Beer is one of the oldest and widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. Today, over 9,000 microbreweries operate in the states, offering consumers a wide variety of choices thanks to advancements in beer brewing technology. In fact, the craft beer market is projected to grow from 102.59 billion (2020) to 210.78 billion by 2028.
In saying this, owning a brewery can be a pretty lucrative business, requiring a sufficient amount of investment and a good business plan.
So if you’re seriously considering building a brewery (and not just buzzed), here’s a guide on the key equipment you will need to get started.
1. Grain Miller
Milling gives the brewing liquor access to the entire grain and gives the beer a fresh and full flavor. It also helps convert starch into fermentable sugar.
But aside from this, having your own grain miller also means you can buy unmilled grain in bulk and process it yourself, both of which will save you money.
2. Mash-Lauter Tun System
After the grains are milled—which is now called grist—they will be transferred to a vessel called mash tun where they will be mixed with temperature-controlled water to create a “mash.”
The mash will be held at a predetermined temperature (usually around 148°F-158°F) and time (around 60 minutes) until the starch is converted to usable sugar.
Once mashing is complete, it is transferred to a lauter tun, a filtration system that helps the wort—the sweet liquid extracted from the mashing process—to pass through the spigot while the grain husks are left behind.
The wort is collected into a vessel called a kettle where it will be brought to a controlled boil until reduced. This is also the process of brewing beer when the hops are added.
Hops are the cones or flowers of a plant called Humulus lupulus. It is a key ingredient in beer that keeps it fresh longer and helps retain its foam.
After boiling, the wort is then whirpooled to separate any malt, hop particles, and other unwanted solids from the liquid to clarify it and get it ready for cooling and fermentation. Brew kettles are recommended to be at least 40% oversized to reduce boil-over.
4. Beer Fermenter
After cooling, the wort is transferred into a vessel called a beer fermenter. Yeast is added to the wort to help the sugar transform into alcohol and give it flavor and sparkle (carbonation).
Different fermenters are made for different brewing goals. Temperature control, airlock usage, and krausen monitoring are some of the things that influence the fermentation process so you have to choose your fermenter carefully.
Fermentation is one of the time-consuming aspects of brewing beer. It usually takes seven to 14 days to ferment ales and 21 to 35 days to ferment lagers.
To measure the amount of sugar in your wort, alcohol content, and yeast success rate while it is fermenting, you can use a refractometer. It must be used at the beginning and end of the fermentation process.
6. Brite Tank
It’s a container where the beer is stored, conditioned, carbonated, filtered, and cellared for about three to four weeks. Once complete, the beer is ready to be packaged, however, some brewpubs serve beer from Brite tanks.
7. Brewery Pumps
All of the steps mentioned above require the liquid to be transferred from one container to the next. To do this in a safe and hygienic way, you need to have brewery pumps.
There are many kinds of pumps used in brewing. Three of the most common are peristaltic, diaphragm, and centrifugal pumps. You need to think about how you intend to use the pump—the flow rate, vertical suction lift, maximum head lift, and power you need—to determine which pump is right for your setup.
8. Beer Line Valves, Tubes, and Hoses
Not all equipment used in building a brewery are big. Some are small parts—such as hoses, valves, clamps, fittings, tubes, and connection lines—that play big roles in brewing.
You will need pipes to carry water into the brewery and out into the wastewater system. To move the liquid around, you would need tubes and hoses. You will also need reinforced gas hoses for cellaring and feeding CO2 to your brewery.
9. Cooling Equipment
Cooling your beer ensures that the beer will be as good later as it is the day it was made. You can use a python cooling system or a glycol cooling system to keep it at a stable temperature and keep bacteria from growing.
10. Dispensing Equipment
Of course, you need to test the beer first before sending it out for public consumption. For this, you would need dispensing equipment such as beer faucets and shanks, dispensing heads for kegs, draft beer towers, beer dispensing taps and towers, keg couplers, beer and air lines, and more.
11. Packaging Equipment
Now, what does your beer taste like?
If it’s ready to be shared with the public, you need to package them properly to keep the taste intact. The packaging equipment you need depends on the type of container your beer would be put in. Will you be using glass bottles, cans, growlers, or kegs?
Some of the most common packaging equipment includes can fillers and closers, pressure fillers, rinsers for cans and bottles, and beer bottle labeling machines, among others.
Logistics: The Secret Weapon of Building a Brewery
After all the equipment has been picked and bought, they need to be moved to their home—your brewery. For that, you need the help of craft beverage industry movers like Brew Movers.
We provide the best white-glove logistics services specializing in beer ingredients and equipment logistics. With top-tier rates and trusted carrier networks all over North America, you can be sure your equipment will get to your door without hassles and in one piece.