If you are considering opening a brewery, you may be wondering what small brewing equipment is required for commercial brewing. Like many before you, you have discovered that brewing requires a significant capital investment. In this guide, an ACE engineer will go over the basics of what you need and discuss the various options involved.
What equipment does a brewery need?
Most of the people we talk to about starting a brewery already have some brewing experience. They may be home winemakers looking to become professionals, or they may be growing their nano winery into a production operation. In either case, the equipment used to brew this age-old beverage can be broken down into a few standard components, though sizes and features vary from brewery to brewery.
Minimum Brewing Equipment Needed – Grain Mill
Mills are used to crush malt and other grains such as wheat in preparation for adding them to the mash. Having your own mill gives you control over the crushing (coarse to fine).
If you’re on a budget and have a system volume under 1,000 liters, going electric is a good option. This is the cheapest method of brewery heating and the installation cost is lower than direct fire and steam.
- Steam heating: Steam heating of containers is common and requires a steam generator. This transforms city water into boiling steam, which is then piped into steam jackets that are fitted on your vessels. The steam generator is usually powered by natural gas, electricity, or diesel.
- Electric heating: Heated vessels usually use elements like those found in ordinary kitchen kettles. They come in a variety of sizes and wattages, the best have 2 or 3 elements that can be turned off and on, providing some degree of control over the heating. Electric breweries have built-in elements and require no additional equipment.
Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)
The HLT stores and heats your brewing water. The best models have at least two heating elements or steam jackets that allow you to start heating by adding a small amount of water to the vessel. Your HLT should have a level indicator for easy calculations.
If you have a 500-liter kettle, you should order a 1,000-liter HLT. This will ensure you always have enough fluid to flush, squirt, and clean. There should also be a pump connected by flow meters to the mash tun and injection unit, and to the CIP valves in the rest of the plant.
For precise measurement of impact water and jet water. It should be heat and water-resistant.
There are many types of mash tuns, from the simplest open vessels to closed heated vessels with paddles. The more features, the higher the cost. For larger volumes (above around 200 liters), it is difficult to mash by hand. There should also be a pump for conveying the mash to the lauter tun.
A heat exchanger “snap cools” the wort from the brew kettle as it is sent to the FV. Depending on the style of beer, the temperature of the wort ranges from near boiling to 7-35°C. You will usually have a primary or secondary heat exchanger (HXE). The first stage HXE uses cold water from the cold liquid tank to cool the wort.
Most microbreweries do not have separate vessels for mash tuns, lauter tuns, kettles, and whirlpools. You can use a variety of combinations to save space. The most common include:
- Mash/filter bucket
- Boiling kettle/whirlpool
- Mashing/cooking pot
The type of fermentation vessel you choose depends on the type of beer you want to brew. From simple open-top containers to pressurized monocoque tanks, there are several things to consider. Many microbreweries prefer closed pressurized vessels – this allows for natural carbonation and faster turnaround times. But, if you plan to bottle condition your beer, you don’t need a pressurized container.
Size matters, and mixing them up isn’t bad. For example, if you have a 1,000-liter winery, it is best to choose 500-liter, 1,000-liter, and 2,000-liter fermenters.
Freezing and Glycol
Ethylene glycol is the liquid used to cool wort and beer in breweries. It never comes into contact with the beer but is used for heat exchangers and jackets for cellar tanks. Glycol systems have storage tanks, pumps, piping, and dedicated chillers to keep them cool.
To brew beer, you need minimal control over other systems like the brewery and fermentation. Control panels come in many shapes and sizes. A common solution utilizes a simple PID system to watch the temperature and control pumps, as well as other motorized operations such as mashing paddles, etc. Or, the PLC system provides a touch screen interface to watch the entire process and set up automated operations.
If you’re on a budget, you can opt for a CIP (Clean In Place) pump with an internal spray ball to clean the tank. You fill the tank with water and chemicals, then use the CIP pump to draw the liquid from the bottom of the tank, through the pump to the CIP arm, and use the spray ball to clean it.
Hoses and Pipes
Breweries must have food-grade heat-resistant hoses, which can withstand considerable pressure. Available in various lengths, long and short. Shorter hoses are best for cleaning because they allow higher pressure during the cleaning cycle. Piping is usually provided when ordering brewery equipment, connecting pumps to vessels, and ensuring a steady flow of wort and beer. Stainless steel is the best material.
CO2 Tanks and Regulators
Even if you carbonate your beer, you’ll need a CO2 tank or two throughout the brewing process. If you plan to transfer your beer to another ship, you will need to use carbon dioxide to remove oxygen from the pipes and tanks. It is also used during packaging to maintain pressure in the tank.
Whether you use cans or bottles, you need a filling machine. There are many different types to choose from. Especially with bottlers, you need to know whether you are packaging carbonated beer or relying on bottle conditioning for carbonation. If you plan to package carbonated beer, you will need an isobaric (back pressure) bottling or canning line.
Get a Turnkey Brewery
This concludes our discussion of the brewing equipment you need to open a brewery. If you like home brewing, some of you already know about hydrometers or scales for hops and malt. If you are planning to open a commercial brewery and need some help along the way, ACE is here to help. We will provide you with professional technical support and customized services. Get a turnkey solution for brewery equipment If you plan to open or expand the brewery, you can contact us directly. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment according to your brewing process. Of course, we will also provide you with a complete turnkey solution. Also, if you plan to expand the brewery, we will provide you with customized solutions.