Minnetonka Brewing & Distilling Equipment Company: Now, From Start to Finish

Founded just as the craft brewing boom began, Minnetonka Brewing & Distilling Equipment Company’s initial concept was to provide affordable, high-quality brewing equipment and accessories to the fast growing industry. Early on, industry veteran and founding partner, Dan Kahn, mentioned craft distilling would be the next craze, so we went in search of high-quality distilling solutions to add to our impressive line of brewing equipment.

Minnetonka is excited to be associated with the fine folks at Squarrel Barrel. Enhancing and building upon the 2,000-year-old process of barrel aging, they have designed and developed, and are bringing to market, a new era of wood aging solutions.

We’re a thrifty bunch at Squarrel, so we’re always looking for ways to conserve resources, as well as save money and time. With the new “Squarrel,” you can do all three. Consisting of a reusable stainless-steel frame and replaceable oak staves, the Squarrel takes the barrel to an entirely new level.

Cooper and inventor, blacksmith and coffin maker, Russ Karasch exudes sawdust when he’s not blacksmithing and has more ideas in his head than hairs in his beard. Karasch, of Squarrel Square Barrels in Park Rapids, Minnesota, hit upon the notion a few years ago when he had trouble buying enough mature white oak long boards to make traditional barrels. There was, however, an ample supply of short woods, a by-product of the barrel industry that was the same quality as the longer boards. Typically the shorter wood is ground up and used for mulch or other purposes.

Stave mills would much rather sell by the board foot than by the ton,” Karasch said, “and there’s a plentiful supply of short woods for many years to come.”

Good for the environment? Yes. But it gets even better.

In 2002, Karasch discovered that using cross cut wood staves exposed the end grain, enabling the alcohol to penetrate the wood eight times faster. Three independent academic studies done concurrently across the globe on flavor extraction of oak in beverages concurred with Karasch’s calculations. The studies found that in traditional wood barrels, flavor extraction comes from only 30% of the wood. Karasch found not only a solution for taking advantage of the abundant supply of short wood but an expedient one that would still provide excellent flavor quality. Russ’s creative genius kicked into overdrive as he found a way to fit a square barrel in a round hole.

The square shape of this new barrel innovation provides many benefits. It allows for easy insertion and removal of oak staves. Because they are designed to nest one on top of the other, the square-shaped staves lend themselves well to storage. The Squarrel can be stacked on standard pallets and requires no special racking. Squarrels are available at capacities of 10, 30, and 60 gallons.

The stainless-steel frame provides more than a few solutions. On top of reusability, the frame can also be sanitized between each batch so that brewers need not fret about losing beer to contaminated traditional barrels. The Squarrel also doubles as a keg so brewers can ferment, carbonate and serve all in the same spot. With no need to spend time moving beer around into various vessels, brewers can spend their time moving it to customers!

There’s no minimum purchase necessary, making the Squarrel available to the amateur as well as the professional. With a multi-year warranty, staves are bundled and shipped in small rectangular packages of 12 or more – another cost savings for the producer. Finally, staves can be mixed and matched with various wood types, toast levels, and char levels, per the clients’ desired flavor profiles.

While their first customers anxiously await the new product to arrive, Karasch and his team are working on a solution to help brewers and distillers safely and efficiently package their used staves to be sent back to the company for repurposing. Squarrel anticipates the usage of the staves within the industry to be long and varied, making this an environmentally-friendly product as well.

While we’ve done some major creating to get the product to this stage, we know it’s only the beginning, as this will open up whole new worlds of possibilities for our customers to innovate. It’s going to be a wild ride! For more information, visit squarrelbarrels.com.

Given our lines of high quality, affordable, brewing and distilling systems, parts, and accessories – as well as the addition of Squarrel Barrel, our goal is to continue to bring innovative solutions and ideas to the latest new growth industry, Brewstilling. We look forward to working with our customers, current and new, as their State and Local laws evolve and come to age, in support of this ever expanding brewstilling market.

Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company values the strong relationships we have with our equipment suppliers. Please visit our website (www.mtka-bec.com) for more information on each of these world class companies.

Our exclusive relationship with Yuanhang, allows us to provide our clients with high end, custom tailored solutions, designed and engineered to meet and exceed their requirements and expectations. We offer 3D files to our customers so that they can see every aspect of their brewhouse design, inside and out.

Working through DYE/Dayeoo Tech, we are proud to offer our exclusive Distilling Solutions, including our MinneMod Stills (200L and 500L, Electric or Steam). We aligned ourselves with Dayeoo Tech, as a highly respected distilling equipment design and manufacturing company.

Minnetonka Brewing and Equipment Company works closely with our clients to provide the most economical, standard, ODM or custom tailored brewing and distilling solutions, to fit their present and future needs. Whether the project is a high volume production system, an elegant brewpub or cocktail room showpiece, or a sophisticated pilot or test system, MBEC can design, install, and support your business from the ground up. We also offer consulting and training services from business plan development, facility and equipment layout, government application support, system training, recipe formulation/migration, to hiring and staffing. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.

From Stills and Tanks to Totes, brew houses to brew hoses, pumps to parts, and barrels to Squarrels, Minnetonka wants to be your first choice for system design, implementation, training, and expansion.

For additional information, please visit our website www.mtka-bec.com. While in Minnesota, we invite you to visit our ever evolving showroom and beta/test center.