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How to Create a Shipping Container Brewery

JANUARY 19, 2021 BY RYAN STOLTZ

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People can’t seem to get enough of craft beer breweries and bars. Restaurants and businesses worldwide are now offering their personalized selection of beer-on-the-tap, and gaining widespread success. 

While setting up a brewery may seem like a profitable venture, not everyone has the required capital or space to start a beer garden. That’s why craft brewers are now turning to a modern, low-cost, chic, and efficient solution: shipping container breweries

With containers, you can create your own microbrewery without much hassle and the freedom to move your business wherever you want. 

The flexible construction of shipping containers also allows you to modify the entire design to accommodate kegerators, serving areas, and attractive displays.

 

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What Do You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Shipping Container Brewery?

Before you kickstart your business, you should know there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for craft breweries. 

The phrase 'micro brewery’ may be misleading, since they come in all sizes. For example, the Kona Brewing Company has its presence in all 50 states offering varied flavors, styles and types. On the other hand, the Coney Island Brewing Company in New York is one of the world's smallest brewing companies, brewing only one gallon of beer at a time.

To begin, you’ll need to determine exactly what types, styles, and flavors of beer you’ll offer. Then, depending upon the scale of your brewery, you can choose from the following shipping container configurations.


Shipping Container Beer Stalls/Bars

You can use shipping containers to create an attractive sitting area while offering great beer and entertainment. In that instance, you will need to place the brewing and fermentation tankers in an adjacent container. 

Existing microbreweries looking to expand their space and serve more customers can set up beer stalls and dining areas inside shipping containers.  

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Shipping Containers as Kegerators

You can set up a kegerator that serves beer straight inside large, 40-foot shipping containers. 

 

While most conventional microbreweries use large tanks for making their brew, shipping containers typically accommodate small, 1,000-liter horizontal tanks.


These tanks can squeeze into a narrow roof space, allowing room for a multi-barrel brew kit to manage your mash, fermentation, and empty kegs.

You can insulate shipping containers and create a temperature-controlled area to fine-tune the brewing space and avoid spoilage.

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Real-Life Examples of Shipping Containers as Breweries

Let's look at some of the hugely popular breweries across the world that have used shipping container architecture in their building.


Big Dog Growlers, Bend, Oregon

Big Dog Growlers offers its delicious beer flavors from a whopping 28 taps. The idea of turning a container into a kegerator always excited Carolyn Cobb, the master brewer, and owner. She loves that she can move her business around, and everything she needs to keep her craft beer running is in the container itself.


40FT Brewery, Dalston, London

The name '40FT' pays tribute to the shipping containers used to create the brewery. Built entirely from two 20 ft. shipping containers, the two-story structure, which contains two small brewing tanks, serves craft beer straight to its customers on the first floor while stashing supplies on the top floor.

Since they serve beer directly from the maturation tanks, customers can taste their beers at the source, see the brew-making process, and try their newly-brewed flavors.

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Northern Alchemy, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Northern Alchemy chose to expand its operations in a shipping container when it ran out of space in its existing building. The low cost of used storage containers allowed them to self-fund their brewing startup without any bank loans. They now serve exciting flavors such as Passionfruit Sours, Black IPAs, Spiced Pumpkin, and more.


BRLO Brwhouse, Berlin, Germany

The BRLO Brwhouse got the idea of opening a full-fledged taproom after a successful experience with their pop-up shop during a festival. Because they plan on using their space for new buildings and construction in the future, they chose to use 38 portable shipping containers in place of a permanent structure.

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Source: GMB


512 Brewing, Austin, Texas

512 Brewing at Texas follows the unique process of making beers in aged wooden casks. The owners needed a secure space to stack and store their beer as it continued to age.  They used shipping containers to lock their barrels inside without investing in a permanent warehouse.


Advantages of Microbreweries in a Shipping Container

Let's take a look into why entrepreneurs may favor container microbreweries over traditional brick-and-mortar structures.

  • Portable: You can transport your business to fairs, festivals, sporting events and capitalize on the crowd. If your business does not work in one location due to local competition, you can always start fresh in a new place.
  • Reliable: Shipping containers are robust and weatherproof, making them safe from wind, weathering, theft, and tampering.
  • Scalable and Stackable: Cargo containers have a modular structure that allows you to make hassle-free modifications. You can also use stacked containers to create more space in the same area. If you want to expand your brewery, you can quickly add more containers to the structure.
  • Less Time Consuming: Constructing a conventional building can take months. On the contrary, shipping containers have a pre-built structure, delivered on-site in a fraction of time.
  • Better consumer experience: People prefer eating out for the entire experience, with food, drinks, and ambiance. Serving beer from a shipping container brewery helps create a novel customer experience, boosting your credibility and popularity among diners.

 
How Can Mobile Modular Portable Storage Help?

A container brewery is an exciting business opportunity that requires a lot less time and money than traditional microbreweries.

 

But before you get started, you’ll need to determine the scale of your business and the type of container required. 

Containers come in many sizes and styles; some are even fully refrigerated. Get in touch with a container specialist like Mobile Modular Portable storage to select the best containers per your application and budget.

At Mobile Modular Portable Storage, we understand your container needs. We also provide high-quality shipping containers for sale and rent at the most affordable prices. Our dedicated team of sales specialists stays in touch with you during the entire process for a hassle-free experience. Learn more.

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FAQs

Can You Start a Microbrewery in a Shipping Container?

Shipping containers are a great alternative to traditional buildings for starting your microbrewery. With containers, you can easily create your own microbrewery with the freedom to move your business wherever you want. 
In addition, the flexible construction of shipping containers allows you to modify the entire design to accommodate kegerators, serving areas, and attractive displays.


What Are Reefer Containers?

Refrigerated containers or Reefers are fully refrigerated units used to store and transport perishable items. Speak to our container experts to know more about Reefers for your microbrewery.


How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost?

The price of a cargo container can vary anywhere between $2,500 to $8,000 depending upon its size, service condition, and modifications. New or one-trip containers can cost twice as much as used containers.


Do I Need a Building Permit for Shipping Container Construction?

While you can place your container in most areas, some authorities may require you to obtain a permit for putting shipping containers depending upon the local laws and zoning regulations. That’s why it is best to consult your local authority and present your designs for better clarification.

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