Most brewers start out in garages, workshops, and other tiny spaces. But, as you start brewing more beer, you might decide you want to upgrade, which often means expanding the size of your brewing area.
Building a brewery can allow you to brew enough to make it a full-time job – with the space to brew, age, and store the beers you brew. Depending on what you want, your brewery may also have space for a taproom or serving area.
Choosing a building size, setting goals for your brewery, and planning a brewery based around budget, location, and demand are important. Often, that will mean drawing up a business plan to validate every part of your brewery.
For example, whether you want space for simple brewing equipment, bottling equipment, and packaging equipment – or are going for a full taproom, extras like malting areas, and barrel aging facilities – will all require budget and justification of that budget.
The following article goes over some of the considerations when building a brewery.
Brewery Construction Considerations
If you’ve decided to build a brewery, you have to consider every factor. For example, your budget, the brewery’s size, location, equipment, and future potential are all important factors.
Your brewery needs to be big enough to support the business for the first 5 years of operation.
Moving sooner than that will likely incur more costs than building bigger. Therefore, you want to calculate prospective growth over the next 5 years, and plan to size your building to that.
Most parts of the U.S. zone land for breweries, meaning that you can’t build a brewery just anywhere. Instead, you’ll have to check zoning regulations with your city hall or build outside of city limits. This can greatly limit where you’re allowed to install a brewery.
However, it’s important to check this and what land is actually available for you before you purchase and start to build.
Your equipment will heavily impact how much space you need to brew.
For example, even if you’re starting with a single barrel operation now, you might have plans to grow to a 15 BBL later. If your floor space doesn’t allow that – you’ll have to move later.
In addition, floor space isn’t everything. Often, you can increase tank size with only minimal increases in floor space. A 75 BBL fermenter only takes about twice the floor space of a 15. So, you’ll have to consider the height of the building as well.
Therefore, it’s crucial to actually research which equipment you want to use and how much floor space you need for that before you plan out your brewery construction.
Of course, you’ll want to be able to expand around the equipment, so you shouldn’t lock yourself into one fermenter or liquor tank, but you’ll still want to check your equipment and how it fits together so you can maximize your usage of the space.
Some brewers try to build with a modular approach in mind. That may mean investing in a larger building with a divider and renting part of it out. It may also mean choosing a type of building that allows you to build on it easily.
In both cases, you can expand your operation as your brewery grows, which means you won’t have to move your operation as quickly, if at all.
However, investing in expandability means investing more upfront. That can be a tradeoff with the goal of keeping costs as low as possible.
Brewery Building Components
Every brewery should be at least somewhat customized to the specific needs of the beer it’s brewing. However, every brewery should have roughly the same components, although some of them are optional.
This guide ignores the basics of a foundation and other building components, but do keep in mind that even if you go with prefabricated buildings, you’ll still have to invest in those.
Space for brewing typically includes:
- Hot liquor tanks
- Mash tuns
- Brew kettles
- Water and wort pumps
- Heat exchanger
- Control modules/control panels
A 7 BBL brew tank is usually 45.5” in diameter and 76.5” tall. The hot liquor tank and mash tun will probably be similar in size. That means you’ll need that space x 3 or 4 just for brewing equipment.
In most cases, that also means having a platform or tower to access the top of the equipment. Most breweries use a raised platform if they don’t bury the tanks.
You’ll have to store hop, malt, adjuncts, and yeast before brewing. That often means working in a temperature and humidity-controlled space, easily accessible to loading vehicles.
This space should be large enough to store a full shipment of brewing supplies, allowing you to optimize the difference between order size and storage time to cut costs.
You’ll need brite tanks, fermenters, and cold storage areas for conditioning beer. Often, this equipment is roughly the same size as a brew kettle, meaning you’ll need a 45-foot diameter circle per tank.
In addition, while you typically only need one kettle and mash tun, the more brite tanks and fermenters you have – the more times you can brew. Here, most breweries can start out with a few tanks but reserve space to add more.
Conditioning spaces may also include room for barrel storage for aged beers. However, you also may not want this. Conditioning spaces have to be humidity and temperature controlled.
Bottling & Packaging
Bottling and packaging equipment can be quite compact. However, you’ll still need facilities to bottle and can your brew. This normally means shopping around to find canners and bottling equipment and adjusting the space to that.
You’ll also want to think about storing empty cans, crates, and boxes before they’re used.
If you’re selling beer commercially, you’ll need a shipping area – where you can pick and pack orders, load trucks, and hand beer off to large-scale buyers.
That often means loading areas, packing areas, and room for equipment to manage your inventory.
It’s unlikely that you’ll immediately sell all of the beer you brew. This means you’ll need storage facilities that can keep the beer in good condition until you do sell it.
Often, that means temperature and humidity control, and if you’re using bottles, light control. Of course, the smaller your operation, the less you’ll have to worry about it.
