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Thread: Brewpub operations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Minot, ND
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    Brewpub operations

    EDIT: I decided to go with a 7bbl system later in this thread and have included some of my initial concepts for my layout. The files are available for download in this thread. I edited to add this statement to help people searching or reading older threads. The discussion on my start up plans continues on page 3. -Jon


    First, I apologize if this is in the wrong spot.

    I am looking for some feedback on the following operations concept/plan for a brewpub. I would much appreciate any help or guidance you would provide. First, I want to acknowledge that it will be a hell of a lot of work, but since I don't mind working 12-15 hours a day (not for someone else though), I will do whatever it takes to never work for someone else again.

    The brewpub is to be located in upper mid-west/norther great plains town with a population of approximately 50k people with another 20k within 30 miles. We are located within 1.5 hours from the Canadian border and seeing a lot of Canadian traffic in our city almost every weekend. The town is currently experiencing exponential growth due to oilfield activity, as such, we feel that if we are going to pull this off now is the time.

    The downtown area in which it is to be located has plans to add several hundred apartments in a 4 block radius within the next 10 years,with construction starting on phase 1 this year.

    The building in question is located in the downtown portion of the city and has 3500 sq. feet on the main floor, none of the walls on the main floor are load bearing, so we have a clean slate when we renovate the building. My business partner owns the building and the apartments located above the space designated for the brewpub, so leasing is not an issue. We also have access to the full 3500 sq. foot basement for whatever we need (storage of empty kegs, more fermentation room).

    We have decided to start on a Sabco system brewing two 10 gallon batches a day to fill our 8-12 30 gallon fermenters. I know this is less than ideal, but you must remember the population size and also take in to account this is macro country. However, several very small beer bars in the area that carry a wide selection of craft brews are doing well.

    We plan on using a 15 day cycle for brewing our house ales, with more time in the fermenter if stock allows (or as dictated by style/gravity/yeast) as we will be serving from kegs and not from the tanks. With this plan we are looking at roughly 135 to 210 barrels a year, not much compared to what most of you guys (and gals) are brewing.

    We have no plans for a kitchen right away and are not required by law in our jurisdiction to do so. We plan to associate with several restaurants in the downtown area to provide food for our patrons, if they want more than the typical bar snacks. We plan to open around 4pm or 5pm everyday as would not see a lot of lunch traffic.

    We also plan to leave room for some limited restaurant equipment (grill, cooler, freezer, prep and expo) to be added later as we want to focus on our brewing and servicing our loans before risking food service. Since the oil activity has come this way, finding people to work in kitchen positions is getting bad, even the local McDonalds is paying close to $15 an hour.

    We plan on installing 21 taps in the brewpub and running our products in 5-8 taps at any given time, the rest would be regional microbrews with one marco and a few national craft beers. I have an idea of the layout for the brewroom, fermentation room, grain storage and my office which will also hold all of the IT equipment and yeast storage.

    Our only barrier to entry is local ordinance preventing a brewery from operating in the downtown area (zoning) however we feel this was intended for production size breweries, not brewpubs with our intended size. We do not feel this poses any significant threat, but I thought it should be mentioned. So if you have any comments on handling city council on this issue (awesome)...

    So I am looking for feedback on an major design flaws in the concept/plan or anything you would like to share with me to make it a little easier. Also, if you experienced people could give me an idea on size of the brewroom, fermentation room, grain storage and walk-in cooler size for the amount of taps; I would appreciate that very much. Questions are much appreciated as well as it stimulates the creative/problem solving process which seems to be a daily task in the industry. (Thank you for taking the time to read all that.)

    Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom and hopefully we will brew on!

    Cheers! -Jon
    Last edited by thatjonguy; 08-16-2012 at 08:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    14
    Try contacting the local economic development group in your town. My experience they have been awesome. Their job is to bring new business in and are usually on good terms with city council and mayor offices.

    I'm guessing ND somewhere? If so, lagering will never be an issue.

  3. #3
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    Minot, ND
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    Yes in ND. It has been very mild here this winter (47f) for the high today.

    Thanks for the advice about the economic development groups, I forgot about them.

    Everything else look workable?
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
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    Hi Jon,
    Contrary to what all the girls say; size does matter.
    Especially the size of your brewing equipment. I understand the financial differences between a Sabco nano and an 8-10 bbl brewhouse. You could very well be setting up your operation for headaches and possible failure with the nano system. A Brewhouse that small in that sort of population base will be drained quickly. Then you will be brewing ALL the time (economies of scale). If you start with a bigger capacity, you can support the demand and grow into a strong and more stable market position without having to shut down, re-equip, re-submit forms to the Feds and state, wait around for their approval or changes all the while not producing any product.
    Also, do not underestimate the demand for good craft beer. Those oilfields have been drawing in thousands of workers from all over, as you well know. Workers who already have a taste for craft beers. I would be happy to speak with you more about your project if you would like.
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Florence, Alabama
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    I agree with Dave, you want a larger system. 7bbl would probably be the thing, I wouldn't go under 5.

