Small Brewpub Systems and malt extracts
With a friend of mine we are searching possibilities to open a brewpub.
We found several Brewing Equipment companies, which are offering equipment for a very competitive price. They are very small, up to 1000 gallons, but really inexpensive - US$20 - 40K.
They are supposed to be easy to operate by using malt extracts, hops and water and able to brew all kinda beers...
Does anyone has experience working with them? What are the results? How's the beer? Any suggestions on the Equipment company?
Many thanks in advance,
l'd be very skeptical of the equipment you're mentioning. If I were you I would stear clear of buying equipment that touts itself as "easy to use". This is the reason you'll need an experienced brewer, it's not that easy to make GREAT beer. You'll probably make marginal quality beer (at best) especially using malt extracts. Sanitation is a very important part of making beer so the equipment must be designed in a manner where every "nook and cranny" can be cleaned. If you're really serious about opening I brewpub I suggest you visit other facilities and possibly attend the Craft Brewers Conference this April in San Diego. There are many equipment manufacturers out there, my advice is go with someone who has been around for at least ten years. Also ask for a reference or two so you can call an existing customer to see if they are happy with their purchase and the installation service. Bottom line.....make great beer from opening day and you'll sleep better at night!!
I brewed beer professionally using malt extract, and while I was able to make excellent beer that way, I found it required every bit as much skill to do so as to make beer from an all-grain mash, and the added ingredient cost more than cancelled any time/labor savings. I wouldn't recommend it.
That sounds like the company (whos name escapes me now) that gets you their equipment cheaply, but then you are screwed into a contract to purchase all your ME from them at outrageous prices.
Of course they also tell you that your beer is ready to serve 4-5 days after you brew.
Having brewed comercially with extract and having seen dozens of extract start-ups come and go (100% of them) over the years, I would suggest that unless you have extraordinary circumstances that limit your ability to work from grain, your focus should be on finding a good, used full grain system available at a reasonable price or a good, new system available at a reasonable price. You can email me if you want my recommendations.
Any manufacturer that suggests you can purchase an 'easy to use' system at a 'low price' is obviously looking to remove your dollars from your bank account and deposit in their's... plain and simple. There are price variances from manufacturer to manufacturer and there are significant quality differences which all the folks here can tell you stories of but I have yet to find a former owner of an extract system that sings the praise of the manufacturer.
Remember, beer is a very simple product. It's remarkable how complex we make the manufacture of it.
I worked for an all-grain brewery that originally started as an extract brewery. The brewery was all-grain during my tenure but we never seemed to shake the "extract" notion, even 3 years later. Regulars noticed the beer was much, much better when it became all-grain but I don't know how many times I overheard, "Oh, it's extract". (Almost like it didn't count) Most beer-geeks and therefore press writers will never give your malt extract beer compliments regardless of how great it tastes, they simply think it is inferior beer. My travels say they are correct.