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Converting an open space to a functioning brewery

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  • Converting an open space to a functioning brewery

    hi all-
    so myself and 2 friends have been homebrewing for quite a while now and we're considering moving to the next level. we've been working with a specific space but we're trying to get some honest feedback on the layout and some of the things we may not be thinking of when considering our floorplan. i've attached the blank space as well as our "floor plan". floorplan is to scale 1" = 1' and fermenters are scaled based on Ss Brewtechs 10BBL tanks (55"x55"). some of questions we have are below and we truly appreciate any and all feedback regarding how to go about this process in the smartest and efficient way.

    Equipment needs?
    What is the ideal brewhouse for this space?
    How much can we brew based on the space?
    Wort loss on a commercial level?

    Thanks in advance and let me know if there's anything else we can answer for you. Cheers!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Send me an email, and I can help you work through some equipment selection, layout, and other needs for your consideration.
    Brewery Design Consultant, Experienced Commercial Brewer​ | d 504.930.4462 (schedule a call)

    1652 Religious St New Orleans, LA​ | p 855.953.8853


    • #3
      What volume of of sales can you expect? Building layout looks great (Cooler could be bigger). Make sure you factor in grain storage, kegs, chemicals, crowlers, packaging line (if in the plans). Hop storage, glassware, merchandise, Jockey boxes, festival eazy-up's, office. Where will the glycol chiller be located, roof, or ground. Move the cooler so the bar patrons can see the BH, fermenters. with out turning their heads very much. And most important, sloped flooring to drains (nothing sucks more than squeegeing floors constantly. Save some money and start with 3 FV's with 2 ports that you can have both a sample port and a carbonation stone assembly. Saves a lot of time and chemicals, and with good practice beer will we very solid
      (less chance for O2 pick-up) these uni tanks can acts as a bright tank just in case, 1 dedicated bright, and a yeast brink(15gallon).
      Any questions


      • #4
        Lance brings up some good points. If you're doing packaging, this is a tiny space and you should stop right there. Utilities will also probably be your deal-breakers as you look at places. Otherwise, having done this recently in less space, I have a couple additional thoughts.

        As far as overall layout, I'm assuming the internal walls are up for grabs. I would definitely move the bar; regardless of where you're serving from an exterior wall is difficult (your lines go through either the ceiling or the floor) and your back bar is going to block the windows. And yes, you will need bathrooms, and they'll have to be ADA compliant, so that eats up basically the far right wall you've indicated (figure 6x6 ft outside dimensions each). I'll tell you from experience you don't want people walking through production space to get to them though. You'll also need storage/utility/janitor closets, probably want an office, etc. I could go on and on... your architect will tell you why you're dumb and your ideas will never work in real life.

        As for serving, it isn't clear from the layout if you're serving from unitanks, kegging off unitanks, left out a brite, plan on serving tanks in the cooler, etc. so it's hard to give guidance there. Being this early, I'm sure you don't have answers for a lot, so I'll suggest that if you plan to do the bulk of your sales in the pub/taproom single-wall tanks in a cooler can be an economical option space- and money-wise. If kegging is a big part of the model, that's pretty space-intensive so think about that early on. Moving things in one direction facility-wide is never bad.

        Unless it's just for a few serving tanks, your cooler is tiny. 12x12 lets you do about 45 bbl (90 kegs triple-stacked with a narrow walkway) and you have 60 bbl of FV capacity indicated. Plus 90 kegs in cold storage implies 180+ kegs in rotation, so you need at least that in storage space. When it comes to getting tanks, go vertical. You want some clearance of course, but a foot under the ceiling is pretty for dry hopping, inspection/CIP, etc.

        Big-picture math, hopefully you can do as a brewer. 60 bbl x 365 day/yr / 12 days = 1825 bbl/yr assuming an average of 12 days in tank and no downtime. Figure 1600 real-life. To the loss question, 5-15%, roughly? Depends on recipe specifics, system specifics, etc.

        Bottom line, I suspect you're exactly where I was at this stage and putting the cart half a continent before the horse. You'll make the brewery fit a space that fits your business model given enough time and reasonable budgeting.
        Sent from my Microsoft Bob

        Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own. |


        • #5
          Going to weigh in on this as we're just waiting on our health inspection to get open.
          We're a new 7bbl facility with 5x7bbt in a cold room.

          First off, windows. Do not put your bartenders with their backs to windows. Also, your seated bar patrons will be looking out the windows all the time.
          Windows behind the FVs? Nope. And, this goes for behind the bar too. It's all about light. Not sure of your orientation, but there will be light coming in those windows. You'll be blind when you go to look at anything under, or inside, those FVs. Same with the bar patrons. They'll be blind when they turn around. Or, at night, they'll see themselves in those windows. Then they'll choose to NOT sit at that bar.

          I see you're in NJ, and this is your very first post. In NJ, having those FVs that close to an exterior window could easily play havoc with trying to control fermentation temps. And, better control of fermentation temps is one of the things you HAVE to do at this level. For me, I'd move the FVs inside, against the blank walls in the center. That way the light from the windows will actually help you while working, and not hinder you, or your attempts at fermentation. Just mind your hops. You can skunk an entire case of hops in a matter of 30 seconds if the sun is strong enough.

