large fermentation tanks

Brewery Lab Equipment

Brewery laboratories play a crucial role in ensuring product quality, consistency, and safety in beer production. Having the right lab setup and equipment is key to efficient operations. This guide provides a detailed overview of the brewery lab equipment found in a typical brewery lab from analysis instruments to environmental controls. It discusses key considerations in selecting, installing, and maintaining lab gear optimized for your brewing needs.

Overview of Brewery Lab Equipment

A brewery lab allows close monitoring of the brewing process to achieve desired taste, aroma, clarity, stability, and compliance with regulations. The main equipment categories are:

Analysis Instruments – To test ingredients, wort, beer at various production stages

Lab Bench Tools – Glassware, reagents, measuring devices for tests

Environment Controls – Temperature, humidity, ventilation regulation

Documentation – To record readings, measurements, observations

Safety Gear – Protective equipment for working with chemicals/hot liquids

The setup, capacity, and specific instruments vary widely based on brewery scale and testing needs. But most carry out similar quality checks like alcohol levels, pH, clarity, flavor, shelf life etc.

brewery lab equipment
3 vessel CIP station System

Brewery Lab Equipment Guide

The table below outlines common equipment found in a brewery laboratory:

Equipment TypeMain Functions & Analysis Performed
AlcoholmeterMeasure alcohol by volume in beer
Anton Paar AlcolyzerBeer alcohol analysis
RefractometerEstimate wort sugar/alcohol levels by refractive index
pH MeterDetermine pH of wort, beer
SpectrophotometerWort color, bitterness, protein
Gas ChromatographVolatile compounds in hops/malt/beer
HPLC SystemOrganic acids, sugars, additives
Dissolved Oxygen MeterOxygen levels prior to packing
Foaming TesterMeasure foam quality/stability
Clarity MeterBeer haze, turbidity
MicroscopeCell counts, contamination checks
IncubatorsControl sample environments
AutoclaveSterilize lab equipment
Brewer’s spiralCheck lautering runoff times
Hot liquid test unitsSimulate packaging conditions
Lab bench toolsGlassware, scales, stirrers…

The analysis instruments help evaluate ingredients and keep finished beer parameters within specifications. Lab bench tools like glassware, thermometers, measuring devices assist in collecting samples and performing quality tests at each production stage – from raw materials, wort preparation to conditioning tanks and finally packaging.

Environment controls like temperature and humidity regulation equipment ensure stable ambient lab conditions for accurate measurement. Documentation tools capture readings digitally for data management. Safety gear like chemical aprons, protective eyewear safeguard personnel. Support equipment like autoclaves sterilize instruments.

Types of Brewery Lab Setups

Brewery labs range from basic sensory panels to advanced spaces with high-tech analytical instrumentation, depending on scale and testing needs:

Small Craft Breweries – Basic manual bench testing for key parameters
Mid-sized Breweries – Automated analysis kit for QA/QC testing
Large Scale Breweries – Dedicated lab facility for R&D and batch release testing

Brewery TypeLab EquipmentKey Functions
Craft/MicrobreweryRefractometer, pH meter, microscope, DO meterTest specific gravity, pH, cell counts
Regional/Specialty BrewerSpectrophotometer, HPLC, GC, microbiology incubatorsWider testing for R&D
Macro BrewerFully automated lab with robotics, LIMSRigorous QA/QC testing

Equipment investments hence increase with production volumes due to stricter quality control and product innovation needs. Larger setups also incorporate software like Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for managing huge data volumes and compliance requirements.

Brewery Lab Design

Optimizing the lab layout, environmental controls, spaces is vital for operational efficiency:

Key Design Considerations

Segregated Areas – Sample receiving, media preparation, chemical storage areas

Ergonomics – Height adjustable benches, anti-fatigue mats

Utility Stations – Sinks, drains, gas, vacuum lines

Ambient Conditions – Stable temp, humidity, ventilation

Safety – Eye-wash stations, chemical storage protocols

Power Backups – UPS for equipment protection

Ease of Cleaning – Durable benchtops, cabinetry

Lighting – Bright, shadow-free for microscopy

Data Infrastructure – Networking for instruments, printers

Room Dimensions – 15–20 sq. ft. of space per analyst

Lab Sections/Rooms

Sample Receiving Area – Quarantine samples before processing

Media Prep Room – Prepare microbial culture media

General Lab Area – Main workstations for testing

Balance Room – Separate stabilized area for analytical balances

Chemical Storage – Ventilated room for reagents, solvents, standards

Instrument Room – Environmentally controlled for sensitive analyzers

Office Space – For paperwork, computer work

Sensory Analysis – Isolated controlled room for tasting panels

The lab architecture separates clean and dirty zones, and arranges benches/equipment based on workflow between areas. Multiple separate rooms are ideal for containment, stability, safety and flexibility for expansion.

