Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant

Writing an article titled “Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant”, probably seems like self-promotion. As I’m a brewing consultant myself, helping people with their brewhouse projects.

However, something happened today, which for me, highlighted how consultants add value to a project. I had an enquiry from an ex-Soviet bloc country, looking to purchase a 2,000-liter brewhouse.

The person who sent me his initial equipment list, was thorough, but the terminology was off. For example, when he meant malt mill, he wrote “crusher”.

As you can see in the pictures below, this wasn’t the only point of confusion. My notes/feedback can be seen in red, from the initial list sent.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Making the Process Smoother
Initial List From Client With My Feedback in Red
Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Helping People with Communication
Client List Modified With Pictures to Make It Easier To Understand

I was able to guess much of what he meant. After 25+ years in the industry, brewing around the world, I’ve learnt to decipher much of terminology people use, when it comes to brewing.

To help clarify some points, we decided sharing some pictures of the equipment needed would help, when putting the final brewery equipment list together. As you can see in the second image.

Currently, I’m working with a few equipment suppliers, to put a complete list together, referencing the pictures as in the image above.

Having this adapted list with pictures, makes the task much easier, when compared to the original list, the client approached me with.

This is what an experienced brewing consultant does, takes a client’s initial ideas, builds out the list, then clarifying many points to move a project forward.

Streamlining the Process – Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant

Getting a list like the one above isn’t typical. What usually happens is, a client sends me a brief outline of what they want their brewery to achieve.

This generally comes in the form an email, here’s an excerpt from one I received recently:

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Typical Initial Email from a Client

When I get such an enquiry, the first thing I ask them to do is to fill out this questionnaire to help me understand the scope of their project.

I’ll ask the person to simply answer what they can. If they can’t answer all the questions, it’s fine. Whatever information is provided, will help.

I’ll review the answer and most likely have a few follow-up questions. By this point the client and I have typically connected on WhatsApp or WeChat.

After some initial back and forth, we’ll schedule a video or voice call. Typically, this initial discussion takes 30 to 45-minutes.

This first chat is usually super productive, as we’ve already done the groundwork. Through the questionnaire and the prior messages, allowing everyone to be on the same page.

With the general scope of the brewery project already agreed upon.

What Happens in the Initial Chat?

Projects can differ widely, but many of the themes are the same. Topics typically covered are:

-> What brewery heating option will be used on the project – Depends on location and budget

-> The dimensions of the building – If there’s already a location, we discuss the building in more detail. Such as ceiling height and area allotted for the brewing.

-> Beer styles and volume predictions – The beer styles planned and volumes predicted can heavily influence equipment needed. From dry-hopping equipment to horizontal tanks and tank residency times.

-> The mains water supply – To determine what type of water treatment is needed, if any. Often clients of mine in Asia, need to have an RO machine.

-> Plans for the future – What are volumes for year one and predicted sales for the future. The idea is to plan a brewery so, it can grow as sales increase.

-> What are the packaging plans – Do you plan to keg, bottle and/or can? Plus, what percentages will go in each pack type? For example; 30% keg, 50% bottle and 20% can.

Plus, we’ll discuss a whole lot more too. The idea being; a brewing consultant fully fills in the blanks, cementing the total scope of a planned brewery, from the initial notes made.

I’ll share these notes with the client. Once they are agreed up on, with next step being, putting the initial equipment list together.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Excerpt From A Complete Brewery List Example
Excerpt From A Complete Brewery List Example

If the person who reaches out to me is responsive, we can go from initial contact to first draft of the equipment list in about 5-days. The response to this initial work is generally super-positive in my experience. As the client feels the foundations of the project are being properly set, with their plans correctly filled out and noted.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant – Solving People’s Issues, Utilizing a Consultants Existing Network

For example, remember the initial email I got before? Where the person was planning a brewery in a remote location (see the second image above).

Well, I managed to connect/introduce him to the supplier of malt, who he’d been struggling to connect with.

My long brewing career has allowed me to build my network, to connect people in the industry so, individuals can have their needs met.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Sourcing Raw Materials

Using a brewing consultant means you also get access to their network for your project when you hire them…it’s pretty cool.

Building a Functional Equipment List

Being able to build a functional equipment list for my clients, really helps them. In my time as a brewer, I’ve brewed on small pub setups, to working in larger craft production breweries.

Having worked on so many different systems, all manner of equipment (from one-vessel pilot systems to centrifuges) and different configurations.

Has allowed me to understand exactly what a client needs, when they come to me with simple brief.

As a consultant; being able to streamline the process for people when they’re looking to purchase brewing equipment, is one of my favorite aspects of the job.

If you’re newer to the industry, then putting together a functional list can be tough. I can refer back to 25-years+ of brewing experience.

So, I can make a list is extensive covering all angles. The list will explain why each piece of equipment is chosen, and the purpose of it.

