Author Topic: Looking for some feedback  (Read 1972 times)

Offline Jeff M

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Looking for some feedback
« on: January 03, 2014, 03:44:56 PM »
Hi all,

I'm looking for some feedback.  I am currently in the planning/building stages of a larger Brewing setup.  My plan is to Pilot Recipes for about a year and then go Pro with this setup and purchase a Larger setup when i have customers and am confident in taking out the loans to buy a 5BBL+ System.

The feedback id like to get is based on 2 big questions

1st. Brew Kettle Size. I am planning on my 3 Vessel Electric system being ??g/30g/30g.  I cant decide on the size of the BK for my system.  Should i go with a 30g Vessel to match the MLT and HLT or should i go with a 55g Vessel?  I know i can always double mash big beers to make the 55g Vessel more effective but am unsure if its a good move. The 2 Current 30's i have are Blichmanns and the 3rd will be a Blichmann as well.  A 30G MLT can fit 61Lbs of grain at 1.25Q/LB.  It obviously comes down to recipes size and one of our favorite recipes is a 1.086 Stout.

2nd.  Conical Fermenter Size.  I've been looking at Stout Conical and i believe i will purchase my fermenters from them for the current system.  I've looked at the Blichmann Conical's and for the money ill go with Stouts.  That being said, I don't know what size to purchase.  I will be purchasing at least Double the size of my batches for effectiveness reasons since Conical Size/Cost scales favorably to bigger conical's.  Knowing these things makes me wonder if i can brew a batch a day and transfer into a conical more then twice. Can i brew 3 days and put into the same conical? 4 Days? At some point does transferring a fresh brew onto a currently fermenting batch become a bad idea?  I've been eyeballing the 55g and 80G Conical's but they do have a 125g Version.  I plan on having 2-3 of these eventually and have a small Walk-in ferm chamber controlled by a Coolbot.  Also, since i have never used a conical, how much dead space is suggested for fermentation activity and Krausen?  Something i have considered but havent looked up. 

Am sure there is info i have left out and may add as i reread this once posted.  Any advice on peoples experience would be grand.
Cheers,
Jeff
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 05:05:28 PM by Jeff M »
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Looking for some feedback?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 04:48:21 PM »
As always, go as big as you can.
Electric is fine for HLT but it is pain for BK.
your HLT should be about 1.5 size of your final volume.
Your MT should be 1:1 ratio.
You need at least 20% more volume in your BK then is your final volume.

Go with plastic conicals. How are you going to cool them?
How are you going to sell your beer?

Good luck.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 04:58:50 PM »
As always, go as big as you can.
Electric is fine for HLT but it is pain for BK.
your HLT should be about 1.5 size of your final volume.
Your MT should be 1:1 ratio.
You need at least 20% more volume in your BK then is your final volume.

Go with plastic conicals. How are you going to cool them?
How are you going to sell your beer?

Good luck.
Hi Leos,
Thanks for the feedback.

Ive read some on plastic Conical's but have never really seen anyone with good feedback.  Do you have a company you use that you would recommend?  My plan is to place all my conicals in a Well insulated(walk in cooler style) room with an AC and heater with a dual stage temp controller.  How i am going to sell my beer is a tricky question. I have pretty good contact in the local bar scene and have already had a bar owner commit to buying my beer upon receiving a license for the TTB.  I am fairly well spoken and have the charisma needed to sell well due to my retail management experience.  I also have friends well connected in the area that i plan on establishing in.

As to heating my BK, i am currently working on a 50A ElectricBrewery setup.  I know it wont heat the BK super fast, but in my setup i can assist it with Propane if it becomes an issue.

Note that my plan is to keep this system as pilot system when i buy a bigger setup, so buying stainless isnt really an issue in my mind.

Cheers,
Jeff
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 08:07:01 AM »
Jeff,

I have been using plastic 350 gal fermenters for 3 years now. They are not pretty but they do what I need them to do. They clean well and so far no issue. I cool my fermenters with SS coil inserted in the fermenter and insulated on the outside. I got my fermenters from US Plastic.

For what you plan to do with BK one 5500 W element will be sufficient. I have 200 gal BK and I when I reach boil I use 3 elements. What is the pain with electric BK is the cleaning of the elements. Mount your element high enough that you do not touch the hops when boiling.

Selling beer to local bars is the lowest margin possible you can get. It is also quite expensive proposition. There are more profitable ways to sell your beer. Can you self distribute? Can you have a TapRoom? If you can I would advice you to rethink your sales plan.

