The first priority for any craft brewer is to consistently produce high-quality craft beer, and the brewery equipment you purchase must be able to support that goal. Before deciding on the type of brewhouse you need, it’s important to define your brewery’s identity. Are you aiming to distribute packaged beer or do you want to be a local neighborhood brewery? If you want to compete in the packaged beer market, investing in brewery equipment that maximizes daily production (brews per day) and reduces labor costs is worth the higher initial expense.
A complete beer brewing equipment consists of six basic components: Miller, Brewhouse, Fermenter, Glycol cooling system, Control unit, and CIP (Clean in Place) cart. The brewhouse is considered the heart and engine of the brewing equipment. While there are different combinations of the mash tun, lauter tun, brew kettle, whirlpool tun, and hot liquor tank, how do you choose the right brewhouse structure for your brewery equipment?
Several Main Brewhouse Structures Currently Used:
1. Compact brewhouse
2. Vessel brewhouse
3. Vessel brewhouse
4. Vessel brewhouse
Also known as an all-in-one or combined brewhouse, this structure includes multifunctional tanks combined in various ways. It is commonly used in small or medium-sized breweries. The popular combinations are:
– Mash/lauter/Hot liquor tank (stacked) + Kettle/whirlpool tun
– Mash/kettle/Whirlpool tun (stacked) + Lauter tun
These combination tanks offer a more affordable option to start a brewery. The biggest advantage is that they save installation space. If you have limited space, this structure may be suitable for your brewery equipment. However, please make sure your ceiling height is sufficient. Depending on your production goals, a combined system can serve your business for a long time.
Two Vessel Brewhouse
This is the most popular brewhouse structure in the beer brewing industry and is widely used in breweries ranging from 100L to 2000L. If you are starting a new beer brewing business, choosing a two-vessel brewhouse is a reliable option.
The two-vessel brewhouse is suitable for infusion mashing and can handle brewing 1-2 batches per day. The most common combination is:
– Mash/lauter tun + Kettle/whirlpool tun + Hot liquor tank
If you plan to brew 2 batches per day, the hot liquor tank capacity should be double the batch capacity. A larger hot liquor tank helps supply enough hot water for mashing, sparging, and tank cleaning. It also enables better recycling of hot water from the heat exchanger during wort cooling.
Three Vessel Brewhouse
The three-vessel brewhouse is popularly used in breweries with a capacity exceeding 1500L. Larger capacity brewhouses usually correspond to higher beer production. Brewers who aim to brew 1-3 batches per day often prefer three-vessel systems. Although they don’t offer the same output and versatility as four-vessel systems, they still surpass two-vessel systems in terms of efficiency.
The most popular combination is:
– Mash Tun + Lauter tun + Kettle/whirlpool tun + Hot liquor tank
– Mash/lauter tun + Brew kettle + Whirlpool tun + Hot liquor tank
The advantage of the first solution is the separate mash tun and lauter tun, which allows for Decoction mashing. This is useful for those focusing on lagers or those with a distilling operation.
The advantage of the second solution is the separate whirlpool tun. It is suitable for achieving better whirlpooling results, especially when an inner calandria is present inside the brew kettle. The separate whirlpool tun becomes particularly important in this case.
Four Vessel Brewhouse
A typical four-vessel brewhouse includes a Mash tun, Lauter tun, Kettle, and Whirlpool tun. Each tank is dedicated to performing a single process and is designed differently from similar vessels used for multiple processes.
– Mash tun + Lauter tun + Brew kettle + Whirlpool tun + Hot liquor tank
The four-vessel brewhouse offers more flexibility in brewing multiple batches per day and is suitable for those seeking higher beer production and initial investment. It is often paired with automatic brewing control and sensors to reduce operational labor.