In our industry, capital equipment selection for a start-up operation is arrived at by an equation:

  • Your equipment selection is determined by your production requirements.
  • Your production requirements are determined in turn by your sales projections.
  • Your sales projections in turn are determined by your market analysis.

How do I determine the appropriate brewing system size for my project? To begin with, your equipment selection is determined by the quantity of beer that you need to produce per year to meet your anticipated sales projections. Also, in the case of brewpubs, the other question to answer is how many different beers do you want to have on tap at the same time?

The standard metric unit of measurement in a brewery is the hectoliter (100 liters). The “size” of a brewing system is a measurement of the individual brewing batch size of the brewhouse vessels (the brewkettle and mash/lauter tun). Thus, a 4-hectoliter brewing system means that the brewhouse vessels are 4-hectoliters in size, and therefore, each batch of brewed beer is four hectoliters, or 400 liters.

Brewing is a batch process, with each batch of beer brewed taking between 2 – 4 weeks to process through from brewing to serving. The actual brewing takes 6-8 hours, fermentation takes one week, and conditioning takes an additional 1-3 weeks, depending on the type of beer being made. Top-fermenting “ales” take two weeks to process a batch, while bottom-fermenting lagers take 3-4 weeks to process. Thus, a brewery’s annual production capacity is determined primarily by the number and size of the tanks (fermentation and serving) that it has, and the annual production capacity of a brewery is expanded by adding additional tanks. For example, with a 2-week production cycle beer, in a 50-week work year, each fermentation tank can process 25 batches of beer. So, if you have a 4-hectoliter fermenter, one 4-hl fermenter x 25 batches = 100 hectoliters/10,000 liters of beer per tank per year.

So, as I mentioned above, your equipment selection will be determined by how much beer (measured in liters/hectoliters) you think that you can sell per year, and also by the number of different beers you want to have available on tap at the same time.

The different brewpub brewing systems that we offer, in ascending size of brewhouse, are as follows. The maximum annual production capacities are based on producing 2-week production cycle ales, and assume that you have a sufficient number of tanks to physically store the volume of beer being brewed.

  • 4-hl/3.5-bbl System: 500 barrels/600 hectoliters/60,000 liters per year
  • 10-hl/8.5-bbl System: 1,200 barrels/1,400 hectoliters/140,000 liters per year
  • 17.5-hl/15-bbl System: 3,000 barrels/3,500 hectoliters/350,000 liters per year

To see each of these different brewing systems, please go to the Brewpub Equipment section of our website at

In choosing the appropriate brewing system for your needs, please keep in mind that all of the equipment in a brewing system is sized for that particular system. If you outgrow the size of your brewhouse vessels, then you will have to replace the entire brewing system. When you plan for expansion, it is better to project your sales, and thus your production requirements for three years into the future, put in a brewhouse that is large enough for your Year Three volume of production, and then start your brewery with only enough tanks to meet your Year 1 volume of production. Then, as your sales increase, and your production requirements grow, you can expand the production capacity of you brewing system by just adding additional new tanks as needed.