Let ma know if you have more questions.
Good luck.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline majorvices

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 08:17:15 AM »
We used plastic conicals for the first year in a walk in cooler set to 34 degree and controlled the temp via heat wraps and insulation with temp control. I could control the temp anywhere from 34 to 80 degrees with this set up. Very simply, cheap and effective. Since you can keep the cold room fairly sanitary you will not find infection a problem. We went with some 10 bbl conicals later on outside cold room and ran a stainless coil inside to regulate temp and that worked well too, though since they are not very air tight you need to move them over to bright tanks ASAP.

The bright tanks are going to be pretty important if you want to have a consistent product and they will have to be stainless. Sure, you can do it in kegs for your pilot system but if you can find a pressurizable BBT with diffusion stone it makes like so much easier.

I would go with 55 gallon stainless drums and brew 1 bbl batches. That would be the cheapest route. You can actually squeeze out 45 gallon batches out of 55 gallon drums. Electric elements (low density) in BK are fine but just remember to keep them clean (clean after every batch) or they will leave your beer with an unpleasant smoky character. I had this happen on mine a couple times till I learned my lesson. Cleaning is a bit of a PITA.

I batch sparged and used a CFC (chilzilla) and regular march pump and did the wort recirculation to drop temp down to about 80 and then racked into plastic conical and let the temp drop down in CR overnight then pitched next AM.

If you are only planning on a 5 bbl brewhouse make dark sure you have a pub to go with it. Not very easy to make a living on a 5 bbl brewhouse. But with self distribution, sales on premiss and a a decent pub you will probably do alright. Just remember: it is as hard (maybe harder) than everyone says it is and we are probably headed for a craft beer bubble breaking point soon. If you time it right there will be a lot of cheap used equipment on the marketplace. ;)
Keith Y.

Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 08:59:32 AM »
Electric elements (low density) in BK are fine but just remember to keep them clean (clean after every batch) or they will leave your beer with an unpleasant smoky character.

Eureka moment.
I think this is my issue.
Thank you Kieth
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 09:01:33 AM »
Jeff,

I have been using plastic 350 gal fermenters for 3 years now. They are not pretty but they do what I need them to do. They clean well and so far no issue. I cool my fermenters with SS coil inserted in the fermenter and insulated on the outside. I got my fermenters from US Plastic.

For what you plan to do with BK one 5500 W element will be sufficient. I have 200 gal BK and I when I reach boil I use 3 elements. What is the pain with electric BK is the cleaning of the elements. Mount your element high enough that you do not touch the hops when boiling.

Selling beer to local bars is the lowest margin possible you can get. It is also quite expensive proposition. There are more profitable ways to sell your beer. Can you self distribute? Can you have a TapRoom? If you can I would advice you to rethink your sales plan.

Let ma know if you have more questions.
Good luck.

Leos,

Good to know about a proffessional having good results with Plastic.  Ill probably still buy 1 SS conical for aging a big stout we plan on being one of our first beers, and maybe a few Plastic for quicker turnover beers. Thanks!

My control panel has the ability to handle 2 Elements for the MLT and BK.  i was only planning one to start but getting another pair was part of my plan.  That would allow me to run 10000W into the BK, much improving the rate of boil.  For my workspace i am also planning on a 30A plug near the Panel so if i need to use a third element the potential is there. Would you suggest i use TC Fittings on my elements?  Right now they are just mounted in a junction box and will connect directly to the kettle with a hexnut in a weldless fashion.

Can you link pictures and links to equipment for how you cool your conicals?  I obviously havent done a lot of research in this area because i wont be starting with the conicals in place, they will come a few months down the pilot system road.

As for selling beer, i yet again havent done tons of research into this area since im nowhere close to being able to even apply for a license.  I am not sure if MA has a law against self distributing.  i think we do but they are currently revising those old blue laws because they are horrible antiquated and dont really reflect the current economy and craft beer situations.  Upon gaining premesis i do plan on having a tap room if able, i understand the perks of being able to sell beer at retail.  I really do need to look into those laws.  The bars i know very well that would most probably buy my beer dont have an issue selling beers for 6-8$ a glass, so luckily the craft beer buyers in the area are not cheap drinkers:)

Thanks!
Jeff
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 09:25:50 AM »
We used plastic conicals for the first year in a walk in cooler set to 34 degree and controlled the temp via heat wraps and insulation with temp control. I could control the temp anywhere from 34 to 80 degrees with this set up. Very simply, cheap and effective. Since you can keep the cold room fairly sanitary you will not find infection a problem. We went with some 10 bbl conicals later on outside cold room and ran a stainless coil inside to regulate temp and that worked well too, though since they are not very air tight you need to move them over to bright tanks ASAP.

