Barrels & Racking:

Modern Systems, Historic Preservation and Refurbished Options Producing Optimal Results

By: Cheryl Gray

In 1879, distiller Frederick Stitzel patented a revolutionary method that put a new spin on how barrels for spirits and other crafted drinks are stored.

  Some 150 years later, the practice of racking barrels, also known as ricking, is an industry-standard. Placing barrels on their sides, rather than upright, and supporting them underneath with either timber or metal, increases air circulation and space.  Racking keeps pressure off barrel staves, a problem that Stitzel and other early distillers learned could result in losing a barrel’s precious contents through leakage.

Space to Breathe

  Western Square Industries, headquartered in Stockton, California, has been in business for 43 years and is among the global leaders in its field. The company originally catered to the agriculture and livestock industries, specializing in two main products, steel gates and corrals. Western Square Industries now manufactures a broad range of barrel racking systems for distillers, breweries, wineries, meaderies and cideries. It serves clients across the United States, with a significant client base in California, Texas and the Eastern U.S.  

  President and CEO Trygve Mikkelsen took over the company in 1993 and quickly recognized its potential in manufacturing barrel racks. Mikkelsen told Beverage Master Magazine about one of the company’s most popular barrel systems for distillers expanding their operations.

  “The Barrel Master is our most popular model for distilleries in growth since the user can mix and match sizes of barrels in a safe forklift-able stacking system. The Barrel Master can also be bought with the barrels sitting on wheels for easy rotation if desired. This is possible because there is no weight on each barrel.”

  The Barrel Master 30/53 allows barrels ranging in size from 30 to 53 gallons to be stored on the same rack. The rack-on-rack design allows barrels to be more visible and accessible. There is also the opportunity to stack barrels higher without compromising stability. An optional wheel design provides 180-degree barrel rotation in either direction. Unlike other systems, which are more like pallets between barrels and require a uniform barrel shape and size, Mikkelson said Barrel Master’s rack-on-rack function eliminates any barrel putting pressure on another below. The rack also features a storage-saving design in that it can be nested into a stack when empty.  The racking system is manufactured from stainless steel and is available in several color and coating options.

  Mikkelsen said breweries and distilleries also use his company’s seven-inch two-barrel racks and another product known as Big Foot. Sometimes, Mikkelsen said, full access is less important than space.  In that case, clients choose the company’s low-profile rack, known as two-barrel four-inch racks.

Tradition and Preservation

  While newly established distilleries may look to modern-day solutions for ricking, the name Brown-Forman evokes a history like no other, including that it is the only distillery company in the world to make its own barrels, which are stored in a range of distilleries, some with warehouses and barrel ricking systems dating back to the late 1800s.

  When a young Jack Daniel first learned the art of making whiskey under the tutelage of a soon-to-be ex-slave-turned-master-distiller, Nathan Nearest Green, neither could have imagined that the whiskey created would become synonymous with the tradition and preservation of some of the most historic distilleries in the world. Brown-Forman is the keeper of that tradition, in the form of four distilleries, three in Kentucky and, of course, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Tennessee. 

  With some 130 years of warehouses spread across four distilleries, the barrel ricking found in any given Brown-Forman warehouse depends upon many variables. Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve Master Distiller for Brown-Forman, explained that while a modern distillery can install all one type of ricking, the historical distilleries of Brown-Forman have operated on a different premise.

  “The date of construction for the numerous warehouses at our distilleries ranges from 1890 through 2020.  Needless to say, this means we have many types of barrel rick material, from wood to metal. Within those two groups, we find different types of wood and metal in use over the years. That depends on the era an individual warehouse was constructed and who built it. We also have some palletized storage as well as floor dunnage. The Woodford Reserve Distillery, for example, has warehouses with wooden ricks and others with heavy iron rails. Woodford also has some palletized space and floor dunnage. 

  “While our ricks are made of various materials, they are all using the same design that was patented in 1879: the ‘open rick’ design. Now, this again will vary in length and height, based on the size of the warehouse. Some wide houses will have a rick that holds 31 barrels, while others may only hold 11 due to the narrow width of the house. Most of our warehouses have ricks that are ‘three high’ or have three tiers of ricks.  However, we do have one house that has ‘six high’ ricks. Still, the design doesn’t change.  When our cooperage makes a barrel for a distillery, like a Woodford Reserve specific barrel, it doesn’t know which warehouse it is going to be entered into, so that barrel has to fit in every warehouse’s ricks.”

