beer brewery setup

5 BBL Brewhouse Systems

5 BBL Stackable Fermenters are a mid-sized commercial beer brewing system with a brewing capacity of around 155 gallons (588 liters) per batch. 5 BBL systems are popular with many small to mid-size craft breweries and brewpubs, as they allow for an economical jump in production capacity beyond tiny homebrewing-scale systems.

Key Specifications of Standard 5 BBL Stackable Fermenters:

Brewing Volume5 Barrels, around 155 Gallons/ 588 Liters per batch
Mashtun Size200+ Gallon capacity
Kettle Size200+ Gallon capacity
OutputEstimated 180-220 Kegs per Week
Batch Time4-6 Hours Typical
Space RequiredAround 1500 sq ft minimum
Operators Required1-2 Persons
5 BBL Stackable Fermenters

Types of 5 BBL Stackable Fermenters

5 BBL brewhouses are available in different configurations from various equipment manufacturers. Some key types include:

Table 1: Types of 5 BBL Brewhouse Equipment

Standard ManualEconomical option with manual operation at each stage. Requires active staff management of each process step.
AutomatedFully auto, PLC-based operation with preset timers, valves, pumps for each brew stage. Allows 1-touch beer production with minimal staff. Pricier than manual units.
Semi-AutoMix of manual and automatic operation where key stages like wort boiling have motorized controllers but grain handling remains manual. Provides partial automation to cut staff while keeping cost lower than full automation.
Steam-PoweredUse steam boilers and coils instead of electric elements to heat water and wort. Especially useful when steam is available at the brewhouse location from other processes. Can be manual, semi-auto or auto config.
Multi-VesselAdditional vessels beyond standard mashtun and kettle provided for specialty brewing, higher gravity batches etc. Vessels may include mash filter, cereal cooker, hop dosing tanks.
Pilot ScaleCompact brewhouse, manual operation oriented for new brewers or pilot batches, experimental brewing. Lower price and space requirement but lower automation and peak output than prod-focused options.

5 BBL Brewhouse Standard Equipment Components:

Table 2: Components of a Standard 5 BBL Brewhouse System

ComponentDetails & Purpose
Mash TunInsulated stainless steel vessel that holds milled grains for barley mash. Often direct steam-heated. Mixes mash for starch conversion to fermentable sugars.
Lauter TunStainless container with false slotted bottom to separate sweet wort from grains after mash. Some systems combine mash and lauter tun into single unit.
BrewkettleBoils wort after lautering, allowing flavors and aromas to develop. Usually direct steam or electric heated. Has all necessary plumbing fixtures.
WhirlpoolSwirl tank to separate trub and hop debris from clear wort after boiling. May be present as standalone tank or integrated whirlpool fittings in the brewkettle.
Heat ExchangersPlate heat exchangers rapidly cool boiling wort to pitching temperature for yeast inoculation, preventing contamination and preservation of flavors.
Glycol SystemExternal cooling system with glycol and water mix which circulates through jackets around brew kettle, fermenters etc. to control temperatures.
PipingFood-grade stainless steel pipes, valves and pumps to transfer liquids between vessels and complete various brewhouse operations
Control PanelHouses all electrical controls, switches, automation systems like PLC to enable brewhouse operation and monitoring.

5 BBL Stackable Fermenters Design & Layout

Key design aspects for 5 BBL brewhouse layout:

  • Linear alignment allows easy transfer of mash and worts from one vessel to next using gravity, with minimal pipes.
  • Keeping taller vessels to edge of space minimizes headroom required
  • Easy operator access doors provided for manual cleaning
  • Control panel located close to kettle for monitoring critical boiling stage
  • External cooling and chilling systems placed peripherally
  • Compact footprint minimizes brewhouse floorspace needs

Brewhouse layout during building planning stage is crucial to optimize material flow, staff movement, and output capacity later during brewery operations.

Customization Options for 5 BBL Brewhouses

While standard turnkey 5 BBL systems are available, many breweries seek customizations and add-ons to tailor the system to their specific goals. Some options include:

  • Upgraded kettles: Installation of multi-vessel arrangements with more boiling capacity
  • Advanced Automation: Touchscreen HMI, IoT connectivity, automated CIP systems
  • Ergonomic improvements: Platform lifts, catwalks and stairs for vessel access, customized fittings
  • Grain handling systems: Integrated roller conveyors, augers and lifts for grain transfer and milling –Special process accessories: Flavor dosing tanks, wort oxygenation addons, quality monitoring systems

When planning add-ons, brewers should evaluate benefits versus added complexity in operations and higher capital costs. Step-wise expansion options help balance costs against immediate and future production goals.

5 BBL Stackable Fermenters Pricing and Supplier Landscape

Table 3: Typical Pricing for 5 BBL Brewhouse Systems

TypePrice Range
Standard Manual$80,000 to $120,000
Semi-Auto$140,000 to $180,000
Fully Automated$160,000+
Pilot ScaleUnder $60,000
Used Systems$50,000 to $100,000

In the US market, leading turnkey suppliers for 5BBL systems include:

SupplierStarting Price** Offerings**
Specific Mechanical$105,000Custom fabrications, manual and auto
Portland Kettleworks$96,500Quality kettles and vessels
Stout Tanks & Kettles$99,000Broad catalogue, customizations
Premier Stainless$125,000End-to-end fabrication, installation
AAA Metal Fabrication$98,000Custom unitank buildouts
Pro Refrigeration$140,000Integrated glycol chilling
Emerson Brewing$75,000Modular pilot systems

Pricing can vary based on level of automation, custom features, vendor reputation and relationships, associated installation and shipping costs, etc. Quoting from multiple vendors is recommended.

