This article on breaking down a brewery equipment quote, was one, I wasn’t sure I should write. I mean, it’s huge part of my consulting service, when a client takes me on.
Am I slowly making myself redundant with all these articles?
Then I remembered a conversation I had with a brewer before, about people stealing his beer recipes. People would sometime take photos of his brew sheet, when he was brewing at his brewpub.
He didn’t mind, as he was confident, he could brew the beer better than anyone taking pictures. I’m not saying I’m better than everyone who will read this article, when it comes to brewing equipment.
It’s I know the clients who take me on, have all been really happy with the work I’ve done.
My take instead is…
If this article on breaking down a brewery equipment quote, can help some of my readership, I should be happy. So, let’s get started…
Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote – Malt Mill
Malt mill is self-explanatory, it’s the equipment used to crush the malt, so the starch can be broken down in the mash.
The only real thing to check, is how much malt can be processed in an hour. Depending on the brewhouse size, and typical abv of the beer. A brewery needs to be able mill their grain bill, in a reasonable amount of time.
The above table, shows how much malt is needed for a typical all grain brew, to make a 5% ABV beer, on a brewhouse with 80% efficiency.
Now with smaller brewhouses, milling the malt can take a little longer, as typically malt is milled the day before, and then added manually to the mash tun on brew day.
On larger brewhouses where a grain delivery system is used, being able to mill the whole grain bill in around 20-minutes, is ideal.
It’s worth paying extra for a good mill, as grain crush is key in having an efficient brew. A good mill allows a brewery to use less grain per batch.
—> Investing in a good mill pays for itself over time.
Mash/Lauter Tun – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
The key element is the dimension of the mash tun. Again, this depends on how much malt you’ll use in a typical brew. The depth of the grain bed is important.
If a mash bed is too shallow then, it’ll not act as good filter and a brewer will likely end up with hazy beer.
Conversely, if a grain bed is too deep it may become too compacted and lautering can become impossible.
Most brewers will opt for a bed height of around 30 to 40cm (12 to 16-inches in height). Again, check how much grain will be used in a typical brew day.
Most of the time, a good manufacturer knows the ideal dimensions for your brewing needs. If you plan to make mostly high ABV beers.
Then a conversation with an equipment manufacturer, about supplying an oversized mash tun is needed.
Finally, if you’ve steam heating for the mash tun, you’ll want to raise the mash temperature by 1°C per minute, ideally.
Checking Water Volumes
If there’s one place to have a flowmeter in a brewhouse; it’s for measuring water volumes, for both mash-in and sparge water.
The image above, was part of a conversation I was having today, with a client. Where we were discussing a project in The Philippines.
A flowmeter allows for consistent beer to be brewed more easily. As a brew day, is simpler to recreate, when it comes to hitting those water volumes.
Furthermore, with a flow meter, as the water goes in, a brewer can also be adding malt too.
Instead of having to add all the water first, then check the volume with a dipstick. Before adding the malt, if you don’t have a flow meter.
Like my client said, there’ll be less temperature loss as result.
Rakes and Grain Out
Malt has to be emptied out of the tun, after all the wort has been collected to the kettle. On bigger mash/lauter tuns, having rakes to help with grain out is preferable.
Rakes can help with mixing, if you’ve a combined mash & lauter tun. Furthermore, rakes also help “cut” the grain bed, for better lautering. Cutting is the main function for having rakes, actually.
Ideally for cutting, you’ll want to have the ability to raise and lower the rakes, as well as control rotation speed. This will help keep the wort clean, as well as aid wort collection to the kettle.
If you’ve fixed rakes, then being able to go super slow with the them, really helps.
When I do have fixed rakes, I tend to only run them sparingly. For example; one or two revolution per twenty minutes.
One more note: When it comes to the mash/lauter tun, I like to have a sight level tube on smaller systems.
It makes it easy to see where the liquid level is, in the mash/lauter tun, when collecting wort in to the kettle. It’s a great aid to ensure a brewer doesn’t experience a stuck mash.
Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote – Kettle Whirlpool
With most brewery projects I help source equipment for; the kettle and whirlpool are typically a combined vessel.