  When it comes to proper storage, Morris said, some things never change. “The proper storage for a barrel in the rick is simple. Rick it with the bung in the 12 o’clock position to minimize leakage. If a barrel already has a leak, rick it with the leak point at 12 o’clock. Otherwise, it is the condition of the warehouse that is important, rather than how the barrel sits in the rick.  We want clean, dry conditions in the warehouse.”

  Morris also said that there is no need to rotate barrels if there is good inventory control, along with batching barrels together to make a consistent flavor profile. A barrel matures based upon warehouse temperatures and the length of time the barrel spends in the warehouse, not by how it sits.

  “There has been a tremendous amount of study conducted on the impact temperature has on the maturation process,” he said. “Brown-Forman has research papers that date back to the 1920’s – we operated during Prohibition under medicinal permit KY—3. Based on these many studies, we never allow our Kentucky warehouses to drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. This requires that each of our warehouses be constructed with thick masonry walls so they can be heated as necessary. They will get as hot as they will in the summer because they can’t be cooled. Jack Daniels has ‘iron clad’ warehouses, so they can’t be heated and will, therefore, get cold in the winter. So, Brown-Forman matures its whiskies across a variety of maturation styles.”

Reusing Resources

  Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, is home to The Barrel Broker, co-owned by John and Kathleen Gill, who started the business 11 years ago in California. The company sources and supplies used barrels and racks for breweries, wineries and distilleries. While its clients are primarily in the Midwest, The Barrel Broker also has business overseas.  The company’s customer base prefers barrels freshly emptied and slightly wet. A lot of that barrel stock comes from bourbon distilleries which, by law, can only use a barrel once for bourbon.

  Accordingly, The Barrel Broker has some insight to share on how to store barrels and what its customers prefer when selecting used racks. John Gill, who has a background in the wine tourism industry and heads quality control for the company, said that for his clients, choosing a racking system really comes down to need, preference and budget.

  “Racks are designed to safely store barrels two wide and up to five stacks high while being able to be moved with a pallet jack or forklift. The seven-inch racks allow ample space to access the bungs while stacked for pulling samples or topping off.  We suggest used, refurbished or new two-barrel racks in three-to-seven-inch sizes.  We sell them all for barrels, 15 to 60 gallons.” 

  Gill agrees with other experts, such as Morris, who say that barrels don’t need to be rotated. He told Beverage Master Magazine that he also believes that keeping the proper temperature in a warehouse is key to a successful product outcome from any barrel.

  “Ideal for breweries is high humidity, 60% to 70%, and cool temperatures to minimize evaporation loss. Ideal for distilleries is a continuous change of temperatures and humidity to achieve complex flavors and complexity in barrel-aged spirits.”

  Price and preference dictate what racking systems a brewery or distillery may choose. However, experts agree that controlling warehouse temperature, avoiding undue pressure on barrels, and keeping tabs on inventory control produce the best results.  Whether wood or metal, racking is a matter of knowing what will stack up as the best outcome for the product inside a barrel.

Tank Supplies for Modern Distilleries

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

In a distillery setting, tanks are used for various purposes, including blending, fermenting, storing, distilling and filtering. But in addition to the actual tanks, several tank-related products and accessories help distillers do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

  When choosing tank wraps, insulation, meters and stands, it is essential to consider these products’ functionality, cost, maintenance and ease of cleaning and sanitation. Meanwhile, there are unique tank-related considerations for distilleries that other types of beverage producers may not need to address. Fortunately, many specialized suppliers serve the distillery market to meet these needs and solve common issues that arise while making craft spirits. 

Essential Distillery Tank Supplies

  Craft spirit distilleries use tank wraps to provide fluid temperature control and help fluids circulate properly inside the tanks. Wraps, such as glycol-styles on the sides and bottoms of tanks, also reduce condensation and moisture loss.

  Similarly, tank insulation ensures that temperatures stay as hot or as cold as necessary. Insulation on tanks prevents freezing pipes, corrosion and mold while also controlling humidity levels and saving energy. For example, Syneffex insulation is a popular option among distilleries to reduce energy usage and emissions for more environmentally sustainable operations. Distilleries can find storage and fermentation tanks that have optional heating and cooling jackets to maintain optimal temperatures.

  Distillers use tank meters to gauge pressure levels in their tanks and monitor the liquids’ temperature inside them. Meters also help distillers monitor the flow to minimize product loss over time. Pressure-relieving and venting devices are optional features on some distillery tanks. Also, tank stands are important in the distillery to hold and secure tanks in a safe way. Frames built for this purpose come in various sizes to fit different levels of production.

