One of the biggest pushes for entrepreneurs lately has been to start a micro brewery. In fact, according to estimates from the Brewers Association, as of 2014, it’s estimated that there were 2,000 micro breweries and about 3,500 brew pubs located throughout the United States. Compare these numbers with what they were just four years prior, in 2010, and the growth is astonishing. For instance, according to Brewers Association estimates, in 2010, there were just 620 micro breweries and a little over 1,000 brew pubs – so that’s a lot of growth in this industry in a matter of just four years.
As you can see, the brewing industry has grown rapidly in recent years, and will likely only continue to grow as consumer attitudes trend more away from name brand beer and more toward specialty craft beer. But if you’ve ever thought about opening up a brewery to capitalize on this trend, it’s worth noting that there’s a lot of hard work required to make it succeed and a lot of capital equipment you need in order to make your beers. In fact, according to estimates from Metropreneur, the cost to start a brewery can range anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to several million. Much of this is based on the size of your establishment and how much volume you need to produce, as well as whether or not you’re going to bottle beer and sell off site. With capital equipment that can cost this much money, it may be worthwhile for new startups to invest in used equipment, rather than brand new equipment.
This post will take a closer look at what’s necessary to open up a brewery, as well as provide an overview of the beer brewing process.
Opening a Brewery? Here’s What You Need
Generally speaking, the minimum system brew pubs can operate with is a seven-barrel system. This is sufficient for small- to mid-sized brew pubs (think about 125 seats) that do the vast majority of their business on site. Breweries that are larger, or expect to sell product off site, will need at least a 10-barrel system. Furthermore, a seven-barrel system takes up to 1,000 square feet of space, while a 10-barrel system may take up to 1,700 square feet.
Now that we’ve covered a bit on the type of barrel system necessary, here’s some of the other essentials that a brewery will require:
As we noted previously, this equipment isn’t cheap. In fact, some estimate that, minimally, a new brewery is looking at at least $250,000 to $300,000 in equipment costs alone, with the average brewery investment coming in somewhere around $500,000. Most startups, of any kind, don’t have this type of money to spend and limited borrowing allowances. That’s why it can be so beneficial to purchase used, rather than new, equipment – especially through a reliable, credible source such as Bid on Equipment. By purchasing used through such a source, you’re acquiring gently used equipment that still runs like it’s new, and it’s this quality and affordability that can be so important when it comes to new brewery startups.
Hopefully if you’re reading this and are seriously considering opening up a brewery that you already know quite a bit about what it takes to make it. Certainly, there will be some trial and error along the way and it’ll take time to become true experts at brewing, but knowing the process couldn’t be more crucial when it comes to brewing beer. Beer brewing is essentially a seven-step process. These seven steps are: mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering and filling. Here’s a brief overview of these seven steps:
- Mashing: This step consists of mixing milled grain and water, and then heating this mix. Why heat it? Because the heat allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the grain starch into sugars.
- Lautering: Lautering consists of separating extracts won from the grain during the aforementioned mashing process. This is done either via a lauter ton or a mash filter. Lautering is a step that consists of two stages. The first stage is known as “wort runoff,” and consists of extract separating from the grains. The second stage in lautering is “sparging.” This consists of any remaining extract with the grains being washed off.
- Boiling: Worn extracts are also known as “wort,” and boiling these sterilizes them. Hops are added during the boiling process, which helps give the beer its flavor.
- Fermenting: Once the yeast is added to the cooled wort, fermentation begins. During this stage, sugars are won from the malt, which is then metabolized into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation tanks are essential for any brewery – and these tanks come in all sorts of different sizes. Most breweries today, however, use CCT, or cylindroconical tanks. One other thing to note about the fermenting stage of brewing – it’s this stage where the product can officially be called “beer.”
- Conditioning: This stage consists of cooling the beer to temperatures that are around freezing. This allows the yeast to properly settle and proteins to then settle out of the yeast. This stage also helps give the beer a smooth taste. However, it’s worth noting that keeping the beer pressurized is essential during this stage, or else it risks going flat.
- Filtering: While not all beer is filtered, it’s this stage that can really round of the flavor of the beer. There are a variety of filters that breweries use, the most common being pre-made sheets or candles.
- Filling: The final step in the beer brewing process, this involves filling, or packaging, the final product. This is especially important for breweries that intend on getting their product to consumers outside of their brewery’s confines. Beer can be filled into a variety of different containers, from bottles to cans to other sorts of packaging.
As you can see, opening up a brewery isn’t something to just do on a whim. It takes a lot of capital to get things up and running, and it takes a lot of skill and trial and error to make a great tasting beer that people are going to want to buy and consume. The brewing process is up to you to master, but when it comes to equipment, it can make sense for new breweries to buy used and save money up front. By buying used, you’ll be getting an effective, efficient like-new piece of equipment at a much cheaper price. For more information on buying used, contact Bid on Equipment today.