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Forklift Advice

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  • Forklift Advice

    How necessary is a forklift for a microbrewery starting up? Is it a necessity? If so, I'd appreciate any advice on where to get one.

  • #2
    How big is the brewery? If it's 3-5bbls I would say not necessary. 10 or more, it would make life easier but still not a necessity. Also, do you plan to have a grain elevator/conveyor? If not, the forklift makes mashing in easier. If you go bigger than 20 bbl, I would get something with minimum lift capacity of 3500lbs.


    • #3
      If you have a loading dock, you can get by without one. Though I'd recommend an electric pallet jack.

      No loading dock? Get a forklift.

      Good Luck!


      • #4
        Define 'microbrewery'. But yes, I'd say that at the least you'll need a pallet jack, probably need a pallet stacker, and possibly a forklift. A loading dock will make life easier too. We have one that would work great, if they hadn't built another building up too close to it. :/

        Some thought experiments. Your tanks and brewhouse have arrived, hooray! How are they getting off the truck, inside, and into place? Darn, low ceiling. Now the tanks have to come in on their sides. How are they getting back upright? (Don't forget to rent or remind your fabricator to bring fork extensions, BTW!)

        Think about the process flow of your raw materials. A shipping truck shows up with two 2000lb pallets of 50lb grain sacks and plunks them down in your parking lot. Where does it go from there? How is it getting inside? Where is it being stored? Once stored, how and where is it milled?

        Once you have a pallet of full kegs stacked double high, how are you moving it? Where are you storing it? Can a forklift get in your coldroom? And get back out?

        Do you have any neighbors with a forklift you can borrow? You might only need it occasionally...

        Can a forklift realistically get around your space? They have small ones designed for tight spaces, but they tend to be very $$$. We couldn't really fit a normal one.

        We settled on a Crown electric Pallet Stacker. Got it used in great shape (the navy had previously rented it for moving things around the nearby sub base). It'll lift 3000lbs up to 14' and it was about 10k cheaper than a decent used forklift. But it has many drawbacks. It's not really 'all-terrain'. At all. Even kinda. And its outriggers prevent it from lifting certain things, setting big things down, and we have to have all our pallet shelves' bottom level up a half-foot to accommodate them. Most notably the bigger pallets BSG sends our Weyermann sacks in on are too wide for it and we have to use our ghetto pallet jack to move them around. Grrr.
        Russell Everett
        Co-Founder / Head Brewer
        Bainbridge Island Brewing
        Bainbridge Island, WA


        • #5
          You should also consider rental.
          The guys from Chariots GCS have fair rates and you can pick the model you want after testing it.


          • #6
            Everyone needs a forklift in their lives.


            • #7
              Originally posted by CraftAutomation View Post
              Everyone needs a forklift in their lives.
              Or a tractor with forks.