Get ready for technology--today's brewhouse systems are computerized and allow for precision brewing.
The brewhouse is the heart of craft brewery operations.
The brewhouse is the heart of craft brewery operations. When building and equipping a brewhouse, it's important to carefully consider your goals and desires for your brewery in order for the brewing operation to run smoothly and achieve a beneficial result. The following considerations can help you avoid costly blunders and get what you want from your brewhouse.
1. Go as big as you can.
The blogs are filled with brewers who thought they had an ambitious plan for brewery capacity and their brew pub, only to discover that the craft beer industry was poised to explode. Tripling market share in under 10 years meant that craft brewers were way off in their expectations of business growth and space needs. The prevailing wisdom now is to build for growth and go as big as you can possibly afford.
2. Allow extra space.
When crafting a floor plan, don't be tempted to crowd equipment together or plan every inch of the space. Leave more space than you think you need for maneuverability; this could very well allow for more expansion later if necessary, and will make it comfortable to navigate during the early seasons of brewing when you might well need it. Think about the brewing process, and arrange equipment in a way that makes it easier for one step to flow into the next.
There doesn't appear to be any particular "best layout" for a brewhouse, but many brewers are happy to post their layouts for your perusal. (512) Brewery of Austin, Texas has a virtual tour on their website as well as posts about every step of the building process, and Enegren Brewing of California has blueprints showing their floor plan on their blog, just to name a few.
3. Buy equipment designed for the type of beer you want to make.
Mitch Steele, brewmaster of Stone Brewing in California, cautions brewery builders to have a good understanding of the equipment you need to brew the type of beer your brewery plans to make. "Many high-quality brewhouse suppliers are from Germany, and they design their brewhouses to brew German-style lagers," he says. "Higher gravity brews and high hop usage like what we have in the United States are not things they always factor into their equations." Steele further advises new brewers to visit breweries using the equipment they seek to use, to make sure it will work well for them.
4. Keep spare parts handy.
Another important consideration, according to Steele, is equipment's ease of repair. Brewing systems have many components, and the intense pressure they are under during the brewing process can lead to frequent need for parts and repair expertise. If you don't want your brewing process to be derailed on a regular basis, equipment you can repair easily is a must.
5. Consider sustainability.
New processes are making it possible for breweries to take part in such green initiatives as using wastewater to generate electricity and donating spent grain to local farmers as cattle feed. Sustainability usually saves brewers money on energy or water treatment costs in the long run, so efficiency should be a factor in the brewhouse equipment you choose.
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