Quickie: Brain Dump From Craft Beer Conference 2012

by Gary Gulley on May 7, 2012 · 3 comments

in Brewhouse, Equipment, Fermenters, Keg Washer, Licensing, Packaging, TTB

If you checked out my Panic Brewing Facebook page over the weekend, you probably saw some updates from the Craft Beer Conference. I was at the trade show portion on Friday only. I had a great time and learned a lot. Here are a few quick tidbits:

I already knew Premier Stainless made excellent equipment, but it was great to get an up close look. Amazing stuff made incredibly well, despite the fact that most of the manufacturing occurs in China (which I’m never a fan of).  Once the equipment arrives from China, Premiere brings it into their Escondido facility and ensures that all fabrication is absolute world class. They also fit the finished equipment with very high quality tri-clamp valves, pumps, and motors. And the heat exchanger is made in Washington state. Nice. We visited the Pizza Port brew pub in Ocean Beach later that night and sure enough, there was a gorgeous Premier brew house and fermenters front and center.

Only takes 3 hours to wash one keg!

Premier Stainless' manual keg washer for the budget minded brewer.

Premier makes a dual semi-automatic keg washer, meaning you have to lift the kegs, but the cleaning cycle is automatic. It’s beautiful and will be in my brewery at launch.

Rob Soltys of Premier Stainless recommended 16 ft minimum height ceilings.  When I asked him how high you need for 30 bbl fermenters (and you always need extra height for the rigging equipment, remember that!), he said if you go with 16 ft minimum, you’ll be able to fit 60 bbl fermenters in the future easily.  Good tip.  They can customize fermenters just about any way you need them, so smaller clearances would require short and squat fermenters which affect fermentation flavors (brewing school). Not a big deal, but you’d probably have to adjust your fermentation temperatures to deal with less hydrostatic pressure due to shallower depths.

Wild Goose Engineering’s canning line is awesome AND they’re not tied to Ball Canning like Cask is. That’s a good thing. Their two head filler can package cans faster than Cask’s five head filler. The secret? The seamer, which is the device that seals the lid onto the can. Both canning lines have only one seamer, but Wild Goose’s is so damn fast, their line cans faster with less than half the fill heads! The people are awesome as well. When the need arises, you can easily add two fill heads to the machine for a total of four. Awesomesauce.

I spoke to the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), very nice people. Here’s the gospel from the horse’s mouth: If you fill out your TTB paperwork correctly AND submit it online, it currently requires about 51 days to get your Federal Brewer’s Notice approved. If you submit your application via paper, it takes 90 days, but who would be that dumb anyway? I inquired what the biggest mistake people make that causes their application to be rejected. Answer: improper handling of the Brewer’s Bond process. They have a phone number you can call to get all your questions answered and encouraged me to use that resource. I’ll add that number to this post when I find it. I’ll go into all the nitty gritty of dealing with the TTB and the State of Illinois once I begin that part of the process.

Great stuff, well worth the effort and money.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Clint May 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm

great summary and helpful information – you are assuming 15bbl? Wish I could have been there.

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Gary Gulley May 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Yeah, 15bbl. You’ll make it next year! It’s in DC.

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Pete November 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Hello,

Just stumbled on your website googling for hop contracts. We’re opening a nano here in seattle. We just completed our TTB application and it took 6 months. We got our first communication 4 months after submitting electronically. We were informed that we needed to resubmit our floor plan with the tax paid area in a different color. There’s nothing on the TTB website regarding this requirement (that I could find) and it’s not something I’ve ever heard required from other breweries. I think the major factor in how long the process takes depends on the specific specialist you are assigned and how responsive they are. You should factor in at least 6 months of lease into your opening costs, just in case…

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