Discover the Distinctions: Commercial Brewing vs. Home Brewing

Generally, all beer is brewed using the same basic steps and ingredients. However, commercial brewing involves additional steps not necessary for home brewing due to the equipment and capacity requirements of commercial breweries. These extra processes provide opportunities for managing and optimizing fluid transmission. In this blog, we will discuss the differences between commercial brewing and home brewing.

Different Definitions

Homebrewing refers to the production of beer, mead, or cider on a small scale by enthusiasts at home. It is pursued as a hobby and the beer is not usually sold to others.
Commercial brewing, on the other hand, involves the brewing of beer or other types of wine by enterprises or breweries. The wine produced is sold to consumers or wholesalers for profit.

Different Capacity

In most cases, the brewing process is the same for both commercial brewing and home brewing: mashing the grain, adding hops, fermenting the wort, aging the beer, and finally bottling it. The main difference lies in the quantity of beer produced. Home brewing typically yields about 5 gallons per batch, while a small commercial brewery requires a minimum output of 3 barrels (3bbl) per batch.

Different Equipment Required

Home brewing requires minimal equipment, such as sample cans or barrels, to produce 1-5 gallons of high-quality beer. Commercial brewing, however, is more complex. Even a small brewery needs to acquire a significant amount of equipment, raw materials, and utilities.
As the production volume increases, special equipment may be needed. Although the functionality is similar to that of home brewing equipment, commercial brewing equipment is much larger. For efficient heating, steam boilers may be required when electric heating is insufficient. This ensures even heating of the wort across a larger area.
When starting a small brewery, the following supplies need to be considered:

  • Equipment: brewhouse equipment (kettles, boilers), barrels, cooling systems, bright tanks, fermentation tanks, filters, pipes, CIP systems, waste management systems, filling or bottling equipment, etc.
  • Supplies: hops, malt, yeast, bottles, labels, and packaging.
  • Utilities: electricity, steam, and water.

Commercial Brewing Limitations

The major difference between a homebrewer and a commercial brewer is the restrictions placed on commercial brewing. Homebrewers have the freedom to experiment with different beer styles and ideas. If the final result is unsatisfactory, they only lose a small amount of money. In contrast, commercial brewers must adhere to minimum production quantities. If a batch does not meet expectations, it can result in significant financial losses. However, many breweries have pilot brewing systems for small-batch experiments before scaling up production.

Different Start-Up Funds

Home brewing requires minimal cash expenditure, using simple equipment and kitchen utensils, with costs ranging from $300-$500. Commercial brewing is capital-intensive, with second-hand brewery equipment alone costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Breweries also require suitable space for operations, which involves additional expenses for modifications. Marketing, packaging, and taxes also contribute to the overall capital investment. Home brewing has a significant economic advantage over commercial brewing due to lower marketing and packaging costs.

Different Brewing Techniques

Homebrewers may transfer wort by pouring it from one pot to another, while commercial breweries utilize pipes and pumps for transferring wort or beer. Larger commercial breweries often pulverize grains through multi-roll or wet milling, whereas homebrewers generally use simpler methods. Commercial breweries also closely monitor the production of raw materials, focusing on brewing material efficiency (BME) and hop utilization. The efficiency of brewing materials in commercial brewing is approximately 90%, compared to 75% to 80% in home brewing.

Different Temperature Control Methods

Homebrewers often rely on stable ambient temperatures between 50-65°F (10-18°C) during the brewing process. They may use garage refrigerators or fermentation cabinets for cooling. In commercial breweries, each storage tank has a double-layer insulated stainless steel glycol jacket filled with coolant. If the temperature of the beer rises, the jacket cools it.

Hops Separation Methods

Commercial brewers employ different methods for hop separation due to the larger batch sizes. Most breweries use hop pellets, which can be separated in large whirlpool vessels. Homebrewers can also use the whirlpool method, while those using whole hops typically utilize a hop separator. Smaller brewers employ hop-backs similar in appearance to mash tuns.

Different Equipment Cleaning Methods

To ensure cleanliness and hygiene, brewing equipment needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Homebrewers generally use bleach, detergent, and disinfectants to control bacteria. If home brewing equipment becomes worn or scratched, it needs to be replaced. Commercial breweries use harsh and corrosive chemicals for scrubbing and disinfecting, in addition to the abovementioned methods.
In conclusion, home brewing and commercial brewing begin with the same basic ingredients, and the taste of the final product may be similar. However, the brewing processes differ significantly. If you are interested in opening a craft brewery, you can contact us for a turnkey solution. Our engineers will provide you with a list of equipment and related prices, as well as professional brewery solutions. We look forward to working with you!

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