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How big should my brewery be? October 5, 2015 / 11 Comments / in Blog

October 5, 2015 / 11 Comments / in Blog

How big should my brewery be? How many square feet do I need for a brewery? How large of a facility should I get? As the host of a podcast about how to start a brewery I have spoken with over 70 brewers, brewery owners, and other experts in the craft beer industry. So I often hear this question from listeners around the world.

Of course you need to consider a number of factors to determine the size of your brewery. For example:

Size of your brew systemfactors to determine the size of your brewery. For example: Your annual production capacity Barrels of

Your annual production capacitysize of your brewery. For example: Size of your brew system Barrels of beer you plan

Barrels of beer you plan to brew each yearSize of your brew system Your annual production capacity Just the business model plays a major

Just the business model plays a major role in deciding how many square feet you’ll need for your brewery.

Brewpub serving only on-site consumptionhow many square feet you’ll need for your brewery. Nanobrewery with taproom and no distribution Production

Nanobrewery with taproom and no distributionfor your brewery. Brewpub serving only on-site consumption Production brewery with complete bottling, canning, and

Production brewery with complete bottling, canning, and kegging linesconsumption Nanobrewery with taproom and no distribution As you could imagine, there is no one-size- ts-all

As you could imagine, there is no one-size- ts-all size requirement. It’s a tough question to answer, but an important answer to nd out.

If your brewery is too small, you’ll be crowded for space.

“Even though we have a big building, we don’t have a large area for Sean [the brewer] to store kegs in and we only have four serving tanks. So serving tanks have to get low enough that he could keg o , that it will t in the keg storage area, so that he could brew another beer. So we’re constantly ghting the battle… and we’re desperately wanting to get more cold storage space.”

And if your brewery is too large, you waste precious money on the startup cost for square footage that won’t be used.

Yet, with craft beer’s explosive growth that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, you’ll likely be expanding operations not long after opening.

“I would have built a larger infrastructure at the outset,” says Brett Tate from Dust Bowl Brewing Company [http://www.dustbowlbrewing.com] . “We’ve expanded the operation and reached capacity production three times since we started brewing in 2009. We’ve now maximized what we can t in the footprint of our current building… Our new site will, or course, have room to grow, so at least we’ve learned!”

Space requirements for a brewery vary greatly

If you read the books about starting a brewery and online beer forums, you can nd magic formulas to tell you how big your brewery should be.

For example:

1,000 square feet, per barrel of brewhouse running at capacityto tell you how big your brewery should be. For example: 1 to 1.5 square feet,

1 to 1.5 square feet, per barrels produced, per yearsquare feet, per barrel of brewhouse running at capacity JVNW’s website has a lot of information

JVNW’s website has a lot of information and brochures [http://jvnw.com/beer/] with speci cations and resource requirements. As a manufacturer of brewing equipment, they work with a lot of di erent breweries in a huge variety of con gurations.

JVNW’s sizing recommendations are:

Complete brewery: 0.5 to 1 square feet, per barrel of yearly capacityof con gurations. JVNW’s sizing recommendations are: Sacked malt storage: 0.15 to 0.25 square feet, per

Sacked malt storage: 0.15 to 0.25 square feet, per barrel of yearly capacitybrewery: 0.5 to 1 square feet, per barrel of yearly capacity Again, a number of factors

Again, a number of factors will a ect the space requirements for your speci c brewery and con guration. For example:

Size and number of vessels in the brewhouseyour speci c brewery and con guration. For example: Size and number of fermentation vessels and

Size and number of fermentation vessels and bright tanksFor example: Size and number of vessels in the brewhouse How many batches you plan to

How many batches you plan to do each weekSize and number of fermentation vessels and bright tanks Incidentally, JVNW says the average sta requirement

Incidentally, JVNW says the average sta requirement is 0.75 sta per 1,000 barrels of yearly capacity. Whereas, Lakewood Brewing [http://lakewoodbrewing.com] , the one who recommends 1,000 square feet per barrel of

9/13/2017

How big should my brewery be? – MicroBrewr

So my takeaway is just that the stats vary greatly.

Space requirements for breweries on MicroBrewr Podcast

To get a handle on exactly what the square footage requirement is for a small craft brewery, MicroBrewr Podcast listener, Akhilesh Pandey dug into the stats from the show notes.

