The Ultimate Brewery Equipment Checklist (2021)
November 18, 2019
Brewing a good batch of beer takes a lot of work – especially when being done for the masses.
Whether you’re starting from scratch and learning how to make beer for the first time, or moving your home-brewing masterpiece to a new craft brewery, opening a brewhouse of your own means that you’re going to need a lot of help.
What Equipment Is Needed to Open a Brewery?
- Malt mill
- Mash tun
- Filtration system
- Heat exchanger
- Beer ferment
- Hydrometer or refractometer
- Brite tank
- Cellar equipment
- Dispensing equipment
- Packaging equipment
Luckily, you’re not the only beer enthusiast out there, and there are thousands of brands and pieces of equipment to choose to include in your brewing process.
While not all brewery equipment may be necessary, there are key pieces of equipment that are considered must-haves in your brewery business plan in order to create a smooth process that produces great tasting beer every time.
So, before you get brewing, consider these 14 pieces of brewery equipment to include in your brewhouse.
14 Essential Pieces of Brewery Equipment
Below lists 14 pieces of brewery equipment that are vital when starting your own brewery. It includes information on what each piece of equipment is, does, and why it’s so valuable for your craft brewery.
1. Malt Mill
The first step in the brewing process is milling your grains.
A malt mill is used to crush grains in order to prepare them for the following steps. Crushed grains are vital for brewing, as finer grains make for more efficient mashing, which allows for more sugars to be extracted from the wort during fermentation.
Pro Tip: If the grain is crushed too finely, it can cause the mash to clump during step two – making it stick to the mash tun. This, in turn, can decrease efficiency during the following steps.
2. Mash Turn
A mash tun is the container used in the mashing step of the brewing process.
A mash tun is an insulated, temperature-controlled vessel where the starches are mixed with water and heated to transform the grain’s starches to sugars.
Most mash tuns have false bottoms and spigots so that the sugars can be rinsed and separated from leftover solid malt husks – a process also known as sparging.
What is Mashing? Mashing is the act of combining the grains being used in the beer with water and heating the solution. This step breaks down the starches within the grains into sugars, which will eventually turn into alcohol content within the beer.
3. Filtration Technology
The filtration step in brewing is when the solids, such as live yeast, are extracted from the liquids in preparation for distribution. While live yeast is not inedible for consumers, it needs to be kept in extremely controlled temperature locations, as the yeast is sensitive to temperature change and can substantially change the taste of the beer.
Therefore, filtration technology is used to remove the yeast and debris, creating clean and longer-lasting, delicious beer.
There are multiple types of filtration technology equipment on the market depending on your preferences and priorities.
Popular filtration devices include plate filters and candle filters.
Plate filters are typically the cheapest option for filtration. A plate filter is made up of vertical cloth-covered plates with hollow frames at a 90-degree angle. Beer is fed into the frames and solids are trapped by the cloth while the liquid goes through the filters and into tubes clean of any yeast. Easy enough, right
Candle filters are another option that larger breweries typically prefer. A candle filter uses hollow, circular tubes with small openings in a cylindrical-shaped container. A combination of beer and diatomaceous earth are then placed inside the container where the filters cleanse the beer by capturing the solids.
Your filtration choice will depend on your brewhouse size and budget – both will do the trick!
4. Heat Exchanger
A heat exchanger raises and lowers the temperature of the wort, which is important when creating a good tasting beer and preventing contamination.
A common form of heat exchanger uses a series of plates, with one side flowing hot liquid to heat the wort up, bringing it to a boil, and then the other side of plates bringing in cold liquid to cool the wort down in preparation for fermentation.
Using a heat exchanger offers both financial and environmental benefits for the brewer.
Heat exchangers often allow for better efficiency, saving more wort and increasing the amount of beer made per batch.
Additionally, heat exchangers lower energy and emissions usage and, if using a quality system, can decrease water usage throughout the brewing process.
5. Beer Fermenter
Fermentation is one of the most important processes when creating beer.
It’s where the yeast transforms the sugar in the wort (the heated combination of grains, malts, and hops that create beer) to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, giving beer it’s two most favored components: alcohol content and carbonation!
So, how does a beer fermenter help with this process? It’s the container where the transformation from wort to alcohol takes place. More specifically, A beer fermenter is a container that allows your beer to ferment in a temperature-controlled environment.
Choosing the right conical fermenter for your brewhouse is vital, as different fermenters are made for different brewing goals. For instance, some things to consider when choosing a fermenter include your budget, what material the fermenter is made out of, and the fermenter’s shape and size.
6. Hydrometer or Refractometer
A hydrometer is used to measure the amount of sugar in a liquid – in the case of beer, the wort. It should be used at the beginning and end of fermentation to monitor sugar levels, calculate alcohol content, and track how well the yeast worked during fermentation.
This is important because it allows you to continuously check how successful each fermentation is, making room for adjustments and improvements in the future.
