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15bbl beer brewing equipment

Suppliers of 15bbl Beer Brewing Equipment

Overview of 15bbl Beer Brewing Systems

A 15bbl beer brewing equipment is a medium-sized professional beer brewing system capable of producing anywhere from 310 to 465 gallons per batch. This output volume makes 15bbl systems ideal for microbreweries, brewpubs, and smaller regional craft brewers looking to scale up production.

Compared to smaller 1-5bbl nano systems or larger 30-60bbl production breweries, 15bbl strikes a balance between batch size flexibility, quality control, and capital costs. This brewhouse scale enables efficient beer production workflows and volumes for a taproom, restaurant, or moderate distribution needs.

Some key details about typical 15bbl breweries:

  • Batch size: 310-465 gallons (1176-1762 liters)
  • Annual production: 3,000-7,500 bbls
  • Floor space needed: ~1,500-3,000 sq ft
  • Total system cost: ~$250,000-$500,000
  • Tanks: Four 15bbl unitanks usually
  • Popular for: Microbreweries, brewpubs, taprooms

A 15bbl brewhouse is a major investment but can be ideal for established homebrewers or brewpubs looking to grow. This guide covers everything potential buyers need to know about purchasing, installing, and operating 15bbl professional brewing equipment.

Types of 15bbl beer brewing equipments

There are a few main configurations and components that make up a modern 15bbl brewery. Here are the key equipment types and options:

1. Brewing System Arrangement

  • Traditional 3-vessel brewhouse – Has separate mash tun, kettle, and whirlpool tank. Most customizable but takes up more space.
  • 2-vessel brewhouse – Combines mash tun and kettle in one vessel to save space. More automated.
  • 1-vessel automated brewhouse – Fully automated brewhouse with integrated mash filter. Compact but less flexibility.

2. Heating Options

  • Gas direct fire – Uses natural gas or propane burners for heating. More manual.
  • Steam heating – Uses an external boiler to provide steam for heating kettles. Automated.
  • Electric heating – Heating elements immersed in wort to heat electrically. Precise but high energy costs.

3. Material Construction

  • Stainless steel – Most common material. Durable and easy to clean. 304 or 316 stainless usually.
  • Copper – Excellent but expensive heat conductivity. Used for kettles usually.
  • Aluminum – Affordable but stains and corrodes easier than stainless.

4. Mash Tun Design

  • Infusion mash tun – Insulated vessel with false bottom and mixing rakes. Basic and low cost.
  • Automated mash filter system – Self-contained module for lautering and sparging. Faster and more consistent.

5. Wort Production Control

  • Manual operation – Brewers control equipment and valves directly. Flexible but labor intensive.
  • Semi-automated – Brewhouse computer and motors assist with pumping and heating.
  • Fully automated – Programmable recipes and modules control entire brewhouse. Efficient but less flexible.
15bbl beer brewing equipment

15bbl beer brewing equipment Components

A complete 15bbl brewing system is made up of several key components and accessories beyond the main brewing vessels. Here are the standard pieces of equipment found in a 15bbl brewhouse setup:

Mash lauter tun – Insulated vessel where mash filters and runoff collected. Sometimes combined with kettle.

Brew kettle – Heated vessel where wort is boiled and hops are added. Usually 15bbl capacity.

Whirlpool – Swirl separation tank to remove trub and hop particles after boiling.

Heat exchanger – Plates or tubes to rapidly cool hot wort after the boil.

Glycol chiller – Cools glycol for the heat exchanger and fermenters if needed.

Hot liquor tank – Heated water tank to supply hot liquor for mashing and sparging.

Pumps – Wort, glycol, and water pumps for transferring liquids.

PID temperature controllers – Precise digital temperature control.

Steam boiler – Creates steam for heating if not direct fire. Added cost.

Grist hydrator – Mixes grist with hot water before mashing in. Better efficiency.

Grist case – Holds milled grain above mash tun for easy addition.

Rakes – Motorized mixing rakes inside mash tun to stir mash.

Sparge arms – Showers hot liquor evenly across mash bed for rinsing sugars.

Wort grant – Collects first wort from lauter tun before pumping to kettle.

Flotation system – Floats grain bed in mash tun to prevent compaction.

Automation platform – Touchscreen software to program recipes and control system.

Grain mill – Rollers crack malt kernels into grist for optimal extraction.

Fermentation tanks – Usually four 15bbl unitank fermenters and one 30bbl brite tank.

Glycol system – Chills glycol for fermentation temperature control.

