Author Topic: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery  (Read 3976 times)

Offline farmerbrewers

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Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« on: August 29, 2011, 05:30:36 PM »
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!

Offline majorvices

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 06:14:13 PM »

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.


Well, to be fair this is a much better approach than your first post where you said "hooking up your homebrew system, basically kegs with cut off lids" - dairy equipment can be a very good way to start a small brewery.

You'll forgive me if this is the wrong link  but I am on dial up and cannot check and see if this is the correct link, but I think this guy uses a lot of used dairy equipment IIRC - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEmvcslPpoM

Also, not sure what kind of response you will get here but there are a few guys that have used dairy equipment to start a brewery over at www.probrewer.com - very good guys over there who would be more than willing to help you.
Keith Y.

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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 06:31:39 PM »
There are a quite a few breweries that started with used dairy equipment.
Used dairy equipment used to be plentyfull and cheap.
That was then and now is now.
If you are farmer you have a better info where to get used equipment.
To my knowledge there is none any more.

All that said you have potential 100 gallon tank.
You need to look at the whole picture when dealing with used equipment.
That means what kind of modification needs to be done is it would do what you need it for.

You suggest the steam heating.
Steam heating is great.
Do you know how much is a steam generator.

How do you clean it?
You just can not take 100 gallon tank tip it and clean it.

Does it have all necessary connections you want to have or some one will have to weld it?

Frugal way is a good way.
You already have a building for it and that is a great plus.
Good luck.
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Offline bo

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 07:00:13 PM »
My suggestion would be to seek out a small scale brewery and watch a complete brew session all the way through. That will give you an idea what has to be done to the dairy equipment to modify it for brewing. I don't know much about dairy equipment, but from what you've described, it sounds very feasible. 

Your business background will certainly help you a lot in this venture. I've seen some good entrepreneurs fail because of their lack of knowledge in this area.  Please report back and post some pictures.

Offline farmerbrewers

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2011, 05:19:47 AM »
Thanks, everyone, will post to probrewer as well.

As for modification, we'll need to remove the compressor used for cooling & hook up the steam / hot water (whatever we end up using through the coils to heat the water to a boil).  We'll be checking to make sure the coils are intact before purchasing, the brewers have plumbing experience, some welding experience, and we do know some welders as well if it gets beyond them.

As for cleaning, milk tanks have a spout at the bottom, where the milk truck driver connects his hose to pump it from the tank to the truck (we've connected to these ourselves in the past at a nearby farm when we buy our organic raw milk).  So a hose is simply connected to the bottom, we can clean it out in place & discharge through the hose connection (it's a big "hose", a couple inches in diameter).

Used dairy equipment is extremely plentiful in these parts, I asked 2 of my dairy farmer friends if they knew of any and within a day we were offered for purchase a 1,250 gallon tank, a 500 gallon tank, 250, and 100.  So far, we've only looked at the 250 and 100, sitting unused in an old dairy barn on a farm that no longer milks, the other tanks are too big for us right now.  I am thinking of asking around & finding out where the milk is pasteurized, as the plant doing that may have old kettles.

Yes, I agree that my business degree & experience will help out a lot, that's why I told the brewers I'm only doing this if they listen to me lol. It's relatives, we can talk like that.  :)

Offline farmerbrewers

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2011, 05:36:55 AM »
One more question before I log off, I'm sure many of you will know...
We're having a hard time locating a source for kegs!?  We'll only be kegging to start, local county sales only, but can't find any kegs to use for filling.  Can you recommend a keg supplier, wholesaler, reseller, anything?
Thanks!

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2011, 06:41:43 AM »
I've used www.plastickegsamerica.com and while they haven't been without some issues (have found a handful that leak) they have worked well enough and they are much cheaper than stainless - and people don't steal them, which is nice.

One suggestion about kegs - order 4Xs the amount you think you will need. For every one keg you have at the brewery there are 3 others out (one on its way to location, one at location, one on its way back). Rotating cooperage is a pain.
Keith Y.

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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2011, 07:48:08 AM »
Farmer,

I am really excited and will be following your progress. Where are you located?
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Offline Kit B

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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2011, 11:18:45 AM »
I also use plastic kegs america.
I have 77 1/2 BBL and 6 1/4 BBL.
So far I did not have any issue with them.
If you deal with them (PKA) you have to have a plenty of time.
Their lead time is 4 weeks.
I am not too exited to buy used kegs.
You never know how they had been handled.
I saw a picture on ProBrewer forum of used keg with slime growing from spire.

