For me to write a post covering “why hire a brewing consultant?” might seem like I’m just trying to promote my services…
I admit there’s a grain of truth in this. Covering this topic, will highlight some of the services I can provide.
However, on a lot of the brewing forums, you’ll see commercial brewers advise people looking to open a brewery, to “hire a consultant”. With the main benefits being it’ll save money, time and heartache in the long run.
The above image was taken from a “brewery planning” group on Facebook. Where a potential brewery owner, was asking advice. The above comment was from a commercial brewer with plenty of industry experience.
You’ll see similar comments repeated on various forums. So, why do people in the industry advise others to employ a brewing consultant, when looking to open a brewery?
Well let’s start at the beginning…
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? Starting Point
Usually when people approach me regarding a brewing project, there’s been some groundwork done. It’s usually one of two situations.
- The client has an outline of a project (with business plan of some sort), they are looking to gain finance for a project and need help with equipment pricing. Plus, connecting with reputable suppliers.
- A client has working business plan and has the financing to open a brewery and needs a consultant to help with equipment sourcing and operational procedure.
With either circumstance, my response to initial contact is similar. I’ve devised a series of questions I like to ask, to understand the scope of the project.
Once these questions have been answered, I study the replies and then schedule a call. So, we can discuss the project in detail.
On the call, the project is discussed in-depth, from which I can put an equipment list together with the client.
Building Out an Equipment List
Often, clients have the beginnings of a list. However, with my years of experience I can add layers to the list.
Essentially build out the equipment list in more depth to add real word functionality. For example, I’m currently working on a project in Sweden.
The client wants an RO machine so, he can start with a blank canvas and build the brewing water back-up correctly, depending on beer style to be brewed.
I asked the client to provide me with his local water analysis, which he did. I am now working with my main RO equipment supplier to source the correct machine for the project.
The water supply for this project is pretty clean and low in TDS (total dissolved solids). Meaning less pre-treatment could be needed.
As I say I’m running the numbers with the RO company now. I’m 100% sure, we will end up with a better RO machine than the one initially quoted by the equipment supplier, at a lower cost too.
Usually, brewery equipment suppliers provide standard RO equipment. Simply supplying by volume needed. It doesn’t take into account water analysis or other factors.
Furthermore, these suppliers often use third party suppliers, adding a mark-up on the price clients pay for their equipment.
Using a brewing consultant allows a potential brewery owner to harness the knowledge of the advisors’ years in the trade. So, equipment is tailormade, dedicated suppliers can be found and money saved.
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? Asking the Right Questions
When it comes to opening a brewery one of your biggest expenses is your brewing equipment. It makes sense therefore to get the best kit you can, within your budget.
Having the assistance of an advisor; whose worked on a number of systems and brewhouse configurations, will truly benefit those with little commercial brewing experience.
Actually, these days, I get experienced brewers reach out to me for assistance…
Just last month, one of my old head brewers/bosses from Paris, France asked for my help putting together an equipment list for a 2,000-liter brewery.
An experienced consultant will be able to…
- Ask you the right questions, to ensure right equipment is purchased for the specific needs (and future growth) of the project
- Assist when chatting with different equipment manufacturers, to find the right supplier and best kit within the budget
- Work on brewery layout to fit within a building (if one is already chosen), for an efficient set-up. For example, ensure all utility outlets are where needed, after speaking with all people involved in the project.
- Answer client questions and if needed can reach out to people in their network if there’s an issue or problem needing further assistance. A good consultant will know when they need to reach out for extra help and be open and willing to do so.
Real-Life Example of Point #2 Above
So, earlier in this article I spoke about an RO machine for a project in Sweden. So, today (I started this article yesterday) I spoke with my preferred RO machine supplier.
I’ve one of their machines, and the support they offer is great. I discussed the water analysis which I’d gotten from the client in Sweden, with them.
They confirmed my thoughts, the water didn’t need pretreatment, as the TDS numbers were low. It meant the mains water can go directly in to the RO machine. Saving money, as no pretreatment is needed.
I got a quote from the supplier. So, now my client can get a 1,000-liter per hour RO machine with PLC touchscreen control.
For a lower price than the 500-liter per hour RO machine with pre-treatment, quoted originally from the brewery equipment manufacturer.
The original RO machine quoted didn’t even have a PLC. By asking the right questions on a client’s behalf and speaking with the right suppliers, I’ve managed to save money as well upgrade the machine.
It doesn’t always go as well as this. However, I wanted to highlight an example, to show the benefits of hiring a brewing consultant for a project.
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? Highlighting the Equipment Needed
When looking to put a brewery together, often it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. There’s a lot to take in, especially when it comes to brewing equipment.
- What heating option is best?
- Do I need a 2,3 or 4-vessel brewhouse?
- What size should my brewhouse be?
