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Thread: Old Dairy into a brewery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Rawdon qc Can
    Posts
    10

    Old Dairy into a brewery

    Hey,
    we are in the process of building a farm brewery useing as much old dairy equipment as we can get our hands on,(old bluk tanks, stainless piping, glycol cooling units)Anybody else outhere ever do somthing similar, we need a few hints on the dos and dont's when building from scratch....
    Cheers
    Ryan
    MacAllen Farm And Brewery

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
    Posts
    1,088
    First off, luck to ya'!
    Second, I seem to remember that Tabernash Brewing in Colorado had dozens of old dairy tanks in their original brewery. They might be able to provide some help. They have since fused with Left Hand Brewing but I'm sure they still have volumes of knowledge on the do's and don't's.
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Oconomowoc, WI USA
    Posts
    106

    Frankenbrew!

    I have delt with this before, it is a lot of work but everything worth while is. Let me know what you need.

    The Captain

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    1
    Tabernash is no longer existing I think Pumphouse bought them. If you want advice I would talk to Great Divide in Denver.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Helena, Montana
    Posts
    292
    We did originally start out with numerous pieces of dairy equipment, although now they are all gone as we have modernized.

    Lift-lid bulk milk tanks make good open fermenters as long as the refrigeration jacket is intact. They don't seem to drop temperature as fast, so plan accordingly. You may also want to keep the fermentation level below the lids as they are a pain to clean.

    Lift-lid bulk tanks also make good mashtuns. A workable false bottom can be fabricated from slotted or perforated stainless.

    Enclosed bulk tanks are also great for building a recirculating hydronic hot water system/hot liquor tank. All it takes is a tank, a flash heater, a recirc pump and some piping. Avoid tanks with a mild steel jacket if possible as they will sweat and start to rust on the exterior.

    I have seen some tanks modified as kettles, however I think you would be much better off buying a kettle that was designed/fabricated to be one.

    Since most dairy tanks were not designed for pressure, you will need to find other tanks for brites. Grundies are very workable, especially if they are the bolt-on types.

    I would be wary of old dairy refrigeration units as they are often old freon or ammonia based systems. You are going to want RELIABLE refrigeration.

    Old milk heat exchangers can be used for knockout cooling, but sometimes the plate gaskets are in rough shape from years of storage. You would want to very thoroughly rehab any exchanger before using for wort.

    Dairy sanitary stainless pumps and piping are identical to much of what breweries use today as long as they are in good condition.

    All of the above equipment can be worthwhile, especially if you can weld sanitary stainless. If you have to pay a welder to do much modification, you might be better suited to buy used/new brewing equipment. Hope that helps!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    NW
    Posts
    39

    Alot of work

    We used old dairy equipment before we bought our new/used brewery a few years ago. Rehabbing that equipment and modifying it will be alot of work; but with the cost of Stainless Steel these days...It will be worth it for you to use what you can..Especially if you are handy and know a good welder.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    St.Louis->Tacoma
    Posts
    633
    I worked on custom built Mueller Kettle, but the rest of the system, Mash Tun, HLT, CLT, and fermenters, were all old dairy tanks. As mentioned the MT was Horizontal open top tank with a retrofitted perforated stainless screen on the bottom. A freon jacketed CLT worked very well as a HE coolant when knocking out.

    The fermenters were horizontal freon jacketed tanks which worked very well as lagering vessels, but were also used to produce ales. The drawback to the freon was the layer of ice that would form sometimes as they tried to chill. We had them setup so the primary would gravity feed to secondary, and the secondary would gravity feed to tertiary.

    Without a cone to harvest yeast it can be tricky though. We would transfer out of the tank we were harvesting from and use a sterilized canoe paddle to push the yeast to the drain into a bucket.

    It was far from ideal but we made some great beer there.
    Last edited by Jephro; 10-02-2007 at 09:25 AM.
    Jeff Byrne

    12 year pro craft brewer *NOW available for hire...
    Auburn, Wa - for now

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    42

    Old Dairy Tanks as Fermenters

    I'm in the process of doing this right now. What I'd like to know is if anyone has any experince/info regarding the type of jacket (dimple/plate versus tubing) for cooling the tank? Also, what brands may be more efficient with glycol?