    I brewed on a 1bbl brewhouse in the early days, I never want to go that small again if I can possibly avoid it. You'll be working your butt off trying to keep up.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2012
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    We are unsure if the building we have can support the weight of a 7bbl system. So 5bblI would be the next best bet, now to figure out ho to get it in the building.

    Anyone have experience with Specific Mechanical's skid mounted systems?
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatjonguy
    We are unsure if the building we have can support the weight of a 7bbl system. So 5bblI would be the next best bet, now to figure out ho to get it in the building.

    Anyone have experience with Specific Mechanical's skid mounted systems?
    Hi again Jon,
    I have worked on a 17bbl Specific Mech system but it was not skid mounted. My current 10bbl Bohemian Monobloc is skid mounted. When I uninstalled it from its former home, I only had a double door to use to remove it, the boiler, and all ten brewing tank from the building. I ended up taking everything off the skid with the help of a Bobcat tractor with forks mounted to the bucket. Then the opposite to install it. Most skid mounted systems are designed with the thought that they will be put into position via a crane and a hole in the roof. If the building doesn't support the equipment, find a different building. As my father-in-law has pounded in my head, "Never fall in love with a piece of real estate!"
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Minot, ND
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    Dave,

    I really appreciate the help, one of the many reasons to love the craft brew industry. I should take a short trip out to Montana and visit for the day...

    I will check with my business partner (building guy) on thefloor capacity (i am pretty suresure it can hold a 5bbl) but we really want to use this space as he already owns it.

    Any idea how much a 5bbl system weighs fully loaded? I would use 5bbl tanks(any advice on unitanks would be appreciated) so a guess (high side) would be great as well. That way I have an idea when I speak with our architect.

    Thanks again guys!
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Santa Barbara
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    14
    I'm glad to see that you will go with a larger size brewhouse and capacity. We are in an area of only 90K permanent residents and off season, my slowest beer moves 2 kegs a week. I have 10 products on in a brewpub, (restrained, by comparison to lots of others) and my fastest two beers move 14 kegs a week, combined, in the slowest months.

    The point I'm making is that your projections talk about growth and you need to plan for that capacity, now.

    I would plan for 1500 bbl, minimum annual capacity. For the weight issue, if a plan engineer agrees that the floor won't handle the weight, but the space is otherwise "perfect" for you, consider I beam elevated flooring for the brewhouse and tanks. This will distribute the weight across more area and even give you the chance to add drains without digging trenches.

    Good Luck and Go For It! There is still plenty of room in the pool!

  10. #10
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    I would also suggest that if you want to serve food some time in the future just do it when the doors open. I have seen many bars that waited for a while to serve food after they opened and their customers just got used to them not serving food. Then when they finally started serving food it took a long time to get people used to the concept of going there for anything other than just drinks. Even if you open with a limited menu it will get people thinking of eating at your place.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fennellys
    I would also suggest that if you want to serve food some time in the future just do it when the doors open. I have seen many bars that waited for a while to serve food after they opened and their customers just got used to them not serving food. Then when they finally started serving food it took a long time to get people used to the concept of going there for anything other than just drinks. Even if you open with a limited menu it will get people thinking of eating at your place.
    Do you guys see anything wrong with not using a fryer in the brewpub? I don't really want to deal with one nor is my partner (building owner) crazy about the idea either. I feel even though you can separate the kitchen from the rest of the business, the odor of grease lingers and detracts from the craft beer experience.

    Food wise, I was thinking along of the lines of sandwiches and wraps. See anything wrong with that plan?
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

  12. #12
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    Aug 2010
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    37
    If your goal is to serve sandwiches and wraps and avoid fried stuff that if fine. I know many places that go with a concept like that. Fresh and healthy is in. The most important part is that if you want to have sandwiches and wraps you at least start with something. You might start with 5 things and expand to 20-40 items, but it is just most important to the notion of getting food and drinks at your place from day one.

    On a side note I have 2 fryers in my pub and I put in the correct amount of exhaust and you would never know they are on. I also know of some bars that use over sized bathroom fans to vent their kitchen and you walk in the door and with in seconds you smell like you are wearing a fryer.

  13. #13
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    Jan 2012
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    Minot, ND
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    Found out a buddy was restaurant management for 4 years (score), he begged to help with the kitchen and said he would work up a limited menu of 6 items all prepared on a griddle (hat trick?)

    Do you guys have any numbers for calculating seating capacity? I have found anywhere from 12 to 27 sq ft/person. I know that we for sure want at least one row (5-8) tall booths to close the table off from others. I know seating type has a lot to do with seating capacity as well as exits and fire code.

    I have 3500 total square feet to use in the whole building (no load bearing walls).

