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HELP ! Need advice.

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  • HELP ! Need advice.

    We want to move our mill room, malt storage, chemicals, keg washer and kegs (basically our entire area we use for storage for our brewing operation) off site. The space we free up can be turned into valuable brewpub space for special events and large party reservations. Our brewer says he simply can't operate the brewing operation from an offsite facility.

    We understand that carting kegs, milled malt & chemicals 1 or 2 miles is a lot less convenient than 40 feet, but we feel the increased sales will result in a very large profit increase to the bottom line of our operation, even with increased labor and cost for the extra warehouse/storage space.

    Does anyone know of a brew pub who keeps their brewing storage offsite?

  • #2
    off-site idea

    I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with your brewer. This seems impractical. What if you're are successful in increasing sales, but you're brewer can't begin to keep up with production because of the huge time inefficiencies you've added by moving these items off-site? Many processes in brewing take a long time to complete and there would be a lot of waiting and down time if there weren't other things to be working on (like cleaning kegs). If I were your brewer I would expect another full-time person to make all of these materials available to me in the brew house as needed and, even then, planning and coordination would be key. Don't forget that this warehouse you are talking about may have to be re-plumbed, re-wired and possibly re-floored to accomodate milling and keg washing and that these two areas are going to have to be kept separate to keep malt dust from settling on your sanitized keg fittings. There could also be significant insurance costs.

    All this is to say that, while you may have thought about these things, don't underestimate how terribly inconvenient and potentially very expensive this project could be. It could also introduce a number of quality issues that will have to be carefully monitored. Does your brewer have the training and experience to anticipate and/ or diagnose and correct such problems? I don't know your situation, but an addition to the pub would seem like a more attractive option if it is possible. Be sure to let us know what you decide and how it works out.


    • #3
      On the off-site thing...

      Any brewer who does not give his loyaty, first and foremost, to his consumers, may not last in this competitive market place. If the change being proposed will bring in more consumers, and invariably, an improvement in the bottom-line of the business, I would go for it.
      I dont see any problems for the brewer if the alternative storage is condusive, technologically speaking. Afteral, some commercial breweries practice the JIT inventory management by which the inputs are held by the suppliers in their own warehouses, and with proper logistics, deliver them for brewing operation on "Just-In-Time" basis.
      I think the brewer has nothing to fear about.


      • #4
        Off site storage

        This seems to me to be a bad idea. Your brewer will be unable to give his/her total attention to the brew. The brewer must leave the facility to get materials. Things happen in the brewhouse and cellar that require immediate attention. If your brewer has loyalty for his customers and product, he or she will insist on on-site storage. Have you considered ordering your grain pre-milled? Being a brewer and a brewery owner, I have to side with on-site storage. Luck to you.
        Glacier Brewing Company

        "who said what now?"


        • #5
          I'm not a micro brewer, but agree strongly with Chip & glacier brewing. What you are proposing sounds a logistical and quality nightmare. I would be especially concerned about additional handling of ground malt by yourselves due to workload / Health & Safety problems - pre ground malt from a reputable supplier would only mean handling it once, not three times.

          You would still need storage of materials on site to cover the inevitable "panic" situations. I really do not like the idea of cleaning kegs, and allowing them to get cold between washing and filling - not good hygiene. Why not use bulk serving tanks instead of kegging, which will probably be simpler and save space.

          I agree with the comment "Any brewer who ....", but in this case I believe loyalty is best demonstrated by selling a consistently superb quality product

          JIT works OK at logical breaks in production - brew and mature beer on one site, transfer to another, filter and package it on that site, or brew, mature, filter and then send to another site for packaging, not break down the individual processes such as the packaging operation between sites. As big scale brewers we have enough trouble with operating the first two scenarios, let alone what you appear to be proposing.

          Not being familiar with your licencing laws, can you not construct a stand alone dedicated brewery??

