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Brewing Topics => Professional Brewing => Topic started by: Smokaah on December 02, 2012, 07:49:39 AM

Title: What system should I buy?
Post by: Smokaah on December 02, 2012, 07:49:39 AM
I am new to brewing, so far I have done 6 or so all grain batches with good success. I own a successful bar and grill and was thinking of brewing my own beer for sale at my bar.  I have 18 taps and I figure I could start off with one tap of my own and eventually maybe have 3 taps or so of my own beers on tap.

I have been looking at the Brew Magic system as a good starting unit but was wondering if I should consider another brand or maybe something a little bigger.  Currently I sell about a keg a week of most of the micro brews on tap (Miller Lite and Coors lite dominate with 3-4 a week each) so I figure I could sell a keg a week of my own beer and hopefully grow that number in a year or two.

I have 1500 square feet available to brew, hood system etc. The money is not an issue, I just dont want to get into a overkill situation with the brew system.

Any suggestions?
Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: grathan on December 04, 2012, 06:08:34 AM
If your plan is for a keg a week, then the next question you would ask yourself is how much time do you have to devote to brewing beer? That magic system looks like a keg a week would be 2 batches of beer per week. 20 hours of work maybe? Not sure how much time the automation controls save, would depend on your ability to multitask. You can multiply the hours needed by the amount of kegs you plan to have. So 3 kegs would be 60 hours a week on that system.

I would look at bigger pots, maybe 50 gallon. I would start with a single temperature controlled conical fermenter (slightly smaller than brewing capacity 30-45 gallons). Eventually adding a 2nd fermenter as production ramps up, but for now shift the beer to cornelius kegs (maybe 10 of these or more) for storage to free up the fermenter for the next batch and to serve from.
Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: Rusty Nails on December 04, 2012, 07:57:31 AM
I home brew, and am in the restaurant business. A few thoughts.
It sounds like the the Brew Magic system only does .5 kegs at a time. Since a Brew Day is a Brew Day, it would cost $100 for .5 kegs labor alone. Ingredients in as small amounts as you have to buy would be another $40 for .5 kegs. Cost would be $2.34 per 16 fl oz pint glass. But you said money is not an issue.
You didn't say where you were. Fed Brewing Permit starts at $2500. Add to that local permits. You might have to change the designation of your current bar, depending on your state laws. In many places, a Brewery can retail, but a Retailer can't brew.
You would have to meet all inspections from ATF, IRS, Health Dept., Fire Dept., Building Codes, EPA, and the local municipality. They all charge. But you said money is not an issue.
Everytime I went to start something new, everyone from the Health Dept. to the bank, to the insurance agent, asked the same question. 'What experience do you have?' Will they be satisfied that you have brewed 6 batches of homebrew? But you said money is not an issue.
Lets simplify things. A good micro would cost you $.90 for a 16 fl oz pint glass. (I know this sounds redundant, but most 'pint' glasses in bars pour 14 fl oz.) You would be losing money every time you sold one of your beers. But you said money is not an issue.
Most 'brew-pubs' use a 3-4 bbl system. That's 6-8 kegs per week. Still not big enough for a profit, but a good conversation piece and a draw. But, you said money is not an issue.
You didn't say how big your bar was. Or, what area you were in. 18 taps at only 1 keg a week sounds like you are stretching thin. How many tables do you have, and what's your average per night at each? Don't guess at this, you should have a POS that will tell you.
How many tables can you fit in that 1500 sq ft area, and at what return?
But you said money is not an issue.
I will support any new brewery. But a business plan that plans on losing won't work.
Keep homebrewing, and do your homework. Talk to some trade groups. Talk to some suppliers. Talk to your bank.
When you are losing it, money is an issue.

Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: PhotogScott on December 10, 2012, 06:45:14 PM
FYI, Morebeer's single tier automated system can brew 20 gal batches while the Brew Magic is designed for 15 gal
Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: brewfun on December 18, 2012, 09:35:28 PM
+1 for what Rusty Nails said. There is no such thing as "Money is not an issue" in the restaurant business. Especially since you want to grow your brand (which, honestly, will probably be a lot faster than a year or two, if you're a halfway decent brewer).

As soon as you decide to make your own beer, you change your restaurant theme. My flagship beer sells about 9 kegs, per week. We have about 225 total seats, 25 total beers available (bottle and draft), full bar and kitchen. The beer is temp controlled, filtered and served from both the bright tank and kegs. For every 16bbl I start with in the kettle, I net 13.5 bbl as an average. That's a fast pace and the flagship is a lager.

The average brewery operation has an 8 year ROI, before profit exceeds the cost of growth.

In many areas, there is a minimum size requirement for a brewpub system. In CA, this is because the restaurant has the privilege to sell hard liquor. Without that privilege, there is no minimum system size, but it is a different license. Every license has specific requirements and privileges and limitations.

I don't want to squash the homebrew dream of someday selling your own beer, but don't be careless about it. As brewer, I work 50 hour weeks, plus have an assistant for 20 to 30 hours. It costs me an average of $500 per month in minor repairs and another several thousand a year in bigger ones. We're profitable, but trust me, money IS an issue! So is time, space, paperwork, time off and plans for growth.
Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: murmsk on April 05, 2013, 10:45:34 AM
I am confused about the federal brewing permit costing $2500 . When I read the information I thought it said the brewers notice was no cost with a supplied tax bond. Did I read it wrong?

Title: Re: What system should I buy?
Post by: brewfun on April 05, 2013, 09:29:34 PM
The TTB doesn't have a fee for issuing a brewery permit. A bond must be posted, though. State regulations usually complicate that answer, though. This is becoming a bit off-topic for a software website. More complete discussions about startups can be found on