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Old 03-07-2013, 03:59 AM   #1
bluelakebrewing
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Nov 2010
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Does anyone know what the biggest differences are in the brewing process between large commercial breweries and small scale homebrew setups?

Besides the obvious like size, technology, mass production, what are some of the best techniques/pieces of equipment/procedures that the big boys utilize that we can to?

Im always looking for ways to increase my efficiency, time of brewday, and other things to make my beer better and more professional. Any thoughts?

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:09 AM   #2
BetterSense
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Note when I say 'large' I actually mean 'micro'. But larger than could be called homebrewing.

Large breweries do not leave the beer in the primary fermenter for a month like homebrewers. It's there just long enough to hit final gravity then goes to a 'bright tank' (secondary) for refrigerated aging.

Large breweries filter their beer.

Large breweries reuse their yeast.

Large breweries typically fly sparge and continuously stir the mash.

Large breweries do not dry hop for weeks. They are more likely to use hopback-like devices and/or recirculate while dry hopping for a couple days.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:30 AM   #3
BigEd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelakebrewing View Post
Does anyone know what the biggest differences are in the brewing process between large commercial breweries and small scale homebrew setups?

Besides the obvious like size, technology, mass production, what are some of the best techniques/pieces of equipment/procedures that the big boys utilize that we can to?

Im always looking for ways to increase my efficiency, time of brewday, and other things to make my beer better and more professional. Any thoughts?
The differences in time are not significant. The mashing, sparging and boiling processes take similar amounts of time whether brewing 10 gallons or 350 gallons. I recently assisted on a batch at a brewpub and the overall time from start to finish was about six hours. My home brewing time is slightly more than that due to the most part from having to set up and knock down the equipment and not using pumps.

As for improvements to the beer I think the most common shortcomings in homebrew, aside from bad recipes, is under-pitching of yeast and lack of critical temperature control. Equipment like commercial glycol-jacketed fermenters and tanks make temperature control a snap. Pitching large, active yeast cultures gets the fermentation going soon to a rapid, clean finish.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:25 AM   #4
bluelakebrewing
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Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
Note when I say 'large' I actually mean 'micro'. But larger than could be called homebrewing.

Large breweries do not leave the beer in the primary fermenter for a month like homebrewers. It's there just long enough to hit final gravity then goes to a 'bright tank' (secondary) for refrigerated aging.

Large breweries filter their beer.

Large breweries reuse their yeast.

Large breweries typically fly sparge and continuously stir the mash.

Large breweries do not dry hop for weeks. They are more likely to use hopback-like devices and/or recirculate while dry hopping for a couple days.
homebrewers flysparge, can ferment for only critical junctures, and reuse their yeast continuously....im trying to get down to the nitty gritty of the actual differences.. things theyre doing that we arent/can only dream of. What are they

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:37 PM   #5
SimonHucko
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Jun 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelakebrewing View Post
homebrewers flysparge, can ferment for only critical junctures, and reuse their yeast continuously....im trying to get down to the nitty gritty of the actual differences.. things theyre doing that we arent/can only dream of. What are they
As far as I can tell, there's no "magic" to commercial brewing. Brewing is brewing, and in some ways homebrewers have more and varied techniques available to them that just aren't practical on a commercial scale.

The key to commercial brewing is quality and consistency, which are accomplished by thorough control of the process (the afformentioned automated temperature control, pitching big healthy yeast cultures, etc etc.). Also, most commercial recipes have been tested and tweaked on a pilot (homebrew) scale before being applied to the full system, so the recipes are more polished.

Things that they're doing that we aren't? A crapton of cleaning. Enjoy the small rig

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:41 PM   #6
mb82
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We can do everything they do, just on a smaller scale. Just sometimes it is not economically adventitious to do these things.
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Old 03-07-2013, 02:59 PM   #7
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Can't believe no one has mentioned this yet! Commercial breweries almost always use unicorn blood in their batches. They usually add this when pitching the yeast in a ratio of about 1oz blood per 1 gallon of wort.

What sucks is that the distributors of the stuff won't even talk to you unless you are a bonded, licensed commercial brewery. That's probably the biggest difference.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:17 PM   #8
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I would say filtration and fermentation time would be the biggest differences.

It can be expensive to implement a filter at small scale. Plus it's not really needed if you cold crash, use finings, or do long cold storage. larger breweries have to be efficient in the amount of time they give to a batch of beer. Most fermentation cycles are only 5-10 days. At that time the beer is transferred to a bright or storage tank to free up the fermenter. Most homebrewers let their batches ferment for 3 or more weeks. Not that commercial brewers couldn't do that, but it cuts into production capacity.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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I would say one of the advantages commercial breweries have is being able to brew multiple times per week. I'm lucky if I can brew every 2 weeks on average. There are so many variables I would like to play with but can't.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:02 PM   #10
bluelakebrewing
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great thoughts everyone, thanks for your feedback. I guess im still curious about big brewery technologies like mash rakes, glycol systems, pid interfaces, fancy pumps and what have you, but....really it seems as though the same principles still apply. This is why I love brewing!

 
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