Microstar has a minimum kegs per month.
I think it is 100 kegs a month and you still have to clean them.
There are other keg rentals companies like keg credit but I do not have any experience with them.
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Offline farmerbrewers

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2011, 11:28:55 AM »
Ah, plastic kegs!  One of us mentioned that, but we wondered what the issues would be (leaking, as you mentioned), we wondered too if it would alter the taste?  But as many of you are already going the plastic route, I guess it's working.  It's a great idea, though, and we'll probably go that route.
Thanks much for the keg info.
Someone wanted to know where we were located - Northwest Illinois, right along the Wisconsin border, in Stephenson County.  There are no breweries currently located in our county, haven't been for almost 100 years.  As we're planning on only local county-wide sales, we're toying with the name "Stephenson County Brewing Company".  It's a mouthful, but it describes us - local beer, local people.
Okay, on to my next question.  Paperwork & government!
According to the TTB, the brewery equip needs to be in place & ready to operate before the paperwork starts.  Scary situation, that!   I read a posting by someone that said they did the paperwork first.  Anyone?
I've spoken to the IL health dept (coming in 2 weeks), the IL liquor commission, and the TTB.  All have their own inspectors, they say, that have to approve everything.  
Can I just say right off the bat that these agencies are already contradicting one another?!?!  The IL liquor commission says we have to be zoned commercial.  I say we're zoned agriculture, it's a farm.  She says well the TTB needs commercial zoning.  I speak to the TTB guy, who laughs and says it may not be an issue for us being on a farm.  He says the main reason for commercial zoning is that brewing smells.  Well, how about my 100 chickens?  Those are some smelly coops when they need cleaning.  How about the 200 cow dairy farm behind me, or the one down the road?  
Oh boy, this will be a fun ride.
So, paperwork first, everyone, before buying equipment & paying anything to the agencies??  I don't want to start plunking down money to agencies until the very end, when I'm 100% sure they are all going to allow us to open the brewery on the farm.
Next I have questions about bonding.  Insurance method?  Bank line credit option?  I personally would lean toward the surety insurance, from what I've read, but I haven't spoken with an insurance agent about this yet.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2011, 12:36:52 PM »
No problem or taste altering with plastic kegs.

You can get surety bond from your insurance agent. It is $100 a year for $1000 bond. You need to have two bonds (state and federal).

Fed said you can apply for brewers bond when you are 95% done with your brewery. We submited our license when we secured our space. We needed to be zoned industrial. Commercial zoning did not cut it with city.

Do you have well water? How are you going to despise waste water and cleaning chemicals?
You would not want to overrun your septic.
How far are you from Galina IL?
Prety town. Lots of money.
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Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
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Offline Kit B

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 12:41:42 PM »
Hahahaha...
I wonder if they ever drove within a mile of a large pig farm.
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Offline farmerbrewers

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2011, 03:42:44 PM »
In answer to questions, we are planning to direct clean used water (no chemicals) onto the acreage.  We are growing organic specialty crops for sale (vegetables) and irrigation is always needed.  We can re-direct it to different crops & different areas of the farm as needed.  In winter, I don't know.  Perhaps some sort of holding tank for later farm use, or simply the ditch, which leads eventually to a creek (if we did this, we'd need to get it approved first).  We'll need to address that when we get deeper into all this.
As for chemical runoff (cleaning chemicals), depending upon how much of this there would be, this could be directed into the septic.  The building we are planning to use for the brewery is on it's own septic, separate from the farmhouse.
One thing we are becoming a bit concerned about is our well.  All the farm buildings and our farmhouse run off of one well.  Exactly how much water we'll end up using... may be cause for concern.  Don't want to dry up our well.  It's a deep one, nearly 200 feet, but still - something we need to talk to others about soon.
Someone mentioned Galena, IL, yes we're the next county over from Galena, it's about 45 minutes away from us.  A brewery just opened there this summer, downtown.  We visited last month.
Another cause for concern is the weight of the tanks.  We may need to brace up the floor of the farm building we want to use.  Again, another thing to think about.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Rigging used dairy euipment for startup brewery
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2011, 04:38:19 PM »
Rough number for water usage is 5 to 8 times of beer produced.

There as "organic approved" chemicals for cleaning. They are been used in Dairy industry. You can ask your dairy supply shop about it. Do not kid yourself. You will need to use chemicals for cleaning. You could use steam but I am not sure how effective it is for cleaning. Sanitizing with steam is great.

How many BBL a year you are planning to brew?
Na Zdravie

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