Yes it's that time, the time every brewer dreams of when building their own brewery! There's so much attention given to licensing, DA's, Social Media, construction and other things that are vital. But what we really want to do is talk about new shiny stainless and obsess over every tiny detail on drawings (like the one below) to make sure its all just right.
While it seems fun, this process is highly important. There are so many factors to consider that affect:
The amount of beer you can produce
How much you can produce in a day (or how long it takes you to brew 1 batch)
Quality and process control
Compliance with regulations
Workflow and ease of use
Often this last point comes after everything else as the other things are, at face value, more important. What happens then is that you end up with gear that brews great beer, is efficient, compliant and absolutely sucks to work on. It will end up sucking the life out of any brewer that works on it and when that happens, process and quality go out the window. This brewery has had workflow and ease of use built in at every stage when deciding all those other 'more important' considerations.
So where is it coming from?
After a long time going back and forth between manufacturers at all ends of the scale of cost and quality we landed on an Australian company, Brewtique.
Brewtique has a reputation for excellent technical quality with an approach that helps you build what you need while keeping costs down. To do this they have partnered with NDL in China as a manufacturing partner.
For us this means a few things:
We get a kickass brewery designed by some industry legends
It is cheaper than many out there of the same standard
There is plenty of help and after sales service/support from the guys
It's an Australian company so we're able to support some local economy directly as well as being able to keep our costs down and use finance.
This last point was especially important as unsurprisingly, breweries are expensive! Any equipment we can pay a deposit on and finance the rest is great as it save on our capital and startup costs.
Yeah yeah, but what are you actually getting?
I suppose I should to this point eventually! We spent a lot of time in the early days deciding what kind of brewery we wanted to be, this meant looking at taproom sizes, buying habits, demographics and preferences. All of that to figure out how much of what beer to make!
We wanted to choose a size that meant we could keep beer fresh but also be able to easily keep up with demand during busy times. Too big and your beer would be sitting around for too long, too small and you spend so much time brewing that its hard to keep up and stay cost-effective. 10hL (1,000L for the uninitiated) seemed to be the sweet spot for us.
So our Brewhouse (if you hadn't already guessed from the above) is a 10hL, 3-Vessel brewhouse with a Mash Tun, Lauter Tun and Kettle/Whirlpool. The way it's arranged means that you can start a second brew before the first one is finished. Each brew takes 5-6 hours from start to finish so the days would be very long if they were back to back. Doing it this way means shortening your overall brew day by about 2 hours or more!
Fermenters and other tanks, now these are another story. The more you have, the more capacity you have to brew and keep up with demand but also the more likely you are to end up sitting there with empty tanks. Empty tanks are sad for two main reasons. They could (and should) be filled with beer but they're not; AND, being empty means a loss of potential revenue. Getting this right is essential, and takes some maths....bear with me!
Say you have 1x 10hL FV (Fermentation Vessel), you fill this roughly every 3 weeks (give or take, different beers take a different amount of time yada-yada), that means that if you were to brew the maximum number of brews per year your maximum capacity would be (52/3)*1000L = 17,000L. This may seem like a lot of beer, especially to those of you that brew at home, but a good taproom near the city could churn through this volume in less than a month! Because we're also planning to put a little bit of our production into packaging for either consumption at other venues or to take home we need to ensure we've got enough capacity for this PLUS our own taproom.
What we finally decided on was 2x 20hL FV's, 4x 10hL FV's and 1x 20hL BBT (Brite Beer Tank). The BBT is essentially a storage tank for finished beer that allows you to free up space in an FV so you can brew again while you're waiting to package your finished beer. They're very important in increasing capacity.
This gives us a total fermentation capacity of 80hL and production capacity of around 140,00L per year or more depending on the beers produced.
Another thing that both brewers and customers love are serving tanks. These are exactly what they sound like, a tank connected to a pipe, connected to a tap at the bar. Customers love them because you get a really clear picture of where your beer is coming from and it's not something you see very often. Brewers love them because it's better for the beer (never sees light, less chance of exposure to oxygen or contaminates) and it saves them from filling a bunch of kegs by hand! To appease both brewers and customers alike we are getting not 1x, not 2x, but 3x 10hL serving tanks! The beauty of these is that they are connected to taps but can also double as BBT's meaning you can package (kegs or cans) directly from them as well!
Cool! So where is it all going?
Luckily with our site we're blessed with a lot of space. That said, we don't want to take up all of it with brewing equipment! This would be ridiculously expensive and leave our community with less space to gather! No, we have it all neatly stacked in one area of the building as you can see if the drawing below.
The brewhouse is along the back wall, with its associated tanks for storing hot and cold brewing water then the 3 serving tanks on the end closest to the cold room. Along the opposite wall we have all of our FV's and BBT's. This leaves a nice space in the middle for future expansion and more tanks as required or a nice open workspace in the meantime.
There's other things yet to go in like a keg washer and other extra equipment but this layout works for the building and flows quite well.
So there we have it, all of the equipment has its place and purpose. The most exciting thing of all however, IT'S ALL BEEN APPROVED AND ORDERED!!! We'll keep you up to date with its progress as it comes along!
Bye for now,