Your Guide to Microbrewery Equipment

Updated on September 21, 2019
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I've always loved tech, including food tech. Freeze-dried food, sustainable farming, and even coffee brewing methods can be interesting.

Do you want to learn how to brew your own beer?
Do you want to learn how to brew your own beer?

Who doesn’t always want a cold beer on tap? That is why many people have begun taking on a new hobby: microbrewing. This art has been around since the Sumerians fermented the first hops and found that it kind of tasted good.

Though for a while brewing fell into the hands of big, well-known branded companies, it has in the past few years become more accessible to small business and home brewing hobbyists. If you are thinking about throwing your hat in the ring, it doesn’t take that much effort, but you do need the right equipment.

In this article, we are going to break down the vital components you will need to set your microbrewing process up for success. Let’s tap the keg and get started!

Equipment You Will Need

There are key pieces of equipment needed and there will be different types and models of each, but the following equipment is the bare minimum you will need to build a microbrewery system from start to finish. Here is everything you need to build the perfect microbrewing system.

Mashing System

This system includes a lauter tin, malt mill machine, a mash tank, steam generator (electric), a wort pump and a heat exchanger.

Once you have milled your malt and are ready to begin the process of brewing, you need to add that mixture with water into the pot. This is where the malt and water are heated and turns mush into a malt with the sugar being extracted from the malt. This mash is moved into the lautering tun and the wort is separated from the mash; this where the wort stays in a controlled boil. Once it is here, this is where the flavors and hops are added. Then you move onto the next system.

Cooling/Fermentation System

In this system, you need a fermentation tank, something to add the yeast, and a cooling pump.

At this point in the process, the wort is cooled, and the yeast is added. This is the longest part of the process. As the yeast is activated in the cooled liquid, the fermentation process begins.

Filtering System

In this part of the process, you will need a filter pump and a filter tank.

This is the process where you get rid of any of the leftover particle and sediment so that you have a beautifully crafted filtered brew in the end. On important thing to consider is that of all the systems above, this is the only one that is not necessary. If you prefer unfiltered beer or are intending on selling it unfiltered, then this equipment is not necessary.

Controls

When you set up your microbrewery, you will need a way to control the equipment, so investigate PLC controls or master board.

Cleaning/Sanitation

You will need a tank for your sterilization mixture, a liquor tank (alkali) and a washing pump. This equipment is intended to help keep your equipment bacteria-free.

Bottling System

In this system, you will need a keg pump, tap, and a bottling plant (or machine).

You have finished crafting that perfect IPA and are ready to bottle or package it. Here you will use the pump to remove the beer from the vat and transfer it to a keg or whatever packaging you are intending for the product.

Once you have these parts, all that will be left is to assemble them and get to brewing that delicious amber nectar of the gods. But what does something like this cost?

How Much Does It Cost?

The costs will vary from situation to situation and you can always find good deals. The price is dependent on age, model, and brand, as with all things. But there are some ballpark figures we can talk about here. If you are looking to start a whole microbrewery, look at the minimum is $100,000. If, however, you are just building a home system, if you are looking at the high end of the business, you can expect to spend around $2,500.

Final Thoughts

No matter if you are starting in your garage or looking to go all-in, you will need some version of the equipment above to ensure that your process runs smoothly, and you get the best quality possible. Taking on a new hobby or business can be quite exhilarating but frustrating too, so we hope that with the information given above on what equipment is needed to build a microbrewery you feel better equipped to set out on this new adventure.

My Recommendation

When you're first starting out, you might be more interested in how your beer tastes rather than how it's brewed. An all-in-one system can allow you to take baby steps and get your recipe right before you try getting into bigger batches.

I recommend the PicoBrew Pisco C Beer Brewing Appliance mainly due to the ease of set up time and cleaning. Many brewing kits will let you brew beer, but this machine lets you change a multi-hour setup to a 10-minute one. The cleaning is the same. The parts you can't remove are steam cleaned, and the ones you can are dishwasher safe. Even if you plan on going big later, you can focus on how you want your beer to taste now, not worrying about possible mistakes in the process.

When I was looking for possible starter kits, I found several of them that were under $100 that could let you do larger batches, but there was more work involved and it would be hidden away somewhere before it was done. I also found that a lot of the automated systems are over $500. At $300, this machine gives you a pretty decent value for money.

Unlike some systems, this guy looks nice on your kitchen counter and can be a great conversation piece. When making up a batch it takes about two weeks for it to ferment and carbonate your beer. You'll get about 5 liters or 13 12-oz. bottles by the time you're done.

Although it's not a free service, you can also go to PicoBrew's website and mix ingredients online to create custom recipes for use in your brewing device. This allows you to expand on the 180 recipes that the machine comes with. This let me really have fun with the experimentation to not only find brews that I really liked, but could have quite the variety whenever I was throwing a party.

If you're just starting out, it really is a great way to dip your toe into the world of brewing.

Pros

  • Brews 5-liter batches
  • Automatic steam cleaning
  • Stylish
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to set up
  • Hundreds of award-winning beer recipes

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The PicoBrew recipe designer isn't free

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Ben Martin

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