Help with planning
Need help planning a microbrewery. I am totally new to this. I have just been given the opportunity to acquire numerous stainless brew tanks, stainless lines, foodgrade pumps, chilling equipment, etc. I couldn't help but think this would be the best application for it. What I need is a "layout" of a good system that details the size of the kettle vs. mash tun, fermenting tanks, line sizes, pump size, etc. so that I can select the appropriate equipment from what is available. I think there is enough stuff to build a small setup, as well as a much larger one. Could anyone help me, please?
I recommend lots of homework for anyone considering purchasing a brewery before they start. If one doesn't know what they are buying, you pretty much won't know what you're are buying. I suspect you will need to pay someone experienced to come look at everything. Sorry.
Trying my best to do MUCH homework, hence the reason I am posting here. I am not actually buying a brewery "per se", it is the brewing vats, pumps, etc. that were used in a now defunct bakery for producing their "brew" to make bread dough. There is a LOT of stuff! I need to be able to make an informed selection and not get more than I need, or worse yet, not enough. A detailed layout and description of the necessary equipment (especially in regards to the relative size of the components to one another) would greatly help. This equipment, it is my understanding, does basically the same thing beer brewery equipment does, with the exception of not having a cooking kettle. One of these vats could easily be modified, I think. Any help will be greatly appreciated!!
With all due respect, Beararms2, making bread dough is not the same as brewing, as I'm sure you're well aware. Their equipment needs, though similar in their use of stainless steel, are not the same either. I can personally think of very little in common between bakery and brewing equipment.
I must throw my chips in with Moonlight and recommend you do a snick more homework before making large purchases. I give this advice from one who has seen other start-ups go out and buy everything stainless they can only to blow their wad and have the equipment kill grass in their yard..........their Breweries never getting off the ground.
I have built 2 Breweries with my own 2 hands (and the help of my partners) and please believe me when I say you will be hard pressed to find anyone here who has started a commercial venture with such equipment.
I would first recommend moonlighting in a small Brewery (7 - 15 Bbl) to get a feel for the functionality of the equipment we use on a daily basis. Everything from clamps, hoses, heat exchangers, mash tun screens, etc., etc., have specific purposes.
Sorry to be a buzzkill, but I would really hate to see you spend some hard earned cash on equipment that would have to be radically modified at yet an additional cost to even be marginally functional......worse yet, not even useable.
Do whatever you're gonna do, BUT.....
When you layout your brewery, think "Material/Process Flow". Try to establish clean lines with your material flow as well as your processes. No one wants to work in a closet with tanks jumbled around, hoses draped everywhere, extension cords hanging from the rafters! Think function first. This area MUST be effecient. Brewing is labor intensive enough with having to rearrange the workspace every 35 minutes. Ideally, raw material in one end, finished product out the other! Also, establish hose bibs in several places as well as CO2 ports. Don't forget about GFI outlets and three-phase outlets.
Luck to ya!
I don't have the opportunity to "moonlight" in a brewery around here, but I spent several years as a maintenance engineer maintaining the brewroom in a commercial bakery. The brew system and equipment used are nearly identical. As a matter of fact, some of this equipment is better suited for beer production than what can be found commercially. I have found a website http://www.specific.net/brewprocess.htm since my first post that answered many of my questions and confirms the interchangeability. The opportunity I have will not require investing a large sum of money, basically I can choose what I need before it all goes to be recycled! The transfer pumps and gearboxes I will have to pay a nominal fee for. The setup is automated by use of a Panelmate to control the whole thing. I will need to find a glycol tank, only the exchanger can be gotten here. I have a decent understanding of the brewing process (I have dabbled in winemaking for years) but need to find a cross-section view of a Mash/lauter tun and hot liquor tank so that I can see which tanks I have available are most suited for alteration, as well as what would be needed to do so. I am most concerned with what type of heat to use in/on the brew kettle. Any ideas?