Like with the mash/lauter tun, you should be able to raise the temperature by 1°C per minute when full.
With a kettle, if you don’t have a way to vent the steam outside, then make sure you get a steam condenser for the vessel.
You need to way to check the volume of wort in the kettle. On bigger systems, having a flowmeter to check the total wort volume collected, is a worthwhile investment.
Especially when this volume can be shown on a touchscreen control panel. Where the total volume to collected can be set. Plus, where the pump automatically stops, when the target volume is reached.
If the budget allows, for bigger brewhouse systems, I’d always advise going semi-automatic and having touchscreen controls.
Furthermore, being able to read the speed of flow, when collected wort to the kettle is great, to help a brewing team achieve consistent results.
However, on smaller systems, the easiest way to know the volume in the kettle, is to either use a dipstick, or have sight volume tube on the vessel.
Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
Again, a HLT should rise in temperature by 1°C per minute when full. When checking the HLT on an equipment quote, the key metric to check, is its size.
For most clients having a HLT twice the size of the brew-length is ideal. On most systems, this allows a brewer to crank out two batches in a day.
If a brewery is doing multiple brews per day, plus doing to do a lot of cleaning too, then an even bigger HLT may be needed.
However, for most brewers, if the HLT is 2 to 2.5 times larger than the brewhouse, it’ll be enough.
On smaller systems, say below 500-liters. I’ll mostly advise the client against getting a CIP cart. Instead use the HLT, for hot water to clean/CIP and rinse.
Adding the hot water first, inside the vessel, adding the chemicals to the water and then starting the CIP.
One last thing: Make sure there’s sight level tube on the HLT. Preferably with graduations, as it allows a brewer to instantly know how much water is left in the vessel.
Heat Exchanger/ Cold Liquor Tank (CLT) – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
When it comes to the heat exchanger, typically there are two choices:
Single-Stage – Wort is cooled by water from a cold liquor tank
Two-stage – Wort is cooled by mains water AND the glycol system
For a brew-length of 350-liters or more, I would always opt for a single stage heat exchanger if possible. I’d rather not put pressure on the glycol system.
Plus, in the heat of summer, understanding you’ve got a bank of water at a known temperature, takes the pressure off a brew day.
However. If budget is tight, then going with a two-stage heat exchanger is cheaper, as you save on the cost of a vessel (the CLT).
Furthermore, which ever option you choose, make sure the water, be it from the CLT or mains goes back in to the HLT.
You make hot water when cooling the wort via the heat-exchanger. It ties into double-sized HLT, making multiple brew days much easier.
Speaking of heat exchangers, make sure there’s a hop strainer before the heat exchanger. I go into more detail about this small piece of kit, in my article “What Gets Missed When Buying A Brewery”.
Having a hop strainer before the heat exchanger, ensures the heat exchanger never gets blocked, if by some chance hop material does make it out of the whirlpool.
The reason I stress this here is; some manufacturers don’t include a hop strainer as standard, when buying a brewhouse.
Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote – Wort Aeration
This is pretty basic, you need to have wort aeration, which is usually placed after the heat exchanger. The main reason I mention it here is, it’s best to have a way to regulate the flow of O2 accurately.
There is specialist brewing equipment for this. However, when buying Chinese brewing equipment, it’s easy enough (and cheap) to buy a medical regulator like the one pictured below.
Yeast Adding Vessel
This is a bug bear of mine, when ordering from a Chinese brewing equipment supplier, they always include this piece of equipment.
I’ve never used one myself, I tend to add the yeast directly to the fermentation vessels (FV) when collecting the cooled wort.
Be it wet yeast re-pitched from a yeast brink, or dried yeast poured in through a manway or hop port.
It’s not much of a saving taking the wort adding vessel out of the quote. However, every little helps.
Furthermore, by adding the yeast to the FV, means a brewer can wait till the wort temperature has stabilized, which is much better for the yeast and the brew overall.
Beer Hoses – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
A quick mention on beer hoses, I like my hoses to be at most 5-meters long. If I need longer lengths, I can put two or more hoses together.