Another podcast listener, Peter Stillmank from Stillmank Brewing Co. [http://www.stillmankbrewing.com] in Green Bay, Wisconsin, asked for these stats to get a better picture of our discussions in MicroBrewr Podcast. At episode 41, I started asking for speci c statistics including: size of the brewhouse, number of vessels, annual capacity, and square footage.

For this exercise, we were concerned only with how many square feet are required for a small craft brewery.

So Akhilesh dug into the numbers and plotted them into a spreadsheet. He compared each brewery’s annual capacity to its square footage, and calculated the square footage per barrel of yearly capacity.

What were the results?

Well, we looked at the data from 20 di erent breweries from all over the U.S. plus one 1 in Ireland. (We had to leave out a few due to incomplete data.) Models include everything from a tiny nanobrewery in the basement of a hotel, all the way up to a large production brewery with international distribution, and everything in between. We’ve spoken with nanobreweries, brewpubs, and production packaging breweries.

If we take the total square footage for all breweries and divide it by the total yearly capacity of all breweries, it equals 0.8 square feet required per barrel of yearly capacity. This gives sort of an industry-wide e ciency, but it doesn’t really look at what each brewery is doing on an individual basis.

Craft beer is a young industry. It’s home to a wide variety of players with varying levels of experience, knowledge, and preferences. So the range of their space e ciency is extremely wide.

When we calculate the square footage per barrel of yearly capacity at each individual brewery, the maximum was 40 square feet, the minimum was 0.2 square feet, and the average (mean) was 4.6 square feet per barrel.

Square footage per barrel of yearly capacity at 20 craft breweries in the U.S.A. and Ireland:

Calculation method

Square feet per yearly barrel production capacity

Maximum

40.0

Minimum

0.2

Average (mean)

4.6

Median

1.6

STD Dev. with 99% con dence

2.16

Range

39.8

That seemed kind of high. I thought maybe the average was being skewed by outliers.

So I checked the median. The median is 1.6 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

Median is often used to calculate skewed data sets [https://statistics.laerd.com/statistical-guides/measures-central- tendency-mean-mode-median.php] . It sort of cancels out those outliers like the nanobrewery that uses a whopping 40 square feet per barrel produced, and the brewpub/production brewery that somehow blasts out a full barrel of beer for every 0.2 square feet they occupy.

Now, I’m not a mathematician, I don’t recall much from Statistics class. But Akhil has more insight to o er.

“The average the way you have it there,” he writes by email, “is not the right method because it does not eliminate the outlier.”

Akhil looked at the “standard deviation” (I remember that term from Statistics class) and found that those few data points that are just so far from the others, don’t really help us. They’re considered oddballs. By taking o the 3 outliers from the end, Akhil can get 99% con dence in his calculation.

With 99% con dence, we can guess that your brewery would need 2.16 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

So there you have it

How much space do you need for your brewery in planning or for your next expansion brewery?

First gure out how many barrels of beer you plan to be able to produce per year, your total capacity.

Then gure on needing about 2.16 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

Another way of looking at it, says Peter, “When you purchase your building, divide the square feet by 2.16 to gure out what the building’s [annual production] capacity is. When you reach this [production level] it will be time to move.”

Special thanks to longtime MicroBrewr Podcast listeners, Peter Stillmank and Akhilesh Pandey for your help on this post.

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11 REPLIES     Dustin Hauck   October 14, 2015 at 7:43 am Hi Nathan. This

October 14, 2015 at 7:43 am

Hi Nathan. This is a great article. You have some excellent data here that will help a lot of breweries in planning. A question for you: When calculating square footage per barrel of yearly capacity, how many brew cycles per week are in the calculation to determine yearly barrel capacity? When many small breweries open, they may only be brewing a few times per week. That’s 2 per week x 50 weeks per year

= 100 sessions per year. As they grow, this will increase. They can reach a max. of 2+ batches per day, 7 days a week. 14 brews per week x 50 weeks = 700 sessions per year. Now that is a cranking brew house! For a 15 BBL brew house, this could be 1,500 to 10,500 BBLs yearly production. That is a huge

di erence. This is why planning for expansion is critical. Using your 2.16 S.F. per yearly BBL production,

this 15 BBL brew house brewery could start with 3,240 S.F. minimum. But could need 22,680 S.F. at max. production.

