Brew your own: a guide on how to start a microbrewery

We've put together a guide that will offer tips for those looking to kick-start their own successful microbrewery.

Published 6th Feb 2019
Updated 8 th Feb 2019

Scotland is undeniably a country of expert drinks producers, and Scottish whisky has an enviable reputation for being the best in the world. In fact, according to a recent report, Scotch whisky currently accounts for 20 per cent of the UK’s entire food and drinks exports.

Scotland's talented brewers are also capable of producing some excellent beers and the brewing industry in Scotland is continuing to grow at quite a pace.

On home turf, we’re certainly enjoying the results of these talented people, as craft
breweries in Scotland have increased by 230 per cent from 2010 to 2018.

In fact, there are now 115 breweries in Scotland, and the majority of them are

Their popularity among drinkers has seen 10 per cent of these microbreweries gain sales levels of more than £1 million in 2018.

Should you want to make a name for yourself in the brewing market, you certainly have the scope to do so.

One study showed that a key consideration for craft beer drinkers is that it is brewed by a small company. In fact, this outweighed the preference for it being traditional or ‘trendy’.

Before you jump in however, there is a fair amount of preparation you need to do before you can join the rank of Scotland’s artisan beer and ale producers.

There’re three crucial areas that you need to nail down: equipment, ingredients, and power.

It’s all about the right kit

It might be living a dream, but running a microbrewery is also a business — and
businesses need to make money.

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Microbreweries can be notoriously difficult to get off the ground financially, so you need to choose an energy strategy that will reduce your usage and keep costs down.

By doing this, you can help boost your company’s profit margins.

The first step though is to get the right energy-efficient equipment. One of the main
components in the brewing process is the mash system, which is commonly made
up of the following:

Lauter tun – Separates the wort (or liquid) from the solids of the mash (much
like a sieve)

Steam generator – Heats the kettle, which is then brought to a controlled
temperature before the hops are added

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Plate Heat Exchanger/Wort Chiller – Quickly cools the hot wort ready for

Mash tank – Steeps barley into hot water and converts grain starches into
fermentable sugars

Malt mill - Crushes the grain in preparation for brewing

Wort Pump - Re-circulates the mash for a higher efficiency, enhancing the
clarity and quality of the brew

This covers just the mashing stage. Further to this, you’ll need a fermentation system (where yeast is added and sugar turns into alcohol), a cooling system (to prevent bacteria growth and where beer can be stored ready for sale), a filtering system (to get rid of sediment for a higher-quality product) and, of course, not forgetting the sterilisation equipment (to ensure that bacteria doesn’t spoil your next batch of beer).

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You get out what you put in

The equipment will only go so far. The taste and quality of your brew will be
impacted hugely by the ingredients you use.

Picture: QuinnDombrowski/Flickr

With so many variations available, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating something truly unique. But not matter how distinctive the taste, you’ll find all craft beer is made up the following key components:

•  Barley — Barley is the ingredient that deals with alcohol percentage, body,
aroma, and taste. You can’t afford to skimp out on the quality barley.

Hops — Hops gives beer its distinctive flavour. There are around 170
variations, meaning there’s plenty of choice when it comes to playing with

Water — Water makes up 90 per cent of any beer. The pH and mineral
content of your chosen water, as well as if it’s hard or soft, can also affect the
end result. Luckily in Scotland we are blessed with some of the world's best.

Yeast – If there’s a magic ingredient for beer, it’s definitely yeast. Essentially a fungus, yeast eats the sugars created in the malting process. By allowing it to ferment and feed off the sugars, alcohol is created as a by-product. No yeast, no booze.

Getting your microbrewery going

It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Along with all the complications of the
brewing process, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is extortionate energy
prices, or an unreliable supply.

Whether you’re connected to the grid and need a good business deal, or you’re operating in a rural location and you’re looking for a dependable LPG supply - choose wisely.

If you’re current using oil or solid fuels, it might be worth taking a look at LPG fuel for your microbrewery.

LPG is a cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient fuel that could offer savings on energy costs. With the lowest CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel, it’ll also mean a lower carbon footprint for your microbrewery.

The last part of a successful microbrewery is a whole load of hard work. Good luck
— we’re sure your beer will be worth the effort.


The Craft Beers and Artisinal Alcoholic (CBAA) Drinks Sector in Scotland, review
commissioned by the Scottish Government. A. Barnes, M. Markantoni, J. Bell, M.
Spencer, K. Allison. 2017-2018.

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