  Distilleries also use CIP spray balls, hydrators, valves and racking arms. Cooling coils, air compressors, aging barrels, clamps and condensers are other accessories that craft distilleries may need to replace or upgrade over time.

Choosing the Right Tank Supplies

  Distillers should choose tank wraps that are flexible and easy to put on and adjust as necessary. Tank insulation should have a good track record for energy efficiency so the distillery can save money in the long run. It’s in a distillery’s best interest to work with a supplier that can build storage tanks with as much insulation needed for the operation.

  One good option for insulating beverage tanks is the Flextank FlexChill system in a temperature-controlled room. FlexChill is an exterior wrap chilling system with glycol chillers. Useful for cylindrical tanks in sizes from 50- to 300-gallons, this system is designed for maximum insulation performance. With distribution outlets in Washington, Australia, South Africa, Chile and France, Flextank products are used to produce wine, mead, cider and specialty spirits. For heating and cooling, distilleries can also find dimple jackets, open jackets, half-pipe coils and internal pipe coils from Stainless Fabrication, Inc., in Springfield, Missouri.

  Distillers should look for meters with hygienic process fittings to maintain clean and sanitized tanks that don’t compromise the quality of the product. The measurement range and temperature compensation capabilities are features to look for when choosing a new meter. Some companies that supply these meters will offer information security standards and even loaner units while servicing an existing product.

  Bellevue, Washington-based ATAGO U.S.A., Inc. manufactures refractometers, viscometers, polarimeters, pH meters, saccharimeters, and others. The company’s In-Line Refractometer PRM series is commonly used for craft beverage tank monitoring and equipped with an alarm that signals when valves exceed high and low limit values.

  For tank stands, distillers should consider portable products in case there’s a need to move them due to space confines or a potential future expansion. YoLong Distillery Equipment offers support frames that provide standard column support and can be customized to provide additional functions.

  It is in a distillery’s best interest to choose reliable suppliers that can provide ongoing support and replacement parts, no matter the equipment.

Maintenance & Cleaning Considerations

  Keeping equipment clean is critical in preserving the product’s integrity, keeping customers safe and staying in business. The basics needed for tank cleaning include a pump, clean water, heat, citric acid, dilute sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide solution, ethyl alcohol and safety gear. Check tank supplies for any oil, grime, dirt or dust collected during the distilling process or in storage. It is common for residue to accumulate around a tank meter’s surface and make it difficult to read, for example. While cleaning distillery tanks, rubber gloves and safety glasses should be on-hand for protection, and workers should dress in long sleeves, pants, and boots.

Why Distillery Tank Supplies are Unique

  Beyond craft distilleries, several industries use tanks, such as manufacturers of chemicals, oil and plastics. However, distillers have unique considerations when choosing tank supplies.

  Distillery tank supplies must be food-grade equipment since they are involved in making consumable products. Tanks and supplies must also withstand hot and cold temperatures and perhaps serve multiple purposes in the distillery. Since tanks are large and many distilleries operate in small spaces, multi-functional tanks are a significant asset to maximize square footage. Therefore, it may be necessary to update tank supplies when using an existing tank for a new purpose.

Tank Supply Companies

  In addition to the companies already mentioned throughout this article, other reputable suppliers specialize in the craft spirits market and offer high-quality supplies and accessories for tanks.

•   Affordable Distillery Equipment, LLC has a wide range of accessories for distillery purposes, including hydrometers, thermometers, cooling coils, air compressors and ingredient kits. Whether your distillery equipment budget is $5,000 or $500,000, their website, Distillery-Equipment.com, offers used equipment for sale in addition to its brand-new water and spirit storage tanks, fittings, tubing, thermometers and pumps.

http://shop.distillery-equipment.com

•   Global Stainless Systems, based in Portland, Oregon company supplies distilleries with various types of equipment in addition to tanks, including glycol chillers, valves, fittings and hoses.

http://www.globalstainlesssystems.com

•   Mile Hi Distilling based in Wheatridge, Colorado,  offers distilling supplies specific for fermentation, including several meter options.

https://milehidistilling.com

  Of course, these are just a few of the many U.S. companies serving distilleries’ needs, but it provides a starting point for sourcing tank accessories. Distillers should choose a supplier that regularly works with distillery tanks rather than general tanks for other industries and provides a warranty on the products they sell. While these distillery supplies may seem fairly straightforward on the surface, having ongoing support is a huge help if something goes wrong or during any future expansions.

