Brewing Excellence: Pilot Systems Guide Brewers

The craft beer movement has taken the US by storm, with new breweries popping up across the nation. To keep up with the demand, small and large breweries alike are incorporating small-scale pilot systems into their operations. But what are pilot systems and why are they needed for craft beer production? Find out how these modern brewing machines are flying high to keep your favorite taps full.

With the recent boom of breweries large and small, jetting into the industry often requires breaking new ground. For many owners and entrepreneurs, the task of setting up a new brewery without the help of outside sources can be daunting. The good news is that the process of establishing a brewery has become easier with the rise of commercial pilot systems. Here, we will explore the importance of brewing pilot systems and their use at breweries of all sizes.

What is a Brewery Pilot System?

Brewery pilot systems are often referred to as a ‘mock brewery’ and are smaller than the full-scale brewing equipment used by larger operations. Commercial pilot systems now available can range from 5-10 barrels on the low end, and grow up to 30 barrels and larger. They are an ideal option for starting brewers, as equipment of this size is often more affordable and only takes up minimal space in the space.

The Benefits of Using a Pilot System

Aside from being a more cost-conscious option, there are many reasons why a brewery pilot system is a great choice. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • They allow brewers to experiment with smaller batches, so mistakes are more manageable—and come with much less extensive financial consequences.
  • The short turnaround time with pilot systems makes them perfect for constantly introducing new beer styles and testing out new recipes.
  • Brewing smaller batches often less expensive in terms of starting ingredients, making it easier to source and experiment with different malts and hops.
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What Can You Brew on a Pilot System?

Almost any type of beer can be brewed using a commercial pilot system, making them ideal for experimenting with any new style. Many brewers choose to use pilot systems to develop new draft recipes, or when introducing a new seasonal brew. As the size of a pilot system is smaller, many owners have discovered they are also great for test batches—especially if they’re looking to stay within a tight budget.

The Role of Automation in Pilot Systems

These days, technology plays a huge part in almost all commercial brewing systems, and pilot systems are no exception. Automated systems offer more control when making small batches of beer, meaning brewers can control the parameters from start to finish with great precision and consistency. Controlled elements like fermentation, mash temperatures and chilling can be adjusted to varying degrees, and many commercial pilot systems come with pre-programmed options for specific styles.

What to Look for in a Brewery Pilot System

When choosing a brewery pilot system, there are several important factors that need to be taken into consideration. First and foremost, you need to ensure the equipment is correctly certified, and complies with all the necessary regulations. You should also consider the quality of the build and stainless steel materials used, as well as the level of automation included. Finally, research the company and make sure they can offer good after sales support.


Using a brewery pilot system can take the load off any commercial operations, whether large or small. They are an excellent choice for craft brewers looking to experiment with new recipes, and for those wanting to maintain a level of cost-effectiveness. With the right system, brewing on the small scale can be just as viable an option as doling out on a larger setup.

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