When you come along to the choice of laying out your brewery, get ready for a long and winding road. One that will likely lead you to the wall and back, and also lead you to a place that you never really thought that you would be. The reality is there are factors involved in your layout that you can think about and plan for, and others that you simply must deal with as they come up.
Before you can even start to work on your layout, there are a million things you will need to go through. I would start by talking to other breweries, and find out what they like about their layout and what they don’t. Be sure to ask lots of why questions. You will also need to figure out how much money you have, as planning for a huge brewery will also mean huge bills. Other factors include the size of your space and your future plans for growth, among others.
One of the most important components to think about in your layout is completely dependent on what you are doing, and what your goals are. For instance, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Brassneck Brewing, or other breweries that are just selling their product in their own retail space, you will have a much different layout than if you want to be a production brewery, like Coal Harbour. For us, we wanted to be somewhere in the middle, which is likely what you want to do as well.
So the elevator version of how you layout your space goes like this:
- Lease space
- Walk through and work with architect to understand ins and outs of space
- Build business plan around this space
- Determine amount of finances needed
- Get first plan from architect
After you get the first floor plan from the architect, you will officially begin a journey that will likely last about 6 months, and involve head scratching, high-fives and deep lows. At the end of it, you will hopefully get a floor plan that is not too much of a compromise and enough of what you had in mind at the beginning of things.
Think about the process for a second. Lets say you have 3 places you can put the brew house. Each of these areas has pros and cons. It is truly a prisoners dilemma. You can have things in the optimal place, you can have it done quickly, you can have it done under budget, and you can have it for the best place for your future growth, but maybe you will get 2 of these things, but likely just 1. What do you pick and why?
Once you agonize over the location, you then need to start figuring how all the ancillary services and equipment will get to the location. This is no small task and will involve the help and advice of your architect. Once you then figure these basics out, you will actually need to order your equipment. You will know what configuration you want for your brew house, and how it connect into the footprint you have created, but then this another level of questions.
Think about some of the minutiae needed:
- Where do you want the drains
- Where do you want water and electrical services
- Where do you want the grain hopper
- Where do you want the slopes and what angle
Once you figure these things out, there is another level of detail. And I am talking exact detail …. down to the millimetre. For instance if you are going to put your brewhouse in position A, where exactly is the drainage pipe going to go. That means you have to work it out with the manufacturer of your equipment where this is exactly, and then map it out on your floor plan, so your mechanical contractor can give you the drain exactly where it needs to be. Getting this kind of stuff wrong can make your life a nightmare. And this example is just for the brewhouse. The same also goes for all the other functional areas of a brewery.
All of this means that you need to have an attention to detail. If you leave this kind of stuff to others, you are relying on their knowledge and effort, and that may or may not work out for you. There are literally hundreds of decisions like this to make when you are building and developing your floor plan. Make sure you put an effort in that will give you exactly what you want.
We have found that we are making decisions over and over. It might be annoying for others, like our sub-trades or architect …. ok it is definitely annoying for them, but I can’t see the process carrying out any other way. How could you not change what you want over and over when it comes to something so complicated like building a brewery.
So back to the original question: What factors are important. I would narrow the list down to 5 things:
- Planning for future growth
- The location and interaction of your tasting room to production
- Inherent issues, characteristics and flow of your warehouse
- Maximal use of space
If you can focus on these things, then your floor plan should end up in a good spot. Not unlike building a house, there are always going to be things that you would change, but the balance between current and future needs, along with finances will most likely determine exactly what ends up going where. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, Iain is a master of this kind of thing, so give him a call.