I prefer shorter hoses, as they are easier to handle and hang-up. To ensure there’s no liquid accidently stored in them, when not in use.
Also, buying hoses with the brewhouse means they can be precut, and have sanitary ferrule ends added to them, when they are delivered to the brewery
Furthermore, beer hose should be capable of handling hot liquids, chemicals used in brewery cleaning plus, be anti-vacuum too.
One last point thing to mention is beer hose protectors. If you want a longer life for your hoses, then get beer hose protectors, like the one pictured below.
These protect the ferrule ends on the hose from damage, and are more sanitary keeping the hose end off the floor at all times.
Fermentation/Unitanks – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
When it comes to FV’s I’ve already done a deep-dive with my “unitanks pros and cons” guide”. So, I’ll just highlight some key points instead.
A quick note: FV’s these days are mostly unitanks meaning a brewer can both ferment, and mature beer in the same vessel. For more info please, read the article linked above.
I prefer to have racking arms on my unitanks. Racking arms allow you to “turn” them, to ensure you get as much clean beer from a unitank as possible.
By twisting the arm, you can either lift or lower the point at which beer is drawn from; to ensure only clear beer is taken off.
Carbonation Stone and Spunding Valve
If you don’t plan to have any brite beer tanks, then having carbonation stones for the unitanks is a good option. These stones allow you to force carbonate beer quickly if needed.
The ideal placement of these carbonation stones is, just above the cone of the unitank.
As for spunding valves please, read my dedicated article on this piece of equipment.
It’s one of the most popular articles on my site, and goes into the whole process of spunding to naturally carbonate beer.
Depending on how you’ll use your unitanks, determines what ports are needed. For example; if you want to use a dry hop doser, then you’ll need the correct port on the top of the FV.
If you plan to add other adjunct to a vessel, then you might need an extra port for this process, rather than use a racking arm. Or you can choose to turn the racking arm facing upwards instead.
As, I say I don’t want to go into too much details here, as I’ve linked to a dedicated article on unitanks above.
Brite Beer Tanks/Horizontal Vessels/Serving Tanks – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
So, I’ll just share some of the key points here:
Are You Making A lot of Lager?
If you’re planning to make a lot of lager, then get some horizontal tanks. These vessels are preferred by brewers, as they make beer lager maturation easier.
As the dimensions of these tanks, provide more surface area for the yeast to clear up the beer.
The dimension of the horizontal vessels means, there’s less distance for sediment to fall to the bottom of the tank.
Furthermore, by moving the green beer to horizontal tanks for maturation, you free up a unitanks to brew into again.
When using several horizontal vessels in a brewery, make sure they are stacked. If you have the ceiling height. Putting these tanks on top of one another, makes best use of the floor space.
In a brewpub, it makes sense to store the main beers (biggest selling) in serving tanks. As it saves time on cleaning a lot of kegs.
The ideal serving tanks are the ones with internal plastic liners. Where the liners can be replaced when the beer has finished.
As I say in my brewery equipment list deep-dive, these tanks are great to use. As you simply replace the bag, and fill with the next beer, rather than having to clean the tank.
Furthermore, a brewery can use compressed air, to serve the beer rather than CO2, which saves a lot of money.
As the air doesn’t come into contact with beer, instead pushes the beer out the bag. It helps keep the beer fresh for longer, AND you never have foaming issues, from over-carbonation.
Brite Beer Tank (BBT)
As more breweries start to add adjuncts post ferment, potentially into a BBT, then ensure you’ve the ports needed, to add these products.
The carbonation stone should be low down so, as to be more effective, if a brewer needs to force carbonate a beer. You’ll want a decent sample tap, to be able to taste and test the beer.
Or be able to add a pig tail to a tank/ To get a nice sample, without creating too much foam and degassing the beer.
Pig tails restrict the speed of the beer flow, it’s a truer way to know carbonation from simple sensory taste testing.
Also, some breweries fine the beer going into BBT. This mean sediment will drop to the bottom of the tank.
In this is the case; ensure there are some stand pipes included in the quote. So, the beer can be drawn from above the sediment.