Air compressor – Supplies compressed air for operations and tank transfers.

CIP system – Clean-in-place tank sanitation with hot caustic and acid solutions.

CO2 system – Carbon dioxide for purging tanks, transfers, and carbonation.

Applications and Uses of 15bbl beer brewing equipment

The 15bbl scale is ideal for a range of professional brewing applications:

Microbreweries – A common brewhouse size for a microbrewery selling beer locally or regionally. Flexible for experimenting with new recipes.

Brewpubs – Perfect for an on-site brewpub with a restaurant, taproom, or beer garden. Fresh beer on tap.

Taprooms – Allows a taproom tasting room model to brew and serve fresh beer on-site. Builds local brand.

Scaling up from homebrewing -Upgrading from homebrewing to a 15bbl brewhouse is a big but manageable jump for many serious hobby brewers.

Small distribution – A 15bbl brewery can produce enough beer for local restaurant distribution in kegs or cans if needed.

Pilot brewing – Some larger breweries use a 15bbl system for experimental small batch brewing and recipe development.

Alternating proprietorship – Sharing a 15bbl brewhouse is an affordable way for multiple breweries to share brewing space.

Brew-on-premises – Some brew-on-premises locations have 15bbl systems to allow homebrewers to scale up recipes.

Brewery incubators – Brewing accelerators provide 15bbl brewhouses for startups to test recipes before investing in their own brewery.

Contract brewing – Hire a brewery with a 15bbl system to produce beer on a contract basis to build scale.

Specifications for 15bbl beer brewing equipments

Here are typical technical specifications and requirements for key components in a 15bbl brewhouse setup:

Space Requirements

  • Total footprint: 1500-3000 sq ft
  • Brewhouse: 300-500 sq ft
  • Fermentation room: 500-1500 sq ft
  • Cold storage: 200-400 sq ft
  • Packaging area: 400-800 sq ft
  • Grain handling: 100-300 sq ft
  • Misc areas: As needed for taproom, office, etc.

Typical Vessel Sizes

  • Mash tun: 20bbl
  • Kettle: 30bbl
  • Whirlpool: 15bbl
  • Hot liquor tank: 20bbl
  • Fermenters: 4x 15bbl plus 1x 30bbl brite tank

Electrical Power Supply

  • Voltage: 208-240V 3 phase
  • Breaker size: 125-200 amps
  • Total load: ~125-175 kW

Plumbing and Drain Requirements

  • Water: 1-2″ supply line, 10 gpm minimum
  • Drain: 3-4″ floor drains and sinks
  • Gas (if applicable): 1-2″ line, suitable pressure
  • Steam (if applicable): 1-2″ line, 60-125 psi

Ventilation and Cooling

  • General exhaust: ~10,000 CFM capacity
  • Supply air: ~8,000 CFM
  • Cooling: 5-20 ton glycol chiller or AC

Grain Handling and Milling

  • Milled grain usage: ~650-1000 lb per 15 bbl batch
  • Bulk grain storage: ~10,000-30,000 lb capacity
  • Grain mill: 2-3 roller mill, 1,000-2,000 lb/hr capacity

CIP System Specs

  • Tank volume: 30-50 gallons
  • Heating: 15-30 kW electric heaters or steam injection
  • Pumps: Centrifugal, 10-15 gpm, 75-150 psi

Additional Requirements

  • Flooring: Sealed concrete or epoxy coating
  • Drains: Sloped floors with trench drains throughout
  • Walls: Smooth finish for washing and sanitation
  • Lighting: LED 50-100 fc general lighting minimum
  • Steam boiler (if applicable): 5-15 bhp capacity
15bbl beer brewing equipment

Design Considerations for 15bbl beer brewing equipment

Properly designing a 15bbl brewhouse involves many factors beyond selecting equipment. Here are key considerations for planning the layout and workflow:

  • Arrange brewhouse tanks and pumps sequentially for natural gravity flow during transfers. This saves pumping energy.
  • Position the mash tun above the brew kettle for gravity feeding after lautering.
  • Have glycol chillers feed jacketed tanks from the bottom since glycol rises.
  • Place equipment on raised platforms or mezzanines for access underneath vessels.
  • Ensure adequate space around tanks for safe operation, cleaning, and maintenance access.
  • Design electrical and plumbing utilities to reach all equipment for operation and CIP cleaning.
  • Include a separate mill room to isolate grain handling mess and noise.
  • Make ceilings tall enough to remove tank heads or lift out internal components for maintenance.
  • Floor trench drains, sealed floors, and smooth walls are critical for cleaning and sanitation.
  • Design HVAC supply and exhaust system to maintain positive pressure and remove moisture.
  • Include quality lighting, emergency eyewashes, safety rails, and other features to ensure a safe work environment.
  • Optimize workflow between the brewhouse, fermentation room, cold storage, and packaging areas.
  • Comply with all plumbing, electrical, ventilation, and local brewery manufacturing codes. Work with necessary engineers, contractors, and officials throughout the process.

