I wanted to write an article exploring brewery equipment list options. So, visitors to the site could explore the possibilities are open to them, when putting together a brewery project.
The idea came to me as I was working on a project for Scandinavia. Where the budget was tight. The project requires filtered beer, for one of the core beers in the range.
Which meant going through all options available to filter beer, to decide which was the best fit. I then did the same for every step of the brewing process.
This isn’t going to be an in-depth article. It will be long though! It’ll list the options available, price bracket and a little about the pros and con of each option.
I might miss out some choices in this article. The list is long so, if I’ve missed an option out and you’d like me to add it please, message me or leave a comment below.
Note: When it comes to brewing, there are many methods a brewer can choose to reach a similar result.
My views may not be the same as you, reading this article. Again, please message me or leave a comment. As I’m always happy to discuss brewing and processes.
This article and the equipment choices listed, are for smaller craft breweries. Its aim is to cover the brewery equipment options, available to the readership of this site.
Now that’s out of the way; let’s start, by exploring mills.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Milling
Now, before I begin listing the mill options brewers have, Some, brewers may opt not to use a mill. If you’re a small brewpub operation with limited space, pre-milled malt, may be the right choice.
The prices of pre-milled malt will be a little higher. Plus, a brewer will lose control over the crush. However, the space saved, could be a live saver for a small operation.
Types of Mills Available
Normal Dry Mill
The typical choice for milling malt for most craft breweries. There are various options with two, three and four roller mills. The more rollers, the finer the control of the crush, a brewer has.
Mills can fit into almost any budget range, depending on the quality. The crush of the malt does affect extract efficiency. It makes investing in a decent mill highly recommended.
You can pre-soak the grains and use a normal mill. However, a dedicated wet mill is also an option. The pricing is much higher however, some larger brewers prefer to use a wet mill for the benefits offered.
The husk when wet milling, remains mostly intact, leading to faster run-off times. Plus, allows for greater loading of the lauter tun and deeper bed depth.
Furthermore, wet milling reduces oxidation of the grain and subsequent wort. Remember though, wet milling systems are expensive. So, hardly ever seen in small breweries.
Hammer Mill – Brewery Equipment List Options
You rarely see hammer mills used in small breweries. They are used to finely crush malt, for use in a mash filter.
Mash filters are becoming a viable option to smaller craft breweries, but still numbers in the industry are tiny.
Smaller mash filters are often seen in African breweries. . I know of one company specializing in fabricating and supplying mash filters to smaller breweries (500-liters and up).
African breweries use different grains, sourced locally to brew beer. Having a hammer mill and mash filter, allows them to make the best use of these other grains.
As often these grains aren’t suitable for traditional brewing methods, using a normal mill and lauter tun. We’ll discuss mash filters later on.
It does make sense to talk about conditioned milling in this section. I’ve not seen this process much used in the brewing industry. In a way conditioned milling, falls somewhere between dry and wet milling.
The malt receives less water, than when wet milling. Still, it makes the husk more pliable than when it’s dry. Equipment used in condition milling, is specialized.
The malt is sprayed with steam or hot water, as it makes its way to the mill by auger or conveyor.
A cheaper option, I’ve seen is smaller craft breweries, is having a dedicated sink for the grains. In which a brewer will wet them. These wet grains are put in plastic tubs, carried to and put through the mill.
You can use a 2, 4 or 6-roll mill for conditioned grains. The offer some of the advantages of wet milling, but not to the same degree.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Water Treatment
The water in your brewery needs to be sampled and analyzed. The results may show a brewery’s water doesn’t require any pre-treatment, for brewing purposes.
When I was brewing in Yerevan, Armenia the brewing water was great, with no treatment needed. We just needed to add extra salts, when making ales. If water analysis shows pre-treatment is required, these are the options available.
RO Water System
I’ve written a dedicated article on the usage and application of RO machines in brewing. So, I won’t go into too much details here. They can be expensive to set-up and produce a lot of waste water (which is hard to reuse).
However, in some regions there’s no other option other than to install and use a RO machine to treat the brewing water. In China, where I’m currently brewing. for example.
The total dissolved solids (TDS) content is too high; the only option is an RO machine. If I want to make good beer, to style.
Water Filtration Systems
The most common water treatment in brewing, is a sand filter followed by a charcoal filter. The sand filter is for removing particulates as the water passes through several layers of sand.
The charcoal filters assist in a number of ways:
- Remove chlorine and chlorine compounds
- Eliminate unpleasant odors and tastes
- The removal of organic pollutants
- Allows for filtration as an additional benefit
For many breweries, having a sand and charcoal filter is sufficient.
