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Thread: Ideal # of Fermenters

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Puyallup, WA
    Posts
    4

    Ideal # of Fermenters

    As a new brewery in the planning stages we're trying to decide what is the ideal number of fermenters to begin with. We're planning on debuting with 2 beers upon opening. Considering cost it seems ideal to go with 2 large fermenters. "Large" being 80bbl in our case. However we have seen a number of breweries go with a higher number of smaller fermenters, in the 15 bbl size. Looking at cost comparisons this would seem a more expensive option and we can only see a value in more fermenters if you wanted to have a continued supply of more beer styles.

    Are there other reasons for choosing a larger number of smaller fermenters other than beer variety? I feel like we're missing something...

    Thank you.
    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Stavanger Norway
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    318
    Id go with the large fermenters.
    at least double batch sized, this all depends on your brewhouse, Some breweries go up to 4 + batch sized tanks, as long as they are filled in a 24hour period the beer is fine.

    the benifets of the larger tanks is:
    - you can sqeeze more volume capacity than with more smaller tanks.
    - Less yeast handling, less CIPing for the volume. Less work.
    - loss is reduced. I have 14 -double batch tanks and 2 -4 batch tanks where I brew and I notice the volume better than 2 double tanks.

    one thing you may consider is if your considering going with just 2 fermenters, you may have a hard time recycling the yeast since you wont be able to brew in time. I like the fact that I can pick from many tanks where I can harvest my yeast.

    Also remember when planning your brewery that you should leave plenty of space to add more fermenters as sales increase. take into consideration how you will bring in the tanks too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    407
    Do you expect to be selling beer at the 80bbl volume out of the blocks? Maybe you do, but to me, that's a lot of beer to turn over - but I don't know your business model.

    Also consider that you don't need to buy them all at once if you go smaller... look at your volume projections, size your initial tank purchases based on what you plan to sell for the first year or so (with plenty of extra capacity), and then add fermenters as the business requires it - going as big as the demand will allow.

    Big tanks are much more effecient!
    Cheers,
    Scott

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    57
    I think that most of the other guys advice is solid, but you really have to look at what your trying to do here. Are you a micro or a pub? If you are gonna bottle your beer and have no on site consumption, large tanks will be fine. However, if you are gonna be a pub, than smaller tanks that allow for more creativity in your future menu and faster turn over (so the beer isn't sitting around for weeks) would be smarter.

    I have always went with the model, "My business is growing and I am gonna need space to allow it to do that." Rather than "This is what my business is gonna be for ever." If you can put two large 80 bbl (which is huge!) tanks in and still have room to grow, than it'll be fine. My advice would be to go with four or five 40 bbl (which is what I have) tanks and give yourself the flexibilty to have more beer styles rollin' at once!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Puyallup, WA
    Posts
    4

    microbrewery

    We are planning a microbrewery, not a brewpub.

    I certainly see the logic of more fermenters providing more flexibility for styles and am starting to lean more in that direction...however from a cost standpoint it seems 2 80bbl fermenters would actually be cheaper than 4 40bbls. Of course it all depends on what is available on the used market, and from what I've seen it seems the 'smaller' equipment is more abundant. I have yet to see any used equipment in the 80bbl range.

    The intent of purchasing 80bbl equipment is to prevent the need to buy more equipment in 1 or 2 years. Again, it of course depends on what is available.

    Thank you for all the replies, it's very helpful getting your insight.

    -Dan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    673
    Start smaller but give yourself enough physical space to grow. Your beer will turn over faster, meaning fresher, higher quality beer. And you can sell those 40 bbl tanks down the road when you upsize. Fermenters are hot items now and are selling for much higher prices than in the past.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jersey City, NJ
    Posts
    33

    A little off topic, but...

    Is there a general rule of thumb or some sort of equation by which you can determine what a given amount of fermentation/conditioning space and brewhouse size can yeild in barrelage per year? I understand there are several variables such as ratio of Bright Tanks to FVs, and sales of bottles, kegs or both, but are their guidelines that one could follow to determine an estimated barrelage production out of a given square footage, and the number of tanks that could fit inside?

    Thanks in advance...

    Cheers!
    Pete

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    699
    I think you would generally take your brew house size as a starting point. Brewing a single batch a day everyday one shift a day gives you a starting point. Given you have enough filter/time, fermentation space and or bright beer/serving tank/packaging. As you grow you add a second and third, forth... batch brewed per day.

    Quote Originally Posted by velez03
    Is there a general rule of thumb or some sort of equation by which you can determine what a given amount of fermentation/conditioning space and brewhouse size can yeild in barrelage per year? I understand there are several variables such as ratio of Bright Tanks to FVs, and sales of bottles, kegs or both, but are their guidelines that one could follow to determine an estimated barrelage production out of a given square footage, and the number of tanks that could fit inside?

    Thanks in advance...

    Cheers!
    Pete
    Joel Halbleib
    CBO "Chief Brewing Officer" / Zymurgist
    Bluegrass Brewing Co
    636 East Main St
    Louisville, KY
    www.bluegrassbrewing.com

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