Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery

Today, I will list typical questions when ordering a brewery, which I ask my clients. Brewhouses are all different, but these are generic questions can be applied to most brewing projects. I thought it would be good to share with you.

You see, I was just helping an equipment manufacturing company today. They had received an enquiry for a quote from a potential customer. It was pretty complete but had a few gaps in the information.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery

The questions below would help me understand the client’s needs, so they can be best served by myself and the equipment manufacturer to get the brewery they need.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery – What automation do you require?

Here’s a list of typical automation that’s applied to a semi-automatic system?

  • Control mash and sparge water temperature and volumes
  • Being able to set the wort collection temperature for it to automatically adjust itself on collection to FV.
  • Foam sensor leading for cut off of boil to avoid boil overs, control temperature set for the kettle. Also, will you be brewing at altitude?
  • Control rake speeds and height
  • Do you want a flow meter inline from the lauter to the kettle with a readout on a screen?
  • Jackets on the mash tun correct? So, you’re able to step mash too and control temperatures
  • Speed of the collection of wort to the kettle.

Automation can be added to a brewhouse to different part of the brewhouse. However, for the smaller craft set-up, the above list is what I’d suggest. It’ll help improve beer quality, brewhouse safety and not too crazy on your budget.

Some automation is more expensive than others. As an example, in this list the automatic wort cooling to FV, is more expensive than most of the others listed.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery – Controlling the Mash Temp

On the brewhouse itself, I’d always opt to be able to control the mash temperature. So I’ve the ability to step-mash.

Being able to control the mast temperature helps with lauter run off on wheat beers and also give you the ability to brew beers truer to style.

For example, if you want to brew a sweet stout, having a higher mash temperature can lead to more residual sugars in your final beer.

Do you want to have your valves be automatic or will a manifold suffice for all routing of water and wort? Semi-automatic suggest a manifold will suffice.

The price of automation for all routing and valves is quite high. It means more hard piping for the brewhouse, as well as the cost of pneumatic valves.

Most breweries will be fine with a main manifold which they can use to direct liquid when routing. Please see the picture below for a manual manifold used to direct wort where needed.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery - Brewhouse Manifold
Typical Brewhouse Manifold for Directing Liquid

Would a single 1 stage heat exchanger be sufficient? Rather than a two-stage exchanger using glycol and water?

Most Chinese equipment manufacturers offer two stage heat exchangers. These use mains water and glycol to chill down the wort going to FV. I prefer to have a cold-liquor-tank (CLT), full of cold water.

You see, the cold water is used to chill the wort going through the heat exchanger. When you cool the wort, the cold water becomes hot water which is directed back to your HLT (hot liquor tank).

It takes pressure of the glycol system and really helps with back-to back brewing. As the hot water can be used in subsequent brews for sparging for example.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery – Would You Consider a Larger Hot Water Tank?

As I have said in previous articles, going slightly larger on tank doesn’t cost a whole lot more money.

Having a hot water tanks that’s a minimum of 2.5 times the size of your brew length is advisable to make sure you always have enough water for batch brewing and cleaning.

What type of beer will you mainly be doing?

If you’re doing lager you might need a larger cold-water tank. If you’re doing mostly heavy hopped IPA’s, you might need to change whirlpool design.

To account bigger hop loads plus consider robust inline filtration before the heat exchanger. Also if those IPA’s a high in abv, then you’ll need a bigger mash and/or lauter ton for the increased grain bill.

If you’re mostly planning on lagers, then you might want horizontal maturation vessels, a bigger cold water tanks and at least on dedicated brite beer tank.

Do you want a flowmeter to come with brewhouse (another one) for when collecting to the FV to know your collection volume?

It will help you have better data from every brew to help you schedule in the long term. It will allow you to see your efficiencies from the brewhouse too.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery - Flow Meter
Flowmeter for Beer Volumes

Knowing how much went into the kettle and what is collected into FV is handy.

You lose wort when using hop pellets and also from wort cooling too. It’s nice to know these losses and final volume in the FV, having a flowmeter makes this easy.

Typical Questions When Ordering A Brewery – Conclusions

So, there ends my list of typical questions when ordering a brewery, that I ask my clients. There are others too. It just depends on the set-up. However the ones above apply to most projects.

If you want help on a brewing project or are looking to source equipment from China. Then let me help you. My email address is:


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I am UK brewer with 25 years of international experience, whose done many brewhouse installs.

Now based in China, having first brewed here in 2010. I now work as brewing consultant helping people with their brew projects.

Anyway, thanks for reading my article, have a good day and happy brewing.



Here are a couple of testimonials from people I have worked with:

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 neil@asianbeernetwork.com.
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