Many people ask what goes into building a brewery.
Much upfront capital is required to get started in the brewing industry. This is a quick rundown of the process and equipment involved.
Our grain will be delivered whole in 50 pound sacks that we have to crush and deliver to the mash tun each brew day. The barley crusher and auger system for a small brewery can run upwards of $7,000 and is essential for controlling crush characteristics that help with mashing efficiency and overall flavor.
The brewhouse consists of 3 vessels and a control panel. The Hot Liquor Tank provides temperature controlled hot water for the duration of the brew day. The Mash Tun is where we steep grain in hot water for a designated length of time that converts the starches in the grain to fermentable and non-fermentable sugars that the yeast will consume and form alcohol in fermentation. This sugary liquid we have after mashing is called wort. The Boil Kettle is where we boil the wort for a designated length of time. The boil is typically where hops and sometimes other flavor contributors are added. Boiling wort also aids in the removal of certain off-flavors as well as aiding in protein coagulation which helps in clarity and lifespan. The cost of a brewhouse for a small brewery can run anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 or more depending on manufacturing quality, heating method and automation features.
After the wort is boiled it needs to be chilled to a specific temperature (typically about 65 degrees for most ales), this is done with a Cold Liquor Tank and a Heat Exchanger. The water in the Cold Liquor Tank will be chilled to 40 degrees and run through a series of stainless steel plates in the Heat Exchanger where hot wort is running though plates in the opposite direction as the cold water. In one single pass we can chill an entire batch of wort from near-boiling temps to 65 degrees or colder. The Cold Liquor Tank and Heat Exchanger will cost roughly $8,000 for a small brewery.
The wort exiting the Heat Exchanger is sent directly to a Fermentation Vessel. This vessel is where we will pitch yeast into the chilled wort and allow fermentation to occur. These tanks are pressure rated and allow for the beer to be carbonated in the vessel or be sent to a Beer Brite Tank that have a lager, flatter surface area that can help promote better clarity in the final product. It is essential to control the temperature of the fermenting and finished beer. The temperature of these vessels is controlled by a Glycol Chiller and plumbing system to each tank. The cost for each of these tanks can range from $5,000 to $10,000 or more and the Glycol Chiller will cost $10,000 minimum plus the associated plumbing costs.
After the beer has finished fermenting & has been filtered or fined and carbonated, it is then packaged be the brewers’ method of choice, either kegs or serving tanks for draft sales and bottles and cans for off-site sales and distribution to bottle shops. Whether the brewer chooses to use kegs or serving tanks, bottles or cans, thousands of dollars are required to package the final product.
There is a plethora of support equipment and accessories required to keep the brewery running smoothly such as laboratory equipment required for quality control, walk-in coolers for keeping the finished beer chilled to serving temps and a variety of equipment related to keeping the brewery and equipment clean.
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