Brewery Equipment: One Size Does Not Fit All
Picking out equipment has been a challenge (but the hardest is coming up in the next post). The larger the system and the more automated the process the larger the initial capital investment. Though you can make more beer at once saving on labor, cost, and reduce the risk of spending money twice (when you need to expand). But, it also needs to fit through the door of your building.
Over much hemming a hawing I have settled on the following specs for the brewery. I am going with a 10 barrel system. For those of you who don't speak brewmaster that's 20 1/2 barrel kegs (you know the ones you did keg stands on in college before you discovered good beer). The plan currently is 5 conical fermenters with 10 bbls (barrels) capacity and 2 brite tanks at 10 bbls each.
The system will be powered with steam. The boiler will come from Burnham Boilers. The Cadillac of boilers in my opinion. Of course that opinion might be biased as my ancestors started that business in 1873. But, everything I've heard and read suggests for this key piece of equipment it should be bought domestically. This includes a book I'm reading currently called Operation Brewery: A step by step guide to building a craft brewery on a budget by Black Hops Brewery founders; Eddie Oldfield, Michael McGovern, and Dan Norris.
That being said the brewhouse (mash tun and brew kettle) fermenters, and brite tanks I am purchasing are coming from overseas (cough, cough, China). Black Hops Brewery also bought from China. Interestingly enough as I was choosing the system the China steel tariffs were headline news every day. So... that was fun. But in the end brewing equipment is/was (depending on when I post this and if it happened) excluded from the steel tariff. A little protectionist I feel but I'm not going to complain (I embrace my hypocrisy openly and unapologetically).
One of the reasons I needed to go with an overseas system was because I needed to have a lot of the equipment custom made to fit my space (7 foot ceilings in the basement). This additional cost pushed most domestic options out of reach for the budget. Plus the systems coming out of China are now very competitive in quality as long as you have the system designed domestically (shout out to Dan Sartin with MBS Brewing Consulting. So now, I just need somewhere to put all this stuff when it finishes circumnavigating the globe.
On a side note Dan Sartin has been an amazing resource. Business Planning, Engineering, Equipment design and honestly I don't think I can list all the things he has done. All I can say is Dan's epitaph should read "Builder of Breweries".
The next post will cover the most challenging part of this venture. Picking and acquiring the location.
“We are never more true to ourselves than when we are inconsistent.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Owner and Founder