From large multinational brewing companies to microbreweries, the process of brewing is diverse. This diversity also depends on the kind of beer you want to produce as well as the level of automation you desire. Large breweries typically have distinct sections that handle specific brewing phases. Microbreweries, on the other hand, perform their operations in one room.
Despite the disparity in size, the entire process remains the same as it involves a simple biochemical process. Microbreweries or craft breweries are independently owned and are smaller compared to corporate breweries. However, in recent times, this difference does not hold much meaning as some major brewers now have craft breweries but in a large form. You can visit this website to learn about craft brewing in different parts of the world.
So if you are a beer lover and have been thinking about starting a craft brewery, you should know that it requires time and patience. You also need to plan carefully before venturing into the business. We understand that starting any business is difficult and breweries are capital-intensive. Therefore, this guide will help you to get started.
How to Choose the Right Brewhouse Size
The first thing you want to do when starting out as a brewer is to secure a space for production. But do you know the size of brewhouse to use? Different levels of production, including the kind of beer you want to produce, calls for different sizes of tanks and brewing systems.
You need to consider this equation when choosing a brewhouse size:
(Annual production)/ (number of brews produced each week x number of weeks you brew in a year) = brewhouse size
(Size of the brewhouse) x (number of brews produced each week) x (number of weeks you brew in a year) = annual production
For instance, if you plan to brew 5200 bbl annually and five times each week all through the year, here’s what you will get when you use the equation:
Size of the brewhouse x 52 brewing weeks x 5 brews per week = 5200 bbl
5200 bbl/ (52 brewing weeks x 5 brews per week) = size of the brewhouse
5200 bbl/ 260 = 20 bbl
If you were wondering whether you can start a craft brewery with a 20-barrel brewhouse, this example is an ideal answer. However, you can be flexible with your batch size each week because it is possible that you may not have the manpower to match the machine’s capacity.
Note that the calculation above is a basic guideline. Many factors such as the types and styles of craft beer may alter the production timing or capacity. Therefore, measurements will not be the same for every brewer. You can visit https://www.thespruceeats.com/need-to-know-beer-styles-4051730 to discover different styles of craft beer.
After deciding on the size of brewhouse, you need to get the necessary equipment for brewing. They include:
While a brewhouse refers to a place for brewing beer, it is also a collection of the components required for starting the brewing process. These components include:
- Boil kettle
- A tank for hot liquor
- Lauter tun
- Mash mixer
Microbreweries usually use two-vessel brewhouses like the 20-barrel brewhouse. They combine the tank for hot liquor, mash mixer, and lauter tun in one vessel while the other vessel contains the whirlpool and boil kettle. The first vessel mashes the malt as well as any other grain you choose to use, then extracts the wort in liquid form.
The other vessel adds hops and all the ingredients for your beer into the wort, then boils the mixture. When the wort settles, the solid particles produced during the crushing process will be separated. Brewhouse capacity is usually in bbl (barrel), approximately thirty-one US gallons.
Tanks for Fermentation
After preparing the wort, the next stage is fermentation. You need to transfer the wort to your fermentation tanks to allow the yeast to convert the sugar inside the wort to carbon dioxide and alcohol. The tanks are shaped like cones at the bottom to allow you to recover and reuse the yeast.
These tanks are used for secondary fermentation. After the first fermentation, the beer filters and pumps into the brite tanks for further clarification and carbonation. Afterward, it is transferred into bottles, kegs, or cans for consumption. If you own a pub, you can serve the beer from the tanks. You can find a brewing system from ABS to match the level of production you want to achieve.
Whether you want to serve customers from the brite tanks or you will package the beer in cans or bottles, you still need to store it in kegs. Brewpubs, restaurants, and bars can serve or sell beer in kegs. You also need to wash the kegs to prevent the beer from tasting bad or spoiling. Microbreweries can wash by hand since their level of production is sizeable. But larger breweries need to invest in a special washer for greater efficiency.
Factors That Affect the Costs of Brewery Equipment
We already hinted that setting up a brewery is capital-intensive. Hence, you need to have an estimate of the costs of equipment, which largely depends on your speculated volume of production. Apart from the size of your brewhouse, other factors to consider when estimating how much brewery equipment costs are:
The Material Used in Making the Equipment
The equipment for brewing is made from different materials, but the commonest materials are stainless steel and copper.
Most commercial breweries today use stainless steel kettles. These modern kettles are clad with copper to give them a traditional appearance. However, the cladding is cosmetic since it does not touch the wort directly.
Stainless steel kettles react with a few chemicals like chlorine. But the equipment will not affect the beer flavor if you avoid cleaning it with bleach. Stainless steel has more strength than copper. Therefore, you need to consider this when choosing equipment since the kettle is pressurized when it boils the wort.
Traditionally, brewing equipment, especially the kettle that boils the wort, is made from copper. Copper ores smelt easily into pure forms and are readily available. They are very good conductors of heat, which is a desirable quality for brewing.
The drawback of this material is that it can react with a lot of chemicals. This process can add metallic flavors to your beer. Also, many cleaning solutions can corrode the material.
Used or New Brewery Equipment
The costs of brewery equipment depend on whether you want to buy a used or new set. If you are starting a microbrewery with a limited budget, you may compromise with respect to your purchase decision. But it is not a bad idea to start with used equipment, provided it is functional and can produce results. As you progress, you can get newer equipment.
The major things you need to start your brewery are:
- Fermentation tanks
- Storage tanks
- Cooling equipment
- Cleaning tools
If you want to test the waters by starting with home brewing, you need to get equipment that is suitable for that purpose. You can read this article to know the essential equipment for home brewing.
Like any other business, starting a craft brewery requires careful planning. We discussed how to choose an appropriate brewhouse size after securing a place for your production. We also discussed the brewing process and the equipment you need for each phase. Finally, the materials used in producing the equipment and whether it is a used or new equipment will determine its cost.