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Thread: My Boot-Strapped System

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Chisinau, Moldova
    Posts
    5

    My Boot-Strapped System

    Hope this is the right place for this.

    We are opening Moldova's 2nd craft/micro brewery and are working on what is, best considered, a boot-strap budget. As a long time home brewer, opening his first, pro style operation I think I've hit nearly everything I need, but would love, love, love any feedback on the set-up as I'm pretty confident I am overlooking something.Also, I do have a few questions along the way.

    One note: For the past 20 years of my working life I have worked largely in the refrigeration/cooling/heating industry as a technician and installer, so if I gloss over elements related to that part of the process, please forgive, I'm bad at taking that part for granted. Also, I have lived in the former USSR for much of the past 13 years, Moldova, specifically, for the past 5 and a half, so don't see the need to move this post outside purely mechanical issues.

    Second Note: Assume a 3 brews per week schedule.


    Brew House:
    We are sourcing a brand new 1000 Liter (actual volume 1600 liters) electric brew house manufactured, next door, in Ukraine.A small factory in operation for 6 years, all necessary documents and certifications to export to the high standards of the EU. No real questions here. Obviously, our largest expense and why we're looking to save a few dollars down the line.

    Cold Crashing:

    Heat exchanging flow plate cooler sized to the brew house capacity. Nothing special here.

    Fermentation:
    With 1000 liter stainless tanks running around 4000 euro/per, this is where costs started to get a little mean. Our solution- giant 600 liter plastic eggs! At 550 euros each, a significant savings.

    https://shop.speidels-braumeister.de...re?action_ms=1

    The plan is to install (at least 6) of them in a temperature controlled room, and since we aim to make only ales (for now), feel like we can avoid the expense of jacketed, temperature controlled tanks, at this time.

    So first question, are there any drawbacks to splitting a 1000 liter batch of wort into two separate fermentation vessels? Assuming, we're on top of our sterilization game, and do our job right when pitching the yeast in equal amounts to both containers, I can't see a problem, am I wrong?

    Forced Carbonation:

    I feel I should mention here, our aim is to package only in kegs and brite tanks. Another thing, I have 0 experience with forced carbonation.

    So...The plan is to buy one 1200 liter (1000 liters + 20% head space) stainless tank that can hold the pressures for this, is outfitted with a carbonation stone, and is jacketed and temperature controlled. So, on carbonation day (for kegs), to move the contents of two fermenters to the stainless tank and force carbonate.
    1) In all my reading, I have not been able to find an idea of how long it will take to force carbonate the 1000 liters. I understand, different styles may require differing amounts of time. But does anyone have a ball park number of hours/days I can expect this to take before I can keg.
    2) I am most concerned about this, because of my lack of experience with it, and because with only 1 tank for carbonation I see a potential bottleneck in production.

    Thoughts?

    CIP:

    The brew house comes with a CIP system for itself and an associated keg cleaner, Obviously, hooking our egg ferementers to the CIP system, is going to be some sort of DIY, Frankenstein's Monster, so I don't expect any feedback here...If there's enough curiosity, I'll be happy to post pictures after we figure it out.

    Brite Tanks in our Walk-In:

    Thanks to this very site, I recognize that I had overlooked CIP for these, but now have it figured, I think. My proposed solution is too build them their own walk-in, where I can shut it down for cleaning, avoiding the hot moist air issues, etc. I feel pretty comfortable with issues here, after 20 years walk-in cooler experience.

    Conclusion:

    Even if you have nothing to add or opine on, I'd like to say thanks, just for reading this far. And, of course, any and all feedback is much appreciated, don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm a noob here, and every criticism, I figure, either makes a better product or aims my finances more efficiently, and that's a great thing!

    Naroc! (Now you know "cheers" in Romanian/Moldovan language)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Tucson, Az, USA
    Posts
    7
    I would highly recommend against using a temperature controlled room for your fermentation. Every place I have been to that commits this folly ends up with a lot of off flavors. I would recommend stainless steel coils immersed in your fermenters running glycol or cold water. Install a thermowell in each fermenter for a temperature controller and plug a low cost pond pump into the temp controller. This does not cost too much money to do. Let me know if you need any more assistance with this.
    cheers,
    Mike

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Chisinau, Moldova
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by public View Post
    I would highly recommend against using a temperature controlled room for your fermentation. Every place I have been to that commits this folly ends up with a lot of off flavors. I would recommend stainless steel coils immersed in your fermenters running glycol or cold water. Install a thermowell in each fermenter for a temperature controller and plug a low cost pond pump into the temp controller. This does not cost too much money to do. Let me know if you need any more assistance with this.
    cheers,
    Mike
    Ok, this had crossed my mind, with plastic being such a poor conductor of temperature. I understand exactly what your proposing with the thermowells and coil coolers, and thanks, you have convinced me that it is the correct way to go.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Kyiv
    Posts
    2

    After a couple of years, how is it going?