Up Your Consistency and Repeatability Game With Quality Testers and Meters

By: Gerald Dlubala

Testers, meters, monitors and probes make it possible for craft alcohol producers to raise their standards and improve their craft. The overall move from older, unreliable, visual-based testing to greater process control with more accurate and precise analysis means repeatable sample measurements and more product consistency for reporting purposes.

Quality Control and Analysis at Your Fingertips

  “Measurement and meter use within the distillery are critical for quality analysis and quality control,” said David Zavich, Applications and Technical Support Manager for Mettler Toledo. Mettler Toledo is a leading provider of precision instruments and research and development-related services, quality control and production across numerous industries.

  “At the very least, the distiller should possess a quality pH meter and density meter for help in making informed decisions throughout the production process, and know if and when to intervene and make any needed adjustments. The best way for a distiller to know when the mash is within the acceptable pH range – 5.2-5.8, 5.4 being optimal – for the enzymatic activity to convert starches to sugars is with a quality pH meter. It also helps monitor the critical fermentation activity of a distiller’s beer, when pH should decrease to 4.0-4.5 as yeast metabolize ammonium ions and excrete organic acids. A pH remaining above 5.0 indicates a lack of activity, and pH below 4.0 may indicate the presence of undesirable bacterial contamination.

  “Benchtop density meters are invaluable for determining the proof and quantity of distilled spirits for TTB reporting purposes,” said Zavich. “Handheld versions can determine mash extract efficiency before fermentation, measure distiller’s beer to ensure fermentation is complete, calculate alcohol by volume, and measure proof during the distilling process that aids in making cuts.

  “To measure density, the distiller has three available options,” said Luke Soposki, marketing specialist for Mettler Toledo’s Analytical Chemistry division. “They can use a hydrometer, which is inexpensive and offers several industry measurement scales, but they are fragile, dependent on the user for results and have longer measurement cycles. Pycnometers are also inexpensive and can achieve a level of accuracy, but they require a higher level of training and have limited measurement scales available. The best choice is a digital density meter. They are more expensive but easier to use, more consistent and reliable, and have a shorter measurement cycle. They cover a wide density range, have automatic temperature compensation, and are available in a variety of models to meet the specific needs of the distiller.”

  “Density meters are quite durable,” said Zavich. “Benchtop units are quite self-sufficient with a suggested yearly preventative maintenance. They have an expected lifespan of around 10 years, but we’ve seen operational units well beyond that mark. Handheld units have no specified terms of use but are equally self-sufficient and expected to last many years under normal use.”

  “The main thing is to ask questions before purchasing,” said Soposki. “Mettler Toledo offers a full suite of testing solutions that include density meters, refractometers, titrators, spectrophotometers and pH meters. We can also talk about automation and multi-parameter options when needed. Distillers’ needs are always evolving, and we know that they are still looking for an easier way to release product after testing, specifically with TTB approved handheld density meters. Ask specific questions about the instruments related to your process applications. Ask for a demo, either onsite, virtually, or even in a try-and-buy program when available. Look for manufacturers that can support you across your business needs and offer service and support beyond just the equipment purchase.”

All in for Peace of Mind

  Or, you could go all in and buy the Rudolph Research Densitometer, the same machine that the TTB uses to send off samples for auditing. That’s what Greg Pope, Master Distiller of Missouri Ridge Distillery, did when he opened his distillery in Branson, Missouri.

  “It was pricey for sure,” said Pope. “At the time, it was a huge investment, around $6,500, plus another couple of thousand in training costs. It easily outpaced the cost of other densitometers, but it’s the one piece of equipment I thought was worth it based on time value savings, and in our case specifically, the frequency of the breakage factor of common hydrometers. I use it every day for my spirits as well as my beers, so for me, it’s a quality investment.”

  Accuracy and repeatability are always priorities in the distillery, and Pope told Beverage Master Magazine that he’s tried all the gadgets, getting hands-on experience at American Distilling Institute conferences and conventions. With the Rudolph Research Densitometer, he proofs a barrel in 25 to 30 minutes versus the 24 to 36 hours needed using traditional proofing methods.

  “When I got audited, and the agents saw that we have the same equipment that the TTB uses, we were already in favorable standing for trying to do the right thing,” said Pope. “This one piece of equipment holds all of our historical data that is time-stamped, properly labeled as tester batches, bottling runs, etc. and is transferable to a thumb drive for easy auditing. It’s designed for upgrading rather than obsolescence, saving money in the long run. We added the refractometer package when it came available for true and corrective proofs on our line of cordials.”

  Pope said that the training was an intensely monitored, two-day affair, but by the end of those two days, he was comfortable using the equipment for all of his applications and performing all necessary tests independently.