Many breweries have their own taproom, where people can come in and directly order the beer you brew, get to know your beers, or learn more about brewing. Not every brewery should have a taproom.
In addition, you’ll need extensive licensing to sell alcohol directly to the public for consumption on the premises. However, a taproom can be a great way to generate extra revenue from your location.
Also, once you get it going, there’s no reason why you can’t sell other beer as well.
However, sizing will depend on local demand and what you intend to do with it.
Common Brewery And Microbrewery Sizes
Breweries come in many sizes. The smallest might be 150 square feet of condensed brewing space with no room for storage. The largest could be over 5,000 square feet.
|Floor Space||150 sq. ft.||1,000 sq. ft.||3,200 sq. ft.||5,000+ sq. ft.|
|Building Size||15’ x 10’||30’ x 40’||40’ x 80’||100’ x 100’|
|Capacity||300 BBL||1,250 BBL||5,000 BBL||13,000 BBL|
|Brew Volume||1.5 BBL||7 BBL||15 BBL||50 BBL|
An important aspect of this sizing is that number of brews per week/month always depends on what kind of beer you’re brewing.
For example, if you’re brewing ales, you can often brew 10 times per week, depending on whether or not you have the fermenters and brite tanks for it. If you’re brewing wheat ales or Belgian styles, you’ll have to store those beers longer – which will reduce your overall production considerably.
This means that if you have a nanobrewery producing mostly complex styles or beers intended for aging, you’ll need considerably more space than the same brewery producing light ales that don’t need much conditioning or storage.
And, because a fermenter takes as much space as a brew kettle, you’ll eventually be limited by how much beer you want to condition – not brew.
Why Build A Steel Brewery Building?
Steel buildings are increasingly common for breweries. That’s often because they’re cheap, efficient, easy to insulate, and durable.
In addition, with pre-fabs and even brewery kits, you can erect a building in as little as a few weeks.
- Fast – Labor costs are often half the cost of construction, and cutting build time from months to weeks can save you considerably.
- Easy to Insulate – Metal buildings are extremely easy to insulate, providing you with the temperature-controlled rooms you need.
- No Center Columns – Metal buildings often don’t have center columns, meaning you maximize the space you have and have room for heavy equipment.
- Affordable – With a cost-to-build hovering between $6 and $100, or an average of $10-$25, metal buildings are one of the cheapest options you can choose.
- Durability – Most metal buildings are rated for 60 years or more – and many have warranties for the first 30 years.
- Prefabricated – With brewery building kits and prefabricated buildings, you won’t spend time or money on designing the exterior of your brewery.
A steel brewery erects in about 2-6 weeks, on top of your foundation, and otherwise requires no real planning or investment. That, plus durability and ease of insulation makes these buildings ideal for breweries.
Working With Rex
Rex Metal Buildings is a family-owned steel building company located in Texas, with operations across all 50 U.S. states.
Our selection of prefabricated metal buildings includes sizes ideal for breweries. In addition, we can help to ensure you have assistance with the construction, erection, and customization of the building.
Rex works with a large network of suppliers and installers across the country. This means we can quickly work with you to find the lowest-cost steel building to meet your needs and find an installer to ensure your building is delivered, constructed, and ready as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
How Much Does A Brewery Cost to Build?
Building a brewery can vary significantly in cost. Often, the most expensive part of the brewery is the equipment. This can cost $60,000 for a 3 BBL setup. A bigger setup, like a 15 BBL, will probably cost around $200,000 – if you have to buy it new.
At the same time, you can often build the brewery space itself for roughly $20 per square foot. You can also build a foundation with a basement for $30-$100 per square foot. Without a basement, costs are usually between $5 and $25 per square foot.
Costing metal buildings is also more predictable than costing brick or concrete, because the cost per square foot includes the roof and the doors. So, when you pay $25 per square foot, you won’t have to add on another $30 per square foot of roofing material.
However, you will have to add insulation, which costs anywhere from $0.75 to $8 per square foot depending on what you want. In most cases, it’s important to insulate breweries well, because temperature consistency will affect the beer.
So, you’re normally looking at:
- $60,000-$250,000 in brewing equipment
- $5,000-$30,000 in the foundation
- $12,500-$75,000 in metal building
- $10,000-$25,000 in construction costs
- $15,000-$45,000 in insulation
- Licensing fees
And, of course, if you want extras like a taproom, you’ll have to pay for those too. For example, you can expect restaurant areas to cost about $75-$300 per square foot with equipment and finishing.
Building a brewery is a big step but it can be worth it. Steel prefabricated buildings allow you to cut many of the costs, including a great deal of labor costs for your build. In addition, you can often save money by doing your research, figuring out how much space you need over the next five years, and planning for that.
If you’re ready to get started, use the form at the top of the page to request a quote and compare metal buildings that meet your brewery needs.