5 BBL Stackable Fermenters Operations

Table 4: 5 BBL Brewhouse Maintenance & Operation Guidelines

Startup reviewDailyVerify lines & vessels are clean and ready for production
Water heatingAs neededPower up steam/electric energy to get strike water to temp
Grain dosingPer batchTransfer measured milled grains to mash tun
Sparge60-90 minsRinse grains to extract all fermentable wort over time
Wort boiling60-90 minsDevelop flavors and sanitize
Trub separationPost-boilSettle hops and coagulants via whirlpool
Heat exchangeAfter whirlpoolRapidly cool clean wort before fermentation
Clean-in-place (CIP)WeeklyClean vessels and pipes using caustics
Preventive maintenanceMonthlyInspect parts for wear & calibrate sensors
In-depth cleaningQuarterlyTake vessels offline for deep interior scrubbing

For reliable functioning, the brewhouse equipment must be carefully operated within supplier specifications and cleaned at regular frequencies. Production planning should account for periodic maintenance downtime.

Choosing the Right 5 BBL Stackable Fermenters Supplier

Table 5: Qualities to Evaluate in a Brewhouse Supplier

FactorEvaluation Criteria
Technical ExpertiseExperience with systems at desired capacity and features; engineering quality and support standards
Equipment Quality & RangeBuild quality, materials, warranty; range of integrated brewhouse equipment available
Custom Fabrication SkillsAbility to accommodate custom sizing, fittings, accessories, integrations
Customer ServiceResponsiveness to inquiries and support calls; after-sales installation and troubleshooting services
Industry Reputation & ReviewsTalking to their existing customers to evaluate satisfaction levels and post-purchase support
Business SustainabilityYears in operation, financial health to be a long-term brewhouse partner

Taking time to thoroughly evaluate technical strengths versus asking price allows brewers to find the “sweet spot” supplier offering the best long-term value.

Key Pros & Cons of 5 BBL Stackable Fermenters Scale

Table 6: Advantages and Disadvantages of 5 BBL Systems

Allows substantially higher peak production than homebrew scaleSmaller output than large 20-30 BBL industrial systems
Flexibility for brewpub onsite draught needs and offsite distributionLimitations on very high gravity (>8% ABV) brews
Lower capital investment than larger capacity brewhousesSignificant hands-on labor still needed for brewhouse operations versus fully automated systems
Supports a full range of craft beer styles and experimentationAdditional fermentation and storage capacity needs to be planned for peak output
Compact footprint fits smaller spaces than massive 30 BBL+ unitsMay still require upgrades in 3-5 years as brewery business grows

For many startup and regional craft breweries aiming for intermediate capacity, 5 barrel systems hit a sweet spot in balancing production flexibility, output levels, investment budgets and space requirements.

5 BBL Stackable Fermenters

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the brewhouse capacity needed for packaging 5000 barrels of beer annually?

A: To package 5000 barrels (BBLs) per year, a brewhouse capacity of around 10-15 BBL is recommended, assuming 1-2 brews per day on average to account for fermentation, filtering, storage and packaging time. So a 10 BBL or 15 BBL system could support 5000 BBL annual packaged output.

Q: What size boiler system is needed to power a 5BBL brewhouse?

A: A good benchmark is a 20 bhp (boiler horsepower) steam boiler system for powering the mash tuns, brew kettles and other heating operations of a 5 BBL brewhouse. This provides sufficient steam pressure and flow rates to quickly heat water and wort while matching the brewhouse capacity.

Q: How much floor space should I budget for a new 5 BBL brewhouse and associated utilities?

A: Ideally plan for 1500 – 2500 square feet for the 5 BBL brewhouse system including boiler room, glycol tanks, fermentation tanks and packaging area. This allows comfortable space for operations, cleaning and maintenance access around all vessels.

Q: What is the difference between 2-vessel, 3-vessel and 4-vessel brewhouse configurations?

A: 2-vessel are the simplest, with just a combined mash/lauter tun and brewkettle. 3-vessel separates the mash tun and lauter tun for greater efficiency and flexibility. 4-vessel keeps these separate and adds a whirlpool tank for settling out trub post-boil prior to fermentation. Additional vessels can be added like hop back or water deaeration unit for further complexity in multi-vessel configurations.

Q: Should I choose fully automated or manual operation for 5BBL?

A: Automated operation can improve consistency and reduce direct labor requirements but costs more upfront. For maximum flexibility at start, many brewers recommend getting semi-automated equipment that only uses automation for critical boiling stage but keeps affordability for small scale. This also develops firsthand experience before adding more automation down the road.

Q: What are the options for financing new or used brewhouse equipment purchases?

A: Beyond self-funding, options like equipment leasing, SBA small business loans and craft brewery specific financing from companies like Encore Finance group allow spreading out the capital investment over longer terms. Used equipment bought from other breweries also reduces initial purchase costs but may incur higher lifetime maintenance charges.

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