Turnkey – What does it really mean?

By Jack Owen

So you’ve decided to start a brewery and have just begun to look into acquiring the necessary equipment. The multitude of categories that equipment is sold under quickly becomes daunting in the bewildering complexity of areas one needs to search. Still there’s the lingering doubt “What have I missed?” Then a term jumps out, the clouds part and the angels sing! “Turnkey.” Is this the answer to all of your problems? Could you get all of the equipment needed in one fell swoop?

What exactly is covered by the term “turnkey system”? The initial assumption is that you will get all of the equipment needed to brew beer, delivered and ready to be used. Buy some malt and hops and you are in the professional beer business. But is it a good decision, sourcing every item from one place? Perhaps certain pieces are better purchased separately from companies that specialize in a specific area, like filters, allowing you to get the piece that best suits your needs.

The reality is the phrase “turnkey” means different things to different people. It should mean that everything is there, delivered, and ready for you to install and put the key in the ignition and start driving, but it doesn’t always mean that in the real world. For example, is it a turnkey brewery or a turnkey brew house? It is extremely important to define the terms when buying equipment and make sure that you know exactly what you’re purchasing (and what you haven’t). If something is not written down, you are probably not going to get it and you won’t have a legal leg to stand on. You’ll end up frustrated and needing to invest more time and money to have it taken care of.

Hot side
Cold side
Miscellaneous equipment
Turnkey Brewery Worksheet

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