How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment

Today we are going to discuss how to buy Chinese brewing equipment. As it’s a subject that comes up a lot on brewing discussion forums. With many people asking for advice on how to approach this thorny issue.

When it comes to buying Chinese brewing equipment the main motivator is price. Costs can be up to 60% lower than buying in Europe or the US. The worry is whether the lower cost comes with inferior build quality.

I have several years experience of brewing in China; so can provide pointers on how to buy Chinese brewing equipment.

In fact I’m currently consulting on 20HL brewery install in Yunnan, China. We are using all Chinese brewing equipment. Which we will chronicle on this website hoping to provide useful information.

How to buy Chinese Brewing Equipment
Buying Chinese Brewing Equipment Begins with Research

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment: Do Your Research

As with all brewing purchases it begins with research to asses your options. With buying Chinese made equipment being no different.

Once you’ve made a short list of potential manufacturers you prefer. From an initial online search or online inquiry.

You can then reach out to said manufacturers asking for testimonials from breweries that have bought and are using their equipment.

Legitimate Chinese manufacturers will be happy to put your in touch with previous clients. So you can ask for videos, pictures of the equipment plus have a conversation too.

As more and more breweries buy Chinese made equipment. There maybe the chance to actually visit a brewery close to you that has equipment from the manufacturers you’ve shortlisted.

This part of the process will allow you to narrow down your search further and you can begin the next step.

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment
Chinese Larger Brewhouse

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment – Discussing Your Project

The next step is discussing your brewing project with the equipment manufacturers you’ve short listed. A good company will asking pertinent questions such as:

  1. How much volume do you plan to brew a month and per year?
  2. What is your overall budget for the project?
  3. How large is your building?
  4. What are you goals for the next 3 to 5 years?

These question are for a brewery install or brewery upgrading. However if you are just looking to buy a piece of equipment say a centrifuge for example this still holds:

  1. How much volume do you need to process in a day?
  2. What type of beers are you going to centrifuge (to see if you need any sort if pre-filter).
  3. How much volume to you expect to process in a year?
  4. To what level do you need to filter to (how many microns)? As you may also need a filter after the centrifuge too.
Chinese Small Brewing Centrifuge
Chinese Small Brewing Centrifuge (around US$30,00)

Reputable equipment manufacturers will make sure your needs are met as thoroughly as possible. They should not be looking to provide you and off the shelf solution.

Unless your budget is small and price is the main driver. Then a manual off-the-shelf brewery is a good option.

If this seems like hard work or you’re unsure of the process. Then at Asian Beer Network we offer consulting services to assist you in buying brewing equipment from China.

We’re based in China, have 25 years brewing experience including brewery installs. For more info of our services please click here

Asian Beer Network – “Here to Help Get What You Need”

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment – Asking Questions is a Good Sign

A good equipment manufacturer will ask these questions so that:

  • The equipment will fit your immediate and long term goals
  • You get the right equipment to fit your budget
  • The floor space and work flows are optimized to reduce operational costs and also lowers environmental impact
  • You are compliant with local regulations to make sure your equipment install goes smoothly.

For future reference this article we will use the example of buying a brew-house to make the explanation clearer and more concise.

When buyer and seller have collaborated working out the aims and scope of the project. You can get into the finer details of the equipment you need.

Do you want a 3, 4 or 5 vessel brew-house?

Factors will be the volumes you’re looking to produce, how many beers are in your core range, man power and flexibility required.

The Balance Between Tap Room and Production

If you are planning a brewery and taproom; you need to make sure you use the space effectively to ensure profitability.

So stacked fermentation vessels maybe a suitable option for example. Also ensuring your serving tanks are close to the bar area too. As it will save on installation and ongoing costs of delivering beer to point of sale.

Asian Brewing Consultant Stacked Fermentation Tanks
Stacked Fermentation Tanks

These are just two examples but there are of course many factors to consider. Every brewery should be tailored as much as possible within budget constraints to ensure you get a brewery optimized for your needs.

The Brewery Equipment List and Layout

When you have agreed on what you need. The manufacturer will then put an equipment list together from steam generator to bright tanks.

One point I would make now is the I wouldn’t recommend buying packaging equipment from China.

Chinese manufacturers still can’t make bottling or canning lines for smaller craft breweries yet.

Until recently laws made small scale packaging nigh impossible so Chinese manufacturers have little experience with such equipment.

You will then work with the manufacturer so you both agree on the list. Like volume and number of fermentation vessels (configurations) or the need for yeast brinks.

With the list put together and the building layout known; basic equipment placement can be decided to ensure good workflows and reduce running costs of the brewery.

Chinese Craft Breweries
Small Scale Brewing

Visiting China to Meet with the Manufacturers

This is an optional part of the process depending on your budget and if you feel it is necessary. You can visit the plants of the equipment manufactures you’ve short listed to inspect build quality for yourself.