          Good luck


          • #6
            It's hard for any brewer or consultant to give you any deffinant solutions to your prob. But ... my advice is; compromise!
            I personally dont have any problems transporting milled malt if it is milled properly, washing kegs somewhere they are not filled shouldnt pose any probs what so ever if they are washed & sterilized effectivly, chemicals on the other hand I would prefer to be on site, well some for brewhouse cleaning & sanitation & some left at your new premis for keg wash.
            All things are possible but you need to listen to your brewer first & formost, if he cant plan things to work out for your profit then get a consultant to help him.
            MIKE S


            • #7
              Is productivity important to you?

              I've worked as a brewer in brewpubs and microbreweries that were very brewer-friendly, and I've worked in places where I had to hump bags of grain up steep stairs, and where things I needed were far from where I needed them. Your brewer is upset because he's seeing his workload increase in a big way!

              If you really have a problem with space, there are some somewhat less drastic solutions. If you really need to lose the mill room, you could possibly switch to pre-milled grain. Not necessarily a great solution, but I've brewed good beer with it. It'll cost you more than unmilled malt, though. Chemical storage is somewhat less problematical, though you'll most likely want to keep it somewhere on-site (perhaps in the same room with your fermenters). Generally, the mile-away storage thing is a poor solution for anything your brewer will need frequently, but at one brewpub we kept our extra stuff (mostly malt) in a storage unit a couple of miles away, and that wasn't a huge problem (the boss had a van, we'd go and get a week's worth at a time).

              You have to ask yourself how much money the extra space will make you, versus how much money the extra work will cost you, because time is money, and you're sure gonna require a lot more time and effort spent by your brewer...

              Cheers, Tim


              • #8
                I've actually worked in a brewpub that did this during my ABG internship (Black Diamond Brewing in Walnut Creek, CA), and while it seems to work for them it was incredibly inconvenient.

                The situation was this: the brewery was in a converted car dealership, and there was nowhere to put a mill room, silo or grain storage on site. However, the owners also had a recycling center/truck lot a few miles away, where they installed a mill shed and silo. We would get to the brewery, set things up, then drive to the lot. Once there we'd swap the car for the company van, which had a grist case installed in the back and a hole cut in the roof. We'd mill into the van, drive into the underground parking area and mash in through a bucket hoist installed in one of the storage areas. While the mash went on we'd return the van.

                As I said, it worked. But it involved a lot of running around, a specially fitted van and additional grain handling equipment, and distracted the brewers from the business of brewing. If something had gone somehow wrong during the mash (not much to go wrong, I know--but still) there wouldn't have been anyone around to fix it. All the driving about was pretty hard on the brewers, as well. I don't recommend it unless you seriously have no other choice.


                • #9
                  I have worked with a off site mill and keg cleaner and had no problems at all. It helped that I had a 1ton cargo van and a brewhouse platform. It is a little extra work but it is very easy to work with it. The shop I stored my coops and cleaner was only about 2 miles away. Hope this helps CHEERS


                  • #10
                    To make it short: I don´t know any brewpub or brewery practicing that.

                    the brewer should always be able to keep an eye on his materials without leaving the brewery alone.
                    E-mails will be answered as soon as possible. Please contact me also by phone:

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                    • #11
                      How far away are you talking about? Seems awfully inconvenient to have to keep going back and forth to get the products you will need for a day in the brewery.

                      Will you supply your brewer with a vehicle for this?
                      Will that vehicle need to be maintained by the brewer?
                      What if the vehicle is out of service?
                      Cost for the vehicle?
                      Insurance for the vehicle?
                      Cost to rent/buy a new place for the operation?
                      Insurance on the site?

                      When you are done figuring out all these costs will the extra space you have created produce the revenue needed to make it a cost effective move?

                      Sounds like a lot of expenditures and wear and tear on the brewer, vehicle and building for something that may not produce the revenue to make it a cost effective idea.

                      What about if you moved it offsite and hired an assistant to run the offsite facility keeping your brewer available to run all operations?


                      • #12
                        Good info, but I’d note that this is a 15 year old thread.

                        Cheers, Tim