A refractometer is used for the exact same purpose as a hydrometer – it measures the sugar in your wort in order to better monitor your beer and yeast productivity.
However, a refractometer requires a much smaller liquid sample size than a hydrometer, which can be an advantage.
While the small sample size is a major benefit, refractometers can be more difficult to use. For one, they need to be calibrated with a sample of distilled water, which can take a few attempts to get right. Additionally, most refractometers measure samples in Brix, which then must be converted to a gravity or Plato measurement – which tends to be complicated.
Regardless of which device you choose, either a hydrometer or a refractometer are imperative when looking to measure sugar to ethanol statistics and track yeast success rates.
7. Brite Tank
After your beer has fermented, it needs somewhere else to be stored where it can further mature.
This is when a brite tank will come in handy.
A brite tank is a temperature-controlled container where freshly fermented beer can carbonate quicker, which means it can go into the bellies of you, your friends, and your consumers sooner!
In addition to a quicker carbonation process, a brite tank is the ideal place to store your beer before packaging – whether that be cans, bottles, or kegs. Beer can also be served directly from a brite tank if you have no need for packaging, such as brewpubs.
What is Carbonation? Carbonation occurs when there is carbon dioxide gas in a liquid. Like with all carbonated beverages, having the right amount of natural carbonation in beer is extremely important, as it can change the taste immensely.
We’ve talked about fermenters, brite tanks, and will discuss packaging shortly.
However, between each of those steps, the liquid needs a way to safety and sanitarily get from one container to the next, which brings us to pumps.
Pumps are used to transfer the liquid between each container, from fermenter to brite tank to keg, etc.
The amount of time the liquid spends in each step is vital in creating the exact beer you are aiming to. Valves are the switches used to control the flow of liquids, gases, and mixtures throughout the brewing process.
By controlling the flow of these components, the brewer is able to regulate when and how much liquid, gas, or mixture is moving or mixing at a time.
Depending on your component, different valves offer various benefits.
For instance, butterfly valves are ideal when flowing liquids, as they are easily cleaned and are excellent sealers. On the other hand, needle valves are ideal for flowing gases, as they have high maximum pressure drops and offer extremely controlled flows.
10. Cellar Equipment
A beer cellar is where beer is kept before it’s drunk. Cellars should be cool and temperature-controlled, clean, safe, and be near a water supply. These requirements will ensure that the beer being held for later use is still just as good a week later as it was the day it was put there.
In order to ensure your cellar is up to standards, cooling equipment, such as the python system should be used to continuously cool all the liquids.
In addition to keeping the beer cool, the pipes running to cool and dispense the beer must be cleaned regularly, alongside the kegs. Some common cleaning utensils specific to beer cellars include cleaning sockets for kegs and cleaning bottle dip tubes.
11. Dispensing Equipment
Even if you aren’t planning to open a brewpub, it’s important for your brewhouse to have dispensing equipment to test out the merchandise before sending it off to the masses. For this, you’ll need dispensing equipment to get the full experience like your customers.
Some dispensing equipment that will prove valuable for your brewhouse includes beer faucets, draft beer towers, keg couplers, carbon dioxide regulators, beer and air lines, and more.
If you’re planning to offer your beer on tap in pubs, you are going to need a lot of kegs for packaging.
Kegs are small, metal, barrel-shaped container that transports beer to be served from the tap. Stainless steel kegs are a popular beer transportation option for multiple reasons:
– They block out sunlight, protecting the beer from color or flavor changes.
– They’re sturdy, and won’t break or let any beer out easily.
– It’s the packaging that offers the least oxidation, meaning that it typically will taste the closest to how it tasted in the brewhouse – even over time.
– They’re reusable and leave the smallest carbon footprint compared to glass bottles and cans.
The opening at the top of the keg allows gas to push the beer out of the keg and into the glass of a happy beer enthusiast. Once the keg runs out of beer, it can be cleaned and reused for your next brew.
13. Packaging Equipment
Once your beer is finished and ready to be shared with others, you’ll need to package it well so it keeps its taste and cleanliness throughout its travels.
However, some of the most common packaging equipment includes pressure fillers and crowns for glass bottles, the valve can fillers and can closers for cans, bottle conveyors, rinsers for cans and bottles, pasteurizers, and inspections systems.
For kegs, keg washers and fillers are also needed.
For homebrewers looking to sell their beer, a beer bottle labeling machine may be needed.
14. A Brewhouse
Of course, in order to open a brewery of your own, you need a location to create, produce, and package your beer.
Where can you do all that? A brewhouse, of course!
A brewhouse is important when opening your own brewery because it is a safe, sanitary space dedicated to producing top-notch beer for your consumers to drink and enjoy. In other words, it’s a home for all of your must-have brewery equipment listed above.
Putting Your Brewery Equipment to Work
You now know all the essential brewery equipment for opening a brewhouse of your own and can start planning, budgeting, shopping, and – soon enough – brewing your own beer to share with the world.
We can’t wait to see what you brew up!