Author Topic: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment  (Read 1506 times)

Offline phillamb168

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"Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« on: April 15, 2011, 05:42:33 AM »
I'm going to Limoges tomorrow morning to look at some used brewing equipment with two guys who are looking to open a brewery near Paris. They already have the warehouse and are looking to upgrade the equipment they're already using. As an investor in their business I'm obviously interested in them only getting good equipment - so, seeing as a lot of you have much more experience in this than I do, I'm wondering if you can give me 'tire-kicking' points to look for in equipment. Obviously sanitation is #1, but what else? Should I check for squeaks in the fermenter doors, try to open all valves, etc?

[edit: updated to include photos]

600 L fermenters


bottler


plate chiller


pumps


boiler


grain mill


capper


labeller
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 07:49:33 AM by phillamb168 »
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Offline denny

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2011, 08:04:45 AM »
Looks cool.  We've got a few commercial brewers here so hopefully they'll weigh in.
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jaybeerman

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2011, 11:00:20 AM »
Bring a flashlight so you can look inside the fermenters.  Look at all the surface inside and make sure the stainless is in good shape; hopefully there's no gouges, creases or major damage to the finish.  Should feel smooth.  Hopefully you'll get the chance to air up all of the pneumatic devices like the labeler, bottler and the capper; run them through each of their motions.  Run the mill for a bit, it shouldn't sound like a gravel mixer a good one will run very smoothly (still loud which is normal).  Just about all of those problems could be fixed, but you'll have to decide if it's worth your effort.  I like that kettle btw, it's awesome.

jaybeerman

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2011, 11:15:56 AM »
Look at the man-way seals on the fermenters as well, if they're hard, cracked or brittle you'll have to replace them.  Replacement gaskets (seals) are usually easy to get, but you can use their condition as a bargaining tool.  From the photos you provided it appears that the fermenters, hose, and the plate chiller are fairly new.  Hope it all works out for you guys, good luck.

<edit> make sure the manufacturers of the pumps, labeler and bottler are still in business.  All equipment needs maintenance, so make sure that you'll be able to find the parts when you need them.  Ask them who they bought their labels from and how recently, make sure they give you all the label type specs.  Same thing with the bottler (ask about bottle specs).

now that I've said all that, just watch the brewers and see if they ask all those questions.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 12:05:08 PM by jaybeerman »

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2011, 08:23:59 PM »
What is the size of brewery/fermenters...

Looks like some one was shopping at St Pats out of Texas.
Where is Mash Tun and HLT?
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Offline Tim McManus

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 10:09:14 PM »
Check every weld.  Check them inside the vessels and outside.
Tim McManus
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2011, 12:45:54 AM »
What is the size of brewery/fermenters...

Looks like some one was shopping at St Pats out of Texas.
Where is Mash Tun and HLT?

HLT is already procured, but the boiler is one of those dual jobbies with a 'basket' that's full or perforations that you throw the grain into, and then for mash out you slowly lift it out with a winch while running the sparge onto it.

Fermenters are 600 L each, or 5 BBL, dunno about the boiler.

Thanks for the advice guys. Heading out there now, it's a 3.5 hr drive...
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2011, 08:52:36 AM »

HLT is already procured, but the boiler is one of those dual jobbies with a 'basket' that's full or perforations that you throw the grain into, and then for mash out you slowly lift it out with a winch while running the sparge onto it.

Fermenters are 600 L each, or 5 BBL, dunno about the boiler.

Thanks for the advice guys. Heading out there now, it's a 3.5 hr drive...
Interesting idea. Your brewhouse efficiency might suffer.
How do you empty spend grain?
You know you will have about 300 lb per batch.

How do you clean fermenters?
Do they have CIP head?
I think those fermenters have floating lids.
How do you control fermentation temp?

Welds in brewhouse need to be water tight but do not have to be sanitary.
How do you keep trub from entering the plate chiller?
What kind of pump is there?
You should have 1 hp pump.

What is the packaging?
Only bottles?
Any kegs around?
Keg washer?

Did you asked these questions before considering purchase?
You do not have to answer it on forum:

What would be the market for your beer there?
What would you sell your beer for?
Would people buy it for your price?
How much beer you have to brew till you break even?
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On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline bluesman

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2011, 08:52:41 AM »
It's like "eye candy" for the brewer.

Thanks for posting that. Let us know the details of your trip.
Ron Price

Offline a10t2

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Re: "Kicking the tires" of pro brew equipment
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2011, 09:48:07 AM »
I guess I'm kind of late to the party. And I've never shopped for brewing equipment, but here are some things to look for:

It looks like the fermenters don't have CIP balls. If so, that's going to make them a PITA to clean.
The kettle looks to be direct-fired (based on the scorching). Check the position of the nozzles - if there are any hot spots on the inside the scorching there would, again, be a PITA to clean.
Shine a flashlight inside the hoses. If they've been lax in their cleaning, that's probably the first place it'll show.
If they'll let you, fill the tanks with water to make sure any seals/gaskets are tight, and check for pinholes in the welds.
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