    I am thinking a 140 to 160 sq. foot cooler, 500 to 800 sq feet for brewing, fermenting, milling, storage and my office. 300 square feet for bathrooms, 120 sq feet for behind the bar, 400 sq feet for the limited kitchen and 300 sq feet of safe passage ways. I also have access to the 3500 sq foot basement for storage of whatever.

    That leaves about 1300 sq feet for seating (with a 10% cushion), would I be crazy (of course I am, I want to start a brewery) to have a seating capacity of 90?

    How did you guys and gals figure daily sales of beer? I am assuming 3 pints per seat, per night (op hours 5pm to 1am = 8 hours). Does that seem right?

    I am also assuming 30 food items per night, any guidance here? I am almost done writing my market research survey, so hopefully I can get real numbers for my area soon, but I need something to plan with.

    Thanks for all the help! Cheers!
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

  14. #14
    DFoster Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by thatjonguy
    Found out a buddy was restaurant management for 4 years (score), he begged to help with the kitchen and said he would work up a limited menu of 6 items all prepared on a griddle (hat trick?)

    Do you guys have any numbers for calculating seating capacity? I have found anywhere from 12 to 27 sq ft/person. I know that we for sure want at least one row (5-8) tall booths to close the table off from others. I know seating type has a lot to do with seating capacity as well as exits and fire code.

    I have 3500 total square feet to use in the whole building (no load bearing walls).

    I am thinking a 140 to 160 sq. foot cooler, 500 to 800 sq feet for brewing, fermenting, milling, storage and my office. 300 square feet for bathrooms, 120 sq feet for behind the bar, 400 sq feet for the limited kitchen and 300 sq feet of safe passage ways. I also have access to the 3500 sq foot basement for storage of whatever.

    That leaves about 1300 sq feet for seating (with a 10% cushion), would I be crazy (of course I am, I want to start a brewery) to have a seating capacity of 90?

    How did you guys and gals figure daily sales of beer? I am assuming 3 pints per seat, per night (op hours 5pm to 1am = 8 hours). Does that seem right?

    I am also assuming 30 food items per night, any guidance here? I am almost done writing my market research survey, so hopefully I can get real numbers for my area soon, but I need something to plan with.

    Thanks for all the help! Cheers!
    Are you going to go with serving tanks in the cooler or just kegs? The cooler size will depend on the amount of tanks/kegs you have and the projected amount of sales/production you anticipate.

    I think you can easily have a 5BBL brewery with maybe 4 fermenters in a space smaller than 300 sq ft. It isn't the most ideal thing, but for limited space, it is definitely doable but that depends on the size of your office and the amount of overall storage you're planning on maintaining.

    I'd also say that 300 sq ft for bathrooms is incredibly high. If you end up having 2 men's and 2 women's bathrooms that aren't huge or lavish (50sq ft each, one holes 7.5'x7.5') then you're looking at closer to 200 sq ft for bathrooms.

    I would say that 400 sq ft for the kitchen and storage for what you're looking to do is definitely on the high side. Many full on restaurants that maintain a good bar utilize a kitchen/receiving/storage of less than 550sq ft and those are places that offer full menus and have 70%+ of their sales going to food. With a 6 item griddle menu, you wouldn't need near that amount of space dedicated to the kitchen. If you could use the basement for kitchen storage/receiving you could probably get away with a 100 sq ft kitchen if you end up with the menu you're proposing.

    If you can also get the walk-in cooler to go into the basement rather than your main floor, you're also ahead of the game.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Minot, ND
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    Quote Originally Posted by DFoster
    Are you going to go with serving tanks in the cooler or just kegs? The cooler size will depend on the amount of tanks/kegs you have and the projected amount of sales/production you anticipate.

    I think you can easily have a 5BBL brewery with maybe 4 fermenters in a space smaller than 300 sq ft. It isn't the most ideal thing, but for limited space, it is definitely doable but that depends on the size of your office and the amount of overall storage you're planning on maintaining.

    I'd also say that 300 sq ft for bathrooms is incredibly high. If you end up having 2 men's and 2 women's bathrooms that aren't huge or lavish (50sq ft each, one holes 7.5'x7.5') then you're looking at closer to 200 sq ft for bathrooms.

    I would say that 400 sq ft for the kitchen and storage for what you're looking to do is definitely on the high side. Many full on restaurants that maintain a good bar utilize a kitchen/receiving/storage of less than 550sq ft and those are places that offer full menus and have 70%+ of their sales going to food. With a 6 item griddle menu, you wouldn't need near that amount of space dedicated to the kitchen. If you could use the basement for kitchen storage/receiving you could probably get away with a 100 sq ft kitchen if you end up with the menu you're proposing.

    If you can also get the walk-in cooler to go into the basement rather than your main floor, you're also ahead of the game.
    Thanks for the info, I thought my numbers were kind of high.

    Any thoughts on some sample numbers for turns in 8 hours and estimate on food orders and beer orderd based on seating capacity?
    Little Deep Brewing Company
    Minot, North Dakota
    www.littledeepbrewing.com

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