Following brewery design best practices will maximize efficiency, safety, cleanability, and functionality.

Standards and Certifications for Brewery Equipment

Commercial brewing equipment in the United States must comply with regulations and standards for safety, sanitation, and performance. Key organizations and standards include:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code regulates brewery safety and sanitation practices.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace safety requirements.
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certifies pressurized brewing system vessels.
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certifies electrical components and controls.
  • National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors has standards for pressurized tanks.
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has various standards covering brewing equipment materials, construction, installation and operation.
  • Brewers Association has detailed manuals with technical specifications and best practices for brewery design and equipment.

In addition, many local jurisdictions require permitting, inspections, and may have additional brewery equipment regulations. Work closely with all relevant officials and inspectors when installing and operating a 15bbl brewery.

Suppliers of 15bbl beer brewing equipments and Components

Many equipment manufacturers and vendors supply systems and components for 15bbl brewhouses:

Complete Turnkey Systems

  • Specific Mechanical Systems
  • Portland Kettle Works
  • Premier Stainless Systems
  • Psycho Brew
  • AAA Metal Fabrication
  • JV Northwest
  • Mountain Mashers

Tanks and Vessels

  • AAA Metal Fabrication
  • JV Northwest
  • Stout Tanks & Kettles
  • DME Process Systems
  • Santa Rosa Stainless Steel

Automation Platforms

  • Brewtroller
  • Colour Logic
  • Hydra Computer Systems
  • JV Northwest

Pumps, Valves, and Fittings

  • Hopco Pumps
  • Norlake
  • Evergro Valves
  • Wilson Stainless Fittings

Heating and Cooling

  • GEA Refrigeration
  • Stellar Heating Solutions
  • Columbia Boiler Company
  • Tranter Plate Heat Exchangers
  • Thermal Care Glycol Chillers

Additional Components

  • GEA Centrifuges (for separators)
  • Rite Boilers (steam boilers)
  • JV Northwest (grain handling, conveyors, mills)
  • G Birmingham (tanks, platforms, stairs)
  • Champion Air Tech (ventilation)

Brewers should get quotes from multiple vendors to find the best value 15bbl brewhouse system for their specific needs and budget.

15bbl beer brewing equipment Pricing

The total capital investment for a 15bbl brewery can range from around $250,000 to over $500,000. Equipment costs make up a significant portion of this investment, with wide pricing ranges based on features, quality, and configuration choices. Here are typical price ranges for major 15bbl brewery equipment:

Brewhouse Equipment

  • 3-vessel brewing system: $100,000 – $350,000
  • Turnkey platform with stands, stairs, pipes, controls: $150,000 – $400,000
  • Grist handling system: $10,000 – $30,000
  • Grain mill: $15,000 – $40,000
  • Mash filter system: $30,000 – $75,000
  • Steam boiler: $20,000 – $60,000

Fermentation Tanks

  • Four 15bbl fermenters: $80,000 – $150,000
  • One 30bbl uni-tank: $25,000 – $45,000
  • Four 15bbl brite tanks (optional): $40,000 – $80,000

Additional Equipment

  • Glycol chiller: $15,000 – $35,000
  • Heat exchanger: $10,000 – $25,000
  • CIP system: $10,000 – $20,000
  • Air compressor: $3,000 – $7,000
  • CO2 system: $5,000 – $15,000
  • Grain silo: $10,000 – $30,000

And other costs for plumbing, electrical, installation, permitting, and shipping. Get quotes from multiple vendors to find the best pricing. Buying used equipment can also save substantially on startup costs.

