By: Gerald Dlubala
From start to finish, a well-equipped brewhouse or distillery is a complex linked chain of equipment, including specialized tanks and storage vessels, each important to the final product. But brewery and distillery experts agree that before finalizing any decisions on the purchase or upgrade of your tanks and tank accessories, it’s critical that the equipment manufacturers know your business and production goals, both now and in the future, so that they can recommend the proper vessels for your needs.
It’s in Their Name: Quality Tank Solutions
To help sort through all of the possibilities, Jimmi Sukys, owner of Quality Tank Solutions (QTS), says that it’s critical to research and choose a manufacturer that carries an excellent reputation in your industry with the equipment they manufacture or import and with the knowledge and service capabilities for support of those products. Quality Tank Solutions brings over 50 years of expertise in the stainless-steel industry, providing sanitary liquid solutions to the brewing, food and beverage, dairy and pharmaceutical industries. QTS builds lifelong partnerships because of its willingness to work alongside each customer from start to finish and beyond. They offer everything a craft beverage producer needs in quality, right-sized equipment and accessories.
“Before we even get to the tanks, a producer should know the production goals that match and support their business plan,” said Sukys. “From there, we can determine the size and quantity of necessary equipment, develop a plan for future growth and plan for the type and size of the facility that will support this plan. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, when a craft producer finds their perfect location, say, a great space for a taproom, we work backward using the available space. A quality manufacturer helps clients determine the optimal equipment size for their production space and provides the production capabilities of that recommended equipment.”
“The first step is knowing the process or function required of the tank in question,” said Sukys. “A quality manufacturer should ask questions to be sure they design and offer a proper vessel for your needs. For example, is it a process tank, and if so, what will the process involve? What type of products will you be mixing, adding, heating or cooling, and to what extremes? The more details you provide to a manufacturer, the more value you get from your tank purchase.”
Sukys said that knowing the size of batches is critical as well. Too small of a tank limits production. Conversely, going too big with a goal of doing double or triple batches or more can raise issues when wanting to do only a single batch. Most tanks are not designed to heat or cool less than maximum volume production batches efficiently. Smaller batches may not hold temperatures correctly or cause stratification. A manufacturer that understands these limitations can be beneficial in presenting options that work for the producer’s needs.
“Stainless steel has become the standard choice of construction,” said Sukys. “Stainless steel tanks can withstand decades of use when properly maintained. The range of temperatures in stainless steel tanks is much greater than other material choices, allowing a craft producer to use them for a wider range of processes. Welded ports replace screw-on fittings, which may need more maintenance. Additionally, stainless steel offers superior sanitation capabilities and can withstand aggressive cleaning with different chemicals. Quality manufacturers provide maintenance schedules for any equipment they provide.”
Sukys told Beverage Master Magazine that any other accessories and equipment needed, like boilers and chillers, will depend on what the beverage producer plans to offer. Budgets must also include more minor things that add up, like hoses, gaskets, extra clamps, and fittings. He recommends using a manufacturer that helps with recommendations on what is necessary for startup and what additional equipment is good to have on hand. It’s common for equipment manufacturers to have accessories available to the beverage producer.
“The most important aspect of all of this is to choose a quality manufacturer that keeps current on the evolvement of the beverage industry and has the capability and expertise to design equipment that allows you to produce better beverages consistently,” said Sukys. “A strong warranty and service department is critical for peace of mind and knowing that you have a partner to have your back if unforeseen things happen. And remember that as your business and production goals grow, so do your equipment needs. The industry is constantly evolving, and better design of tanks and auxiliary equipment can help save energy, raw materials and production time. Finally, American-made equipment always has a higher resale value than Asian imports. That can be important when it comes time to resell your smaller tanks to replace them with larger capacity models.”
For questions, consultations, and more information on Quality Tank Solutions, visit www.qts4u.com.
Flexibility, Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness: Paul Mueller Company
Since 1940, the Paul Mueller Company has provided experienced help and demonstrated expertise in the processing equipment industry. Their reputation as being not only a quality manufacturer of brewing-related vessels and equipment but also a true partner of craft beverage producers is demonstrated through their equipment and industry knowledge and their respectfulness of client schedules and available workspaces to provide seamless transitions and minimal disruptions or interruptions, whether you’re purchasing new systems or replacing outdated or undersized equipment.
“The first thing we should look at, as far as necessary equipment and proper sizing, is the planned production, and then work back from there,” said Jon Sprenger, regional sales manager for the Paul Mueller Company. “We find the best way to do this is to consider what your business will look like and what production levels you expect to attain in five years. That number is critical because bottlenecks in brewing and production are generally about available cellar space rather than brewhouse issues. You can brew beer around the clock, but you’re at a dead end if you don’t have the cellar space.”
