The production and retail sale of alcohol has a long history in the United States, interrupted only by Prohibition in the 20th century. Because of this, those who provide services to the alcohol industry have historical data to assess the risks and benefits of engaging in this industry. However, there continues to be change in both taste and demands which are important to address.
For example, the explosive growth in craft breweries has not only changed the types of beers that Americans drink, but also where Americans drink their beer. The demand for craft beers has resulted in a comparable growth in commercial space being utilized for brewing, along with space for pubs and restaurants. However, the regulation and requirements for a craft brewery often differ from those of a larger commercial brewery. Design professionals need to consider issues of utilizing space efficiently, public safety, and the risk of potential contamination and product liability. This paper addresses design issues and considerations for a design professional who is considering working on a craft brewery.
There are existing guidelines and standards of practice for the building, management, and commercial construction principles that can be adapted to the design of craft breweries. Careful, considered planning and design work will reduce many of the potential risks and problems. Site selection and careful evaluation of major utilities are key first steps in a successful design. Patron and worker safety are paramount in any design, particularly given the risk of dust explosion and the large amount of water involved in the brewing process that creates slip risks. Because a brewery has high density heating and cooling processes and equipment, the space may need different layers of insulation for various areas that a restaurant that will not.
Operating systems must be carefully evaluated to ensure that the needs of the brewing process are met, while planning for future expansion. A clean, reliable water source is a must and when determining water supply requirements, pressure, flow rate, and pipe capacity are three primary factors that should be addressed. One of the largest considerations must be given to ensuring that there is no contamination of the product during the brewing process.
Design professionals are well advised to take two steps to reduce potential liability. One is to avoid overlooked design issues by having another engineer or colleague review the design before it is submitted. Second, the design professional should take immediate steps to resolve any confrontation or discord with their craft brewery client.