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Advice for Chinese-imported equipment?

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  • Advice for Chinese-imported equipment?

    Has anyone worked with a Chinese equipment manufacturer and dealt with freight, tariffs, government paperwork, etc.? I'm just trying to get a sense of the challenges, associated costs, common pitfalls, or any general advice people are willing to share about their own experience in this area, particularly if you've had equipment shipped to the East coast. Also, if anyone can provide a basic list of steps that one needs to go through to purchase and receive equipment from a Chinese vendor, that would be amazing.


  • #2
    Caveat emptor.


    • #3
      The ones I have used have a rep in here in the USA that broker their stuff. Pretty much just like dealing with a manufacurer in the US. You do not do the leg work they do. Get a shipping quote in with your quote for the piece of equipment. North American and European equipment is still higher quality IMO, and I truely believe will last longer. I would also look at used equipment before shopping overseas. But lots of folks are shopping. Good luck.
      Joel Halbleib
      Partner / Zymurgist
      Hive and Barrel Meadery
      6302 Old La Grange Rd
      Crestwood, KY


      • #4
        Hi Nick,
        My experience dealing with brewing equipment made in China is, unfortunately, not very positive. This was on a system that a brewpub was installing and brought me in late in the game to consult on.
        The "stainless steel" screens in the mash tun had already begun to rust on the trip over the ocean in the cargo container. Not all the connections were fully made; tri-clamps were missing. Worst of all, the plumbing and pump integrations made NO sense: it was impossible to pump out the brew kettle as the outlet of the brewkettle went into the output of the pump, all hard-piped!
        Look for equipment in the US, Canada, or Europe.
        You do truly get what you pay for.

        my half cent (adjusted for the yen)
        Glacier Brewing Company

        "who said what now?"


        • #5
          Thanks, guys. I've heard some horror stories but have also heard that their equipment is getting better by the day as the industry matures.


          • #6
            Lots of good breweries out there use chinese made equipment. Three Floyds has a reputation for great beer and they use a chinese made brewhouse.

            That being said, I know some have had to work with importers to resolve some minor equipment issues.

            Andrew Godley
            Parish Brewing Co.
            Broussard, Louisiana


            • #7
              All the fermenters I used at Mayflower Brewing are made in China. No issues except on manway had a slight pitch to the arm which made it so the door would swing close when dumping yeast or chem. Other than that... the welds were solid and the tanks are now over 3 years old and have no problems.

              I think the key is working with someone local, like Premier or Stromberg or others to be sure they are taking the right steps to be sure your system is well made and worth the money.

              Good luck Nick and keep us posted!
              Matthew Steinberg
              Exhibit 'A' Brewing Co.
              Framingham, MA USA

              Head Brewer
              Filler of Vessels
              Seller of Liquid
              Barreled Beer Aging Specialist
              Yeast Wrangler
              Microbe Handler
              Malt Slinger
              Hop Sniffer
              Food Eater
              Music Listener


              • #8
                Call up Stromberg Tanks. I bought equipment from them over 3 years ago and haven't had a single problem with anything. We got a brew tower, three fermenters, three brites, pumps and everything else. Incidentally, the only part of the whole package that has given us any trouble at all was made in America.

                Keep in mind that the equipment is being manufactured in China, shipped across the Pacific, passing through customs and then trucking across country. The suppliers might give you a delivery date, but you can pretty much count on it being weeks late - no matter who you work with.
                Mike Hiller, Head Brewer
                Strangeways Brewing
                2277-A Dabney Road
                Richmond, VA 23230


                • #9
                  Chinese Equipment

                  I worked in a brewery that had a bunch of Chinese made equipment. And this is what I got out of it.

                  The fermenters worked well with little to no issues. Same with the brite tank.

                  The issue was with the bottler, and the issue was massive. The machine had no usable blueprints for when adjustments needed to be made and the company in China was absolutely useless for technical support. It worked well for about a few months and then went to total crap. It was sold as a new machine (which is wasn't), it was supposed to be able to handle a pre-evac (which it couldn't), and it was supposed to be adjustable for 22oz bottles (which it wasn't).

                  My advice is to be careful. It was not Stromberg, so do not take my comments for all Chinese companies.
                  Drake's Brewing
                  San Leandro, CA


                  • #10
                    Repeat from another post I chimed in on: To say "Chinese" equipment is bad is to say "European" equipment is bad. Silly because Europe is a big place with multiple manufacturers as is China. A better discussion would be about Brand X vs Brand Y from China....very big difference.


                    • #11

                      Get a good contract, regardless of where the equipment comes from. Include things as simple as type of metal and mean-roughness. Even things like gasket material and hard-pipe slope are important. It is one thing for them to say that they will do it, but unless it is in the contract, you have no way of controlling.
                      Roger Greene


                      • #12
                        Do your research. Find out who else has bought equipment from the supplier you are thinking of and contact those buyers to get the reality scoop on what they have experienced with their equipment. Manufacturers very greatly world wide. Do your research. Worst case senario I have ever seen was a tank that contained silver cadium polished to look like high grade stainless steel! It was, infact, Chinese made.


                        • #13
                          I think the information above is valid and good advice. I am brewing in China and therefore using some equipment manufactured here. Contact me if you need some information on manufacturers for getting it to your location....Best of luck, cannot help you with that.

                          If it makes you feel any better it's also difficult to get items into China
                          Mike Jordan
                          Boxing Cat Brewery
                          Shanghai, P.R. China


                          • #14
                            If we want people to think global but drink local, why would we buy equipment made in china? To save money? Id rather support the great manufactures, we have here in North America.
                            Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
                            "Your results may vary"


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ted Briggs
                              If we want people to think global but drink local, why would we buy equipment made in china? To save money? Id rather support the great manufactures, we have here in North America.
                              I guess because all of the North American builders I deal with cannot compete on the price of Stainless Steel and now source most of the component tanks in their quotes from China (this includes a German supplier I spoke with). I have a tank builder 5 blocks from my brewery who quotes from China.

                              This is not a buy local issue. This is raw economics and a fundamental inability to compete on price regardless of what is being ordered.