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Top 10 not-very-sexy forgotten costs of installing a brewery

Updated: Apr 12

A brewer sampling beer in progress of production
Brewer's least favourite part of the job

When planning a brewery, it is easy to get caught up in the exciting parts. We all love thinking about the stainless steel, designing the taproom, what beers we want to make and how we will market them. Unfortunately, when starting out, many breweries often overlook some not-very-sexy but crucial elements which could have been planned for in the beginning. 

In the following article, we will be covering the ten most common overlooked areas that many new breweries make. We hope that by reading this, you will be able to avoid them and have a better chance of success in your business.

No one wants a nasty surprise (that costs thousands of dollars) when you should be happily making beer and listening to Iron Maiden.

Brewery realities—time to get real

Budgeting well is crucial for any business start-up, and for one as capital-intensive as starting a brewery, this is even more so. That is why it is so important to go into the planning and brewery procurement process with eyes wide open, to fully understand exactly what cost will be involved. No one wants a nasty surprise (that costs thousands of dollars) when you should be happily making beer and listening to Iron Maiden. 

The first thing to understand is that your initial start-up capital will almost certainly be insufficient. You can avoid this by understanding all of the costs involved, and then giving yourself a healthy margin for error.

It’s sadly the case that brewery start-ups frequently get left to their own devices for all project management; utilities sizing, and; site preparation. This can leave them with surprises at the time of installation causing the project to run over budget, wasting precious brewing time and often leading to lost revenue. 

Taking the time to assess the needs of your brewery pre-start-up will allow you to get a better handle on your project in order to have it completed on budget.

Top 10 things ‘not very sexy’ items that you should plan for and fully understand:

01/ Electrical installation

When thinking about installing power in a brewery it's important to consider the whole of the project. This involves more than just connecting running power to the main control board and turning it on. Unfortunately, it normally means running power cables to every motor, solenoid valve, temperature probe and more in the whole brewery.

This can be very complex and should be done by a specialist who understands the whole process. Does your electrical installer understand the brewing process?

02/ Burner sourcing and certification within a brewery

As a brewery grows it needs to increase its brewing capacity. This normally means increasing the output of the boiler system. In most cases, this will mean increasing the power output of the burners. Sizing, installing, and certifying the correct burners for a direct-fired brewery is critical.

We have seen brewers begin installing a brewery who didn’t even know they needed to source burners. Who is supplying your burners? What size are they going to be? 

03/ Pressure vessel design verification, inspection, and registration

Safety should be the number one consideration when planning any brewery installation. One thing that is so often overlooked is regulation around pressure vessels. In Australia, registration of pressure vessels is mandatory in all States and Territories, although requirements do differ. This is to provide evidence of design, traceability and ultimately protection from harm, of the installation.

All your fermenters and bright tanks will almost certainly be classed as pressure vessels and will need to be verified, inspected, and registered. Who can perform this for you and what is the cost?

04/ Draftsman for building CAD drawings for your brewery

What sort of drawings do you need? As a general rule, it is best to have your entire brewery designed as a single project. This is because many of the elements that make up your brewery are inter-related and dependant on each other. Having an accurate CAD drawing of your site for planning purposes is essential.

This allows you to plan the effective layout of your brewery and have as many elements prefabricated as possible to save on paying local trades to do so after the fact. Don’t skimp on this, you’ll never regret having these plans they will pay for themselves many times over.

05/ Flue installation

The installation of your flues is another item that we see regularly being overlooked. This is a critical part of your brewery and it should be done properly. Many of us have seen the disastrous results that can come from an inadequate flue installation. This can have a devastating effect on your entire brewery, not to mention the health and safety implications.

Sometimes breweries aren’t supplied with flues or even ones that are long enough to reach the ceiling. Who can install them for you? Have you got a line item in your budget for them?

06/ Additional cellar equipment (hoses and fittings etc)

So often breweries are supplied with the bare minimum of hoses and cellar fittings that you can practically only perform one task at a time. Not optimal use of your brewer’s time. In actual fact the brewery can be more efficient if you are able to move around with hose lines in place. The better systems are designed for this and will allow for quick replacement of hoses between tasks.

Have you designed your processes and determined exactly what fitting you will realistically need?

07/ Electrical capacity at the site and potential upgrade

So often a site is chosen and locked in before understanding the available power at the site. Even if you have a large budget for electrical installation, you can reduce the cost by understanding what is available and whether it can be upgraded. Is there enough power at the site to run your brewery?

This is a critical question and is not having the answer is one of the biggest surprise costs that we see for brewery installations and unfortunately, it cannot be avoided. What is the electrical capacity of your site and what does your brewery and future expansion require?

08/ Wastewater discharge and treatment

Who is connecting your sexy, new drains to the trade waste and what are you allowed to pump down there? We’ve seen wastewater treatment upgrades required by local councils which send breweries broke before they even open. We've also seen councils with the authority to regulate wastewater treatment upgrades do nothing to help, leaving an unsuspecting brewer with a huge bill.

Solutions can cost many thousands of dollars. Don’t lock in any budgets until you fully understand your obligations for trade waste discharge.

09/ Compressed air production and distribution

Do you understand your compressed air requirements and what sort of air compressor you will need? Will it be too noisy to run during opening hours? Will it stop you from brewing when people are drinking? Can you wash kegs and brew at the same time? 

Don’t forget the distribution system including regulators, pipe and fitting costs which can run into the thousands without you even realising. 

10/ CO2 distribution

Where do you need CO2 in your brewery and how is it getting there? Like compressed air, distribution systems can be costly if not planned properly. Will your regulators freeze up when you need shouldn’t? Do you need CO2 monitoring systems for safety?

Brewery goals—the WellBrewd Advantage

At WellBrewd we understand the issues faced when designing and building breweries, we’ve collectively been doing this for more than 40 years. We know what questions to ask, the things that need to be considered, and what solutions to recommend. We also have a team of highly skilled project managers who help ensure your brewery will be built on time and on budget.

Our team will put you at ease by understanding your brewery needs and business goals, defining the right solutions, and then working with you to complete the project. All of our projects are designed and built to your specifications and delivered right, first time.

Here are just a few things we will do to help you when you need it:

  • We offer consulting services on your next brewery design, so you get the right equipment and even more importantly we help you plan effectively to save thousands.

  • We offer a design workshop included with every full brewery purchase which will save you tens of thousands just by helping you plan effectively.  We have a full time dedicated project manager for every project, with an average of 15 years experience in all aspects of brewery construction.

  • We leverage our experience by prefabricating everything possible to reduce your local installation costs. 

  • We can offer all-inclusive installation and commissioning, so you know your costs to get up and running and there are no hidden surprises.

  • All our brewhouses come with their electrics pre-wired and tested in-factory so there is minimal work for local trades at installation. 

  • All our tanks come with pressure vessel design verification done by us and we can point you to trusted inspectors to independently inspect and register them for you onsite.

If you're in the planning stages of building a brewery , WellBrewd offers you solutions including brewhouse tanks and equipment, saving you from the overwhelm of having to source and connect product from multiple suppliers.


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