B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

SYWTOABP 7: How much does commercial brewing equipment cost?

with 12 comments

Another unsexy post listing equipment and costs associated with opening a brew pub. Unless, of course, you have some sort of fetish for stainless steel, in which case, have I got some pictures and links for you!

Dix BBQ & Brewery: BrewhouseUnlike when I priced out the equipment necessary for a commercial kitchen and a bar at the front of the house, I didn’t have to go through numerous online catalogs and price everything out individually.  Nor did I just bike down to the dominant vendor for musical equipment in the province. Nope, I was lucky in that when I reached out to suppliers of brew pub equipment, they actually got back to me with useful information.

BC already has a number of successful brew pubs. Vancouver and the surrounding area support many, but Victoria has far more per capita. As I always tell people, Victoria is the most British part of Canada. Outside of Victoria and Greater Vancouver, there are number of other brew pubs such as Longwood in Nanaimo. In fact, there are many brew pubs and craft breweries spread throughout the Pacific Northwest, AKA Cascadia. If you suspected there would be some specialty manufactures of brewing equipment also in this area, you’d be correct.


Dix BBQ & Brewery: Mash TunNewlands Brewing Equipment of Abbotsford and Specific Mechanical Systems of Victoria have an impressive list of clientèle, way too many to list them all:

A rough estimate on how much the equipment necessary to brew beer in a pub is going to cost can be found online or in a book. $100,000, even $150,000, may be too low, depending on the size of your establishment, how many different beers you want to brew, how you store the beer, what your maximum production capacity is, whether you use kegs, or even do on-site bottling.  Every installation is a little bit different in terms of floor space and ceiling height. Even the size of the doors you have available to you will affect what equipment you can install.  It takes several months to build the equipment, so you need to have a system designed and ordered at a minimum of three, maybe closer to five, months before you plan on opening your brew pub.

One vendor broke the brewing system down into the following subsystems:

  1. Dix BBQ & Brewery: Conditioning TankGrain Handling: next to water, grain is the biggest ingredient in beer; you need to handle, mix, and manipulate a lot of grain.
  2. Brewhouse Platform: this is where all the ingredients go and get turned into beer.
  3. Process Control System: brewing beer involves heating, cooling, mixing, testing, measuring, etc.; electronic systems can simplify and standardize some of the process.
  4. Water Systems: water is the main ingredient in beer; to brew it on a large scale involves heating and moving a lot of water.
  5. Cellar Equipment: after you make your beer, you need to store it prior to consumption; the more beer you brew, the more storage equipment and space necessary.
  6. Brewery Accessories: everything else necessary to connect the equipment together and operate the brewing system in a brew pub.

One quote for a 10 bbl system was $173,923. This may actually be more brewing capacity than our hypothetical brew pub needs. A 5 bbl or 7 bbl system may be more than sufficient. Reducing brewing capacity by 20-25% should lead to a cost reduction of 20-25%. There isn’t a one-to-one correlation. Everything is manufactured to spec. Certain equipment is necessary, regardless of how large your brewing operation is. Here is a detailed list of recommended equipment for a brew pub or small craft brewery in Microsoft Excel format.  Another vendor for a similar 10 bbl system came out to over $180,000 dollars.  How many different beers you want to serve will also affect your costs, as every different kind of beer needs its own storage facility as well as hoses to transfer the beer to be served and cooled.  Here is another detailed list of brewing equipment in another Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Longwood Brewpub, NanaimoA bbl is a brewer’s barrel which is 36 imperial gallons. A craft brewery is generally considered to have batch brewing capacity between 5-20 bbl, according to Wikipedia.  It is more efficient to brew one 20 bbl batch than to brew four 5 bbl batches, even though you end up with the same amount of beer. Your cost per litre will be less brewing on a larger scale, which is why there is so much consolidation in the global brewing industry.  Yaletown Brewing Company brews twice per week. That is more than sufficient for their brew pub operation, according to their brewmaster, Iain Hill:

That’s about 3,400 litres of beer we sell. So, that’s about 64 kegs of beer we sell per week.

I’ve got a lot of information queued up as we get closer to finishing the So You Want To Open A Brew Pub series. However, if you want to read more about brewing equipment, here are three more manufacturers that have useful information online. If you’re going to spend $150,000+ on brewing equipment, you owe it to yourself to get more than one bid.

Automation

At some point you’re going to want to learn more about brewing beer. The Siebel Institute offers a variety of courses. There are also consultants who specialize in helping set up brew pub operations. Teri Fahrendorf or First Key can help you out if your equipment vendor does not include sufficient training and consulting services or you want another opinion.

We’ve lined up an interview with a brew pub brewmaster (brewmistress?), so we will go into greater details on daily operations of a brew pub next time. Plus, I’ve created yet more spreadsheets to aid in the business planning process.

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12 Responses

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  1. [...] SYWTOABP 7: How much does commercial brewing equipment cost? [...]

  2. [...] already written an entire post on the equipment necessary for brewing beer. I estimated it would cost $175,000, but I always worried I was underestimating. It is possible to [...]

  3. Another custom tank manufacturer in Penticton , B.C.

    Daniel

    October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  4. Thank you so much for posting this info, i am looking to open a brew pub in Southern California and just having general info like this really helps. Thanks again and if there is anything else you learn i would love to read it!

    Johnny

    Johnny Khoury

    February 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    • Good luck! Let us know when you are close to opening.

      muskie

      February 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

  5. Want to set up a small brewery in Uganda. Want advice

    Luyombo

    October 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

    • Good luck. This is the BC Beer blog, I’m sure setting up a brewery in Uganda is even more complicated. Make sure you retain legal council.

      Muskie

      October 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

  6. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my users would truly benefit from a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Thank you! ceabdacfgddf

    Johne297

    June 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

  7. From which company was the first quote listed? I’m also referencing your material and I’d like to make sure credit is given.

    Sarah

    September 9, 2014 at 8:55 am

    • My post and research were done in 2011. So it is safe to say the price of brewing equipment may have changed in the last three years, even if just considering the cost of inflation. I could probably look it up, assuming I still have the original emails/spreadsheets, but it is safe to say in 2011 both Newlands Brewing Equipment and Specific Mechanical Systems were selling 10 bbl brewing systems for approximately 180,000 Canadian dollars. It is possible to buy a smaller setup—many brewpubs and microbreweries have smaller systems. But if you aim to replicate the success of some in the BC craft brewing industry, I was advised to buy a 10 bbl system so you could sell offsite or in growlers, etc.

      Muskie

      September 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

      • Thanks Muskie. Don’t worry about looking it up. I’ll simply reference this page. I appreciate your quick reply.

        Sarah

        September 9, 2014 at 10:08 am


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