beer brewhouse

7 BBL Brewhouse Systems

A 7 BBL Brewhouse is a medium-sized professional beer brewing system with a capacity of 7 barrels or 218 gallons per batch. This system allows craft breweries to produce beer on a commercial scale to sell locally or regionally.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of 7 BBL brewhouses including:

  • Key specifications and equipment components
  • Brewing process details
  • Design and layout considerations
  • Suppliers, pricing, and costs
  • Installation, operation, and maintenance
  • How to select the right system
  • Comparisons between 7 BBL and other small brewhouses
  • Advantages and limitations

Follow along for everything needed to understand, purchase, and use a 7 BBL brewhouse to start or expand a craft brewery business.

7 BBL Brewhouse Equipment Components

A complete 7 BBL brewhouse package consists of several key pieces of equipment for mashing, lautering, boiling, whirlpooling, cooling, and fermenting beer.

Table 1 shows the standard equipment included:

EquipmentFunction
Mash tunMixes milled grains with hot water for mash conversion
Lauter tunSeparates sweet wort from spent grains
Brew kettleBoils wort with hops for aroma and bitterness
WhirlpoolSettles out proteins and hops
Heat exchangerCools hot wort quickly prior to fermentation
FermentersFerments cooled wort into beer
Glycol chillerCools fermenters and bright tanks
Piping and valvesTransfers liquids between vessels
Control panelAutomated system operation

Additional equipment like milling, yeast management, carbonation, filtration, and packaging systems may be added as needed.

Table 2 shows typical capacity, dimensions, and vessel counts for a 7 BBL system:

VesselCapacityQuantityDimensions (D x H)
Mash tun10 BBL15’6” x 5’
Lauter tun10 BBL15’6” x 5’
Brew kettle10 BBL16’6” x 6’6”
Whirlpool7 BBL14’6” x 4’
Fermenters7 BBL3-43’6” x 6’-8’

Dimensions may vary across suppliers but tanks are designed to facilitate operations. Quantity of fermenters allows overlapping brews.

7 BBL Brewhouse

7 BBL Brewhouse Brewing Process

Figure 1 depicts the typical brewing process stages occurring within 7 BBL brewhouse equipment:

Milling – The whole malted barley grains are cracked open by roller mills to access starch.

Mashing – The milled grain is mixed with hot water in the mash tun and held at 150-155°F to convert starch into fermentable sugar.

Lautering – The sugar rich wort is drained from the grains in the lauter tun and sparged to extract more.

Boiling – The wort moves to the brew kettle and boils for 60-90 minutes with hop additions.

Whirlpooling – The hot wort spins to settle out hops and proteins after boiling.

Cooling – The clear wort passes through a plate heat exchanger to quickly drop temperature.

Fermenting – Yeast is added to cooled wort in fermenters and beer is produced.

Maturing – Beer clarifies and flavors meld during 1-4 weeks of cold storage.

Packaging – Finished beer moves to serving tanks, kegs, or cans.

Automated systems handle transferring liquids, turning equipment on and off, monitoring times and temperatures. Brewers oversee the process via touchscreen interfaces.

7 BBL Brewhouse Design and Layout

Proper brewhouse design and layout improves efficiency, workflow, and ergonomics for operators. Here are key considerations for a 7 BBL system:

Table 3: 7 BBL Brewhouse Design Factors

Design AspectDetails
Floor space~800-1200 sq ft
Ceiling height14+ feet for tank height
Power supply240-480V, 150+ amp electrical service
BoilerSteam or hot water boiler
Steam ventingHoods for steam release
Tank standsCustom steel stands for ergonomics
Piping runsSloped for drainage; valves for control
Grain handlingDry grain storage; platform and conveyor
RefrigerationGlycol or ammonia cooling lines
Process controlAutomated brewing sequences
CleaningCIP spray balls and pumps

Figure 2 shows a sample brewhouse layout:

Mash tun, lauter tun, and kettle are centrally located for gravity flow. Cooling, fermentation, and storage tanks are grouped. Grain handling equipment and control panels are accessible. Hot side tanks are raised by stands. Walls, dividers, and piping runs maintain separation. Proper design streamlines repetitive brewing operations in a small footprint minimizing hazards.

7 BBL Brewhouse Pricing from Suppliers

Many brewhouse engineering companies offer configurable 7 BBL systems with custom options affecting price ranges.