- What type of cellar tanks and how many do I need?
- Do I clarification technology? If so, what type should I employ?
- Do I need a CIP station or cart?
These are just some considerations; one must contemplate on a brewery project. The initial enquiries I ask in my questionnaire plus, chats in follow-up, will help answers these questions.
It’s at the heart of why people take on a brewing consultant.
What generally happens is; I help people get the equipment they need, but also educate them with beer processing advice as well.
As talking about equipment, naturally leads to conversations about processes too.
Another Example of How I Helped a Brewery as a Consultant
Let’s me use another real-world example…
One of my most popular articles on this site is about “spunding”, which you can read here. I guess it’s rated fairly high on Google.
Anyway, recently I had a guy called Norman contact me, asking how he could add spunding valves to his current brewery set-up. Norman’s brewery had a basic set-up. Which is fine; simple systems can make great beer.
Norman wanted to improve his processes and have consistent carbonation in his bottled beer. We ended up having several conversations over roughly 10-days. We finally found a solution which worked, which you can read about it here.
What we did was, have Norman explain his set-up and send me pictures of his fermentation vessels. This allowed me to highlight the stainless-steel parts he’d need, to add spunding to his tank.
Please see the picture above of the set-up we decided on. Norman shared this diagram with the parts supplier he had in Europe. They then sent the off-the-shelf parts, Norman needed.
An Voila the problem was solved….
Now this was a small project…
When putting together a whole brewery there are many decisions and issues to be overcome.
Being able to call on a consultant to help answer questions, and take the lead when needed, will lead to a smoother project.
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? It’s in the Small Details
Getting a brewery operational requires some smaller pieces of equipment, such as some of the items pictured below.
When running a brewery, you often need to make temporary set-ups when moving wort/beer around. These small but vital pieces of equipment, really help with a number of tasks.
For example, see the video below, I put some of the above parts together so, I can add finings to a tank under pressure.
It’s these little items which often get missed, but can be supplied with the brewhouse when it’s being delivered. They help make many tasks in the brewery (especially when cellaring) easier for a brewer.
There are many items beside the main vessels of the brewhouse, you need have, to be able to properly brew.
Understanding what’s needed on a particular project so, it can be listed and sourced; comes with experience. A good brewing consultant can really help in the regard.
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? The Big Picture Too!
Equipment layout should be one of the key considerations on a brewery project. A well-planned brewery with an efficient layout, will make brewing so much easier.
For example, think of triangles…
There are areas of the brewery where you’ll spend more time, than others. For example, the brew deck, keg washer and cold room. Three main areas and points of a triangle.
If you can organize a brewery in such a way to make moving between these places easier by putting them close together…a brewers’ life would be much sweeter.
Also, when planning brewery layout, subjects like hard piping need to be considered in detail.
Be it for moving wort or steam pipes, reducing piping length where possible is advantageous for a number of reasons.
Piping and safety are other concerns, steam pipes should be insulated. For better efficiencies, but also to protect staff from burns. Plus, pipe placement to avoid obstructing workers, needs to be considered too.
When it comes to layout, brewing equipment manufactures always ask if you already have a building. As a lot of the design, will depend on the building interior, when putting your equipment in place, in drawings.
If you don’t have a building, it makes the task somewhat harder but, it’s not insurmountable. I’ve made brewing kit fit into buildings after it was purchased. With the building lease signed after equipment purchase, on some projects.
It just takes good communication between all parties; such as, the equipment manufacturers, general contractors/project manager, brewery owner, brewing consultant and so on.
Having a consultant will make the whole process easier, as they’ve gone through this process a number of times before.
Why Hire a Brewing Consultant? Conclusions
As you can see there are many points to consider when asking the question, “why hire a brewing consultant”. They can help brewery owner see a top-down view of the whole project, as well as ensure the small details covered to.
As shown by the quote, shared in the first picture of this article, “it’s always good to have another set of eyes and another brain” on a brewery project.
As a 25-year veteran of the industry with thousands of brews done on various systems and brewhouse configurations, I help people on their brewing projects. I’m happy to help, every step of the way…
Hiring a consultant may seem like unnecessary upfront expense. However, choose the right one and it’ll save money, time and heartache in the long run. Often the money saved, is greater than the expense of the consultant.
Like with the RO machine savings I spoke about earlier, this can replicated many times across a project. Leading to net financial savings. As well as saving time on a project by speeding up the process utilizing the consultants knowledge and network.
I need to stress though, when it comes to brewing projects, there are always some unforeseen problems.
All projects have them, but having a consultant onboard will make the whole process smoother. As they can see issues coming and plan to overcome them.
If you’d like to discuss a brewery project and if I might be the right consultant to assist. Then feel free to send me a message. My email is:
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Thanks for reading and have a great day.