  “The only hiccups I’ve had with this equipment has honestly been because of human error,” said Pope. “Our machine is set to give us a recalibration reminder every Monday at midnight, and we can’t do any further testing until that recalibration is completed. The process is easy, and then we’re good to go for another week. This densitometer also has international settings, and because we export our bourbon to the U.K., we can provide their required test results.”

  Pope said that he also helps other distillers by testing and auditing their samples, providing another way to grow and support the distilling community.

Quality H2O: Good Water Equals Good Beer

  “That’s what brewers will tell you, and it’s certainly a good rule to follow,” said Mike McBride, marketing, IT and social media manager for Industrial Test Systems, a leading American manufacturer of instruments and chemistries designed to test water quality parameters. “It’s just a fact because beer is over 90% water, so it follows that good water makes for good beer.”

  Industrial Test Systems offers their popular eXact iDip Smart Photometer and their eXact pH meter to help brewers stay on top of their water parameters.

  “Visual testing only gives the end user a baseline guide or range versus digital testing that is much more precise and provides exact, repeatable results,” said McBride. “Our meters bring those types of laboratory quality results to you, and that’s important because of the many different tests performed on the water within a craft brewery. One example is testing for water hardness because different beers require different levels. Dark beers require harder water, while lighter beers use softer water. You have to have an accurate, quality test to determine what type of water you’re using.”

Brix and pH Meters: A Brewer’s Best Friend

  “Measuring pH and Brix levels in brewing is essential,” said Jason Brown of Milwaukee Instruments. “Both units are a must because those measurements ultimately determine the type of beer you will brew, how the flavor will turn out, and what percentage of alcohol the brew possesses. To measure alcohol content with a meter like our MA871 digital Brix refractometer, you take an initial Brix reading of the unfermented wort and then a follow-up reading once fermentation is complete. Those values are plugged into a conversion chart to determine the percentage of alcohol in your final product. Taking pH readings on a meter like our MW102 within the brewing process takes place from the beginning of the brewing process to the end, using it for multiple applications and processes.”

  Brown told Beverage Master Magazine that brewmasters typically already have basic knowledge of pH testers and refractometers. Still, even if they are new to the game, Milwaukee Instruments provides user-friendly equipment, with complete YouTube tutorials instructing the user on the operation, maintenance, storage and calibration of the meters. Most units come with a two-year warranty on the base unit and six months on the electrodes. Their bench meters offer data logging that is an advantage over comparable handheld units.

  “It’s recommended that both types of meters be calibrated before each use to maintain accuracy across all samples tested,” said Brown. “Our units can be calibrated by the end-user with no issues.”

Steam & Water Flow Measurement: Going with the Flow

  “Given the need for accuracy, consistency and repeatability, brewers should always choose the highest quality meter they can afford,” said Marc Bennett, regional sales manager for McCrometer, Inc., worldwide providers of precision flow meters for liquid, steam and gas applications. “Flow metering is all about optimizing production to give the brewer consistent and reliable results through understanding the precise temperatures, pressures and flow being used.

  “The best way to measure steam is through equipment like our V-Cone Meter. It helps a brewer understand the precise temperature, flow and measurement of their team processes, allowing them to optimize their consistency,” said Bennett. “We know craft brewers are frequently tight on space, so our V-Cone Meters are designed for tight fit and retrofit applications while handling most operating environments. Some of the largest, most well-known breweries use V-Cone meters for steam measurement, but they are very applicable for smaller brewers as well.”

  McCrometer also offers a line of electromagnetic flowmeters (MAG) for accurate water flow measurement. Their pumps rely on velocity and pipe diameter information to determine flow over wide ranges with high precision accuracy. Their SPI MAG measures everything from in-flow water through wastewater, including industrial flow processes involving potable water, slurries, sludge, cooling water and pulp stock.

  “Whatever the choice, brewers should always choose U.S. manufactured meters,” said Bennett. “U.S. manufactured meters are often more readily available and more quickly shipped than the non-U.S. manufactured counterparts. If you choose a high-quality meter with a long lifespan and U.S.-based support, you’re getting a great return on your investment. The last thing you need or want is to have your brewing process impacted or even halted because of support issues.”

  Bennett told Beverage Master Magazine that McCrometer meters have great attributes, including the aforementioned long lifespan and support. Perhaps one of the best advantages of both their MAG flow meters and the V-Cone DP meters is the advantage of having no maintenance or repair schedules.

