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  • Auto vs. manual keg washers

    Those who have worked with both... Thoughts? The auto ones are super nice and easy but cost as much as a small car. Manual ones have about 10 valves and I'm sure there's some sort of precisely choreographed ballet that must be performed to get a good cleanse.

    Worth the price for auto? Suck it up and cry once? Or try to get by with a manual unit and train a volunteer to specialize in running it?

    Recommendations on units to buy or avoid are welcome here too.

    Last big piece I need before I'm set with equipment. No matter what, I think this will be the most expensive piece I have to buy.

  • #2
    We bought an IDD Miniking about ten years ago. Other than routine items like pump seals and such, it has been a good investment. You know that it is going to go through the same exact cycle every time, with no shortcuts. I've also heard good things about Premier Stainless's keg washers for small breweries.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

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    • #3
      Starting up there are certain areas where you can skimp a little, and others where it's worth a splurge.

      A semi-auto washer is worth a splurge.
      Russell Everett
      Co-Founder / Head Brewer
      Bainbridge Island Brewing
      Bainbridge Island, WA

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      • #4
        Cleaning kegs is one of the most physically demanding jobs in a brewery. Go for the semi auto, that insures the proper cycles and chemical use. IDD makes workhorses, Premier is more affordable. Both good.
        Mike Lanzarotta
        Commercial Real Estate Broker
        finding space for breweries in Southern California
        former owner and brewer, Crown City Brewery, Pasadena CA

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        • #5
          "train a volunteer " really? You want someone to wash kegs for free, Really? sheesh.....
          Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
          tbriggs@minocquabrewingcompany.com
          "Your results may vary"

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          • #6
            We have a Premier manual keg washer for our 3 bbl brewery. It works great and is easy to use. We agreed on a standard operating procedure for the wash times etc, since anything fully manual will operate differently with different operators. Once you get into the routine, all the valves become second nature.


            If we were any bigger, I'd buy the automated version because anyone that's capable of attaching a sankey fitting can be an expert keg washer. It also has reminders of when to check the washing chemicals.
            Chris Enegren
            www.enegrenbrewing.com

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            • #7
              Just sucked it up and ordered the Premier Stainless 2 head semi auto. Nice little note about our lack of three phase, they can set it up for single phase for only $150. A rotary converter for that keg washer was quoted to me at $1500.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TBAH_Brewer View Post
                Just sucked it up and ordered the Premier Stainless 2 head semi auto. Nice little note about our lack of three phase, they can set it up for single phase for only $150. A rotary converter for that keg washer was quoted to me at $1500.
                That's always been my problem. I thought I couldn't use one of these machines because I only have single phase. Good to know. Do you mind if I ask what you paid for the 2 head with single phase?

                Thanks
                Scott LaFollette
                Fifty West Brewing Company
                Cincinnati, Ohio

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                • #9
                  With the freight totalled in, $14,986. Freight was only like $350 or so.

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                  • #10
                    home built auto keg washer

                    I built my own keg washer using a bunch of solenoid valves and a microcontroller. It is a nice thing to have as cleaning kegs can be a lot of work, and you want to be able to rely on clean sanitary kegs all of the time. You could also buy a manual kegwasher and automate it yourself.

                    One thing to look at is: does the kegwasher use a sankey coupler to hook up, or does it connect by pressing a probe into the valve. If you use a coupler, you should be sure to pre clean the keg's valve before cleaning to remove salad, mould and walk in cooler goo. The coupler seals don't allow the washer to clean the fitting.

                    The other thing to look for is a heater for the chemical reservoir. Hot chemical is more effective.

                    I have seen some of the kegwashers IDD make and think they are very well made machines. You will long have forgotten what it cost to buy when you are happily using it years down the road... Money spent to avoid goofing around every day of your brewing life...



                    Single phase power:
                    Also, generally, if you have single phase power, many VFD (variable frequency drives) can be had that take single phase and output 3 phase to the motor. (i got some from automation direct. google it.) They were only about $250. as a bonus you can control your pump too!

                    doug

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                    • #11
                      buy better keg washer

                      I am an assistant brewer at the brewery where I work. There are only two of us and guess who has to wash kegs? We have an expensive manual keg washer that is too small for our brewery. I have to do all of my duties and wash kegs almost every day (this takes the fun out of the best job in the world). My bosses pay me more to wash kegs per year than it would cost for a new better keg washer. A semi automatic washer that does at least 24 kegs an hour would be best. It saves water and chemicals and will save in labor costs in the long run.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by beerme View Post
                        I built my own keg washer using a bunch of solenoid valves and a microcontroller. It is a nice thing to have as cleaning kegs can be a lot of work, and you want to be able to rely on clean sanitary kegs all of the time. You could also buy a manual kegwasher and automate it yourself.
                        I'll bite on this one. I'm planning on building a keg cleaner as well. I've worked a bit with the Click PLC controllers from Automation Direct, so I think between that, and one of their C-More screens, I ought to set up a fully automated unit so that "anyone that's capable of attaching a sankey fitting can be an expert keg washer".

                        My question is: What solenoid valves did you go with, and are you happy with them?

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                        • #13
                          Miniking

                          Originally posted by lhall View Post
                          We bought an IDD Miniking about ten years ago. Other than routine items like pump seals and such, it has been a good investment. You know that it is going to go through the same exact cycle every time, with no shortcuts. I've also heard good things about Premier Stainless's keg washers for small breweries.
                          Have you ever had problems with the spear sensors breaking down? These tiny sensors give us fits.

                          Comment

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