15bbl beer brewing equipment

Installation and Setup of a 15bbl beer brewing equipment

Installing a full 15bbl brewing system is a complex process requiring careful planning and coordination:

  • Arrange for all equipment purchases and delivery timing in advance. Make sure electrical, plumbing, construction, and other capabilities are ready.
  • Work with contractors to complete necessary facility construction, insulation, utilities, drains, etc. before equipment arrives.
  • Have experienced brewery professionals supervise unloading, unpacking, rigging/lifting tanks into place safely using a forklift and/or crane.
  • Set vessels on stands allowing sufficient access space around equipment for operation and cleaning.
  • Connect glycol, steam, and utility water lines to tanks and chillers per manufacturer instructions. Pressure test.
  • Wire up pumps, motors, controls panels, sensors, and safety switches using a qualified electrician.
  • Install automation control modules, touchscreens, and temperature probes and test connectivity. Program recipes.
  • Attach augers, rakes, valves, and transfer pipes between vessels and Fermenters as needed.
  • Test each system individually and then as a whole. Tweak programming and hardware as needed.
  • Perform initial thorough CIP cleaning and passivation of tanks before first use.
  • Develop standard operating procedures, maintenance schedules, safety protocols, and staff training programs.
  • File necessary plumbing, electrical, and boiler inspections and obtain final brewery operating permits.

Allocate several weeks for installation and shakedown before starting commercial production.

Operating a 15bbl beer brewing equipment

Skilled brewers are essential for properly operating a 15bbl brewhouse. Here are key operating procedures:

Mash Process

  • Prepare hot liquor for mashing in at the target strike temperature.
  • Carefully dough grains into the mash tun in stages, stirring continuously to avoid dough balls.
  • Monitor mash temperature and pH throughout conversion rest, adjusting if off target.
  • Begin recirculation of wort, set rakes to pull mash for even filtering.
  • Run off wort to grant, vorlauf until clear. Transfer to kettle.
  • Sparge with hot liquor at 168-170F to rinse

The Boil

  • Turn on boiler or steam heat to bring wort to a rolling boil.
  • Skim off hot break material as it rises to the surface.
  • Add bittering hops per recipe early in the boil.
  • Follow hop schedule, adding aroma and flavor hop additions later in boil.
  • Monitor wort gravity and bittering extraction throughout boil.
  • Add Irish moss, yeast nutrients, or other kettle additives per recipe.
  • Sanitize fermenters, brite tank, and transfer lines while boiling.

Whirlpool and Cooling

  • Whirlpool hot wort after boiling to separate trub and hop particles.
  • Cool wort using a heat exchanger down to 55-65F into fermenter.
  • Aerate or oxygenate wort to needed ppm of O2 for yeast.
  • Take gravities and pH readings throughout process for tracking.

Fermentation and Processing

  • Pitch yeast once wort cooled to ideal temperature for that strain.
  • Control fermentation temperature. Allow proper time for active fermentation.
  • Transfer to brite tank for cold conditioning, carbonation, and dry hopping if needed.
  • Centrifuge or filter if removing all yeast before packaging.
  • Package beer into kegs, cans, or bottles. Pastuerize if shelf stability needed.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Clean tanks and lines after each use following CIP protocols.
  • Inspect equipment routinely for wear, leaks, damage, calibrate sensors.
  • Perform preventative maintenance tasks per manufacturers’ guidelines.
  • Replace gaskets, seals, o-rings, valves, motors as needed over time.

Proper operating procedures are critical for beer quality, consistency, and equipment longevity. Maximize efficiency by developing detailed standard operating procedures for each process. Consider advanced automation and software tools to assist operators where possible.

Maintaining a 15bbl Brewhouse and Tanks

Preventative maintenance is essential for maximizing uptime and extending the service life of a 15bbl brewhouse. Recommended maintenance practices include:

  • Follow equipment manufacturers’ maintenance schedules and manuals.
  • Inspect tanks and vessels weekly for leaks, cracked welds or damage. Fix any issues immediately.
  • Check valve operation frequently. Replace worn o-rings, seals, and gaskets.
  • Test pressure relief valves annually. Replace if faulty or leaking.
  • Inspect agitators and motors. Lubricate parts and check for excess wear.
  • Verify tank insulation integrity. Repair any gaps or damage.
  • Check glycol and refrigeration system charge level and top up if needed.
  • Remove and clean heating coil bundles and tubing regularly. Descale as needed.
  • Monitor automation system for any sensors out of calibration. Perform recalibration.
  • Test all electrical systems and components annually including safety switches.
  • Keep excellent records of completed maintenance and part replacements.
  • Train brewers on proper equipment handling to prevent damage.
  • Shut down equipment before any major maintenance. Use proper lockout procedures.

A complete maintenance program will identify issues early, prevent downtime, and extend the operating life of the brewhouse. Work with equipment vendors to utilize included maintenance services.