Sprenger also said that equipment like tanks could depend on the heat source chosen for the production space. Steam and direct fire are the two most popular, with steam being the easiest way to brew. The boiler can be pricey upfront. Conversely, with direct fire, you’ll be paying regular monthly payments for natural gas on a utility payment plan. It depends on available capital and the owner’s perspective from a cost standpoint.
Along with this, Sprenger adds that an owner has to consider if they want to distribute their products or remain true to being a craft taproom. How do you want to handle your packaging? A quality equipment manufacturer will use this information to develop a successful equipment plan that incorporates the entire business model, not just presently but also with an eye toward the future.
“And we can achieve that in different ways,” said Sprenger. “Consuming beer is like eating food. You do it first with your eyes. So many times, older, trendier and historic spaces have become desired locations for breweries and taprooms. That’s okay, and we can fill an already acquired space, or we can look at a producer’s projections and recommend comfortable square footage estimates to fulfill those goals. Either way of building a system is acceptable and falls under the umbrella of what we can do. Most manufacturers, including us, offer layout services and work with the available contractors and architects to develop a successful system. Stainless steel is advantageous simply because of its longevity. It’s built to last with simple and easy maintenance and cleaning capability. When compared to oak, which is difficult in this day and age to brew beer in, it becomes an easy and economically sound decision to go with stainless products just based on ease of cleaning and maintenance, lifespan and consistency in product endpoint and taste.”
Sprenger tells Beverage Master Magazine that Mueller offers everything for a complete brewing system that falls in between the raw ingredients and the end glass.
“We understand that it’s a lot easier and less time-consuming for beverage producers to deal with as few vendors as possible, so we offer all the necessary related equipment and accessories that they’ll need to complete their brewing system. That being said, we also easily adapt or integrate our products into any existing equipment that a craft producer already has in place. All of our equipment is customizable and will comfortably fit where it is supposed to go using as little movement as possible. Our equipment and installation successes are great marketing tools as well. Like consumers, we love to see our tanks on display in taprooms because they are also on display to other industry professionals that visit, including other brewers.”
Saving Money, Increasing Efficiency With Mueller’s Serving Beer Tank
“One thing we’re excited about, and brewers should be too, is our serving beer tanks,” said Sprenger. “They’re a great alternative to kegs, and they don’t require the cleaning or CO2 that kegs demand. Beer goes into a mylar or polymer, food-grade bag inside a pressurized tank using only compressed air. The serving beer tanks don’t require cleaning because the replaceable bag protects the stainless steel from ever contacting the enclosed product. The use of compressed air negates the use of CO2, and we all know about the cost and shortage issues there. They come in various sizes and are perfect for taprooms. The tanks are completely mobile, easily transported outside for parking lot events, off-site festivals or stacked above your bar or in cold rooms for an awesome visual experience. The uses and locations are endless, and our serving beer tanks provide ultimate flexibility, space savings and costs incurred with keg ownership. In addition, the serving beer tanks offer a self-cooling, streamlined process of serving beer directly from the tank that promotes longer shelf life and fresher beer. We do recognize the need for kegs for distribution and other uses, but our serving beer tanks give brewers a cost savings option to replace kegs where available.”
Mueller’s serving beer tanks show well in a copper or stainless finish, are ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) code-rated and can easily push beer several hundred feet with no issues and serve multiple draft towers at once.
For those looking for a complete system, Mueller offers their Beer Genius brewery system, a space-saving craft brewery package customized for your space and featuring their serving beer tanks, making everything from buy to brew easy and efficient with expert help and advice along the way.
“We work with brewers through these types of things daily,” said Sprenger. “It’s critical to think through expected future growth. If you think you’ll need a size five tank, get a seven. The small extra cost will surely be less than the headache accompanied by a misjudgment in equipment sizing. Always consider your cellar tank needs, including brite and fermenter tanks, to accomplish your desired production goals. It’s always worth the effort.”
For questions, a consultation or more information on Paul Mueller or their serving beer tanks, go to www.paulmueller.com.
In the Market for Quality Parts and Accessories
Many top tank and equipment manufacturers rely on parts and accessories from Gould Stainless Products. Gould Stainless Products sells everything you need except the tank and is a leading wholesale importer and distributor of stainless-steel sanitary tank accessories. Since 1991, Gould Stainless Products has filled the need for sanitary fittings, valves, pumps, tank manways and related accessories for the brewing, distilling and winemaking industries.
Their extensive catalog is available online and by mail order. You can order a single, threaded joint, sight glass or replacement fitting up through stainless tubing lengths and replacement manways in various shapes, sizes and closure choices compatible with your existing system equipment.
For more information and to view the extensive line of products that Gould Stainless Products offers, go to www.gouldstainless.com/home