Benefiting from the Ultimate Design
When determining the right location for your craft beer equipment, your manufacturer can offer helpful advice.
What does the flow of a successful brewery look like to you? If you had to rate the design layout of your own production facility, what grade would you give it on a scale of 1 to 10? What are the most important measures of success that you expect to get from your layout? If your answers center around sustaining quality through cleanliness, energy efficiency, and cost reduction then you are among the majority of brewery owners today. In speaking with brewers who have spent years thinking about layout improvement, we discovered ways in which the right design can greatly improve these three factors.
1. Overall Cleanliness is Improved
Guaranteeing that your production facility is clean and free of contamination will ultimately save you time, money, and ensure product quality. If you’re in the planning stages of your brewery design layout, build in easy cleaning design aspects ahead of time. Here are some items to consider incorporating into your layout design for improved cleanliness:
- Discuss with your equipment manufacturers the most efficient placement of equipment in each room and the best methods of cleaning pipes and interior of tanks.
- Many facilities install epoxy floors which are non-porous and have an antimicrobial layer on the surface so cleaning them requires less chemicals and scrubbing.
- Installing a clean-in-place system greatly reduces and in many cases, eliminates the possibility of cross-contamination between steps.
Some prefer to go with consulting firms who specialize in distilling and brewing facilities to create the cleanest layout possible. Joel LeVangia, who is developing a craft distillery, is one of many entrepreneurs who knows all too well the benefits of a great layout. “Visit as many facilities as possible and ask questions with your goals in mind,” he advises. LeVangia credits his preference of a clean-in-place system with the research that he conducted. “In my requests for proposals, cleanliness and sanitation were one of the top three areas I was seeking support with.”
2. There is an Increase in Energy Efficiency
A decade ago, energy conservation considerations were mostly cost saving measures for brewers. Today, brewers are doubly motivated to conserve since energy usage is as much built around environmental stewardship as it is the bottom line. Layout again can play a pivotal role in saving energy costs and here are a few of the most prevalent examples:
- Decreasing the distances between steps means a decrease in the amount of required pumping. Less pumping in turn, requires less energy and also helps to prevent the possibility of unintended flavors in beer quality.
- Build in heat recovery systems for reuse of heat within your floor plan. Heat can be recovered from pasteurization, fermentation and many other steps within the process.
- Have replacement parts available in the event that your brewing equipment needs repair. This will help expedite getting the brewing process moving again and decrease down time.
Energy Conservation is ubiquitous nowadays in brewing and most owners and operators continue to plan the next evolution of their design layouts with innovations in mind. David Wright, Production Manager at Brown's Brewing Co. in Troy and North Hoosick, NY, described some of the targeted efforts they have done for longer term savings and sustainability. “We have installed solar thermal panels to heat our water for our brewing process on the roof of our brew house and are also moving toward generating our own hydro-power by using the existing infrastructure of a dam and flume,” Wright explained.
3. You Save Money
The good news is that there is also an endless number of remedies for general cost savings through measures taken in designing your production facility. Essentially, the true benefit of carefully-planned brewery design and process management is the cumulative effect it has on cost-reduction over time. Keep in mind some of these more recognizable methods when generating your own list for a payback period on your investment:
- Money spent on beer line cooling and insulation is far less if you place the conditioning tanks as near to the bar area as possible.
- Preemptively save costs of having to redesign equipment layout by planning for additional space ahead of time. Once growth happens, it’s costly to create space for larger equipment.
- Water costs can be reduced by storing and treating lauter tun drainage in the brewhouse area to be used for later brewing.
- Recover the costs of wasted beer by installing a mechanism in the filling area to collect any beer spillage.
Ultimately, benefiting from a design layout means knowing what your goals are up front and seeking out as many facilities as possible that have created what you’re looking to create. Networking with like-minded brewers who have achieved the production design you have in mind will help you learn from any mistakes they may have already encountered.