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Thread: Brew 15bbl batch on 30bbl system

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Brew 15bbl batch on 30bbl system

    Is there any reason you can't or wouldn't want to brew a 15bbbl batch on a 30bbl system? If it is at all possible are there any reasons to not ferment the 15bbl batch in a 30 or 60bbl fermenter?

  2. #2
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    Aachen, NRW, DE
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    Depending on how you're doing your cost accounting, brewing a 15bbl batch on a 30bbl system will likely be a lot more expensive, per unit, than brewing a 30bbl batch. If you're using absorption costing, you could even end up losing money brewing the 15bbl batch, depending on your mix of fixed and variable costs.

    If you're using an activity-based system, your variable cost per unit would stay the same, but you might have a large unused capacity expense.

  3. #3
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    Knowing your reason for wanting to do this would be helpful in determining whether it would be worth doing or not.

    In answer to your question; it works just fine provided that wort is above the level of your steam jacket in your kettle and when the beer hits the fermenter beer is over your temp probe and within the cooling zone. You may not reach the top band on your fermenter and might shut that glycol line off if you are able.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham Brewer View Post
    Knowing your reason for wanting to do this would be helpful in determining whether it would be worth doing or not.

    In answer to your question; it works just fine provided that wort is above the level of your steam jacket in your kettle and when the beer hits the fermenter beer is over your temp probe and within the cooling zone. You may not reach the top band on your fermenter and might shut that glycol line off if you are able.
    Thanks for the replies. In answer to the above question we will soon be opening and intend to have 3 beers available for distribution that will be brewed 30bbl at a time. On site we would like to have another 3 beers available but I would like to avoid brewing 30bbl batches until we determine how popular our on site sales will be.

    Thanks.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2012
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    Raleigh, NC
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    And the Carb stone

    Another consideration is the carb stone in the bright tank. The temp probe on the fermenter may actually be lower than the carb stone in the bright tank. So be sure that you start at the end and work your way backwords...from a volume point of view. Not sure how deep in the beer the stone needs to be, but don't count on "just gettin' it over" to be very efficient in carbonating the beer.

    And...the lower the beer in any tank, the more CO2 it takes to fill the head space....

    Good luck.

    phil

  6. #6
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    Nov 2009
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    assuming the brewhouse can handle it, have you thought about just purchasing a 15 bbl fermenter to include in your tank farm? that way you have that flexibility to do smaller batches when needed. if you get to a point where you don't need to brew that small of a batch you can just sell it and replace with a larger one. with the way resale prices are these days for fermenters you really won't be losing much...
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaltBucket View Post
    Thanks for the replies. In answer to the above question we will soon be opening and intend to have 3 beers available for distribution that will be brewed 30bbl at a time. On site we would like to have another 3 beers available but I would like to avoid brewing 30bbl batches until we determine how popular our on site sales will be.
    Just keep in mind that when you brew a batch of beer, there's pretty much the same amount of time/labor involved in 15bbl as in 30bbl. You have to clean the equipment either way, you have to monitor the beer the same, etc. So there is a substantial chunk of direct labor and overhead cost attached to brewing, that only varies based on whether you brew or not, not based on how much you brew.

    If you divide all your truly fixed manufacturing overhead costs + your per-batch "fixed" costs by the total number of beers produced, your 30bbl batches will be over-costed, and your 15bbl batches will be under-costed. That fermentor costs you money every single day, whether it's full, half-empty, or empty. You're still paying depreciation, maintenance, and rent on it, whether you use it or not.

    So I would closely at that to determine if it even makes sense, financially, to brew a 15bbl batch instead of a 30bbl batch. It might be cheaper to brew 30bbl, even if you only sell 25bbl, than to brew two 15bbl batches and sell 30bbl. To keep the same margin on all your beers, you'd need to raise the price of the 15bbl beers to compensate for the increased per-unit cost. Otherwise, you won't be able to price your 30bbl batches competitively, and you might be losing money on those 15bbl batches if the selling price is too low.

  8. #8
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    I completely agree with the above. However, if the smaller batches are only for onsite (taproom) then the cost dynamics change a bit since you are getting retail price. That might compensate for the equipment under-utilization. Either way I think the plan should be to eventually get to the point of doing full size batches of everything.

    Also, depending on how tight your cooperage is you could have issues if you have 30 BBL's of a taproom beer sitting around that takes you 2 months or more to go through. Running out of kegs sucks and if you've got 20 of them tied up in your taproom queue it's like adding insult to injury. If you have more than enough cooperage or are on Microstar then this may not be an issue...
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Bangalore, India
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    Also, if you have a combination mash/lauter tun. There needs to be a minimum depth to the grain bed to achieve effective clarity. When reducing batch size I like to restrict the lower gravity beers to 3/4 size but will go to 2/3's for something more robust.

    Ed Tringali
    Brewmaster / Consultant
    Windmills Craftworks
    Bangalore, India

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