Table 4 provides pricing estimates from major suppliers:

CompanyBase Price Range
Specific Mechanical$250,000-$350,000
JV Northwest$275,000-$375,000
Premier Stainless$300,000-$400,000
Psycho Brew$350,000-$450,000
AAA Metal Fabrication$375,000-$475,000

Base pricing includes core brewhouse vessels, stands, valves, piping, panels, engineering drawings, and basic installation assistance.

Additional costs beyond base systems:

  • Grain handling – $5,000+
  • Glycol chilling – $15,000+
  • CO2 capture and recovery – $25,000+
  • CIP systems – $5,000+
  • Automation computers and software – $15,000+
  • Shipping and taxes – 10-15%
  • Installation and commissioning – $15,000+
  • Import duties if sourced overseas – 20%+

Total turnkey costs for a full 7 BBL production solution typically range $450,000 to $600,000+. Upfront capital needed is substantial.

Pricing is set by capabilities and level of customization. Configurable options affect budgets significantly. High-end systems provide more automation and clean-in-place functions at a premium.

Installation, Operation, and Maintenance

Proper installation and routine care ensures efficient functioning and longevity of a 7 BBL system.

Table 5: 7 BBL Brewhouse Installation, Operation & Maintenance

PhaseDetails
InstallationPerformed by brewhouse company reps and/or contractors 
Assemble tanks, stands, piping, panels, wiring to specifications
Interfaces with supplied utilities – steam, water, drains, glycol, CO2, electricity
Commissioning – test heating, cooling, automation, safety
OperationConducted by brewers following procedures 
Clean and sanitize vessels between uses
Prepare recipes, milled grains, yeast as inputs
Monitor knockout, transfer, fermentation schedules 
Ensure constant utilities supply and glycol temperatures
Conduct lab analysis – gravity, alcohol, microbiology etc.
MaintenanceBoth daily and periodic maintenance needed 
Inspect valves, seals for drips/leaks
Check pump seal lubrication and circulator motors
Clear grain handling obstructions
Descale tanks and heating elements
Replace gaskets, valves, sensors
Calibrate temperature and pressure sensors

Proactive preventative maintenance minimizes equipment downtime during peak brewing periods. Both operator experience and remote monitoring / troubleshooting support from brewhouse manufacturer may be advisable.

How to Select a 7 BBL Brewhouse Supplier

With custom 7 BBL brewhouses ranging $250,000+ in capital expenditure, selecting the ideal supplier is crucial long term.

Table 6: How to Choose a 7 BBL Brewhouse Supplier

FactorEvaluation Criteria
Build qualityReliable stainless steel vessel welds and finishes; food-grade material certificates
Feature setValves, automation, glycol chilling, grain handling offered
CustomizationFlexible options – fermenter counts and heights, uniqueness
Design servicesBrewhouse layout recommendations, utility requirements
Lead time10-16 weeks typical from order to delivery
ReferencesCall client references to learn about supplier responsiveness
WarrantiesEnsure at least 1 year workmanship warranties
Ongoing supportShipping, installation help offered; troubleshooting support plans
Company stabilityResearch history and size to determine staying power
CostCompare proposals and financing options like leasing

Visiting existing brewhouses firsthand during the selection process is recommended to inspect build quality and see systems functioning.

Comparisons to 5 BBL and 15 BBL Systems

To determine the right brewhouse size, comparing smaller and larger systems against a 7 BBL is helpful for context:

Table 7: Comparison of 5 BBL vs 7 BBL vs 15 BBL Brewhouse Systems

Parameter5 BBL7 BBL15 BBL
Batch size155 gallons218 gallons465 gallons
Annual beer output500 barrels700 barrels1500 barrels
Fermenters needed2-33-46-8
Floor space~600 sq ft~800 sq ft~1500 sq ft
Base price range$175,000-$275,000$250,000-$350,000$400,000-$500,000
Time per batch4-5 hours5-6 hours8-10 hours
Labor required1 brewer1-2 brewers2-3 brewers
Target marketTaproomTaproom + distributionDistribution focus

Key differences in tasks:

  • 5 BBL – Mostly manual operation
  • 7 BBL – Some automation assistance
  • 15 BBL – Extensive automation required

As batch sizes grow, more time, labor, space, capital, and automation is required. 7 BBL systems represent a middle ground, enabling flagships and specialties to be brewed alongside core recipes for retail and moderate wholesale without excessive capacity.