    I happen to be setting up shop right down the street from Boumatic (formerly Dairy Equipment Corp - DEC) and have talked to a couple of folks there. In their opinion the plate/dimple jacket type tanks will restrict the flow too much to use glycol effectively = they recommend going with tubing type.

    Also, I'm looking for various spare parts, valves, tri clamps, piping, etc. If you have some and also happen to be comming to the Great Taste of the Midwest (where I'm the Ice Guy) please contact me.

    Thanks,
    Page Buchanan
    House of Brews
    Madison, WI
    608-347-7243

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Posts
    618
    "In their opinion the plate/dimple jacket type tanks will restrict the flow too much to use glycol effectively"

    Dimple jackets are the standard for brewing tanks, however 15psi is standard pressure for them. If the dairy tanks are not pressure rated then a coil (copper tube?) would be best.

    Just thought- a tube next to a flat surface wil have only 5% or less surface contact. Picture it: ' ol ' . It would be good to have a machine shop with a tube bender flatten them out.
    Last edited by Ted Briggs; 07-19-2010 at 07:55 AM.
    Operations Director, Tin Roof BC
    ted@tinroofbeer.com
    "Your results may vary"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    42
    They thought the gap between the plate and inner tank wall was too thin and that the overall sorface area was also too small.
    Page Buchanan
    House of Brews
    Madison, WI

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1

    Carbonation

    Can anyone give some insight as to how they set up their system? My thoughts are...

    Mash Tun - rectangular bulk milk tank
    Boil Kettle - To be determined
    HLT - rectangular bulk milk tank
    Fermenters - rectangular bulk milk tank or cylindrical horizontal milk tanks
    Brite for Carbonating - NEED Advice

    any insight is appreciated.
    Nick

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Ridgway, CO. USA
    Posts
    36

    Dairy Tanks

    A round dairy tank works well as a kettle if the jackets are good. you can use low pressure steam either from an electric boiler or conventional gas. I would suggest welding in a whirl pool, and also make sure the tank is the type with a flat or dish bottom rather than a inverted dish.
    Any of these tanks work great for fermenters, but the most common type are the trough ones. A racking arm is just inserted into the outlet, and you connect glycol to the jackets. Then you need a a long thermowell that can be sanitized and dropped into the top to regulate temperatures.
    Any of these tanks work great for mash tuns. You can make a false bottom by using copper tubes with slits cut into the bottom every inch. It lauders extremely well.
    Of course they work for hot liq. tanks as well. You can heat them the same way as the kettle or just heat your water in your kettle after mash in and transfer it to the HLT as a holding vessel. It's really nice if you set it high so you can gravity it to your mash.
    I don't know of any dairy options for pressure vessels but you have saved so much money at this point you should be able to afford a 3k Glacier tank. Good luck!
    Cheers,
    Tom
    Tom Hennessy
    www.coloradoboy.com
    Author of The Brewery Operations Manual
    -3 Steps to Open And Run A Successful Brewery
    Available On Our Web Site

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    29
    Hi Tom, glad you chimed in here.

    I have a jacketed cylindrical mixing tank of about 10 bbls, with an inverted dish bottom. Wondering what the best route is to use it as a mash tun, or if we'd be better off to just use it as an open fermenter and use one of our horizontal milk chiller tanks as our mash tun instead.

    Not sure how we would build a copper manifold for an inverted dish, and it seems it would be difficult to create a false bottom for it given all the dead volume that would result around the perimeter.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Ridgway, CO. USA
    Posts
    36
    I agree. Use it as a fermenter, although yeast collection may be an issue. The only other idea's would be to replace the bottom, or if using a kettle, make a dam on both sides of the outlet that can be removed for cleaning. Just something to keep the trub out. If used as a mash tun, I don't know if a false bottom instead of a manifold wouldn't work. It would be close at the top of the dome but I think it would lauter alright.
    Tom Hennessy
    www.coloradoboy.com
    Author of The Brewery Operations Manual
    -3 Steps to Open And Run A Successful Brewery
    Available On Our Web Site

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