I have been thinking about about brewery simplification as I plan to build out my new brew house. The major advantage of a simple brew house is that is that it is easier to clean because there is less to clean. I look at modern setups with specialized brew sculptures and multiple pumps, especially the more complex electric brewery setups, and say "no, just no." I am certain that their designers enjoy these breweries very much, but there is something to be said about keeping things simple. Denny's batch sparging method is an example of keeping things simple. One does not even need a proper hot liquor back for a batch-sparged brewery and BIAB takes brew house simplification to a new high. My SNS starter method is also an example of keeping things simple. Granted, with each simplification, there are trade-offs, usually the loss of efficiency or the ability to fine tune. However, brewing at the amateur level should be fun. Having to worry about complex control panels and multiple pumps failing (or a stir plate malfunctioning) is not aligned with the RDWHAHB ethos started by Charlie P. On the other hand, I can admire such a brewery from afar. There are guys I know that I met a few years after I started brewing who are still using the same setup they used back in the 90s. Granted, parts have been replaced with better parts, but they are okay with keeping things simple. These guys all brew excellent beer.
The first craft brewery I saw up close and personal was the Wild Goose brewery when it was in Cambridge, Maryland. That was an Alan Pugsley installed Peter Austin and Partners-designed English-style craft brewery (the same "Ringwood" brewery design was employed at many early East Coast microbreweries with the difference being merely scale). The kettle was direct-fired and bricked-in to preserve heat. I believe that the hot liquor back was also direct fired. Heated water from the plate heat exchanger was pumped into the hot liquor back, preserving thermal capacity for the next brew. All of the fermentation vessels were open (I was shocked when I saw 25 and 50 bbl fermentation vessels that were open to the atmosphere). Advanced amateur brew houses today are much more complex than these brew houses, but they do not brew any better beer, which brings me around to question, how do we simplify out of control complexity without sacrificing quality? I would appreciate the members of this forum sharing any techniques that they have created to simplify their brew houses. There is beauty in simplicity. Niklaus Wirth, the designer of the Pascal and Modula languages, said make it as simple as possible, but not simpler. I fairly certain that between us we can design an elegant, fully functional, but simple brew house.