The information in this section is intended to help you develop cost comparisons and cost-benefit analyses. Some items can be readily quantified by us such as raw material savings and labor savings based upon the feedback from our customers and from other sources. Others items can be quantified by you using your own reasonable assumptions. And still there are others that are just as real, and although difficult to quantify, need to be considered in any thorough analysis.
Material and Energy Savings
Field Installation Time
Most brewery start-ups greatly underestimate the cost of installing their brewhouse. On-site labor for electrical work, steam-fitting, stainless sanitary welding, glycol piping, etc. can run into quite a bit of money. When comparing the cost of different equipment alternatives, the installed, ready-to-run, cost is what needs to be compared. An Aegir brewhouse comes complete and virtually turn-key. Services must be brought to the brewhouse and the milling center by the brewery but within the milling center/brewhouse/liquor tanks system all electrical, steam, sanitary piping, air tubing, grain and grist handling, and Ethernet cabling is provided by us. If these services have been brought to the equipment, it should take 2-3 days to unload our system and set it up. The cost of installation on other systems can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Thus far, every Aegir system has produced saleable beer from the very first batch. There has been no “break-in” period. Time delays and dumped batches can be costly and frustrating.
A much broader range of raw materials can be used successfully with an Aegir system than a traditional lauter tun system. In the case of using unmalted grains this means lower raw material costs. In the case of rye, wheat, and gluten-free grains like sorghum, buckwheat and millet, this means a wider range of beer styles can be produced. It is difficult to put an exact figure on the value of this. Valuing the former case depends on how you operate your brewery and the latter case depends on how much more beer you can sell (artistic considerations aside).
With an Aegir brewhouse and a Meura mash filter, it is possible to produce batches between 50% and 120% of the rated capacity of the system. Lautering bed depth is not a factor, kettle volume is not a factor, and whirlpool effectiveness is not a factor.
Temperature and time rests can be programmed into an Aegir system according to the brewer’s desire to get a particular carbohydrate profile
Ale, lager or anything else, an Aegir system has the cooling capacity to chill the wort to the desire temperature on its way to the fermenter. And with our automated oxygen dosing, a wide range of yeast strains can be used effectively.
Consistency and Quality
Another area where the value is difficult to quantify but is definitely important is the batch-to-batch consistency. Most small-scale craft brewers have difficulty controlling their beer quality and thereby consistency. If the business model is to only produce individual, one-off brews, maybe this isn’t a problem. But if the business model includes a number of flagship beers, the customer (speaking for myself anyway) expects the same beer glass after glass. The automation and control on an Aegir system means that the wort will be exactly the same (within the limitations of the consistency of raw materials) batch after batch.
One area where the value of consistency can be quantified with a few assumptions is the cost of user errors that result in a bad batch that must be dumped. There are many potential events that can cause this (we can enumerate if you like). If one such error is made only 1% of the time (a very low frequency for a manual system) that translates into the cost of 5 batches of beer a year if the brewery is producing 5000 bbl on a 10 bbl system.
An Aegir system with a Meura mash filter produces outstanding quality wort compared to a lauter tun system. I won’t belabor this point since it’s covered pretty well on our website. The material and energy savings has been quantified but there is also a lot of benefit on the marketing side – better beer should result in greater sales and faster growth. How much is that worth?
It’s been written that 80% of a brewers time is (or should be) spent cleaning -the cleaner the brewery, the fewer the pests, of all sizes right down to microbes. Our milling center is virtually dust-free. A Meura mash filter is simple to empty and clean compared with a lauter tun. CIP programs are built into our systems that allow easy individual vessel cleaning or the entire system. Everything on the brewhouse and liquor tank skids can be washed down but really shouldn’t get very dirty to begin with since we have level controls on all the vessels.
There is always more that can be done. An Aegir system includes many safety features including: a rupture panel on the grist hopper vented outside the building in the unlikely event of an explosion, an over-boil sensor on the kettle that automatically shuts down the steam flow when foam is detected, and all the process valves are automated so the brewer should never need to be in close proximity to hot liquids or pipes.