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Topics - farmerbrewers

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Going Pro / Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« on: August 30, 2011, 12:30:36 AM »
We are in the beginning stages of planning a brewery on our farm in an unused building (distribution only, we can self distribute here).
As in everything we do, baby steps & small investments.  Sorry, but my degree is in business & I am one seriously frugal farmer, this path has always worked for us with everything. I am the business manager, 2 others are the brewers.
So, before you begin yelling that we need to start big with big systems if we want to make money, let me tell you that this will be a part-time gig to start, as we grow we can upgrade.
Upgrade and equipment costs, you yell?!  Well, we are lucky enough to live in the middle of America's Dairyland & farming central, and as we are organic farmers ourselves we have lots of farmer friends & neighbors & access to lots of used dairy equipment.
We were in a nearby barn the other day looking over a farmer's old bulk milk tanks.  A 100-gallon and a 250-gallon stainless milk tanks that were used for refrigeration (compressors still attached).  They are double-walled stainless, coils running through inside were used for cooling the milk.  Okay, so sorry if this has been mentioned before, but why couldn't we just reverse the system and use the coils to run steam & use it as a boil kettle?  (Running water through them probably wouldn't get it hot enough...).   By the way, we can get these used milk tanks for about $1.25 per gallon (so, $125 for the 100 gallon tank).
Anyone?  Thoughts?
To those who read my past post about equipment & laws pertaining, I have spoken to our department of health, and we have an initial site inspection in 2 weeks, just to make sure the building we want to use on the farm is okay with them (it should be fine, has a kitchen, it's clean, etc.), she says we just need a handwashing station, which it already has.
So jump in with thoughts on dairy equip, much appreciated!

Going Pro / Equipment Laws for Brewery
« on: August 09, 2011, 08:40:26 PM »
Been homebrewing for a couple of years, am ready to take the next step & begin selling our brew locally (distributing only to resellers to start, no brewpub).
We've been wading through the laws regarding running brewery & sale of beer for about a year now.  Have learned a lot, but there seems to be one gray area where we can find no real information:

-What equipment are we allowed to use?  Do we have to use commercial-grade equipment, or can we simply step up our homebrew system (used kegs with lids cut off, large thermos, glass & bucket fermenters, etc)?

-Where are we allowed to brew?  I have read that the home kitchen cannot be used.  Okay, no problem.  We have farm outbuildings that would be perfect.  However, do they need to be commercial grade kitchens for brewing?

-Can we re-use kegs for sale of beer?  I believe that we need to use fresh bottles each time, but don't know if I've read that about kegs.  Is there a process we need to follow for sterilization if we're allowed to re-use?

If anyone can point us in the proper direction, I appreciate it!
We're in Illinois.

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