Brewery Lab Equipment Suppliers

Major global suppliers of specialized brewery laboratory equipment include:

CompanyKey ProductsPrice Range
Anton PaarDensity meters, CO2 analyzers, alcolyzer$5,000 – $15,000
Mettler ToledoAnalytical balances, DO measurement$3,000 – $8,000
Thermo FischerSpectrophotometers, microbiology incubators$4,000 – $20,000
Malvern PanalyticalFBRM, particle measurement$30,000 – $60,000
HamiltonWorkstations, lab water systems$3,000 – $12,000

Prices vary widely depending on instrument capability and testing parameters. Additional costs include shipping, installation services, user training, maintenance contracts, and consumables/reagents.

When selecting a supplier evaluate:

  • Technical expertise in brewing industry
  • Product reliability & uptime
  • responsive after-sales service/support
  • Staff training offered
  • Compliance with safety standards

Setting Up and Operating Brewery Lab Gear

Follow best practices when installing and running analytical equipment:

PhaseKey Guidelines
InstallationEnsure stable power supply, ventilation, temps, humidity for each instrument model. Allow spacing between systems.
CommissioningSupplier engineers test functions & calibrate with standards to verify specifications are met. Users are trained.
OperationValidate readings with control samples. Define testing workflow – procedures, forms, equipment sequence, data protocols.
Preventive MaintenanceFollow the maintenance schedule for each equipment as per the manual – regular cleaning, parts replacement. Annual servicing contracts.

User SOPs must cover usage guidelines for:

  • Safety precautions
  • Sampling handling
  • Reagent preparation
  • Equipment startup/shutdown
  • Data recording
  • Troubleshooting common errors

This standardized monitoring and servicing of sophisticated lab machinery reduces downtimes and maintains measurement reliability.

brewery lab equipment

Choosing Ideal Equipment For Your Brewery Lab

Select equipment fit for your purpose based on:

Throughput NeedsSamples to be tested per day/week to meet production lot release timelines
Quality ParametersPriority/mandated tests like alcohol content, pH, clarity etc
Automation LevelManual, semi-automatic or high-throughput robotics
Ease of UseOperator skill levels, simple or software intensive instruments
Budget AvailabilityTotal funds allocated for capital purchase, maintenance
Regulatory ApprovalCertified instruments meeting food safety testing standards
Data HandlingBuilt-in capabilities or external LIMS requirement

Avoid buying overqualified instruments with specialized functions outside your current testing scope. But ensure minimum manual efforts for repetitive tasks through some automation. Seek expandability for add-on modules to scale up over time. Getting certified equipment as per requirements like ISO 17025 helps meet compliance obligations for packaged food products.

Matching lab equipment investments to brewing operational needs saves costs while delivering analysis capabilities essential for consistent quality.

Pros and Cons of Investing in a Fully Equipped Lab

There are tradeoffs involved in setting up an extensive in-house laboratory versus outsourcing testing:

In-house Lab ProsIn-house Lab Cons
Full control over testing processHigh capital investment
Faster turnaround timesSpecialized skills needed to operate equipment
Tighter monitoring at each process stageSignificant recurring costs – maintenance, reagents etc
Enables proprietary test developmentSpace requirements for instruments, preparations
No risks associated with outside testingTime required for equipment validation, troubleshooting issues
Third Party Lab ProsThird Party Lab Cons
Lower start-up costsSlow TAT due to transport, queue times
Flexibility of service contractsInfrequent sampling leading to production data gaps
Access to advanced equipmentHigher per-sample charges
Expert analytical servicesLimited control over test particulars
Data confidentiality risks

There are significant long-term benefits of building dedicated lab facilities despite the large initial equipment expenses and overheads. Direct control over the entire testing process – methods, frequency, data access – adds assurance and aids further quality optimization efforts internally.

For small or mid-sized breweries outsourcing periodic targeted testing can meet compliance requirements at affordable costs.

brewery lab equipment


Q: What types of tests are typically outsourced vs handled in-house?

Outsourced – Specialized tests like detailed flavor profiles, shelf life studies, verifying label claims e.g. gluten free.

In-house – Routine production lot alcohol content, pH, clarity, microbiological checks before packaging and distribution.

Q: How much does a basic brewery lab setup cost?

Around $35,000 to $50,000 for essential manual benchtop equipment like spectrophotometer, DO meter, microscope, glassware plus workstations. Higher for automated systems.

Q: What qualification should a brewery lab analyst/technician have?

Bachelor’s in brewing science or microbiology plus hands-on experience with analytical instruments – operation, maintenance, data handling.

Q: How important is lab accreditation for regulatory compliance?

Highly recommended to have an accredited quality assurance program meeting standards like ISO 17025. This includes validated equipment, trained analysts, documentation practices. Eases audits.

Q: How often should preventive maintenance be scheduled for key instruments?

Every 2-6 months as per usage intensity. Annual maintenance contracts with site visits by technicians are optimal for maximum uptime.

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