  “That’s a big load off of a brewer’s calendar and his mind,” said Bennett. “Our new ProComm converter on the MAG meters is available with built-in verification that uses stored data to check a meter’s operation against its baseline. That’s true peace of mind. Our V-Cone Meters have been around and studied in applications that are a lot more rugged than what the typical brewery would put them through and have shown no shift whatsoever in their calibration coefficient.”

Brewing Social Media Success:

How to Use the ‘Gram to Maximize Your Craft Beverage Brand  

By: Chris Mulvaney, President (CMDS)

What three things do Tito’s, Blue Chair Bay Rum and Trillium Brewing Company have in common?  All three have mastered the ‘gram game and have boosted their brand success by putting out a consistent cross-formula of brand content, brand awareness and maximizing audience engagement across the ever-growing social media platform.

  Whether you are a craft brewer, startup spirit producer or global drinks company, your social media presence should be at the top of your priority list. But how exactly can crafters use Instagram to grow their business?

  Instagram is a visually appealing social media platform. In recent years, it has started to dominate Facebook in that it is not as overcrowded and expensive. The beauty of Instagram is that brands can still establish an organic relationship with their followers and can develop brand personas, becoming known for a certain tone, content and style. They can build their brand immensely just by being an active user. Also, the influencer market has never been so powerful for brand awareness.

Instagram Strategy

  Once you get a grasp of the platform, then you must define your social media strategy to gain the right followers and maximize engagement.

   This should include:

•   Increasing brand awareness.

•   Driving website traffic.

•   Increasing website engagement to generate leads and drive sales.

•   Increasing customer retention, engagement, and followers.

  How can a brand stand out in an increasingly competitive market?

•   Quality products, first and foremost.

•   Great marketing.

  After that, tell your brand story through photos, partnerships, video and human interaction. Think about what separates your product from others in the market. This isn’t something that’s achieved by one post, but over time, and means connecting your product to something much wider than the drink itself.

  For example, Mexican brand, Corona, understands the appeal of their beverage isn’t just the beer itself. A Corona and lime brings to mind vacations, beaches, relaxation and sun.

  They’ve fully embraced this as their brand, tying the image of plunging a fresh lime into a cold Corona to diving headfirst into the waters of a clear blue ocean.

Organic Media vs. Paid Media

  In the past, the goal of most marketers on Instagram tended towards growing a big following, then continuously publishing content that’s relevant to their brand and audience. One important point to realize, however, is that just because you have 1000 followers doesn’t mean every time you post all 1000 of them will see that post.

  In fact, the reality is a much smaller percentage of them will ever see your post and that’s where the term “organic reach” comes in.

Organic

  One of the most important things to understand about social media marketing is that the way companies can succeed on social media will be entirely dependent on whether they can create an organic experience for users.

  Organic reach determines how many of your followers will see your post without you paying.

This concept of organic reach is prevalent on Instagram since the algorithms used to determine who will see your content at any given time are based primarily on engagement.

  Tips to Get More Organic Reach:

•    Feed your audience with more value.

•    Upload at least two posts a day.

•    Make use of all the features (posts, stories, comments, hashtags).

•    Use attention-grabbing headlines.

•    Use paid sites like Sprout Social to understand the industry atmosphere and create an ongoing dialogue with your audience.

Paid Distribution

  Due to changes in organic reach over the years, companies have been forced to rethink their social media strategies, and in many cases begin exploring other avenues to reach their users on social media, specifically through paid distribution.

  Utilizing paid channels has a number of benefits because it can target users based on demographic information, behavior and interests. Because of this, marketers are able to drill down to specific audiences.

Seven Steps to Success

  Gaining followers and engagement isn’t about simply posting once a week and hoping for the best. In fact, a successful strategy on Instagram should include concrete goals, an ongoing content calendar, a scientific approach to who you’re trying to reach and how many people you expect to interact with.

  The following are seven important steps to grow your brand on Instagram.

1.  Be consistent:   It’s important to define a core strategy for your brand. It should be consistent across all channels and the narrative should be easy to follow. You’ll need to balance product content, campaign content and brand content to be most effective.

       How to maximize consistency on the Instagram platform:

•   Post stories often.

•   Like and comment on posts.

•   Run a contest.

•   Post engaging captions.

•   Offer free advice or information.

•   Post during active hours.

•   Use Instagram ads (paid distribution).

•   Have a strong visual brand strategy.

2.  Use clever alcohol hashtags:  Using clever alcohol-related hashtags can help get your brand trending online or inspire a sense of community with your customers.