Advantages of 7 BBL Brewhouses

There are several advantages to selecting a 7 barrel brewhouse system:

  • Flexibility – 7 BBL is adaptable for taprooms, restaurant brewpubs, or packaging heavy production scaling up gradually without overly rapid expansion.
  • Efficiency – Automated functionality improves consistency and repeatability between batches compared to small manual systems.
  • Cost – Builds upon 5 BBL starter systems without 15+ barrel major investment outlays needed for packaging lines and distribution.
  • Manageability – Does not require an extensive brewing team allowing staff to wear multiple hats. Head brewer can also be sales manager, cellar worker, pub manager, etc.
  • Profitability – Higher revenue potential than 3-5 barrel nano setups while retaining ability to produce specialty beers without capacity constraints.

In terms of maximizing production diversity, business flexibility, product quality, and return on investment – 7 barrel brewhouse systems find an advantageous balance point accessible to many startups and growing regional craft breweries.

Potential Limitations of 7 BBL Systems

Despite significant advantages, there are still a few potential limitations to consider with 7 BBL brewhouses:

Market size – May exceed rural taproom or small pub capacity to sell all beer produced. Requires some packaging and distribution capability.

Ingredients access – Purchasing and storing large bulk grain quantities can be challenging for facilities lacking space. Requires good supplier logistics.

Brewing pace – Average 30 brews monthly is swift for a small team without extensive automation. Can be wearing over time.

Expansion barriers – Going from a 3-5 barrel system may allow simpler incremental capacity growth more easily than the larger leap to 7 barrels in volume presents.

Associated investments – Upgraded utilities, grain handling, refrigeration and wastewater infrastructure must support 7 BBL batches to unlock full advantage. Piecemeal upgrades may lag production growth.

For breweries facing any of these limitations, exploring brewhouse sizes on either side of 7 barrels may prove a better fit long term for business objectives.

7 BBL Brewhouse
10HL Brewing system

Frequently Asked Questions

What size batch can a 7 BBL brewhouse produce?

With 7 barrel (218 gallons) kettles, 6-7 barrels per batch is typical accounting for losses, trub space, and transfer. This equates to 31 batches needed monthly to produce 700 barrels annually working 5 days per week.

How much can a brewer produce annually on a 7 BBL system?

Operating 1-2 shifts daily, a single brewer can produce 500-1000 barrels annually depending on scheduling efficiency. More beers may be possible with an assistant brewer or push towards 24 hour utilization. 700 barrels balances pace appropriately.

What supplies are needed to operate a 7 BBL brewhouse?

Ongoing supply needs include: Ingredients – milled grains, hops, yeast, water treatment salts; Gases – CO2 for transfers, O2 for yeast; Consumables – cleaning chemicals, hoses, gaskets, filters; Lab supplies – testing reagents, media, glassware; Packaging – kegs, cans, bottles, labels.

How much space does a 7 barrel brewhouse require?

Approximately 800-1200 sq ft is needed for a 7 BBL brewhouse system itself. Plus additional space for grain storage and milling, fermentation cellar, cold storage, packaging lines, offices, and more. 3000+ sq ft facilities are common for long term growth.

What are the most important options to get with a 7 BBL system?

Automated glycol chilling, advanced brewing controls, and grain handling options provide the most daily operational advantages. More extensive CIP systems reduce heavy cleaning labor but increase costs.

What qualifications should brewers have for a 7 BBL system?

1+ years professional brewing experience is recommended managing comparable batch sizes. Strong capabilities in recipe development, process control, lab analysis, equipment maintenance, and managing cellar workflows separates more qualified candidates.

How many employees are needed to run a 7 BBL brewhouse?

For a taproom or brewpub selling beer on premises with limited packaging, 1 head brewer and 1 assistant can operate a 7 BBL system with occasional help from servers. Larger packaging focused breweries may engage 2 full time brewers, sales and delivery staff.

Conclusion

With capacities enabling 500-1000 barrel yearly outputs, 7 barrel brewhouses fulfill craft brewery needs to launch beyond a nano brewpub operation while avoiding excessive 15+ barrel systems solely for distribution. Sophisticated functionality improves upon manual smaller setups without over investing in space, staff, and packaging lines needed at a very large production scale.

From flexibility in recipe variations to effiencies in automated brewing – 7 BBL systems find a middle ground appealing to many regional facilities looking to grow. Their installations continue rising to fill demand between the extremes of too little capacity or too much.

Carefully weighting advantages around costs, production targets, business models and product mix leads breweries to settle on the 7 BBL brewhouse scale – not too big, and certainly not too small!

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