Tips for Purchasing a New 15bbl beer brewing equipment

Here are some tips when purchasing new 15bbl brewhouse equipment:

  • Get quotes from multiple equipment suppliers and compare pricing.
  • Ask vendors to provide references from recent customers of similar systems.
  • Make sure vendors offer installation support and have technicians nearby.
  • Look to expand capacity in the future to avoid buying another brewhouse too soon.
  • Evaluate quality of construction – welds, fittings, metal thickness, materials.
  • Choose equipment meeting North American codes and certifications for safety.
  • Understand lead times, which can be 6 months or longer for delivery and installation.
  • Make brewery design and construction plans well in advance of equipment ordering.
  • If possible, visit manufacturer facilities to inspect equipment quality firsthand.
  • Favor suppliers with excellent customer service, training, and long term support.
  • Review all proposal details – delivery terms, warranties, payment schedule, scope inclusions.
  • Have an experienced brewery consultant review proposals and negotiate on your behalf if needed.
  • Ask vendors to provide 3D layout drawings of your planned brewhouse setup.
  • Include allowance in budget for rigging, installation, plumbing, electrical, etc costs beyond equipment purchase.

Doing thorough upfront research, getting multiple bids, and understanding all costs can help find the best value 15bbl brewhouse.

15bbl beer brewing equipment

Pros and Cons of 15bbl Brewing Systems

15bbl breweries offer many benefits but also have some downsides to consider:


  • Flexible batch size for experimental and small batch brewing
  • Capable of producing a few thousand barrels annually
  • Low enough capital cost for many small breweries to afford
  • Brewhouse size expands easily later with more fermentation tanks
  • Allows focus on specialty beers rather than lagers only
  • Enables wider local taproom draft selection variety
  • Simpler licensing and regulatory requirements than larger breweries


  • Too small for major national or international distribution
  • Not as cost efficient per barrel as a much larger system
  • Often requires supplementing with smaller pilot batches
  • Output can limit taproom sales growth after a few years
  • Not automated and streamlined as a modern mega-brewery
  • Requires more hands-on brewer involvement rather than push-button operation
  • Adds complexity versus brewpub operating on a 1-3bbl system

For established brewpubs or ambitious homebrewers ready to go pro, the benefits tend to outweigh the downsides of starting with a 15bbl system. But consider both pros and cons before investing in a 15bbl brewhouse.


Q: What size building is needed for a 15bbl brewhouse?

A: Plan for approximately 1,500 – 3,000 square feet of space for a 15bbl brewhouse and tasting room. More space allows room for expansion.

Q: How many people does it take to operate a 15bbl system?

A: Usually 1-3 people can operate a 15bbl brewhouse. Larger brewpubs may have 5-10 employees across production and front of house.

Q: How many brews per week can a 15bbl handle?

A: Typically 1-3 brews per day, 5-6 days per week is reasonable for a 15bbl brewhouse. Up to around 500 batches annually.

Q: Is 15bbl a good size to distribute locally?

A: Yes, the volume works well for distributing kegs and cans locally. Wider distribution requires larger scale brewing.

Q: What are typical grain and hop requirements per 15bbl batch?

A: Around 650-1000 lbs of grain and 5-15 lbs of hops per 15 bbl batch depending on style.

Q: How long does a 15bbl brewhouse last before replacement?

A: With proper maintenance, a 15bbl stainless steel brewhouse can last 15-20 years or more before major upgrades needed.

Q: What are the cost savings versus a 3bbl nano brewhouse?

A: Ingredients, labor, packaging per barrel are more cost efficient. A 15bbl system can save over 50% per barrel versus 3bbl.

Q: Can I buy a complete turnkey 15bbl system?

A: Yes, many equipment vendors offer complete platforms with all necessary tanks, pipes, controls installed and tested. This saves time.

Q: What are the power requirements for a 15bbl system?

A: Around 125-175 kW depending on configuration, with 240V 3 phase power ideal. Amps needed around 125-200.

Q: How long does it take to install a 15bbl system?

A: Allow 2-6 weeks typically for delivery, rigging tanks, plumbing and electrical work, control configuration, testing.


For established breweries looking to expand production, a 15 barrel brewhouse offers tremendous flexibility and quality at an attainable investment level. With careful upfront planning and selection of equipment that meets your brewery’s unique needs, a 15bbl system can enable scaling up creativity and operations for many years of growth. Work closely with brewhouse manufacturers and brewery engineering consultants to design and build a reliable, high performance brewing system.

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