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Hiker Brewing Co.

Hiker Brewing Concern – Floor Plan

Daniel & I have spent a lot oDaniel & I have spent a lot of time working through what the floor plan for the brewery and taproom will be.  I thought I would share what we have come up with and provide a rationale for the decision.

Final Floor Plan for Hiker

The layout can be broken into a number of key areas, namely:

  • Production Area – where the beer is made.
  • Storage Areas – where the raw material (dry) and finished product (cold – hmmm cold beer) is stored.
  • Taproom – where our patrons will enjoy the fruits of our labours.

We believe that each of these areas have to link together for operational efficiency and customer experience, but each also has its own needs. From day one when we decided to go into business together we agreed that Hiker would be a very lean (but not mean) operation as our sales focus will be on the tap room (and on-line) rather than the dog eat dog wholesale market (though we will dabble in it with local bottleshops and bars).

So the mantra of working smarter and not harder wherever possible has been put into play, balanced with finances and cash flow i.e. spending more capital upfront to reduce operational costs down the track (easier said than done, given everything has significantly increased in price, since I did the initial business plan 12 months ago.  Thanks Covid!).

So, let’s go through the key areas, as well as the key decisions we have made to date and some we are yet to finalise.

Production Area

The layout (and equipment – which I will discuss in another blog post) of the production area is critical to ensure good workflow and to minimise waste. Both Daniel & I have worked in, and visited, numerous breweries. We’ve have experienced the impact of a poorly thought through layout. Whether poorly designed from the start due to space constraints, or caused by having to change the layout due to growth, bottlenecks are created that waste time and money.

10HL 3 Vessel System Similar to ours

With the luxury of a pretty big blank canvas (the shed is nearly 800m2), we have decided on keeping it simple. Basically, we’ll have the whole production process along one side the shed in a bunded area (120 m2 – 24m2 long x 5m2 wide). We’ll also have a floating concrete slab that will have good slopes to drain (fingers crossed). As any brewer can attest, good sloping floors and a good drainage system will save a lot of time with the squeegee!  We have made the bunded area quite large to accommodate future growth, as we really don’t want to compromise our workflow in the future (if and when we do need to grow).

Given we are going to be a boutique brewery (the term craft beer has lost any meaning now that the big boys have claimed it – that will be a rant for another day!), we want to be true artisans. We want to highlight to our patrons the providence of the ingredients we use – whether from Australia or overseas, we just want to be transparent.  We see the brewing and fermenting process as the next link in the storytelling chain, before the end where our patrons taste our amazing beer straight from the source.

Hiker will be able to highlight the end-to-end process of brewing for those who visit. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?!

Our long flat layout will allow everyone to see the full process – from milling the grain through to the brewhouse where the sugars are created (hot side), through to fermentation where the yeast does its magic (cold side) – nothing will be hidden behind other bits of stainless steel.  Having the brewery along one wall really will allow us to easily showcase how we create beautiful and amazing beer.

Storage Areas

At the end of the bunded area, will be a dry storage area where we will store all the malt and other brewery related things, that’s pretty boring but required. 

As for the cold room, we have gone back and forth amongst ourselves (many, many times). We want to make sure that we make the right decision. Both from a size perspective and from a workplace health and safety perspective; 50 Litre kegs are not light and not easy to move around.

Therefore, we are focused on ensuring we can easily move a pallet of beer into the cold room (9 x 50 Litre kegs) via a Walkie Stacker and also have the ability to stack a second pallet on top of another.  Whilst this doesn’t remove all the heavy lifting – for example taking a keg from a second level pallet to hook up to a beer line, it does eliminate the majority of safety issues.

The width of the cold room was really determined by the width of the existing office (4.8m) which the cold room will align with. So the debate here was more about the length. In the end we decided to fill the whole space (8.4m) as we didn’t want to regret skimping down the track, and having to store beer at an offsite cold room. So 40m2 is what we are getting -we feel it’s enough space and will easily meet our needs for foreseeable future. 

As part of the process, I did do the sums on only using 30 litre kegs in our brewery, and the results were very surprising. Basically we could easily fit an extra 1,000 litres of beer in the cold room using 30 litre keg. It would also be much better from a safety point of view.  Unfortunately, this is one occasion where the finances didn’t align with our end goal. 

There is not much difference in the rental costs of 30 Litre vs 50 Litre kegs. With an additional 20% more kegs for a 30 litre fleet for the same amount of beer, and the quicker turnover of kegs (that’s how you get charged for keg rentals; basically each time they get filled), it would nearly double our keg rental charge. So we have decided to go with the 50 Litre kegs.  We have, however, made a commitment that when we are more well-off that we will purchase our own kegs. That’s when we will start to introduce 30 litre kegs to improve the safety of our work environment. We have also decided to go for thicker panels and to insulate the floor of the cold room to help conserve electricity rather than cutting down on upfront costs. It has cost us a little more (20% over our initial budget ☹), but we figured it was important from a sustainability point of view. Plus, we didn’t want to look back in the future and wished we had gone for it.

Tap Room

The tap room is very much a work-in-progress, and something we are not rushing, as we know we need to get it right. It will be the lifeblood of our brewery, and if we don’t get it right it will have a significant impact on our business.  We are focused on having an inviting space where friends, families, and locals can gather over awesome beer and other artisan products. A place where kids can play, with a large kid’s area and hopefully a safe outdoor activity zone.

An Image from our Vision Board - Lots of Wood!

We have plenty of ideas for what we would like, but it all comes down to money. There are costs that you don’t even think about when you set the initial budget. 

Case in point, the biggest issue we are currently working through is climate control.

Being a big tin shed with not a lot of ventilation, during the last month it has basically been an oven. This is not really conducive to attracting people to come and stay for a few beers.  We have had various companies out to give us advice and quote on things such as extractor fans, big ceiling fans, floor fans etc. Name a fan and we have a quote for it!

The problem is the quotes are all super expensive. With no budget allocated for climate control we are now looking at alternatives and/or other areas within our budget. We’re trying to identify where we can skim some money, but they are few and far between. So if anyone wants to sub-lease part of our building for a Bikram Yoga studio let me know (lol).

We had also planned for a beer garden and a container commercial kitchen, but that now will be a stage 2 project. First we’ll get up and running, sell some beer and get some money in the till.  As we work through the tap room design, I will blog again about what we are planning. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In the meantime, Bikram Yoga and beers anyone?


  • reply

    Timothy Canavan

    March 4, 2022

    I love how you guys have planned a disability toilet right from the start. It wasn’t till I had a friend in a wheel chair that i realised how many pubs have stairs everywhere. Also just a thought on cooling Insulating reflecting paint actually makes a huge difference in heat on warehouses. Looks amazing guys well done