The bright tanks are going to be pretty important if you want to have a consistent product and they will have to be stainless. Sure, you can do it in kegs for your pilot system but if you can find a pressurizable BBT with diffusion stone it makes like so much easier.

I would go with 55 gallon stainless drums and brew 1 bbl batches. That would be the cheapest route. You can actually squeeze out 45 gallon batches out of 55 gallon drums. Electric elements (low density) in BK are fine but just remember to keep them clean (clean after every batch) or they will leave your beer with an unpleasant smoky character. I had this happen on mine a couple times till I learned my lesson. Cleaning is a bit of a PITA.

I batch sparged and used a CFC (chilzilla) and regular march pump and did the wort recirculation to drop temp down to about 80 and then racked into plastic conical and let the temp drop down in CR overnight then pitched next AM.

If you are only planning on a 5 bbl brewhouse make dark sure you have a pub to go with it. Not very easy to make a living on a 5 bbl brewhouse. But with self distribution, sales on premiss and a a decent pub you will probably do alright. Just remember: it is as hard (maybe harder) than everyone says it is and we are probably headed for a craft beer bubble breaking point soon. If you time it right there will be a lot of cheap used equipment on the marketplace. ;)

Hey Keith, Thanks for the feedback!

Another pro brewer using plastic, its puts me more at ease to look at plastic!  What brand of plastic conical where you using at the time?  One of my fears for my ferm chamber is i live in MA, the weather her is so freaking erratic its ridiculous.  its -15 right now and tomorrow its supposed to be 40.  During the summer we peak at 110 or so.  Obviously your walk in cooler scenerio sounds like a better way to control the ferm chamber, just use an AC and coolbot and individually warm a fermenter, it would allow for cold storage as well.  What heat wrap did you use and how did you cool the walk in?  Also, as an afterthought, did you do anything special to the inside of the walkin to make it easier to clean etc?  Ive seen plastic sheets at home depot that may work well.  When you run the coil inside a fermentor is that a glycol system?

I was also looking at bright tanks.  Stout tanks currently has a 125G conical fermentor/bright tank. i wonder if this would be a good option?  If not ill just plan on buying a bright tank, it is what it is:)
http://conical-fermenter.com/125-Gallon-Conical-Fermenter-with-Thermowell-Thermometer-and-Wheels-from-Stout-Tanks-and-Kettles.html

So ive already bought 2 30g blichmanns. I wouldnt be adverse to a 55G drum for the BK tho.  DO you have a link for a decent company to get them from?  As for the Elements i currently have them mounted in waterproof J boxes and will be attaching them weldlessly with shims, gaskets and a hex nut.  Would i be better of using TC fittings on them for ease of removal?  I definitely agree that cleaning will be key and a PITA.  What cleaners do you use? Im currently planning on PBW and starsan but there may be better pro options out there.

I bought a morebeer Sparge Arm(thanks Mic) and have a therminator lined up to do my chilling.  I also have a 50ft SS IC if i have an issue with my wort being to hot going into a fermentor.  The system calls for 2 pumps(both march 809's that will get an impeller upgrade when i need it and maybe 2 SS chugger heads for sanitation reasons)

As for future plans, when i said 5BBL+ my intention was i will purchase as big of a brew-house as i can currently afford.  I understand that a batch of beer takes essentially the same amount of time no matter the size to brew, but it all comes down to finances.  As for making a living, im 33, Single, and have no kids so i dont have a huge amount of bills.

Brewpub.... Ive considered this.  I plan on opening my brewer with my BF and fellow brewer.  We have ZERO restaurant experience between the 2 of us.  The city we are planning on opening our brewer in has a very active restaurant scene with new ones constantly opening and crappy ones constantly closing, this situation really makes me fear opening a brewpub.  I hear you about the craft beer bubble, i just need to figure out how to find used equipment from that level, cause i hardly think many will be posting on craigslist:)

Thanks Keith!
Jeff

Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 10:24:27 AM »
FWIW I don't use plastic any longer so for me it was a transitionary phase. I can attest that Leos makes some excellent beers so plastic obviously works but it's a lot more work, especially with the coils inside the fermentor. I'm pretty sure that we used the same company leos suggested (US Plastic).