Complementary Water Treatment
UV light water treatment – When I brewed in Bermuda, we used UV water treatment. It’s not strictly necessary for water used in brewing. However, if a brewery is using the water for dilution purposes, then having UV treatment is advisable.
One last note: Having a charcoal filter before an RO machine is prudent. The filter will remove chlorine or chlorine compounds, which would otherwise damage the membrane.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Cold Liquor Tank (CLT)
Many breweries opt not to use a cold liquor tank. A CLT is vessel, where water is stored and chilled, using a brewery’s glycol system.
This cold water is used to flash cool wort going through a heat exchanger. As the hot wort passes one side of the heat exchanger, the cold water passes through the other side.
The cold water cools the hot wort, becoming hot itself. With the now hot water being collected back into the hot liquor tank (HLT). To be used for subsequent brews or for cleaning.
If a brewery opts for a cold liquor tank, then it’ll house a single-stage heat exchanger. Having this extra vessel, is a more expensive upfront cost.
Plus, takes up more space than using a two-stage heat exchanger. We’ll explore heat exchange options later. I prefer having a CLT, if there’s enough room in the brewery for one.
Like the HLT, it needs to be correctly sized. If you’re making a lot of lager, it’ll need to be bigger than one for making just ales. As the wort needs to cooled to lower temperatures for lager fermentation.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Hot Liquor
Dedicated Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)
Most breweries I’ve worked at; have housed a dedicated hot liquor tank. Depending on the brewhouse set-up, the HLT should be twice the size of the brew length, at a minimum.
For example, a 2,000-liter brew length, would mean housing a hot liquor tank, with a capacity of 4,000-liters minimum.
Tankless Hot Water System
I’m seeing more breweries go this route, especially smaller ones. If space is limited then going tankless is a good option.
Furthermore, as technologies as well as application of tankless systems continues to improve, it’s becoming a viable option for larger breweries as well.
With the right setup, there’s certainly energy savings to be made. I still like to have a bank of hot water (HLT). It’s probably because I’m old school and always worked with one.
There are brewers who swear by tankless systems, I can certainly see the appeal.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Grain Delivery
When a brewery reaches a certain size, say at a 1,500-liter brew length or above. It’s worth considering a malt delivery system, to carry the milled malt to the mash tun/mash mixer.
As at 1,500-liters and above; carrying the quantity of malt required by hand, becomes hard work.
Let’s look at the options for malt delivery, open to craft breweries.
Chain and Disk Malt Delivery Systems
Chain and disk system offers flexibility for various setups. Allowing a brewery to overcome performance and reliability constraints of other conveyor systems.
Chain and disk system are often gentler to the malt than other malt conveyance options, keeping grist profile and efficiency consistent.
However, in my experience they are more expensive than some of the other options in this category. They start at about US$2,000 per meter (from suppliers in China).
It’s advised chain and disk system be used in brewhouses of 2,000-liters and larger. They are not recommended for use in smaller brewhouses.
One more note, if you go with this option, it’s advisable to get VFD (variable frequency drive) control for it.
I’ve had issues in the past where these systems delivered grain too fast for grist hydrator to handle. We needed to install VFD controls, to slow the speed on the chain and disk system.
Offers a low-cost solution to move grain. Mostly used pre-mill, but possible to use post-mill too. Need to speak with your brewing equipment supplier, to see if they have this option.
Furthermore, these systems are best used for simple routes. Using PVC tubing, they offer some flexibility in placement and can be used in almost any size of facility.
Galvanized Tubing and Rigid Augers – Brewery Equipment List Options
Same as a flexible auger in the sense they offer grain conveyance to a grist case. However, being “rigid” there’s less flexibility and may take up more space than using a flexible auger.
Pricing is reasonable and I’ve seen this set up in many of the breweries I’ve worked at. Breweries from London, UK to Yerevan in Armenia. I’m using a straight auger in my current brewery; it does use up a lot of space!
Straight Vertical Auger System
This option isn’t much more expensive than the flexible auger option. It needs to be near the mash vessel, and only viable for breweries up to 2,000-liters.
If the brewhouse is larger than 2,000-liters, this type of auger cannot be used. The height can be between be between 2 and 4.1-meters.
For brewery between 1,000 and 2,000-liters, a vertical auger could be a good option, if space is at a premium.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Mash Mixer
Depending on the number of brewhouse vessels, a brewery project has, a dedicated mash mixer could be logical choice.
Mash mixers should come with steam jackets to be able to heat the mash, when step mashing and mashing out.
Having a dedicated mash mixer, instead of a combined mash/lauter tun will obviously be more expensive. Plus, increase the footprint of a brewhouse.
One of the advantages of housing a mash mixer is, the ability to do more “turns” (brews) in one day. The mash mixer can be filled again, whilst the previous batch is being run off into the kettle from the separate lauter tun.
A small brewpub, is unlikely to need a dedicated mash mixer. They are mostly used in larger production breweries, doing several turns a day.
I can go down a rabbit hole on the pros and cons of having a separate mash mixer, However, I think it’s best to cover this is in a dedicated separate dedicated article later.
Combined Mash/Lauter Tun – Brewery Equipment List Options
The 5,000-liter brewhouse I’m currently running in Shanghai, uses a combined mash and lauter tun. Which is unusual, as at this size, a separate mash mixer and lauter tun is advisable.
Separate vessels allow for more turns in a day. As well as better brewhouse efficiencies too. The pros and cons of having a combined mash/lauter tun, could be an article in itself.
What we can say is, it really depends on your brewery needs.
If you want to go into more detail on this, or need assistance regarding brewing equipment. Then you can email me at: email@example.com
We can go through the options together, to determine the correct configuration for your project.
This option is the most expensive when dealing with malt. As we said before it requires a hammer mill too. Mash filters can be sourced for systems as small as 500-liters.
As there is a mash filter supplier, providing smaller breweries. Particularly breweries in Africa, who use native grains such as sorghum.
Mash filters are perfect for dealing with many non-barley grains, in the brewhouse. As often these grains cannot be processed using a normal lauter tun.
There are a few different mash filter manufacturers out there. Like with all brewing equipment, you get what your pay for. If you do opt to use a mash filter, get the best you can for your budget.
A good mash filter will in time, pay back the initial large investment. Through the savings made, in both money and time.
As mash filter technology becomes more affordable, we’re seeing more breweries using them. As when a brewery runs the numbers, it often makes financial sense.
Typical set up using a mash filter is:
Mash mixer -> mash filter -> wort holding tank -> wort Kettle -> whirlpool
Lauter tun – Brewery Equipment List Options
As we’ve said before, a brewhouse with a separate mash mixer and lauter tun, can do more turns per day, than a combined mash/lauter vessel system.
Lauter tuns have rakes and knives. These are not for stirring the mash. They are on a rotating assembly and are angled to gently lift the grain bed and makes cuts through it.
This improves the mash bed porosity, as well as reduce any pressure differential between the top and bottom of the bed. The net effect, is to make for an easier run off.
Ideally, if running a production brewery or larger brewpub you want to be able to raise and lower the rakes too. It’ll give finer control helping with efficiencies, keeping the wort clean and better collections overall.
Cereal Cooker – Brewery Equipment List Options
This is a dedicated vessel for brewing with adjuncts like rice and maize. These cereals are un-malted and used as part of the grain bill with barley. They often make up, between 20 and 30% of the total grist.
The cereal cooker is similar to a mash mixer with a mixing paddle and is heated (usually by steam) through jackets.
These aren’t seen in many breweries, however big the big boys like AB InBev use them for making Budweiser. On a small-scale I actually have an electric self-heating pot; I use for “cooking cereals” to use in our 150-liter pilot system.
For my main system, I can use the pilot system to “cook grains”. It’s not ideal, but a viable work-around for us.
Wort Holding Tank
To help increase the number of turns, some breweries also house a wort holding tank. When using a mash filter, breweries will use a wort holding vessel to collect during the filtration/compression and sparging cycle.
Brew Kettle – Brewery Equipment List Options
The brew kettle is where the wort is boiled. There’s a lot happening to the wort during the boil. For an in-depth look, please read out article “Why Do We Boil Wort”.
With any kettle, you’ll want a way to vent the steam. In modern breweries, where local regulations don’t allow for the steam to be vented outside, the solution is to have a condensing stack.
These stacks use cold water to cool the steam. The cooling water and condensed steam then goes to the drain. There are several types of kettles available depending on the heating option used.
We look at several options in-depth in our article “Brewing with Steam”, I’ll do a quick break down here:
Picture a pan of water heating on a stove top. The water will heat and evaporate faster, if it’s constantly stirred.
The agitation increases the surface area of the water in contact with the atmosphere. Thus, allowing more water molecules to escape as steam.
The pay for themselves with the efficiencies they allow. Plus, allow for more turns per day, when compared with a traditional jacketed kettle.
External Calandria – Brewery Equipment List Options
External calandrias are mostly used in larger breweries, offering similar benefits to those of an internal calandria. However, external calandrias offer finer control of boil rates.
The speed of the pump can be controlled with agitation from batch-to-batch replicated. Additionally, steam flow to your external wort boiler (EWB) can be adjusted too.
They are a great option, but quite expensive. I wouldn’t suggest them for use in a smaller brewhouse.
Steam Coil Inside Kettle
This set up is rare, but I clearly remember the first brewery I worked at had this set-up. From my experiences, I’d not recommend using a steam coil in a kettle. I’m listing it really, to be completist with this list.
Helical Coil and Direct Fire
This is an option I ‘m coming round to. It’s a viable option for those who can’t use steam. It makes for a really efficient heating option, when using direct fire. Plus, offers more consistent heating, than many other direct fire options.
To learn more about this heating option please, see our article on “Lanemark TX Burners for Brewing”. Where we look at a real-word example of this setup, at Villages Brewing Company in London.
Please note: I’ve probably missed some of the kettle options. If I have, feel free to comment below. Any feedback would be appreciated. I want to make this list as complete as possible to help others.
Whirlpool – Brewery Equipment List Options
The whirlpool is another vessel when added, can increase the number of turns a brewery can do in a day. Whirlpooling separates hop pellets and trub from the wort after the boil.
The wort is pumped into the whirlpool vessel at rapid velocities, typically at around 5 meters per second (15-feet per second). This causes the wort to spin like a “whirlpool”.
Whirlpooling typically last for 10 to 20-minutes. The wort is the allowed to stand for a while before collection. The length of the whirlpool stand, depends on each individual brewery.
The stand allows the hops and trub to compact in a pile, at the center of the vessel.
The clear wort is then pumped from an outlet located to the side of the vessel, away from the hop and trub pile.
Combined Kettle and Whirlpool
Depending on space and budget, a brewery can opt to use for a combined kettle and whirlpool.
In combined vessel, wort is taken from an outlet to the side, but on the bottom of the kettle. Then pumped back in through the side of the tank, at an angle to ensure tangential flow.
One more thing: Make sure you have a hop strainer before you’re heat exchanger. One which can be isolated. So, it can be taken out, cleaned and put back if it becomes blocked.
Heat Exchanger – Brewery Equipment List Options
A heat exchanger is used to flash cool your wort. It’ll instantly, cool wort from 75°C + (depending on beer style and process) to desired fermentation temperature.
Heat exchangers work by increasing the surface area of the wort as it goes through the heat exchanger.
As the hot wort passes one-way, cold liquid (either water or glycol or both) passes the other side of the heat exchanger. The wort is cooled as a result.
The now hot water, is collected back into the HLT. The cooling liquid and the wort never come into direct contact.
One-Stage Heat Exchanger
This option requires housing a cold liquor tank (CLT). Water from the CLT passes through the heat exchanger, cooling the hot wort.
The now hot water is then collected back into the HLT. I like having a CLT personally, as it creates a lot of hot water, to use for subsequent brews or for cleaning.
Two-Stage Heat Exchanger
This option uses both mains water and glycol to cool the wort down. Using this option, breweries often turn off the cooling to the cellar tanks, when the wort is being collected.
This is to ensure the glycol doesn’t work too hard. Plus, the glycol doesn’t heat up beer that’s already been cold crashed.
It’s a great option for brewpubs who have less space, as you don’t need a CLT. The water can still be collected into the HLT, for use elsewhere in the brewery.
Wort Aeration Assembly– Brewery Equipment List Options
Having wort aeration is a must for any brewery. It’s usually placed just after the heat exchanger. It’s usually an aeration stone which has microscopic holes in.
This setup allows oxygen to be absorbed into the wort inline, as it makes its way to the fermentation vessel.
I’d always recommend getting a flowmeter to check the volume of oxygen added. It leads to more consistent brewing.
Yeast Adding Tank – Brewery Equipment List Options
I’ve never actually used one. It seems many Chinese equipment manufacturers like to offer this equipment.
They are placed inline as the wort is being collected into the fermentation vessel. It’s not something I’d advise having. I’d use a yeast brink, direct pitch (if using dry yeast) or go cone-to-cone.
Hop Back – Brewery Equipment List Options
Hop backs are used to infuse wort with fresh hop aromas and flavor, without adding bitterness. Hops are loaded into a hop back prior to knockout.
When wort is being sent to the FV, it passes through the inline hop back prior to being cooled by the heat exchanger.
The principle being the aromatic constituents of the hops are quickly extracted without adding bitterness to the wort.
Hop bitterness requires hops to be exposed to hot wort for some time to isomerize alpha acids into iso-alpha-acids. Which are bitterer and more soluble.
Hop back are useful, as they can be used for various aromatics such as, chili, vanilla beans, coffee or anything you wish to add to beer.
In theory, a hop back could also be used as a yeast brink too, with the addition of some extra fittings. As well as for back sweetening and dosing batches of beer as well.
A yeast brink is a stainless-steel holding vessel, often a converted keg, at the smaller scale. It’s used to collect yeast from a FV, which is then stored (cold), to later be taken out and pitched into another brew.
Fermentation Vessels (FV’s) – Brewery Equipment List Options
The vessels where beer is to be fermented. I’ve written a longer more in-depth article about the various tank found in a brewery cellar.
It’s called “Unitanks Pros and Cons – The Right Choice” please, follow the link to read the full article.
These days most fermentation tanks are cylindroconical, and hold pressure. Most FV’s are what we brewers call “unitanks”. As they are used to ferment AND mature wort/beer.
Moreover, fermentation vessels can be tailored to each brewery’s needs. As they be fitted with different ports, for tasks like dry-hopping. Or they can be fitted with a carbonation stone, to increase the tanks usefulness.
Yeast Propagation Tank
Yeast propagation is a process by which yeast uses it energy to produce more biomass and not ethanol. It’s a series of steps to increase the volume of yeast, until it’s enough to pitch into a planned brew.
A yeast propagation tank is designed for this purpose. Allowing the yeast to grow in sterile conditions in the right environment.
A hop doser is a basic bit of equipment, used to add hops to a fermentation vessel. The FV needs a port on top of the vessel (usually a 4-inch butterfly valve). Additionally, it’s best to have an end cap on the butterfly valves to keep it sanitary.
The hop doser pictured below is connected to the tank. Hops are then added, the doser purged with CO2 and pressurized. Then the valve is opened, with the hops dropping into the tank.
Brewers like to use a hop doser, as the tank is never open to the atmosphere. Plus, there’s no chance of the dreaded hop volcano!
The advantages of using a cannon, are the hops don’t end up in the FV. The beer passes through the hop cannon, mixes with the hops and goes.
The cannon has a hop strainer inside, to stop the hops from going into the fermentation vessel. Over time, usually 3 to 6 hours, the aromatics from the hops, are picked up by the beer.
The advantage are shorter turnaround times, less beer losses and in theory you can use 25% less hops, than with traditional static dry-hop methods.
There is probably some other dry-hopping equipment I’m missing. Please comment below, and I’ll add them to the list.
Horizontal Tanks – Brewery Equipment List Options
These tanks are for secondary fermentation. Mostly used in lager production. After the beer has finished primary fermentation and been cold crashed. The beer is sent to these horizontal vessels.
Again, to learn more about these vessels, please see our guide on the different types of cellar tank.
The main advantages of maturing lagers in these vessels are:
- Less hydrostatic pressure on the yeast, making the yeast “happier”. So, they can continue their work cleaning up the beer for a smoother and crisper drinking experience.
- Provides larger surface area for the yeast to work on the beer, helping to clean up and pull or the flavors together more easily.
- Furthermore, with the beer being “on it’s side”, it’ll clear up quicker as the distance for yeast, protein and other solids to drop out, is less.
If planned lager production makes up more than 30% of your total beer output, then purchasing horizontal tanks is worth considering. If frees up the fermenters, to brew more beer. Plus, offer the advantages listed above.
Filtering and Separation Technology
Well, this is going to a long section, so be warned. There are many types of filter/separation technology, which a brewery can choose from. We’ll try and list them all here.
Again, if I’ve missed some off the list. Please let me know, by commenting or sending me a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a couple of types of DE filter. DE stands for diatomaceous earth. This type of filter was very popular up until quite recently. However, now fallen out of favor for several reasons, like not being great stuff to breathe in (wear a mask!)
As the beer passes through a bed of diatomaceous earth, any suspended solids in the liquid are trapped. The beer passes on to the brite beer tank, hopefully brilliantly clear, and with no visible chill haze.
Beer spoilage bacteria, can still pass through this type of filter. So, you need to have some downstream filtering after the DE filter.
This downstream filtering can be as simple as the correct size cartridge filter, fitted inline when packaging. DE filters are a cheap filtering solution plus; the DE medium is cheap too. However, you need to be careful handling the media for safety reasons.
I’ve done an in-depth article on this type of filter, which you can read here: “Using a Sheet Filter”. This type of filter is commonly used in the wine industry. However, they are sometimes used in the brewing industry as well.
Sheet filters are ideal for a small brewpub or a production brewery just doing draft beer. You place filter sheets between the metal/plastic plates. Furthermore, much like the diatomaceous earth, the filter sheets catch yeast and solids leading to clear beer.
Sheet filters are low-cost solution too, you just need to use new filter boards every time.
These types of filters are quite popular among smaller craft breweries. In theory all filter solutions are the same, in they “capture” the yeast and solids leading to clear beer.
With lenticular filtering, the filter medium is housed. This provides an advantage over sheet filtering, where the sheets are open to the atmosphere.
Beer is pumped through the filter, and as it flows it surrounds the filter and envelopes each cell. Additionally, the pressure (from pumping) forces the liquid into the filter media of the cells.
As the beer moves through the depth media it follows what’s called a “tortuous route”, which means a “non-linear” route”.
Moreover, this complicated route depletes the energy of the particles in the beer as they become “trapped” within the media. What is more, the advantage of this type of filter is, solids are trapped through the entire volume of the media.
Once finished, the beer reaches the center of the cell, where it’s channeled in to the filter core and down through the outlet pipe of the filter housing. Coming out as clear beer.
Bag filters are often used as “pre-filters” to catch larger particles. Before the beer goes to the main filter, like the options listed above.
Bag filters are a lost-cost-solution, as both the housing and the actual filter bags are cheap. They simply catch large particles, for smoother filter runs, when using the main filtering equipment.
They can be used through out the filtering process. They can house absolute filters downstream of a brewery’s main filtering equipment.
Furthermore, on small brewery set-ups, two or more cartridge filters can be used in sequence, as the main way to filter beer. The first filter catching larger particles, slowly catching smaller suspended solids downline.
With crossflow filtration, the basic principle is using hollow fiber membranes in a circulation loop. There are two designs. The first is direct flow principle with pre-clarification using a centrifuge. The second operates without a centrifuge.
In both designs beer is circulated in a closed loop, through polymeric hollow fibers. Dependent on the solid load in the incoming beer, the circulation speed has to be higher, in a system without pre-clarification.
Furthermore, cleaning and cooling demands are usually higher, when a centrifuge isn’t part of the set-up. Cross-flow filtration, is usually seen in bigger brewery setups.
When it comes to find the right filtering option for a brewery project. It depends on many factors:
- Beer style
- Beer turbidity
- Final pack type of the beer – kegs, can or bottle
Plus, other smaller factors, to determine what filter options is best. Furthermore, breweries sometimes need to use two or more of the above options to hit target parameters, suitable for packaging.
If you need help determining which filter setup is best for your brewery, please, feel free to message me for assistance at: email@example.com
Centrifuge – Brewery Equipment List Options
So, this comes under separation technology, centrifuges (fuge) are expensive and out of reach for most smaller craft breweries. There does exist a small one made in China. However, I don’t know much about it.
Centrifuge are used by larger craft breweries. For example, the 3,500-liter brewery I worked at in Armenia had one. We brewed into 7,000-liter FV’s; it takes 4 to 5 hours to process a full double-brew through the centrifuge.
The brewery bought the fuge 4-years ago, it was around USD$ 80,000 at the time. So, you can see, fuges are a significant investment.
In the FV, over time yeast, proteins and sediment falls to the bottom of the vessel via gravity. A centrifuge speeds the whole process up.
The Bowl Spins Fast
The bowl of a centrifuge spins fast. Actually the one in Armenia span at 8,000 revolutions per minute. Leading to the denser solids, being forced against the wall of the rotating bowl.
Meanwhile the less dense liquid phases form concentric inner circles. The solids are then intermittently discharged from the bowl, for example, every 10-minutes.
The clear beer passes onto the brite beer tank. Centrifuges are preferred by bigger breweries, as they offer several advantages:
- Great for clearing hoppy beer without loss of aroma and flavor
- Can set/control the turbidity of hazy beers, for a consistent haze batch-to-batch
- Have greater control of beer losses, using a fuge reduces beer loss.
- Faster turnaround times for brews
A centrifuge is a big investment for a craft brewery. However, when a production brewery reaches a certain size, it begins to make economic sense.
Brite Beer Tanks (BBT) – Brewery Equipment List Options
A brite beer tank is where beer is generally packaged from in a brewery. They are typically dish bottomed vessels. Where brewers have the option to use a stand pipe.
The stand pipe allows beer to be drawn from above any sediment when it’s being packaged. The pipe is optional, and be can taken out, if not needed. For example, if the beer has been properly filtered before entering the vessel.
A BBT should come with a carbonation stone and be able to hold pressure. Furthermore, typical working pressures for a BBT’s is between 15 and 30 Psi.
In the first iteration of this guide, I was missing CIP set-ups. I’m not sure how! So, thanks to Dick Munton for pointing out my error. With smaller systems like a brewpub, if there aren’t many cellar tanks. A CIP cart isn’t strictly necessary.
CIP carts (on lockable wheels) are used in smaller breweries. They usually consist of two tanks, one with an heating element for hot caustic. The other tank, in theory can be used for many things.
If using peracetic acid (PAA) in the CIP system; say for sterilizing a packaging line. Remember the PAA will denature within 24-hours. You can’t keep it for too long. In larger breweries they’ll have more tanks with the CIP system.
A larger CIP system will be standalone, and have more tanks. In bigger breweries, say 2,000-liters and up having a CIP system offers a brewery many advantages.
A CIP system allow for more effective cleaning, as well as offering time, energy and chemical savings. As Dick, said in the comment he shared with me “to an extent the number of tanks being more important than the size”.
When determining if a CIP system, is needed for a planned brewery.
Serving Tanks – Brewery Equipment List Options
There are few types of serving tanks, which you can read about in our in-depth article by clicking the link. We will take a quick look at the options here.
Jacketed Serving Tanks
These tanks look similar to BBT’s and are pretty much the same. In fact, they can be interchangeable to a certain extent.
These vessels are double-walled, with glycol cooling coils in between, keeping the beer cold. As each tank is individually jacketed, the tanks can be set to any desired temperature.
For example, set to 4°C for a lager and 12°C for an imperial stout. Having this fine control is desirable to a brewery.
They are easy to clean, as you can use standard CIP (clean in place) protocols. You just need to turn off the cooling jacket before cleaning.
Vessel Jackets Are Energy Efficient
The jackets for cooling, are energy efficient compared to some of the other serving tank options. In a pinch you can use them as fermenters. However, as they are dished bottomed it’s not recommended.
Being jacketed, they are more expensive than other single wall tank options. However, as you’re only cooling the tank, not the atmosphere running costs are cheaper.
One last thing to note, not all of the tank is chilled. They have side jackets only so; below a certain level the beer is no longer being chilled.
Which fine, as below a certain level; it makes sense to keg off the remaining beer and re-fill with a full batch of beer.
Single Wall Tanks in a Cold Room
These tanks are cheaper to purchase than jacketed tanks. As the tank is in a cold room, the beer is kept cold until the very bottom of the tank.
These tanks can also be used as emergency BBT’s. They are some downsides, you can’t control the temperature of the tank individually, as you can with a jacketed tank.
All serving vessels will be the at the same temperature; the set temp of the cold room. If brewery wants to serve, an imperial stout warmer, then a workaround will be needed.
There are several issues with these tanks, such as:
- As the tank is in a cold room, hard to maintain the temperature during a hot caustic CIP. Can use specials chemical, which work at colder temperature, but they are more expensive.
- A hot CIP will raise the ambient temperature of the cold room
- Typically, drainage in a cold room isn’t as good, as in a normal brewery cellar.
- Brewers need to work in a cold environment.
Single wall tanks in a cold room make sense for brewpubs. Even if, just used for the biggest sellers. As it saves time on cleaning and filling kegs. Plus, a tank takes up less room than serving from kegs.
Serving Tanks with a Bag – Brewery Equipment List Options
Serving tanks with bags, have been used for a long time in Central and Eastern Europe. However, there are only a few suppliers fabricating these tanks, for the wider craft beer market. The beer is filled inside the bag, within the tank.
Although they aren’t easy to source (only made by a few companies). It’s an option a brewpub should consider.
These tanks good for keeping the beer fresh. The bags made of many copolymer layers keep the beer well protected from the risk of contamination.
Furthermore, as the beer is the in a bag, breweries don’t need CO2 to serve it. Instead, they can use compressed air to push the beer out of the bag. The bag protects the beer from the compressed air, as well keeping the beer fresh and stable.
As long as the CO2 levels in the beer are good when filling the bag. Breweries will never have any issue with carbonation, when serving the entire batch. Using an air compressor to server beer, rather than CO2, will also save a brewery a lot of money as well.
As the beer is in a bag, you don’t need to clean the tank. Yes, you might want to give the tank a quick wash down with a hose between fills.
However, as the beer doesn’t come into contact with the tank. You just need to replace the bag.
Packaging – Brewery Equipment List Options
They are three main packaging types; kegs, bottles and cans. This isn’t really brewing equipment. However, since we’re nearly finished. We might as well explore available pack types.
As choosing the right packaging will be key in a brewery being successful. So, it makes sense to explore the options. Let’s start with draft beer, going into kegs.
Let’s explore the few keg types available:
Stainless steel kegs – The most expensive keg option on the list. However, they can be used and refilled over many years. They need to be returned to the brewery, after use to be cleaned, before they can be re-filled. So, there’s more logistics involved, when using stainless kegs
One-way-kegs (without bag) – These are plastic kegs and much cheaper than stainless steel kegs. In China, the price of a 20-liter stainless steel keg is roughly four-times the price of a one-way keg.
They don’t need cleaning or pressurizing before filling. Furthermore, one-way kegs don’t need returning to the brewery, after use either. Similar to stainless steel kegs, you need to push and serve the beer with CO2.
One-way-kegs (with bag) – Provide similar advantages as tanks with a bag. They use compressed air instead of CO2 to serve the beer. They keep the beer fresh and there are no issues with carbonation.
Furthermore, like the other plastic kegs, these too can be filled directly after delivery, without cleaning or pressurizing. Plus, the kegs needn’t be returned to the brewery, after use either.
Kegs Conclusions – Brewery Equipment List Options
Breweries often have both style of kegs, stainless steel for in-house use at the taproom or brewpub bar. Steel kegs can also be used to serve bars and venues local to the brewery.
For venues further afield, breweries may choose to use one-ways kegs. As these kegs don’t need to be retuned after use, saving money and time is on logistics.
Keg Cleaning and Filling
However small a brewery is, I’d always recommend having a keg cleaner. If the brewery is filling more than 20 kegs per week.
At the very small-scale a brewery can make their own DIY keg cleaner. Just, Google “DIY keg cleaners” for instructions. Keg cleaning by hand is a time consuming and a waste of chemicals.
A small keg cleaner is worth its weight in gold. If you have a small semi-automatic keg cleaner. Not only will you save time on cleaning kegs, a brewer can be doing other tasks like cellaring jobs, when kegs are going through a cleaning cycle.
In a brewery time is money. One the smaller scale, say up to a 2,000-liter brew length, I’d say keg by hand. If local regulations allow it.
In my experience, filling kegs by hand at this level is still relatively quick. Plus, you can fill kegs between other tasks.
However, at some point, it makes sense to get an automatic filling machine. You can get machines which both clean and fill kegs. For instance, the brewery in Armenia I spoke about before, we used a keg cleaning and filling machine for the 7,000-liter batches.
It required 3-people to use the machine, but it was worth it, due to the time saved. What’s best for a brewery project, depends on many factors.
If you need some assistance, then please to reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canning – Brewery Equipment List Options
Cans are becoming the packaging choice for many breweries instead of bottles. Read my article on “Bottle v Cans – Which Do Consumers Prefer”, to get a breakdown and comparison of both pack types.
There are a few advantages to cans when compared to bottles. Beer in a can is a more stable product. After beer has been released for distribution, breweries can lose control of the handling of the product.
Unlike in bottles, beer in cans cannot become light-struck. Light struck beer has a “skunk-like” aroma. Bottles are see-through, cans are not.
Cans are made of aluminum so, lighter than bottles which are made of glass. Furthermore, cans take up less space than bottles when stacked due to their shape.
This makes shipping cans cheaper. Overall, with greater beer stability, being lighter in weight and more economic to stack, cans are a great choice for a brewery.
However, there’s a fly in the ointment. Many people, as my article and research show still prefer to still prefer bottles to cans.
People perceive beer to better when drank from a bottle. This is certainly true in China where I brew. Beer in cans is seeing as a cheaper and inferior product.
I think eventually most people will opt for cans. As your average beer drinker becomes more educated, as well as with more breweries switching to canning their beer anyway.
If I were to open a new brewery, I’d choose to can the beer. Unless, the market research really didn’t support it.
Brewery Equipment List Options – Round-Up
I did warn you; this would be a long one. I mean, it’s was meant more as a guide than article. The idea was to list the choices available, to people putting together a brewery project.
Going through the brewing process; from malt milling through to packaging. Assessing options for every brewing procedure, allowing the people reading (you), to make a more informed decision. As well as giving links to do further reading on key subjects.
Thanks for reading this mammoth guide. I hope it’s proved useful. If you’ve any feedback or follow-up questions please, feel free to email me at:
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Need Help with Your Brewing Project?
My name is Neil and I’ve been brewing for over 25-years in different parts of the world. I’m originally from the UK, but have In France, Armenia, Bermuda, Portugal and elsewhere.
Furthermore, I’ve overseen several installs and brewed on a number of systems. I’ve worked in brewpubs and production breweries.
Furthermore, I now use the experience and knowledge I’ve gained to help other people, as a brewing consultant.
If you’d like to chat about a project; to see if I might be able to offer assistance, then feel free to get in touch.
I can help in a number of ways:
- Assessing your brewing needs over a FREE initial consultation call
- Assist with putting an equipment list together
- Work with you to communicate with brewing equipment suppliers, to get quotes
- Help evaluate quotes and choose the right supplier for your budget and needs
- Be in communication during the fabrication process
- If needed; visit the supplier factory to sign off on equipment before shipment
Plus, a whole lot more. I can also help with brewery processing to improve in-house SOPs. For example, I recently helped a client add spunding capabilities to their existing set-up.
For now, thanks for reading everyone, have a great day and happy brewing.