There are many things concern of the microbrewery equipment cost.
It is really hard to give a certain answer for the cost of starting microbrewery. A lot of factors have something with the price of brewery, like the capacity of the brewery, the brewing process, the suppliers of equipment, the beer service method and also the materials of beer equipment etc. Fortunately, craft beer brewing is an inclusive matter. No matter how much you prefer to cost for your brewery, it is possible. It is a balance of every factors just as balance every materials when you brewing beer. Pursuing all doesn’t work well when setting up craft brewery because budget is always a problem for most of the brew masters. Limit budget make a hero brew master in awkward position. So give up some of the temptation and do overall consideration what you have for starting beer brewing. At least and the most importance is you will start your craft brewing dream.
Capacity of the brewery has big affect on brewery equipment cost.
Capacity of the brewery tanks is determined by two important parts in the whole brewery system. One is the mashing system capacity. The brewhouse capacity determines the quantity of one batch mashing wort we can get for one time. 10bbl brewhouse tanks can get 10bbl worts. Of course, beer lost should be considered in the whole process. Several brews one day are possible to get more wort if the brewhouse tanks are efficient enough. Some fully functional brewhouse can reach 6 even 11 brews per day. That means every steps of mashing need an exclusive tank and buffer tanks are combined too. So brewhouse configuration is one reason to increase the cost if capacity is higher.
Wort must be contained by numbers of fermentation tanks. This is another one with the brewery equipment cost. In fact, it costs much more than brewhouse. Wort need more than two weeks (almost the shortest) to stay in beer fermentation tanks and beer conditioning tanks. To keep everyday beer service, fourteen single batch fermentors or seven double batch fermentors are necessary. That is a lot.
In reality, most of the small scale brewery only brew three or four times per week and one brew one day with the least mashing tanks, it only requests eight pcs single batch conical fermentors or four pcs double batch conical fermentors. You will find the same size brewery tank cost twice or more different if capacity double too.
How does the beer brewing process affect the brewery equipment price?
Beer brewing process is the most concerned for brewers. And it is also the most difficult and helpless part when designing the brewery system together with the brewery equipment suppliers. Here we only mention some of the typical samples.
Steam heated brewhouse is much expensive than directly fired system because of the steam boiler. But steam heated is the perfect method during brewing. Do you mind the directly fired burner scorch your wort? Decoction mashing request more complicate brewhouse design than infusion mashing. Manual valves control in mashing process is much cheaper and safer than electrical or pneumatic butterfly valves control. The cost is that the brew masters have to keep jumping around the brewhouse tanks, up and down, left and right, like monkey. Recovery of the heated water from wort heating is really worth of adding one tank to hold the water. If the beer should be filtered, pasteurized is another cost though craft beer is rarely necessary.
Anyhow, it is reasonable to get a special designed brewery system at a special cost. A brew master would never give up his unique brewing method rather than scarifying some beer output.
The brewery equipment suppliers are the key factor.
We don’t analyze microbrewery equipment suppliers in Germany or the one in USA. If your budget is enough and the ROI is allowed, why not choose them? Let us pay more attention to the Chinese beer equipment suppliers. They build most of the brewery tanks for all over the world and they are possible to help ‘poor’ brew masters to achieve dreams. China brewery equipment market is fiercely competitive and the good and bad are intermingled. Fully competition make price reasonable. We believe no manufacturer would like to pursue high margin under such a market, except for some very big manufacturers. Even so, you may get a very different quote for the same system, even several times different. Why? The highest price may contain very high profit in their quotation structure. Of course, the higher the price,the better the quality. This is suitable for most of the honest business, not for some with fluke mind. When you talk with them, you may feel their business philosophy. I believe your first image to the brewery equipment company and the guys who talk with you is very important to make judgment. Remember it. The honesty in business will be displayed in the company management and equipment quality. We will do more description of choosing a reliable microbrewery equipment supplier in China.
Beer service system is also a big investment, even more than brewery tanks.
It is easy to understand that beer can be served in various packages like bottle beer, canning beer, keg beer and directly draught service. Bottle beer is already well-known as most of the commercial breweries fill their beer in bottles and distribute on shelf after beer pasteurizing process. The whole bottling equipment costs a lot for a commercial brewery. After average this cost into each bottle, it is only a drop in the bucket. But it is not easy to find a miniature version for a microbrewery. It is impossible to afford a big beer bottling system. The same thing happens in the beer canning equipment. Craft beer finds its way to be filled in kegs, insulated or single layer, plastic or stainless steel. Obviously, single layer kegs are the most popular package for craft beer. A normal microbrewery is not hard to afford hundreds kegs and a set of kegging machine. Kegs develop much faster than bottles and cans in craft beer service. Keg beer only needs a set of keg washing machine at less than ten thousand dollars, no matter manual type keg washer or some semiautomatic type. There are several reliable kegging equipment suppliers in USA or China. The left is kegs. Maybe your microbrewery cannot afford 500 pcs stainless steel kegs at the beginning, but why not start at 100 pcs or less? A 1/2 barrel us keg costs from 60 to 75 us dollars depending on the quality of kegs body and keg spear. It is not too much, is it? The short shelf life for keg beer maximally keeps the freshness of craft beer. It is good for beer drinkers, but not good for business. Recently, some beer packing equipment suppliers are designing some small but smart beer bottling equipment and canning equipment for craft beer. A few of them has succeeded in USA. Flash pasteurization technology also helps beer producers prolong the shelf life to get more time for sale. Though these new craft beer packaging equipment is still expensive, it is affordable comparing the ROI.
Beer equipment material will take more part in the whole brewery system cost.
Believe or not, brewery system decoration will be more and more important. Craft brew masters will pursue the ultimate in beer tanks just as what they are doing in beer. Craft brewing integrates Biology, Chemistry, Mechanics, Physics, Bromatology, Aesthetics and art theory etc together. It is more than a kind of beverage. Recogniation to the special craft beer culture is much more important than the nutrition in the beer. People usually build a copper brewhouse for their restaurant or brewpub to create traditional and luxury environment. Copper brewery equipment is much expensive than the normal stainless steel brewery tanks, though only the cladding is built by copper. Many drinkers enjoy the retro tasting and communication environment. Even some brewers clad the fermentation tank by copper, so that the whole brewery system looks much more splendid in the magnificent building. It really needs time-consuming maintenance work to keep the copper beer tanks bright.
In fact, brewery equipment material is not limited in stainless steel and copper. I mean the outside decoration. Many beer equipment manufacturers have tried wood cladding, glass tanks, chrome cladding and others. Brewery should be like art which can bring people a sense of joy and aesthetic. Some success design may be worthy of collecting like a car. It gives special memorable meaning for people.