From sizing the brewhouse and cellar vessels, to potentially oversizing the glycol system. To cool extra fermentation vessels, added during the next phase of a brewery plans.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant – Using Their Knowledge Bank

When you employ a consultant on a project, not only do you get access to their network, you also have their knowledge bank too.

As a brewery project becomes operational, I often help with the processes as well. Sharing several commercial brewing cost saving tips with clients, when they’re preparing those first brews.

For example, I always use a hop bittering extract on my brews. It allows for bigger yields, and when brewing in China, it makes sense financially too.

Furthermore, layout of the brewery is important. A brewery needs to flow so, having a consultant whose worked in many breweries assisting with design/layout, will always be a benefit.

Triangle When Planning A Brewery Layout
Consider Ares Of Most Work – Triangles

When working in a brewery, there are always certain tasks which you’ll do more regularly than others. So, think about triangles, keeping points where you’ll work most, close together.

For example, it might be the brewhouse, keg washer and CIP system. Make these work areas close together so, you don’t have to walk as far during a day.

Another example would be keeping you’re brite beer tanks close to the cold store. A proper brewery layout can save time money and heartache down the line.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant – Consultants Will Save You More Money Than You Spend on Them

I give you an example, I’m currently working on a small 350-liter project for a brewery in SE Asia. The brewery will be in a remote location, with no 3-phase electricity initially.

I suggested they build their own cold room with panels, using an air-conditioning unit and a Coolbot. Spending the money to get a Coolbot unit shipped from the US, will save a small brewery $$$ in running costs.

I’ve got a lot of advice, where money can be saved when putting a project together. With a lot of them shared on the pages of my site.

The full equipment list and the breakdown/explanation alongside it, is where I help my clients understand the choices made and highlight where money can be saved.

I get the cost of every piece of equipment itemized on the initial quote; so, equipment can be shed from the list, if the budget doesn’t stretch far enough.

The Coolbot Allows You To Use An Aircon Unit In A Cold Store, Saving $$$

Start Out with a Long List

I’ll often ask my clients to add some equipment they’d like; it doesn’t hurt to get pricing. I then work with the client and manufacturer to get the best set-up, to suit the needs of the project, within budget.

So, we would potentially price up a hop cannon and a hop doser. Then depending how the budget looks, choices can be made. Personally, I’m a fan of using a hop doser, but will assist the client as best I can, catering to their needs and choices.

Starting out with a long list and scaling it back, is a much quicker process than constantly going back and forth, discussing different options.

So, get pricing for 500, 1,000 and 2,000-liters unitanks, and then later decide which configuration you’ll ultimately go with. This is the quickest and most efficient way to get a project going.

An Example of a Hop Doser – Drawing by BBS

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant – Knows the Good Stuff and the Junk

A brewing consultant will have many projects under their belt. Plus, used several different equipment suppliers so, know the good fabricators from the bad.

Furthermore, a consultant can get feedback from their brewing network too.

They’ll be able to tell if there’s an issue with an equipment supplier, asking the right questions and giving the proper instructions as well.

Additionally, they’ll be able to act as a conduit between supplier and client. The language of brewing can vary between people from different countries and backgrounds.

A good consultant understands these differences, ensuring everyone involved in the project is on the same page. Often, I have to rephrase certain communications, to help everyone involved get clarity.

It’s why I also make a lot of basic diagrams too, like the examples below. It helps communicate more complicated ideas; in a way all people can understand.

Plus, having another set of experienced eyes on a project will always be a benefit.

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant - Use Diagrams to Make The Project Easier to Understand

Benefits of Hiring a Brewing Consultant – Conclusions

We’ve covered the main benefits of hiring a brewing consultant in this post. There are more points we could add, but this post would get way too long.

The key takeaways are:
  • Brewing consultants streamline the process
  • They will save money on a project, as they refine the equipment list
  • Having a second set of experienced eyes plus, a consultant acting as a sounding board, will help put peoples mind at ease.
  • They ensure everyone is kept on the same page during the whole process

I’ve worked on a number of projects now, and one of my favorite experiences is, when clients suddenly understands a point, I’ve made.

The “lightbulb” moment as it were, when they get it and are happy. A consultant does a lot of the heavy lifting, to ensure the project goes smoothly.

Do you Need Assistance on a Brewing Project?

As a brewer with over 25-years of international brewing experience I’ve worked on many different systems.

When this is combined with brewing projects, I’ve worked on with clients around the world such as this container brewery. I’m able to bring all my knowledge to your project.

The best place to start is filling out this questionnaire, which allows me to understand the scope of your project. From there, we can organize to have a chat.

If you can’t answer all the questions, then it’s fine. Any information you can share, all helps. You can also contact me directly, my email is:

Alternatively, you can message me directly on your preferred network. Simply scan the relevant QR code below, add me, and then message me there.

Thanks for reading and happy brewing!

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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