How To Choose The Correct Size Brewery Equipment

guy working with beer equipment

Beer Builders mainly specializes in building 3.5, 5, 7, and 10 Barrel Brewhouses. These systems are the ideal size range when it comes to our “Brewpub Business Model”. For long-term growth, these size ranges are offered with up to 2x and 3x sized Brights and Fermenters, and Cold or Hot Liquor Tanks. From the 3.5 through to the 10bbl scale for a Brewpub business model, we recommend that Process Piping, the Complex Control Panels, and the plow and rake for the Mash-Tun aren’t necessary equipment (these parts and equipment is the standard with the 15bbl systems and up).

These types of features can be expensive and it is also difficult to achieve ROI (a return on your investment) concerning saving on labor unless you plan for brewing 2 to 3 (4 to 7) brews every week ( which means back-to-back), for 50 weeks in a year, within the first 5 years of being in business. If this is the case, then you might enjoy an ROI with these additional features, but only once you have reached that brewing volume. If that is what you have forecasted within your first 5 to 7 years, then you should rather consider investing in the next size or 2 up.

If your target is a 15bbl or bigger brewhouse, then your specific business model will be quite different when compared to the Brewpub model. A Plow and Rake becomes imperative to successfully manage the bed and grain, and more Complex Controls and Process Piping will become effective tools and equipment for the volume of barrels that corresponds to these bigger systems.

Here at Beer Builders, our primary focus revolves around building Brewhouses that use simple controls and soft-hose connections. With this idea, we have secured our place in the Craft Brewing Industry (, for the Brewpub Size breweries. Our company has earned a reputation for equipment that is easy to use and burley, and how we consult with our customers when it comes to maximizing the necessary start-up equipment and tools, against the start-up capital that is available at the time. We also share ideas and recommendations on the equipment type that can be added on at a later stage, and ways that you can put a plan into action for “controlled growth” with your system.

You can always refer to our website for the information that you need that supports and backs up our beliefs. We also believe you will find this information incredibly useful when you are developing plans for your project. Occasionally, some of our clients have requested that we build a brewhouse that comes with a plow and a rake, complex controls, and process piping so that it matches up to their forecasts, objectives, and requirements. But we still believe that at these scales this type of equipment is usually the exception.

It is important to know that when you start comparing brewhouse suppliers or manufacturers, you will notice that many include their Brewpub systems, with fancy controls, and processing piping, that you actually won’t need. In most cases, the costs of these systems will be much more when compared to a Beer Builders brewhouse.

At the same time, most of these systems are generally always “cookie-cutter” systems produced in China. This means that you won’t be able to substitute options, nor choose and pick features you would like to eliminate or include. Since these systems are produced in China, if you had the option to leave out any features, the system would come in at a far lower price tag.

The systems manufactured in China include ancillary equipment that is extremely inferior, such as heat exchangers, pumps, and other parts that are often problematic when it comes to servicing. At the same time, these types of semi-automated systems are linked to continuous exposure to having to service the controls and valves, most of which are probably not in your scope or your brewing workers.

Problems with the controls and valves cost downtime and money. When the controls are complex, you will need to spend far more time than necessary to train your brewers, the errors that could or probably will occur at a certain point, such as sending caustics or wort into the incorrect tank, or a malfunction with the system, will not be able to be resolved by your brewery staff. An outside source will probably become necessary to resolve pneumatic valve malfunctions and control panel problems.

When it comes to the Brew Pub business model, our 7bbl or the 10bbl Brewhouse appears to be the “sweet spot”. When you are deciding on what sized Brewhouse to buy, one of the most important considerations to keep in mind, is to determine whether the system will allow you to reach your anticipated annual production goal in 5 years or even more down the line? Part of your evaluation should include carefully analyzing the square footage required, and the square footage needed to accommodate extra fermentation capacity when you are ready.

Do you have enough space for an adequately-sized cold room (you should be aiming for the largest one possible)? The majority of the Brewpub-sized breweries start with 1 to 2 brews a week, and this can vary in a year, for the initial 3 years or so. At some stage, you will find that 1 variety of beer is going to become the main seller. When you look back at the production logs over the year, you will likely find that specific beer was brewed a lot more when compared to the others.

You may also find that this variety keeps running out since you are no longer able to time the brews in order to replenish since your fermenters are filled with another variety. At this stage, you should be thinking about investing in the next fermenter, such as a 2x sized fermenter to handle the back-to-back brews of your most popular beer. We suggest avoiding the scenario where your brewhouse size is brewing 3 to 4 (or more) times in a week, after a period of 2 to 4 years.

When you are just starting out, it is important to take caution if your forecast for barrel production in a year, suggests that you may need to invest in a bigger brewhouse after 2 to 3 years. You may be thinking about a small-sized brewhouse for the launch (according to your start-up budget), with the idea to scale up in 2 to 3 years. Yet this is a scenario that is a lot more complex than you might have thought.

How To Choose The Ideal Brewhouse Size

If you are thinking about facility or property space, Beer Builders is here to assist you when it comes to working out the space that is needed for each of these systems, by giving you a Brewhouse Footprint. We also draw up floorplans to scale (according to space you have secured or are considering) to show you how to use each square foot for your brewery. Even when one of the pieces of equipment you are deciding to use does not come from us, once you supply us with these dimensions we can easily include these parts into your floor plan.