You can easily for US$3,000 or less (excluding flights) spend one month in China visiting your shortlist of potential manufacturers. Although a week to 10 days should be ample time.

Many of them are based in the same area around Jinan. However internal flights within China are cheap and train travel is also quick and efficient.

So even with visiting China the overall costs will still be way lower than European or US manufacturing options.

As I say this is an optional step; but for the small price maybe worth it for piece of mind. If you use a brewing consultant based in China; this can be taken care of for you of course.

At this point you should have your chosen manufacturer. The next step is to buy the equipment.

How to buy Chinese Brewing Equipment
We all love beer right?

Purchasing of the Actual Brewing Equipment

The next phase is the actual purchase of equipment with the list, tank configurations and layout been agreed upon.

The usual contract for the purchase of equipment is something like this:

Payment Term and Conditions

  • 30% of total price within 5 days after signing the contract (and before production begins).
  • 40% by time of transport
  • 20% after commissioning
  • 10% to paid 3 months later after the guarantee
  • The seller pays for installations services
  • Accommodation afforded by buyer on site.

After an order is placed it usually takes 2-3 months for the equipment to be ready for shipment on site.

With recent events of Covid-19 however it might be possible to get a show brewery more quickly (originally made for international expositions).

Please click here and fill in the form and we can help you in your search.

Asian Beer Network – “Here to Help Get What You Need”

During this period the Chinese equipment manufacturer will work from their end fabricating the brewery to agreed specifications. Always keeping you in the loop.

During this time you will be securing your building and preparing it ready for install. This require working with the manufacturer so they can do as much pre-install preparation as possible.

This will include items such as:

  • Utility access points (for water and electricity)
  • Floor plan and placement of tanks
  • Ceiling heights (can effect equipment manufacturer)
  • Where the building is (residential or industrial?)

Then next will come shipment of the brewery to the install site.

A Lovely Clean Brewery
Equipment Can Be Designed to Fit any Space

Brewery Shipment and Commissioning

Before the shipment of the brewery some buyers might like to take the a look the equipment. This would entail another short trip to the manufacturers.

Some buyer like to do this to make sure the build quality is good and also to double check everything is as agreed. The equipment will then be prepped and made ready for shipment.

It takes an average of 6-8 weeks for the brewery to be shipped to the site. During this time final arrangements will be made for the commissioning stage.

The Brewery Install

The brewery install should hopefully take 2 weeks maximum if the communication between buyer and seller has been good during the build phase.

The floor plan would have been agreed and item such as utility points and drainage have been placed already.

Making the install more like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. As the engineers place equipment and weld it together.

Now the brewery has been installed you will move on to the next process. There will usually be a “water” brew to make sure all the equipment is working.

Most breweries will need a good clean after install with a acid brew and tank passivization taking place before any actual beer is made.

The “water brew” is simply putting water through the system to make sure the tanks and heating elements all work as planned.

Asian Brewing Consultant
Manufacturers Can Make Any Size Brewery You Need

Once this is done and everyone is happy with the install then the seller will provide a in-house brewer to brew on the new system with you.

Together you will usually do a minimum of 2 brews to figure out the work processes, brewery flow and answer any specific questions you may have.

This is where you’ll understand processes of the equipment and how to use them efficiently. Then the installation team will leave and you’ll go ahead and start brewing in earnest.

Aftercare Service

However good manufacturers will still be reachable and help you with any issues or questions you may have regarding the equipment.

They will also offer a 1 year guarantee on all equipment to replace any broken parts (as long as it isn’t operator error).

Aftercare service is one of the main components to look for when choosing your equipment manufacturer. Even the best planned brewery can develop issues in the first 6 months of operation.

A good manufacturer understands this and their guarantee will ensure you’ll work together to overcome any issues that arise.

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment

How to Buy Chinese Brewing Equipment – A Conclusion

The buying of equipment or brewery is an involved process. Breweries are an expensive purchases and that’s why many companies opt for Chinese equipment. The lower price point allows your budget to go further.

There are good Chinese brewing manufacturers with the market maturing these last 10 years. As more breweries outside China opt for Chinese made equipment successfully.

It has increased the competition within China among manufacturers and the good ones have honed their processes and services.

New equipment manufacturers are opening all the time. So if a buyer knows how to deal with Chinese companies they can certainly get a good deal on price without compromising on quality.

Need Help with Buying Chinese Brewing Equipment?

If you’re not experienced with dealing with Chinese companies then cooperating with them can be a overwhelming experience. With the differences in cultures and the language barrier.

This is where Asian Brewing Network can help. We have 25 years of brewing experience with several years being in China where we’re now based.

We have done several brewing installs and currently involved on an install in Yunnan, China right now using Chinese made brewing equipment.

If you have any questions or need help then please contact us by filling in the from below:

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 [email protected].
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