[Tastebridge] beer brewing 200-500 l equipment recommendations

Richard Conroy richard.conroy at gmail.com
Tue Nov 26 15:17:45 UTC 2013

Hi Frantisek,

    I know some professional and semi-professional brewers here in London.
I will try and summarise as much advice as possible.

The most important thing, is that if you want to make beer commercially, is
that you need to know how to brew consistently. You can learn to brew on
200L or 500L brewhouses, but most people prefer to make 20L mistakes rather
than 500L mistakes.

For a 20L batch of beer, I will probably be using about £15 worth of
grains, hops and yeast. If you do the maths, then a 200L batch is £150 and
a 500L batch is closer to £400. You might get bulk deals on buying malted
barley/wheat by the pallet (1 ton orders), but that depends a lot on your
local situation for buying hops & grain.

To get that consistency you need to brew a lot. Even beginning brewers can
make excellent beers, by keeping things simple and doing the basics right,
but they will struggle to reproduce the results, until they have a lot more
practice. I know some excellent brewers who have a weekly brewing routine,
but have only been brewing for 3-4 years. Personally, I have been brewing
beer for less than 18 months (and all grain for less than a year), and I
still have issues with my process, but I brew less than twice a month.

Many people build their own equipment, and it is very cheap to adapt a 100L
stock pot into a single vessel brew house (brew in a bag system). There are
commercial all-in-one systems like the Speidel Braumeister which go up to
the 200L and 500L capacities, but they are very expensive. However they are
very beginner friendly and have integrated cooling.

You can look at building your own three vessel systems also. I dont have
personal experience of 3V setups myself, so I will defer to others on that

There are a lot of logistical issues that come into play when you start
brewing on equipment larger than 50L. It is now impractical for you to use
muscle power, so you need to consider pumps for fluid transfer, grain
hoppers, electric grain mills, and vertical feed systems.

Immersion chillers (copper coils) will use a very high ratio of water mains
temperature water to hot wort. Every 1L of hot wort, will take 10-20L of
water to bring it down to pitch temperature. There are other chilling
devices (like plate chillers) which are more efficient on coolant use. If
you have a use for the water, like an irrigation project, or a large
reservoir (like a rainwater collection system, swimming pool, stream) then
that isn't waste, but many locations cannot use water in those quantities
just as a coolant.

The best equipment to invest in is fermenters. Conical fermenters are very
practical at fermenting the beer completely, and you can draw off the yeast
cake in a practical fashion - to brighten the beer, remove the yeast as a
source of off flavours, and allow you to harvest and reuse yeast.
Temperature control is a key issue, and another concern is air circulation
- you could get a lot of CO2 build up if your fermentation room is either
small or not well ventilated, and that could be a safety issue.

For recipe advice, use software like beersmith, it will help in predicting
colour and bitterness, and will help you refine your process.

Also, dark malty beers are easier to make than light hoppy ones. They are
more forgiving, in terms of flavour balance and clarity. Lighter beers,
like US style pale ales, and UK style golden ales, have higher hop rates,
which are easy to unbalance without experience.

Best of luck with the project.

If you have any other questions, let me know.


On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 3:17 PM, Frantisek Apfelbeck <algoldor at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Hi to all,
> I've a question to ask about beer brewing. It is about set up allowing to
> brew 200-500 l batches of beer, malt and hops (granulates) being used.
> We are finishing up a list of equipment for a brewing facility and it
> looks like that I'll have some extra cash to dedicate to specific beer
> brewing which I want to experiment with next year. I'm thinking about dark
> beer and some lighter beer for the summer, both I would aim to be higher
> quality beers so rather keeping the customer from a long term perspective.
> I plan to use malt, not syrups. However I'm a beginner with beer brewing so
> I'll have to go easy first, I'll have some time to experiment.
> I would like to know what type of equipment would be optimal for brewing
> lets say 200-500 l batches of beer to start with. That would be our
> commercial size, experimental one would be between 20-50 l max. The
> fermentation process could be done in floating lid vessels so adjustable to
> the amount which we will need at the time.  I've seen the three vessel
> systems for beer brewing online like here
> https://www.google.com/search?q=three+vessel+beer+brewing&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=SsOQUqTwJOeZiQeD2oDwAg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1280&bih=847#facrc=_&imgrc=sB1a0bI0pdj8IM%3A%3BUhfk-y9EXFTE_M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fdrinks.seriouseats.com%252Fimages%252F2012%252F08%252F20120809-217995-Homebrew-three-vessel-brewing.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fdrinks.seriouseats.com%252F2012%252F08%252Fhomebrewing-3-vessel-brewing-setup-process-step-by-step-all-grain-beer-at-home.html%3B610%3B458
> which seems to me reasonable but I do not know too much about the
> technology behind - I did some reading but have another projects to focus
> on lately so I'm not confident what to really look for and what to be
> careful about.
> Another part which I'm not sure of is the cooling system - chiller to cool
> down the batch after the boiling.  I've seen the copper based tube systems
> which circulate the cold water inside but I'm not sure if this is suitable
> for brews over 200 l or so. Any idea?
> I think it would be also wise to have a draft system so we can go for
> events, at least two or three taps, two for beer maybe one for non
> alcoholic, plus casks for transportation and storage.
> Concerning bottling it looks like I'll have to use a manual approach,
> gravitation flow I'm afraid based, bottling machine will be too expensive I
> think ...
> Anyway if you would have some advice that would be nice. I think that if
> we cut on variety of things we may have around $7 000 to invest just to the
> brewing equipment for beer. Note that we will have all the rest like
> tables, stoves, cold room, fermentation room too (the later being however
> for multiple types of fermentation) etc. from another part of the budget.
> The prices are likely to be higher in Korea and that is where we have to
> get our equipment from.
> Thanks for any info,
> Sincerely,
> Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck
> biotechnologist&kvasir and hacker
> http://www.frantisekapfelbeck.org
> "There is no way to peace, peace is the way." Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
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http://richardconroy.blogspot.com | http://twitter.com/RichardConroy
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