I have to agree with Brian here, there is so much more to this business than just putting together "vats" that may or may not work [insert brewing engineering concerns 1-1000 here]. Without spending time in the industry learning, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. That being said, you can increase your odds of success by hiring an experienced brewer to do the consulting and stay on to be your brewer or train you to a competent level to be successful. The brewing world is littered with defunct breweries that the owner found a "great deal" on some equipment, figures anyone can brew beer, and the customers will come running. [at the end of the day, it is a business. Would you open a law firm with no legal training or experience and expect to be successful?] Not trying to be a killjoy, but these are things that you need to address to ensure your success. Good luck.
I can appreciate your concerns. I would certainly not pursue this venture without professional consulting, however my timeframe does not allow it at the moment. I am under a VERY pressing deadline to select the equipment I need before it is disposed of. I need to act now and make informed selections that will save tens of thousands in start-up costs. Don't want to "cobble" a bunch of scrap together, yet I can't justify investing $8900 for a 750 gallon fermenting tank that is new when I can pick up the same take here in excellent condition for $250. Aging tank same size. Same goes for new price on slurry pump and so on. That kind of savings will allow me to employ the help of a competant brewing consultant.
Some help out there. You need the basics;
* Mash Tun
* Conditioning tanks (same as FV)
FV's do not have to be cylindro conical. Ability to temp control is good, esp for conditioning.
For the HLT - usually double the system size, ie. 2000l HLT for a 1000 litre boil. Cut eletric elments into tank if no trace or other heating is already inplace.
For the mash tun, easy acess for dough in and dig-out. Need a tank that is about the same height as it is wide so a not-to-thick grain bed is had. You'll need a false bottom in. a good example is a myton milk vat. use stainless sheet and make freinds with a fabricator.
for the boiler, higher than is wide to get a good rolling boil. you can cut in electric elements with something like a 2" bsb fitting for 15-20 kw elements. check lengths of elements etc. All depends on size, usually 1.3 kw per hecto...
For the FV's temp control is good, again mytons tanks work and you can top skim - hooray! Buy wine tanks if none sutable - conicals yuk....
Pumps, ones that can take heat work well. You need a heat exchanger as well, the bigger the better.
If there is a glycol system around then grab it.
The ABUK Firkin systems are basic systems and you can in the 12Hl type range get by. They are for all intents ale breweries which look like old milk vats... strange that coincidence...
If you buy some stuff not needed then sell it on ebay. if it is so cheap then spend some money heading to a course like Siebel or US Davis. The brewer not over engineered shiny tanks makes the beer - as Shaq once said 'i got da skilz, that is why i am so goooood!'
Thanks for the tips Scotty! Now we're gettin somewhere...!
Per the advice of Diamondknot and others, I am looking to find a suitable school for brewmaster training. I would like to find something fairly close. (wouldn't we all like everything to be in our backyard?) I am located in Arkansas (northeast), Being a somewhat "behind the times" state in some areas, I only know of two microbreweries in my state. There are several brewpubs, but I think their numbers are fewer than twenty. Can anyone suggest a school in my region or the availability of distance learning? Distance learning can NEVER replace "hands-on", no matter what, but a good basic course prior to seeking out some real-life experience would be beneficial. I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to build a brewery for such a low cost, But I don't want to employ the services of a brewmaster when I cannot intelligently supervise or make suggestions to. I need to build a good base of knowledge concerning the different styles of beer and the process to create each before embarking on a production venture. Building my brewery is relatively easy; deciding what I will make in it, creating quality product and packaging and marketing are more daunting obstacles. Any suggestions? Cost? Should this post be in "general Discussion" rather than "equipment"? Questions, questions...
How about going to the best brewery near by and if the brewer is both creative and knowledgeable, pay him/her to give you some pointers before the stuff is scrapped.
Even better, I'd bet one of many people on this board would be sharp enough and willing to hop on a plane for money you'd agree was well-spent consulting.
I won't matter if the assembly of equipment will make beer or not- what matters is if it will make good beer consistently, efficiently, labor effectively, and cost effectively. Very few bargain/scrap epuipped breweries survive very long without some other plusses outweighing the equipment challenges.
Good luck, you will need it.
Probably the biggest symptom of brewery failure is lack of capital. Bargains are great, but beware that the cost of the eqpt is insignificant compared to all else you will need.
Last edited by Moonlight; 08-11-2005 at 12:25 AM.