If you already have the 30 gallon tanks just use them. I don't like unitanks for a few reason - one is you can never drop all the yeast and if you have to depressurize for some reason the yeast tends to get stirred up from sudden loss of pressure.

I completely understand your lack of interest in working a restaurant. I have no desire to ever own a restaurant.
Keith Y.

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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 10:49:33 AM »
FWIW I don't use plastic any longer so for me it was a transitionary phase. I can attest that Leos makes some excellent beers so plastic obviously works but it's a lot more work, especially with the coils inside the fermentor. I'm pretty sure that we used the same company leos suggested (US Plastic).

If you already have the 30 gallon tanks just use them. I don't like unitanks for a few reason - one is you can never drop all the yeast and if you have to depressurize for some reason the yeast tends to get stirred up from sudden loss of pressure.

I completely understand your lack of interest in working a restaurant. I have no desire to ever own a restaurant.

Does US plastics also sell the cooling gear for them etc?  Also whats a unitank? Im not familiar with this reference in the brewing world!
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2014, 11:20:24 AM »
"I am not sure if MA has a law against self distributing".

Scroll down and you will see that you can get a self distribution license in MA.

http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/government-affairs/self-distribution-laws
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2014, 11:24:01 AM »
"I am not sure if MA has a law against self distributing".

Scroll down and you will see that you can get a self distribution license in MA.

http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/government-affairs/self-distribution-laws

Thanks Jeff!
I havent looked at the BA site much yet but ill go read that and look through the rest of the site.

Cheers,
Jeff
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2014, 01:14:31 PM »
We will see if I can do this from phone

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dtmnsybflwqgy0b/IMG_0152.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cf5kiiertzcnk0i/IMG_0151.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pquudekkiy34qrj/IMG_0129.JPG

I now use glycol but when I started I had the same size of tank with water in walking cooler as size of fermenter.

When I said taproom I did not mean food. Just serve your beer.
Taproom Is a blood line for a lot if small breweries.

And your customers want to visit you.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline Jeff M

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2014, 01:31:59 PM »
We will see if I can do this from phone

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dtmnsybflwqgy0b/IMG_0152.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cf5kiiertzcnk0i/IMG_0151.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pquudekkiy34qrj/IMG_0129.JPG

I now use glycol but when I started I had the same size of tank with water in walking cooler as size of fermenter.

When I said taproom I did not mean food. Just serve your beer.
Taproom Is a blood line for a lot if small breweries.

And your customers want to visit you.
It does indeed work!  Someone else mentioned brewpub.  i try to respond to people individually since there are so many different things to respond too.  Does US Plastic sell the coil as well or is it just a piece of SS coil you bought and fitted it in.  I would love to have a taproom, but its all going to depend on location when i get premises.  Are those the standard inductor conicals or the tamco versions?
Granite Coast Brewing Company.
Building a clone of The Electric Brewery to use as a pilot system for new recipes!

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Looking for some feedback
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 02:00:03 PM »
We will see if I can do this from phone

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dtmnsybflwqgy0b/IMG_0152.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cf5kiiertzcnk0i/IMG_0151.JPG

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pquudekkiy34qrj/IMG_0129.JPG

I now use glycol but when I started I had the same size of tank with water in walking cooler as size of fermenter.

When I said taproom I did not mean food. Just serve your beer.
Taproom Is a blood line for a lot if small breweries.

And your customers want to visit you.
It does indeed work!  Someone else mentioned brewpub.  i try to respond to people individually since there are so many different things to respond too.  Does US Plastic sell the coil as well or is it just a piece of SS coil you bought and fitted it in.  I would love to have a taproom, but its all going to depend on location when i get premises.  Are those the standard inductor conicals or the tamco versions?
I got SS tubing out of NY. For 100 gal I used 50 feet and for 350 gal I used 100 feet. Fittings are from McMaster.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/xtbiox7dthwk804/IMG_0128.JPG

I have my element hex nut welded to the BK.
starsan is fine for hand sanitizing.
Saniclean is fine when pump Is involved.

I do not have a good caustic solution.
I use acid cleaner 5 and star line for brites and it looks good.
I tried PBW and hd caustic in BK with mixed results.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer