View Full Version : Saving money without major sacrifices?

08-29-2016, 01:35 PM
Hey all, I'm in the process of building my brew setup and am looking to save money without cutting corners. I've read countless threads for months and most are extremely old posts. I'm just hoping to get some more current information. I have a 3.5bbl setup from Stout (HLT, BK, MT). What ways were you able to save money, did it backfire, has it been beneficial, what did you wish you would have known when purchasing, etc? Some of the things I'm still unsure on...

I'm looking at pumps and have seen some 3bbl breweries using small 8GPM March Pumps at $150 each.
Others are using 1/2HP Topline pumps for around $650 each.
I saw another brewery using a 1/2HP Topline and a mobile 1/2HP to use in other areas as well.
What is working for you and what regrets (if any) do you have about your choices?

Heat Exchangers...
Thermaline has a Heat Exchanger for $1739, I've heard nothing but good things about them.
I've seen a few breweries using small plate chillers from DudaDiesel for around $179.
I won't be using a 2 stage heat exchanger, just relying on good ol' city water.

Again, I've seen the high temp silicone hoses being used in various breweries. I'm currently using them on my 1/2bbl Pilot System, but they get ridiculously hot and are annoying quick disconnects.
Does anyone have a place they scored some great priced hoses? Were they good, poor quality?

I was quoted $1500 for a burner from Stout originally and that seemed ridiculously high and overkill. I'm using Natural Gas and have been staring at endless burner threads and haven't really seen any solid answers.
Will a 44 tip Jet Burner do the job on a 3.5bbl tank? Does anyone prefer banjo style burners?
The Midco Economite Burner is $759 through Glacier and looks pretty beefy, I'm just not sure whether it's worth it.

Water Filtration...
I've never really messed with water filtration a whole lot, so I'm fairly lost when it comes to it. I'm using a $50 water filter kit with a carbon filter on my Pilot System and haven't had any issues.
After reading a ton and looking at the various systems available, I feel even more lost. What did you all start off with?

Brewery Floor...
I'm hoping to go DIY on this to save. Is there a product you liked, or despised? For every good review I read, I find an equally negative review on the same product. I am going to need at least 2 years out of the floor before we move to a larger location.

Sorry to fire off so many questions, my brain is ready to explode with the countless hours of reading. I just wanted to get as many of you to chime in on what you did to save money, while still producing a great product and not killing yourself in the process. Ideas like building a walk in cooler with a CoolBot VS buying a paneled unit. I appreciate any input you have!

08-29-2016, 07:57 PM
I don't have a lot to add on the bulk of the stuff you list as I purchased a turnkey system from Premier, sans an HLT though (I use on-demand heaters). Totally happy with their stuff. As for water filtration, I just found a local guy who seemed to know his sh*t and had him install. 2 years later all is well on the filtration front. Handles the entire restaurant. It cost about 2k IIRC and can handle a>9gpm flow (needed in the brewery). It's a big ole 5 CU ft carbon filter with auto-backwashing.

I would though say do not skimp on the floor. I'll say it again, just to provide an echo. Do not skimp on the floor. We did. I am two years in and it is NOT holding up. My landlord/GC came up with something he was told would work and it was cheap...and it was cheap... and it is cheap. I'll need to redo it in the near future. I recently noticed my trench drain has all these cracks in it. Not sure what material my landlord/GC chose. But it is NOT holding up. Anyway - just my two cents. I'll probably drop 8k in the next year that I really wish I had done in the first place.


08-29-2016, 07:59 PM
I'll chime in on the water because that is really a pretty simple topic (lulz right?). What is the quality of the water you have right now? Absent of very hard water or very soft water just use single stage carbon filtration to get you going. Complete 500 gallon a day RO systems are thousands of dollars, stick with the filter you found on Amazon for now.
Okay I lied one more comment for you regarding hoses. With the more powerful pumps you must use at a minimum hose rated for high temp with reinforced walls, I guarantee if you try and run the flimsy home brew tubes on your MT it will collapse and you will be hating life. You can get away with it on every other facets and I would recommend whatever cheap 3/4" tubing you can buy (so long as it's rated for the temp) just to get you started.

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09-02-2016, 09:32 AM
Lets see if I can add anything useful to this.

Pumps - it will depend a lot on what exactly you're doing. If you're only doing 3.5 bbl batches you may well be ok with the march pumps. Personally I'd advise you get at least 1 1/2 hp pump on a cart to use for cleaning. Depending on the size of your tanks, and if you're using the pump to clean kegs the march pumps tend to not have enough power to move enough liquid for a good CIP.

Heat Exchanger - I've heard good things about the dudadiesel HX's. However they can't be taken apart and serviced or inspected. So if there's a problem you're going to have to just buy a new HX. Do make sure you check the calculations for both of them before you commit - and use the actual temp of your city water. The last thing you want to do is end up with a HX that won't cool your wort enough.

Hoses - You will need at least 3/4" hose for a 3.5 bbl system. If you go silicone, make sure you get the braided type - trust me you don't want a hose bursting because a valve is closed somewhere. Personally I would get 1" brewers hose (goodyear vintners etc) the price difference to silicone isn't that much, and its much better quality. Be careful with banded hose ends - they tend to have nooks where things can start to grow over time.
All hoses will get very hot and the TC fittings on a hose take a while to get used to. Get a good pair of insulated chemical resistant gloves, otherwise you'll end up burning yourself.

I can't help you with a burner, I've only used steam and electric.

Water - I'd get a properly sized carbon filter and leave it at that. You may need to do mineral adjustments downstream. Check with your water source to see if they're using chlorine or chloraminies - that makes a bid difference in what size filter you need. Then figure out what rate of cold water you need. Size it for that.

Floor - I would advise you to either do the floor right the first time, or do as little as possible. I have yet to discover any cheap way of coating a floor that has any ability to last, and once it starts to go its more of a problem than the bare concrete.
If you can, I'd advise you to get your floor sloped. No matter what make sure you put in some drains. Trench drains are nice, but you can get away with 4" round drains - if your willing to sacrifice some hose as dedicated dump lines from the brewing equipment to the drain.
If you cant get the floor sloped expect to spend a lot of time with a squeegee and a mop. If it were my money I would make sure I had drains. Then get the floor sloped. A good floor coating is nice, but good quality concrete will last for several years without any major damage if you work at keeping it clean and minimizing chemical contact to the floor.


10-25-2016, 05:12 AM
Oh dear god, the mistakes I've made....

Now, right now I have a 1BBL nano that we've not used as a pro setup, but still, here's what I know 2 years and 50k later.....


Started with the small March/Chugger with the horizontal in/out, I hate them. They prime when they decide they wanna prime, be get infinitely more temperamental as the temperature increases. A certain guy at chugger has been the most miserable person I've ever dealt with in my short time in the brewing world. Recently I've swapped the pump heads to the center feed style and their somewhat better. I also now feed them with tubing one size bigger than the inlet.

I do have a chugger max, and it's pretty good. I wonder if maybe something that size might be the ticket for your for your brewhouse??

For CIP, the small ones are definitely too small, and the max will not spin a CIP ball. I bought a stainless headed pump from an industrial supply place that pushes about 45GPM for the CIP/keg washer cart that I built.

Heat Exchangers...

We run two morebeer counterflow chillers in series (well, the wort is in series, the chilling water in parallel) using ground water and we can get to 60deg in one pass at about 1 to 1.5GPM. I know they're not "pro", but they do the job. I'd strongly suggest a blichmann flow control valve in order to more precisely dial in your flow rate.


I looked for Goodyear and beer line, but I think 1" is the smallest there is, and it is bloody expensive!!!....so is braided silicone hose. We started using regular home brew silicone hose, and still do use quite a bit of it, but anywhere that there may be an inadvertent closed valve leading to a very big BANG we have switched to braided clear hose. It is food rated, but I'm sure someone would criticize me for it. It works fine.


Can't help you, we're all electric.

I will say, however, that spending 2k on a basic PID temp control panel will make your life WAY better.

Water Filtration...

We have to use RO at my home because our water is so hard. I use a home RO system that feeds a 250gallon food grade poly tank with a float in it. I'm guessing if you have decent city water (ie you don't live in Flint), you'll be fine with just a carbon filter, and I hope we have the same luck when we go pro.

Brewery Floor...

I too wonder this as we look to go pro. The overwhelming consensus is "being cheap is expensive". Also, don't forget that DIY comes with a "blame thyself" warranty clause.....

The sensation of your brain exploding will pass. 20 months, 30 or so brews, and literally 1000's of hours reading, building, welding, burning myself, and spending money unnecessarily later, and now feel like I have some sort of handle on this....at least a little.

I'd say there's no need to use TC's in the entire hot side. I know that's heresy, but it'll save you some $$ to start. Cold side, 100%.

Also, as I learned when built my 110 head sprinkler system, whatever size piping/tubing you link you need, go one size bigger. For 3.5BBL I'd plumb the whole thing with 3/4", and feed your pumps with 1", but that's just me.

I have a huge pile of fittings siting around. Some of them I look at and think "what hell did I need those for??", but many, like simple SS nipples and elbow and barbed adapters are invaluable to have 5-10 spares on hand. Now, part of that is because I'm in Canada and getting fittings here is a huge PITA (esp triclamp) because if the border. If you think you'll need 50 clamps, get 80 (and 80 seals). Get the seals with the lip to free up a hand. I've found that a local industrial supply place has a great supply of 304SS NPT fittings in all sizes for reasonable prices. Make friends with a welder and someone with a plasma table or waterjet, it helps a lot.

Recently I've discovered the value of check valves in preventing the exploding tube syndrome mentioned above.....stainless check valves can be very pricey. I've found them on Amazon/eBay for a reasonable price.


11-27-2017, 02:02 AM
To save some cash without cutting corners, one option could be to buy your brew house and critical equipment from a good reputable supplier and buy the rest from good manufacturer in China. Fermenters, brite tanks, Glycol tanks, tubing etc...

could be an idea