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Thread: Volume estimates

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Volume estimates

    We're trying to determine the volume of beer required for a new start-up brewpub/sm restraurant operation to service a population of "average" beer drinkers in a community of 50,000. Equipment purchase decisions depend upon volume requirements, of course. Any 'guesses' or 'estimates' from experienced folks would be appreciated; any directions to search for same
    information would also be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    From: Bob Taylor

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    "...Equipment purchase decisions depend upon volume requirements, of course. Any 'guesses' or 'estimates' from experienced folks would be appreciated..."

    Firstly, you should be able to guage your beer sales as a percentage of volume based on your anticipated food sales and number of seats. Food sales and kitchen operating costs are far more important to a brewpub than what happens on the brewing side because of the high labor costs involved. If you haven't already, you can contact the National Restaurant Association
    ( for a numerous amount of resources including the current Industry Operations Report.

    That said, unless you have space constraints, here are some common sense tips to keep in mind:

    1- The majority of all brewpubs in the U.S. are using between a 7 and 15 bbl system. Unless you have special requirements these should be your basic choices.
    2- The smaller the system, the more labor is needed. As sales increase, labor increases. You'll penalize yourself for your own success by putting in a system that's too small. And, if you have to turn the beer too quickly you may end up hurting that success with "green" beer.

    3- The room needed for a 10 bbl system is not much bigger than what's needed for a 7 bbl.
    The same is true for a 15 bbl vs. a 10 bbl, and so on.
    4- The cost of a 10 bbl system is not that much greater than for a 7 bbl. Regardless of the brewlength you'll need a mill, floor pumps, heat exchanger, CO2, hoses, floor drains, steam generator or gas burners, etc. When it's all said and done, it won't cost much more to buy a slightly larger system.

    5- You can alway add fermenters or switch them up to double their size, but it will be difficult to remove and install a bigger brewhouse.
    6- If you do put in a brewhouse that's too big you have several options. Outside sales, additional lagering time, split batches, selling off an extra fermenter or serving tank, etc. If you feel you'll be successful you shoudn't have to worry about that. (Stale beer in brewpubs is usually because they're trying to sell too many different brands and the slower sellers just sit! It's not because the system is too big.)

    7- Maximum production is usually based on the number and size of your fermenters (and the type of beers you brew) - not the brewhouse size. So leave yourself room to add another fermenter - or increase their capacity by making them taller.
    8- Serving tanks save money vs. the constant cleaning and filling of kegs. A 15 bbl server costs @$6,500 but the 30+ kegs needed to handle the same amount will still cost @$3,750 new or even $1,500 used. They also save space vs. kegs!

    9- Obviously this page is a great help, but don't be afraid to contact a brewer in your area. They're almost always happy to help!

    Jim Brennan

    From: Jim Brennan (

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