Cost Comparisons and Cost-Benefit Analyses
The information that follows in this section is intended to help you develop a cost comparison and cost-benefit analysis for comparing different brewhouse options. These tables are based upon data provided by our customers and Meura’s experience with large production breweries.
Raw Material Savings
Do your own analysis using your information. Raw Material Calculator
Raw Material Savings: Grain
The Meura2001 is a thin-bed mash filter and thus works best with fine grist. Most brewers know that E.B.C. analysis indicates an extract yield advantage of about 1.5-3.0% for fine grist over coarse grist for a good quality malt. When brewing on an industrial scale using barley malt, it is normal to expect that on average fine grist will yield 2% more extract than coarse grist (e.g., DIN8777 indicates a difference of 1.8% for high quality malt. For example, 76.2% for coarse grist and 78% for fine grist, means in absolute figures that the coarse grist will give (78-76.2)/76.2*100 = 2.4% less extract compared to fine grist). These figures above are for industrial scale production of normal lager brands. In smaller craft breweries it is not uncommon to see improvements of 3 - 5% and more.
Because sparging efficiency is so much higher with a mash filter than a lauter, and compression of the filter cake releases additional wort, the overall extract efficiency gain can be startling. In smaller craft breweries, particularly when producing higher gravity wort, the overall efficiency can be as low as 75 – 80%. With a mash filter, that figure is typically 95 – 98% and 100% is not uncommon.
What is 10 - 20% of your grain bill worth a year?
Raw Material Savings: Hops
Due to the very bright wort, the trub volume is reduced by 30-50% in comparison with a lauter tun thereby lowering losses to the drain. And hop consumption can be expected to be 5-15% lower as the result of better yield due to the lower trub content.
Raw Material Savings: Water
With the Meura2001 mash filter there are two main areas of water savings. First, during production there is no water loss since there is no rinsing of the filter. In large breweries, a lauter tun uses about 0.2 l of effluent water per kg of throw, in smaller craft breweries that figure might be 0.3 – 0.4 l. With a 300MT throw per year (~10,000 BBL wort production), a lauter tun brewhouse would use 600 - 800 hl of rinsing water per year.
Second, the spent grains of a Meura2001 mash filter have a moisture content of about 70 - 72%, whereas the spent grain from a lauter tun typically runs about 80% moisture content. The water loss associated in the spent grains of a lauter tun are thus very important. Again, for a malt consumption of 300 MT malt per annum, this equates to a difference of about 240 hl water.
So over the course of a year, potentially 1000 hl of water can be saved per 10,000 BBL of wort production by using a mash filter rather than a lauter tun.
Of course along with the water savings, there is also reduced waste water output and effluent charges and reduced cost to produce the brewing water.
Run your own numbers: Savings Calculator
A major advantage of an Aegir brewhouse with the Meura2001 filter is the short brew cycle and labor-saving automation. In industrial-scale, lager-producing breweries it is not uncommon to achieve 14 brews per day with a Meura mash filter which means a residence time of less than 102 minutes/brew.
While few craft brewers will require 14 brews/day, with an Aegir 4 or 5 vessel system you can easily produce: 2 brews in 8 hours, or 5 brews in 16 hours, or 8 brews in 24 hours. Typically, this is achieved using one brewer per shift of brewhouse operation. (And productivity can be improved even further with the addition of a weak-wort recovery vessel.)
The productivity per employee is thus high compared to a lauter tun brewhouse. The following table is a representative example of a smaller craft brewers’ operation:
Brewery Output per annum
Batch size (BBL)
Batches per annum
Brews per shift (*)
Shifts per day
Days brewing required
Shifts per annum
Staff per shift
Hourly wage rate inc. benefits
Working hours per shift
Labor cost per annum
Labor cost per brew
Lauter Tun Brewhouse
(*) In practice, a mix of 2 shift days and 1 shift days would be used for an average of 2 brews/shift for the Lauter Tun system and 3.5 brews/shift for the Aegir system
As shown in this example, the difference in labor cost per brew is $170. Based upon 500 brews per year, the annual saving would be $85,000. While this is a simplified case, it reasonably illustrates the savings that can be achieved when using a mash filter as part of a fully automated system.
Field Installation Time
Most brewery start-ups greatly underestimate the cost of installing their new brewhouse. On-site labor for electrical work, steam-fitting, stainless sanitary welding, glycol piping, etc. can really add-up. When comparing the cost of different brewhouse 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 to the milling center by the customer but within the milling center/brewhouse/liquor tanks system all electrical, steam, sanitary piping, air tubing, grain and grist handling, and Ethernet cabling is included in our brewhouse price.
All our systems are skid-mounted and typically take 3-5 days to unload and set it up. Once all the services are run to the equipment, it typically takes about 5 days for commissioning and training.
The cost of installation on other systems can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Brewing Start-up Costs
Thus far, every Aegir system has produced saleable beer from the very first batch of wort produced by the system. There has been no “break-in” period. Time delays and dumped batches can be costly and frustrating.
Consistency and Quality
Batch-to-batch inconsistency costs money. Most small-scale craft brewers have difficulty closely controlling their brewing process leading to inconsistent wort and variable beer quality. If the business model includes a number of flagship beers, most customers expect 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 raw material consistency) batch after batch.
The cost of inconsistency CAN be quantified with a few assumptions. There are many potential events that can cause this as any brewer will know and we won’t make a list here. If one significant error is made only 2% of the time (a very low frequency for a manual brewhouse run by multiple brewers) that translates into the cost of 5 batches of beer a year if the brewery is producing 5000 BBL/annum on a 20 BBL system. How much is that worth?
An Aegir system with a Meura mash filter produces outstanding quality wort compared to a lauter tun system. We won’t belabor this point since it’s covered pretty well elsewhere on our website. The material and productivity 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 problems. How does an Aegir system contribute to cleanliness? 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. Our process piping is designed to be dead-leg free. 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. Easy cleaning means less unproductive labor. How much is that worth?