        Studies have shown the optimal number of hashtags to use in Instagram consistently is seven. However, even more important is to define your hashtags, include them on packaging and don’t change them too often to make sure fans can refer to you easily.

3.  Use Influencers:   The influencer market has never been so powerful. There are hiring sites for influencers that will allow you to enhance your brand and vision through them. It’s a great way to promote engagement because it boosts brand awareness fast and increases your potential to go viral.

4.  Keep the “social” in social media:  A great way to inspire your fans is to use social media to inspire real world engagement. Your brand will get the most out of social media by catering to the interactive experience. It’s important to be part of the conversation around social events which will resonate with your market – both in terms of pre-planned campaigns and via reactive content.

       Just having a social media account is not enough. Successful brewing and spirit brands actively encourage their fans to engage with their accounts. Many have received some serious engagement by re-posting user generated photos.

       Whether you’re sponsoring a national event, or you can be reactive in a more local way, providing up-to-date content and being part of the conversation will help to keep your brand relevant.

5.  Offer a Backstage Pass:  Take your followers behind the scenes. Let your audience peek behind the curtain and see how their favorite drinks are made. Post photos of the start-up days, of the staff living life and having real experiences.

6.  Connect to a Cause:  Just as social media users don’t only care about likes and clicks, drinkers don’t care solely about their alcohol. More and more, consumers care about the ethics behind the products they’re buying. Remember, they are buying a brand.

       For example, New Belgium Brewing Company put meaning behind their message with their #FindingCommonGround campaign, which not only connects their outdoorsy aesthetic brand to a public land cause, but raised over $250,000 for charity.

        It’s worth the investment, on multiple levels, to put some of your efforts into giving back.

7.  Partner with other brands:   A drink is better with friends. Likewise, a brand is better in a partnership.

       Consider doubling up your power for promotions with a complimentary brand. Partnerships are especially good on Instagram for giveaways, allowing you to expand your offer and reach two different audiences.

       Make sure to find a brand aligned with your goals, and of similar size to get maximum value from a partnership.

Don’t Make These Common Instagram Mistakes

  Common mistakes brands can make on Instagram can hurt them exponentially. Here are some important ones to avoid:

•    Sharing more reposts than original content.

•    Taking too long to respond to comments.

•    Favoring quantity over quality.

•    Misusing hashtags.

•    Buying likes and fake followers.

•    Not paying attention to analytics.

Recap

Craft beverage companies have a product that is in demand, but they are working in an increasingly competitive market. Digital marketing allows them to stay ahead of the game through creative branding and audience engagement.

As a recap, here are some main social media tips as discussed above:

•    Get to know how the Instagram platform works.

•    Define your social media strategy.

•    Tell your brand story.

•    Utilize organic search and paid distribution.

•    Be consistent.

•    Use hashtags.

•    Use influencers.

•    Inspire real world engagement.

•    Take your followers behind the scenes.

•    Connect to a cause.

•    Partner with other brands.

•    Keep it going; don’t stop!

The Last Gulp

  If craft beverage companies hope to engage consumers and boost their sales in this competitive market, they have to adopt a social media strategy that ensures success. While there is no cookie-cutter formula to success on Instagram, there is a pattern that works across the platform if utilized properly.

  The realness is in the engagement and knowing how to maximize your followers and their engagement. So keep thinking: just how can you brew up a social media campaign as unique as your beverage?

Chris Mulvaney is a business developer, entrepreneur, and an award-winning creative marketing strategist. His extensive professional background includes working with some of the world’s leading brands – and personally helping clients refine their corporate vision and generate the kind of eye-popping results that too many companies only dream about. Visit… cmdsonline.com

Tanks & Tank Cleaning Equipment

Global Companies and Smaller Firms Handle the Universal Needs of Craft Brewers

By: Cheryl Gray

All craft beer must include two key ingredients that no brewery can do without – the perfect tank and the pristine cleaning of it. 

Companies making tanks and tank cleaning equipment know that cutting corners on these important steps can not only ruin a batch of beer but could also ruin a brewery’s relationship with its customers.  

  Helping breweries stay on top of sanitizing tanks and related equipment is the specialty of Butterworth, Inc., a global industry leader with representatives and supply depots in more than 25 countries, including beverage installations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil, Belgium, Venezuela, Japan and China. 

  When Arthur Butterworth founded the Houston, Texas-based firm in 1925, company archives record how he invented and patented the process for tank cleaning and received a patent for the first automated tank cleaning machine. Started initially to address the needs of ocean vessels requiring improved safety measures to tackle the dangerous job of manually cleaning cargo tanks, breweries are among its 21st-century food and beverage industry customers.  