For comparison, of the almost 40 breweries we have worked on to date, our average S.F. per yearly BBL production is 3.1. Albeit, with conservative production numbers. As production grows, I agree that 2.16 S.F. per yearly BBLs is a great planning number.

It is important for any new brewery to determine how may brew sessions they will do per week. And,

how that number will increase as demand for their product grows. And as you stated, your business model (tap room, distribution, etc.) can have a large impact on how much space you need.

Speci c Mechanical has a great formula for calculating annual production and the number of tanks it will take to get there. http://speci cmechanical.com/products-services/brewery-systems/system-sizing

Another great article. Keep it up!

Cheers, T. Dustin Hauck, Architect Hauck Architecture

Cheers, T. Dustin Hauck, Architect Hauck Architecture Reply Nathan Pierce October 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

October 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

Dustin, thanks for the kind words and for your contributing thoughts. As you said, annual production capacity is a factor of the size of brewhouse and the number of batches per year. Number of batches per year is limited by the quantity of fermenters available. That article you linked looks pretty helpful for calculating that requirement. In basic planning, I gure maybe 2- week fermentation cycles. So 6 fermentation tanks would allow 3 batches per week: brew one day, bottle the next, take the weekends o . 10 fermentation tanks would allow 5 batches per week, brewing every day, and dedicated sta bottling every day. All this is pretty simpli ed, assuming that fermenters are the same size as the brewhouse, there is enough sta to package the beer as fast as it’s being brewed, there’s enough oor space to do the work, etc. To complicate matters more… If fermenters were twice the size of the brewhouse, two batches per day could ll one fermenter, the sta could do multiple batches per day by working longer shifts or rotating shifts around the clock–variables are endless! gahh This study is just to nd a basic calculation for early planning purposes. phew haha Thanks for your comments!

planning purposes. phew haha Thanks for your comments! Reply Robert Long March 15, 2016 at 1:23

March 15, 2016 at 1:23 am

Opening a brewery plant is not a matter of some days. It takes months for its proper installation. For example, if we think of microbrewery oors, we always look for the best contractors available in market to get the work done in a professional manner.

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How big should my brewery be? – MicroBrewr

April 27, 2016 at 1:59 am  

April 27, 2016 at 1:59 am

 

Amazing information and extremely critical when planning a brewery. I also believe that in addition to project planning and optimizing start-up costs and future expansion, you need the right equipment to provide your customers with a beer as was intended by the brewer.

 

If anyone would be interested in a future expansion or acquisition of a fully customizable brewery system, please check us out at http://www.china-ximo.com

Ravi Jintendra Sanghvi  
 

October 12, 2016 at 7:49 am

I must say it should be like Brutopia, Montreal. It was just a fantastic weekend last week with my friends over there. I like their services, their beers and sandwiches. de nitely recommended.

 
  Nathan Pierce  
   

October 12, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Thanks, Ravi. I’d love to visit Montreal some day!

   
Matt

Matt

February 7, 2017 at 6:16 am

 
 

Does the 2.16 number include tap room space? I’m assuming so since you seem to have normalized your data across all business types, but you know what they say about assumptions Also, are these numbers still viable?

your data across all business types, but you know what they say about assumptions Also, are
  Nathan Pierce  
   

February 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

   

Matt, thanks for checking in. The numbers are based on survey respondents’ answers. For each episode of MicroBrewr Podcast, I ask the guest from a brewery what their square footage is. You can nd individual data points on the show notes for each episode, starting at episode 041.

  Adrian
 

Adrian

July 31, 2017 at 4:08 pm

   

Great article Nathan. I’m also interested in an answer to Matt’s question. Do you know if the brewpubs surveyed were including their seating space when quoting their square footage?

  Nathan Pierce
 

August 6, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Most of the square footage was reported as a one number; I don’t know whether it was seating space and production space. So for the 2 that did report separate

   

numbers for seating and production space, we erred on the safe side and left out seating. That was episodes 041 and 070, which were 600 sq. ft. and 3,000 sq. ft., respectively.

 

This exercise is meant as a guide, it shows the average across a wide spectrum of business models and brewery types. There are too many factors to give a one-size- ts-all answer. Run your own numbers, do you own research, and let us know what works for you.

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