent quality beer from the nano to mega brewery scale.

professional brewing equipment


What are the typical costs for a 7 bbl microbrewery system?

A complete 7 bbl microbrewery system typically ranges from $250,000 to $500,000 including the brewhouse, fermentation tanks, brite tanks, chilling system, and other equipment. Per-barrel pricing averages $10,000 to $20,000.

What size mash tun do I need for a 5 bbl brew house?

For a 5 bbl brew house, a good rule of thumb is to size the mash tun 130% of the batch size. This allows adequate room for mash stirring and partitioning during sparging. A 7 bbl mash tun would be appropriate.

Should I choose stainless or copper kettles for my brewery?

Stainless steel is recommended for modern commercial brewing systems. Stainless provides excellent corrosion resistance and sanitary properties. Copper looks beautiful but requires special liners to prevent metal pickup and has higher maintenance.

How many fermenters and brite tanks should I plan for my capacity?

As an initial estimate, plan for 3-4 times as many fermenters as your brewhouse batch size and 2-3 times as many brite tanks. For example, a 10 bbl brewhouse would require about 30-40 bbl of fermentation capacity and 20-30 bbl of brite tank space. Scale up or down appropriately for your batch size.

What are the power requirements for a typical 7 bbl electric brewery?

For a 7 bbl electric brewery, estimate the power needs at 25-35 kW. This provides sufficient power for pumps, heaters, chillers, and equipment needed during a full brew day. consultation with an electrical contractor is recommended to properly size panels, wiring, and circuits.

Should I automate the brewing or go with a manual system?

It depends on your budget, labor considerations, and production environment. Automated brewhouses allow a single operator to run different recipes and collect data points unattended. However, manual systems require lower capital investment and give brewers more hands-on control. Many breweries start with a manual process and add automation later as production increases.

What are critical spares I should have on hand for the brewhouse?

Must-have spares include seals, gaskets, fittings, hose clamps, pumps seals, electrical components, bearings, sprockets, heating elements, replacement thermowells, spare hoses, and common expendable parts for your equipment make and model. Keep an inventory of recommended spares to minimize downtime.

How often should I expect to service or rebuild the brewhouse vessels?

With proper maintenance, brewhouse vessels should run for decades before needing major work. Rebuild frequency depends on usage and wear. Many brewers go 10-20 years before vessel tear-down and rebuilds. Preventive maintenance is key to maximize lifespan. Major reworks or new kettles may be needed if significantly increasing capacity.

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