    MD Brewer I just finished reading your post and its definitely of interest to me. With a partner we might be opening a spot in Ukraine, so I wanted to get your thoughts on the brewhouse you bought and all the crazy bootstrapping you had to go through. Any update would be appreciated. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    The South
    Posts
    175

    Transfer?

    How are you planning on transferring from the plastic egg fermenters to your Brite tank since those eggs can’t hold pressure?

    How will you transfer from egg to Brite to minimize oxygen pick up?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Chisinau, Moldova
    Posts
    5

    Wow, blast from the past

    Seeing as there was some activity on this thread recently, thought I'd share a little bit of what we did, how things have turned out...

    February 16, 2019 was the first anniversary of the first kegs we delivered. It took longer to get open than we thought, but we made it through the dreaded first year.

    Since it seemed to be a big question on my part and now others, I'll address the plastic fermenters. We did wind up going with 6 (600 liter) plastic ferementers/potable water tanks. They do mimic a CCT in shape, with a conical bottom. They have large lids, which we drilled holes in and ran stainless steel coils through to allow glycol/water to maintain temperature. Yes they aren't insulated, and yes they're costing us extra cash in electricity, but they keep our product between 16-18 c with no problems. We can also crash chill in them to 6-8 c, if we feel like a beer could use a little clean up before we move it to our SS CCT for full crash cooling and force carb.

    Are they ideal? Not at all. But as per my original post, after we bought them, the cooling coils, solenoid valves and temp controls, we wound up saving about 20,000 USD on getting open. And best news of all- We ordered our first 1000 liter stainless CCT last week. So they have done their job, let us get open on a tight budget, let us make beer that has sold and sold well, and get to the point where we can begin expansion. Would I recommend it to anyone else? No, not unless you are desperate, broke, crazy or a combination of all.....They are hard to clean, risky as hell for 'air tightness' etc....But we are living proof you can get it done this way.

    MD Brewer I just finished reading your post and its definitely of interest to me. With a partner we might be opening a spot in Ukraine, so I wanted to get your thoughts on the brewhouse you bought and all the crazy bootstrapping you had to go through. Any update would be appreciated. Thanks!
    We had some issues with shipping, which the supplier was all but a no-show in helping to solve, issues that cost an extra 12k USD to solve......That said, the equipment while pretty basic has held up and done it's job well. We bought a 1000 liter Brewhouse that allows for half batches. This first year we have averaged 2 brews per week, so about 1000 liters finished product.. Any problems we have had with parts since have been handled reasonably well warranty-wise, and the install team has actually been great in follow up phone calls when we've needed repair guidance. Buying from a Ukrainian supplier within Ukraine should alleviate some of the issues we've had.

    How are you planning on transferring from the plastic egg fermenters to your Brite tank since those eggs canÂ’t hold pressure?

    How will you transfer from egg to Brite to minimize oxygen pick up?
    If I didn't make it clear above, we wound up going with plastic fermenters that were even less expensive than the ferment-eggs...Final price after tank, cooling coil, solenoid and controller was about 200 USD...And a lot of sweat equity in cleaning....

    As for moving the beer, you are correct they do not hold pressure. So we went back to the homebrew idea and essentially made ourselves an auto-siphon type set up with a small but powerful pump. We back flood the pump with sanitizer treated water from cleaning the Stainless CCT, just enough to prime the pump. The pump inlet is then connected to a hose, which in turn connects to a 1.2 meter long PVC "wand". We drop the wand into the plastic tank, switch on the pump, move just enough to push all the water out, connect it to our stainless CCT, turn on the pump again and in about 20-30 minutes all of the good beer has been moved, leaving behind the trub. Think of it as moving from primary to secondary....Once in the stainless tank, we shoot it full of CO2, bleed off a bit, relying on the CO2 to push out the oxygen...Unorthodox sure, but it works....In a year and some change, only one batch has gone down the drain- and that was more down to an ill-advised foray into cucumber saisons...

    Nothing we have done, or do would be a first choice, but with our cash, it was how to get it done. And remember, I'm in a country where I can't even buy a brewers paddle off the shelf (we had to make that too...My co-brewer has also earned the title"Director of Craft Tools")...In trying to imagine our tech, probably best to think- homebrewing taken to it's most illogical conclusions....We still have a long way to go, but every cool journey begins with the first step and all that jazz.....

    Some photos of our equipment and set up can be seen at the following.

    http://labrewtory.md

    Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LabrewtoryBrewingCo/

    On Untappd at https://untappd.com/Labrewtory_Brewing_Company
    ,

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