It’s like the racking arm in the FV’s, allowing only clear beer to be drawn and packaged.
Glycol/Alcohol Cooling System – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
When it comes to the glycol system, there are couple of things to look out for. One, which I always recommend.
Oversize your glycol system so, you can add a couple more tanks, at a later date. Only, if you’ve the room at you location, obviously.
With Chinese manufacturers, they use horse power (HP) to size the system to the needs of the brewery.
Furthermore, some manufacturers use alcohol instead of glycol. I’m running an alcohol system now, and it works fine.
I like to have a cold-water tank to cool my wort if possible. However, on smaller systems, where space and budget may be tight, the best option is likely a two-stage heat exchanger.
When it comes to a glycol system, ensure they put a filter in the loop somewhere, to catch any particulates, which maybe in the cooling liquid
Particulates can cause a solenoid to get stuck open sometimes. Which means you beer will get too cold, when fermenting.
Also, on bigger systems, people put a bleed valve at the highest point in the system, to allow trapped air to escape, thus not affecting the glycol system at all.
Pumps are the work horses of the brewery. They can transfer beer from FV to BBT, CIP (clean in place) cellar vessels.
Plus, recirculate beer to mix-in finings, as well as adjuncts and used to filter beer, through a sheet filter.
You want to have the movable pump on a cart, and for it to have a variable drive frequency (VDF) control unit. VDF controls, allow a brewer to regulate the speed of the pump.
===> In places where the brewery is off the beaten path, I recommend buying a second pump, which has seals rated for pumping hot wort.
This extra pump can get you out of trouble, if one of the brewhouse vessels goes down mid-brew. It might take some time to get a pump fixed in a remote location, So, having a back-up is key.
Furthermore, make sure you’ve spare seal and other parts for your pumps too. As eventually, most pumps will start to leak from the faceplate. Meaning the seals need to be replaced.
Brewery Control Cabinet – Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote
When it comes to brewery cabinets, with smaller brewhouses they usually control both the brewery AND FV’s too. In larger breweries you want them to be on two separate panels.
As the cellar tanks; will often be in a different room to the brewhouse. We mentioned leaving space for extra tanks, when it comes to the glycol system.
If this is the case, add in the extra control units to the control panel before shipping. The costs of the control units are inexpensive.
If a brewery is pretty sure tanks will be added later, it makes the whole process much easier, when the new vessels are added.
Again, having VDF controls for pumps in the brewhouse is the best. I much prefer VDF controls, rather than using valves to control speed, if possible.
On bigger breweries your control panels may be touchscreen, and the valves all pneumatic. You may have VDF controls on a chain and disk grain delivery too.
Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote – Spare Parts
When it comes spare parts, there are few extra pieces of equipment I like to get with every project. Read my posts on “Spare Parts – Brewery Hacks’ to learn more.
These parts will allow you to build some nice unique set-ups, to do things like add finings to a closed tank under pressure.
Furthermore, spare parts like PT100 temperature sensors, spares are worth carrying in the brewery. As when one breaks, it’s best to have a replacement on the shelf, ready to go.
They aren’t expensive so; it makes sense for a brewery to keep some to hand. It’s the same with solenoids valves, which are switches controlling glycol going into the cellar vessels.
Breaking Down a Brewery Equipment Quote – Conclusions
In this article, I covered the basics of what most brewery owners purchase when buying a brewery.
Depending on needs/scope of a project, so much more equipment can be purchased.
From centrifuges to canning lines; if you want to know about all possible options for brewery equipment purchasing then my “Brewery Equipment Deep Dive” is very comprehensive.
When helping people with equipment sourcing, the best feedback is when I populate an equipment list. From the client notes, where they’ve outlined the scope of their proposed project.
Need Help With Your Brewery Project?
I use this file to ask 13-questions of my client, to understand the needs of a project. When a client fills in this form in, it really helps move the project forward quicker.
As I do more projects, I can now really dive deep into the small details for my clients. Often it goes way beyond what they’d imagined/thought.
If you’d like some help with your brewery project, feel free to get in touch, my email address is:
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I look forward to discussing your project, but for now have a great day.