How Breweries Improve Brewhouse Workflow

With the addition of new equipment or processes, a brewery manager has to stop and map out a most successful way to plan a workflow. Brewer asked breweries across the country what they have you done physically in the brewhouse to maximize their workflow and how they achieved those changes.

Paul C. Philippon, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery founder/brewmaster: From the start, we have had a shell and tube heat exchanger that allows us to produce hot water significantly faster than we could otherwise produce it. That has helped with the constant battle of hot water management. Several years ago we went a step farther and installed a secondary hot liquor tank, with its own pump, and tied in to all of the piping that distributes hot water throughout the brewery. The result is that where we used to juggle when different processes could take place based on hot water availability, not that’s not a factor.  It makes our lives easier. Next, as almost any growing brewery will do, we have developed procedures to mash in multiple batches in a day. Just as soon as the grain from batch one is out of the mash tun, we can mash in batch two. This is nothing unique, of course, but since we are most commonly putting multiple brews into a given tank, it works very well for us. Outside of the brewhouse, we have, of course, increased the size of our tank farm and our glycol delivery capacity (larger glycol headers, better insulation, bigger chiller), increased the size of our warehouse and added more cold storage capacity. Finally, a few years ago we purchased the “Duck-Robots,” our excellent box plant. The plant consists mainly of a box erector, a six-pack erector and a stuffer. These machines can produce in 20 minutes what our fastest employee could produce in eight hours without them.

Tucker Kalberg, Bozeman Brewing general manager: [We] Compartmentalized our operations and process work flow in sequence.  It all flows north to south, brewhouse to cellar to packaging. We had to have some forward thinking/planning but if your able to do that in the beginning it helps a ton.

Layton Cutler, Angel City Brewery head brewer: Scheduling is very important and making sure all the brewers know what needs to happen on a daily basis is crucial. We installed a dry erase board by the brewhouse that has the current schedule up, so it’s easy for everyone to make sure they are on task, plus it gives us a chance to look farther into the week to get ahead on work and maximize our output. The other thing that really increased workflow was when we added another kettle to our brewhouse. Before we had a three-vessel system which included a mash mixer/kettle, lauter tun and whirlpool. After adding the other kettle, it became a four-vessel brewhouse and we could overlap our brews, shorten the brew day and do triple brews much easier. We save a few hours off of double and triple batches of beer because of the new setup.

Brian Burton, Hop & Sting co-founder/owner/brewer: We bought a bigger brewery. Sharing another facility with another brewery as an alternating proprietorship, has its challenges. We were at the whim of their needs and their production schedule. We had some brands that did well in their initial release, but we could only brew one beer at a time, one month at a time. Getting our own facility became a major priority at this stage. Now the brewery we bought was too big.  We traded some of the larger or redundant equipment (90-bbl FV, extra keg washer, etc) to another brewery for some of their smaller equipment that fit our needs (four 30-bbl tanks and some kegs). We still kept most of the large existing tanks for future growth, but the smaller tanks allow us greater flexibility.

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