What Equipment Do I Need to Start A Brewery?
Whatever you reason for starting a brewery one of the big questions to answer is what equipment do I need to start a brewery and how much is it going to cost me?
In a previous article called; how to start a brewery, we looked in depth at what steps need to be taken to get into the brewing business. This is a continuation of that and a look into the financials.
Brewing Isn’t Cheap
We need to point out first that brewing requires a significant capital outlay before you can brew beer. We are going to concentrate on the equipment for today and it doesn’t come cheap. If you want to have your own brewery it is a major commitment.
However, the cost of equipment varies widely depending on your circumstances such as:
The size of the brewery
Do you buy used or new?
If you buy new where you buy it from
What style of beers you plan to make?
What level of automation to you want?
What Equipment Do I Need to Start a Brewery? The Size of your Brewery
All breweries are dependent on outside criteria such as budget, floor space, your market and even local regulations. However, when it comes opening a brewery small isn’t always beautiful. If you start too small, you’ll find it hard later to expand your operations.
Yes, I know budget is a constraint but a 5HL brewery isn’t half the price of a 10HL brewery. The cost of brewing equipment isn’t linear.
A very simplistic take is when buying equipment comparing 5HL to 10HL; is you’re simply buying the same equipment but more stainless steel for bigger tanks.
The amount of times I’ve heard brewers say “I wish we went bigger when we first started”. They find that they soon reach their brewery capacity and if you have a 5HL system it is hard to increase volumes easily.
What is a good starting size for a brewery?
A lot of breweries start with 5HL tanks and a mixture of 5 and 10HL fermentation vessels. If you’re in a brewpub with not too much seating this may suffice. However, 1000L of your biggest selling beer with losses through production may give you 30 x 30L kegs.
If you sell 5 x 30L (150L) kegs a day; that’s a brew finished in 6 days. A quick beer to brew such as a wheat may have a 10-day turnaround time. You will be selling it quicker than you can brew it.
The optimum capacity for a brewhouse on start-up has many variances but most professional breweries would say a minimum of 10HL. This will allow you to brew 20HL easily in one day (double brew days).
What Equipment do I need to Start a Brewery?
The first place to start is your brewhouse. It’s where you will make the sugar that the yeast will turn into alcohol. A brewery can be a 2,3,4 or even 5 vessel system. It will have a mash mixer, lauter tun, brew kettle and whirlpool.
The mash tun is where you mix the water and malt that will turn starch into sugar
A lauter tun is the vessel where you transfer you sugar liquid (wort) from; going to the brew kettle leaving the malt behind.
The brew kettle is where you boil your liquid, sterilizing it, there is a color change and also where you add the hops that give you beer bitterness.
A whirlpool is a vessel where you create centrifugal forces to create a cone of matter to be left behind when you collect your wort to the fermentation vessel.
The most common choice is a 3-vessel system. You will have a combined mash/tun later and a brew kettle and whirlpool. The other option is a mash mixer, lauter tun and combined brew kettle and whirlpool.