Brewery Sizing

At Forgeworks we specialize in building 3.5 - 15 Barrel Brewhouses - the ideal fit for the Brewpub business model. To support this size range, we also build up to 30 Barrel Hot/Cold Liquor Tanks and Cellar Vessels. 

Seven, ten, fifteen barrels? How do you choose the perfect brewhouse and cellar vessel size? Some good questions to start with are: 

  • What is your forecasted annual production in barrels for the brewery?
  • What is the brewery's growth plan, 3-5 years out?  
  • Will your current facility allow for this size and future expansion (example: adding cellar tanks)?

Forgeworks can help you understand the space required for each size system by providing you with a vessel footprint. We can even draw up a floorplan to scale to help you understand how to best utilize every square foot of the brewery. 

Sizing your Equipment

As a general rule of thumb,  your can figure a potential of up to 50 brewing weeks per year,  leaving two weeks a year for deep cleaning shutdown, or break for the holiday season, etc. Based on a 50 week year: one brew per day for a five day week gives you a potential of 250 brew days per year. Usually,  two brews a week is where most breweries start,  and may eventually incorporate an occasional double brew day on the most popular beer.  Another consideration: double sized Hot Liquor tank, adding a third brewhouse vessel (mash mixer or dedicated whirlpool) and double or triple sized Fermentation and Brite Tanks opens up the possibility for brewing multiple batches per day.

Most sources recommend that your business plan includes five years of growth.  Potentially,  should you have the floor space and fermentation capacity,  in five years you could be brewing  three back to back brews,  three days per week. At that point you will have maxed out the potential of your brewhouse and likely you have a beer or two that your community can't get enough of. 

Brewhouse Capacity (conservative estimate)
3.5 BBL = 875 BBLs per year
Grain Bill Range: 158-343lbs
Pluto Range: 10.46-21.76
Specific Gravity Range: 1.042-1.091

5 BBL = 1250 BBLs per year
Grain Bill Range: 230-498lbs
Pluto Range: 10.64-22.12
Specific Gravity Range: 1.043-1.092

7 BBL = 1750 BBLs per year
Grain Bill Range: 315-682lbs
Pluto Range: 10.42-21.69
Specific Gravity Range: 1.042-1.091

10 BBL = 2500 BBLs per year
Grain Bill Range: 460-996lbs
Pluto Range: 10.65-22.13
Specific Gravity Range: 1.043-1.093

15 BBL = 3750 BBLs per year
Grain Bill Range: 670-1451lbs
Pluto Range: 10.35-21.54
Specific Gravity Range: 1.041-1.090

Cellar Capacity
Next up is deciding the number of and size of the tanks in your cellar. How many types of beers do you plan on having on tap, and what percentage of those beers will be Lagers?

  • Ales take approximately two weeks for Fermentation. This equates to 25 turns per 50 week year.
  • Lagers take approximately 4 weeks for Fermentation. This equates to 12.5 turns per 50 week year.

Based on this, how much cellar space do you need to hit your annual production numbers? Figure the required capacity for both your Ales and Lagers.  Will your current facility accommodate this many tanks?

Other notable Considerations: 

Will you have enough cold storage for single-wall serving tanks and kegs to meet your forecasted annual production?  You may want to consider having a few of your fermenters built as Uni-Tanks. Although the use of a Uni-Tank can tie up the vessel for a longer period of time,  it does allow you to use the tank as a fermenter, brite, and serving tank. Uni-Tanks are equipped with a carb stone and level gauge tubes (for tax determination).

You will likely have one or two beers that become so popular that you continue to run dry, or have to brew less of other beers to keep up. A double or triple sized fermenter comes in handy to meet the demands of your flagship offerings.

Lance Johnson