          There's a couple good comments above. Heed what they say. Also, the part about the bathrooms is correct. Make sure you have them designed ADA or you'll never get past construction review. Not sure in your state but, in mine, we had to have the architect submit plans that included all of the bathroom fixtures and notated the space required for each. For our two, relatively small restrooms, it took about four, or five, pages of info for the state. How are you going to run the beer lines? That'll be a major factor in what you're doing. And, no matter how big you make it, your cooler will never be big enough. They have a magic way of shrinking once you start using them.

          I've gotta talk about two elephants you have in your brewpub.
          First off, going from homebrewing to a 10bbl system is a huge leap. And, going from homebrewing to 6x10bbl FVs is an even huger leap. BTW, guessing with this set up, those are unitanks? As mentioned above, glycol? While you may feel ready to go from homebrewing to 10bbls, I'd bet you're not really getting the whole story and you're glossing over some stuff. I've trained on a 7bbl system with one of the best professional brewers in the US, I have three mentors, all pros with 7bbl, or better, systems and thriving brewpubs, and have been homebrewing for a long time. In fact, I even own a hop farm too. And, I'm still very nervous about opening and find that I learn something new each and every day. Or, I find out I'm doing something in a homebrew fashion when I should be doing it in a big brewer fashion. Have you, or your buddies, trained on larger systems? Huge difference between aerating wort with a plate chiller compared to doing an immersion coil and splashing the beer. As a pro brewer, (see what I did there with the website name?) once your beer leaves the kettle, it's in a completely closed system until it hits a glass. That means there are a few things you definitely have to do differently. And, you don't know what you don't know until you screw up somewhere. And, at this level, each lesson like that is very expensive. And, that leads us to the next elephant, money. Because, dumping a 10bbl fermenter down the drain, along with all the money and time it took to make those 10bbls, is certainly going to make you cry.

          Second: Money.
          This is a hugely ambitious project just coming from homebrewing. And, you need to do a cost sheet just on equipment. Six 10bbl unitanks are going to set you back a couple duccets. And, same for a 10bbl brewhouse set up. And, what are you going to use to heat that brewhouse? I own a couple boats, and the saying is BOAT=Break Out Another Thousand. Same goes for a brewery. But, you can usually add an extra zero to that first thousand. Everything you buy, or do, is going to cost more than your best estimates. That's just the way it is. You're joining the big leagues, in a big way, and that's going to cost quite a bit just to put you on the ball field before the game even starts. BTW, the glycol system to cool six 10bbl unitanks is going to cost damn near as much as your brewhouse, if not more. That's just the cooler, not counting installation, piping, valves, controllers, glycol, etc. And, that's not even making any beer yet. That's still just getting ready to make beer. Have you priced out ingredients? Think you might get a surprise there too. While you can get grain at a good price, per pound, you're going to need a lot more than you've ever used before and that jacks the price up pretty quick. And yeast? What yeast do you plan to use? You can easily hit three or four hundred dollars ( or more, especially with liquids) per batch of beer. Again, you need to do a cost sheet on just this aspect and see if you guys have pockets deep enough to even consider going to this level. Especially in one step. Because, that's a big damn step. And chemical costs? Acids? Cleaners? You can get a five gallon bucket of glycol, for that big-ass cooling machine, for about $160 or so each. And that does not include shipping. Not sure of your capacities but I'd figure on a least five or six of them. Probably more.

          Use your most current price sheets and price EVERYTHING out. And, I mean everything. Even TC gaskets add up when you have to buy a bunch. Also, have you scaled your recipes for a 10bbl system? If so, then you also need to do a cost breakdown of each recipe. You have to know what something costs you and where your money is going because it'll certainly feel like you simply open a vein and bleed money all the time.


          • #6

            Hi All,

            One of the other partners in this endeavor here.

            First of all, thanks all for the tons of good information. As you’d expect, we’re still very much wrapping our heads around the overall goals here.

            One important thing of note: None of this is set in stone! We’re still very early on in the process, and most of this process began through stumbling a really great location. The drawings above are quick renditions I made after touring the space and taking some measurements.

            So we’re not committed to a 10bbl brewhouse, and we’re not committed to 6 FVs. In fact, we’re uncertain about brewhouse sizing at this moment, and as for the FVs, the discussion to this point has been to likely start with 3 or less. And yes we’re leaning towards unitanks.

            The primary reason for this post is back to what I said initially: We found what we believe to be a great location. The drawback of the location is that it’s a bit pricier than some of the nearby industrial/manufacturing space (which is the zoning requirement in NJ). So right now, there’s really one thing we’re trying to understand: Ok, we love this space, how can we make it work and would it be worth it?

            Our immediate goal is strictly on-premise sales. So the focus will be on having a nice taproom, but I believe we’d also like to have a small canning line as well. All for sales directly from the brewery.

            The space itself is just over 2000 square feet. The ceilings are very high, and there is room outside for a glycol chiller and other equipment if necessary. There is also a small building outside that is available for storage, but it would be an additional cost to rent.

            I believe our preference would be to keg for taproom beers instead of serving tanks, but I’m open to either. I don’t know much about serving tanks so I’d be happy to hear whatever info you might have.

            I’m attaching a few photos for reference, and I’m also attaching an additional layout that I believe lends itself better to our goals.

            Potential Revised Layout:

            Thanks all!


            • #7
              Great follow up. Keep us posted on this build out. Have the cooler as a back wall for the bar and that way you can just install shanks through the cooler wall to the faucets/Perlick dispensing. this will eliminate the need for any major glycol trunk line draught system.