Although the equipment required for traditional beer brewing is relatively simple, modern large-scale breweries utilize advanced equipment that performs a wide range of tasks, from cracking the grains to sealing the cases.
When visiting a brewery, most people immediately notice the prominent round brew kettle in the brewhouse. Nearby, there is usually a second vessel called a mash tun, which is sometimes smaller but looks similar. If the brewery is large and produces lagers, there may be another vessel called a lauter tun. These vessels release steam through stacks, filling the neighborhood with the delightful aroma of malty-sweet beer in the making.
In the past, these vessels were typically made of copper and often referred to as “the coppers.” However, the term is now rarely used because modern brewing equipment is commonly made from stainless steel, which is more affordable and easier to obtain.
After using the first three vessels, the beer is pumped into a large tank called a fermenter, where it is cooled simultaneously. Fermenters are usually airtight to ensure sanitation and only allow the escape of built-up carbon dioxide pressure. However, some traditionalists in the industry, particularly in Britain and Belgium, still prefer to ferment their beer in open vessels, and some even encourage spontaneous fermentations caused by wild airborne yeast (such as Belgian Lambic brewers).
At this stage, each brewery utilizes various tanks and processes to handle their beer. For example:
Many breweries allow their beer to undergo a brief aging process after primary fermentation, using specialized vessels known as aging tanks.
Subsequently, the beer is transferred from the aging tanks to finishing tanks in preparation for distribution.
Since transferring the beer between vessels is a frequent occurrence during the brewing and aging processes, and cleanliness is essential, breweries have pumps and hoses distributed throughout their facilities, sometimes resembling a complex system similar to a Rube Goldberg machine.