  Mark E. Murphy is Global Industrial Sales Manager for Butterworth, with a degree in Petroleum Engineering and more than 34 years of industry experience. Murphy provided an overview of Butterworth products for Beverage Master Magazine as well as innovations that the company has introduced to the market.

  “Stream impingement technology, a method by which a contiguous stream is delivered to the wall of the vessel being cleaned, such that upon contact, it shears to clean a larger area than just the stream. Our LTFT product in a 10 mm nozzle configuration is by far our best seller. We offer static spray balls, dynamic reaction drive rotating nozzles and our premium line of high-impact auto-indexing tank cleaning machines. We also build custom CIP solutions to our customer’s specifications.”

  A single Butterworth machine, Murphy said, can clean up to a 230-foot diameter tank. After point-of-sale, Butterworth provides custom on-site maintenance training, technical support by telephone, email or video, as well as start-up assistance and factory repair.  Butterworth products, Murphy said, are virtually maintenance-free.

  “Typically, little maintenance is required, given proper upfront preventative maintenance, such as filters and soft start systems on the CIP pumps. The high impact line will have seals that need to be replaced at 300 to 500 hours – about one and a half to two years for the average brewery,” he said. “The aforementioned filtration and soft start on the CIP pumps ensure longevity and productivity. As far as cleaning and sanitizing, our designs are self-draining, so as CIP chemicals are run through the devices, they are cleaned and sanitized. Our spray nozzles and CIP equipment are made of 316 stainless steel or higher metallurgy. “

  Breweries, large and small, have to make important decisions about what equipment they choose to keep their tanks and related equipment clean. Murphy told Beverage Master Magazine that Butterworth offers many options, including those that accommodate a brewery’s growth.

  “Smaller craft breweries will typically use static spray balls. As your equipment becomes larger, you start moving up the food chain of function. At 50 to 100 barrels, you start looking at more dynamic reaction drive rotating nozzles. Above 100 barrels, the high impact auto-indexing machines start to outperform everything else.”

  Ecolab is another global frontrunner with nearly a century of industry experience. Its focus is on maintaining clean and safe environments while, at the same time, optimizing water and energy use. The Minnesota-based conglomerate boasts nearly three million customer locations in more than 170 countries. That business portfolio includes craft brewery clients benefitting from an integrated brewery cleaning and sanitation project called the Ecolab Craft Brewery Program.  The program guides brewers on best practices for achieving product quality, flavor, operational efficiency, budget management, team building and safety.

  CraftMaster Stainless, based in California with clients in the U.S. and Canada, produces tanks using the material that its name implies. Owner and operator David Silva said that his company has invested a decade into providing a variety of stainless steel tanks, not just for breweries but also for winery and distilling operations. Silva told Beverage Master Magazine that CraftMaster Stainless has a roster of products to accommodate multiple equipment needs for breweries of all sizes.

  “We offer all sorts of equipment, from complete brewhouses, uni-tanks, brite tanks, lagering tanks, serving tanks, mixing tanks, mash tuns, cold and hot water, to keg washers, yeast brinks, brew hoses, down to just some basic hardware. If you need a custom tank designed, that’s no problem. We have our engineers design to your specifications to fit our customer needs.”

  Whether it is a first-time client or a returning one, Silva said that his company prides itself on a personalized customer experience from point-of-sale and beyond.

  “We also love to educate our customers when they call in to ensure they are getting the correct size, correct equipment, and just steer them in the right direction. There is nothing better than talking and educating our customers!”

  CraftMaster Stainless offers its customers a 10-year warranty and lifetime customer service on its tanks, made of 304 stainless steel. Silva said that it is good to periodically passivate all stainless-steel equipment with an acid-based solution to establish a uniform passive oxide layer that will maximize corrosion resistance.

  While stainless steel is tough, Silva warns that it is not invulnerable, which is why proper cleaning is a must. He considers heat as the best sanitizer but also recommends commonly used over-the-counter products for general cleaning and heavy-duty sanitizing. The exception is any product with chlorine bleach.

  Silva and other experts agree that using chlorine bleach on stainless steel is a recipe for disaster. Not only is its use potentially dangerous to the health of workers, but chlorine bleach can also damage the invisible chromium oxide layer that protects stainless steel from stains and rust.  If the layer is breached, rust can form on the surface, making way for what the industry calls pitting corrosion. Instead, proper cleaning with the right products can benefit the stainless steel tank and its invisible protection shield, that all-important chromium oxide layer.

  CraftMaster Stainless has created some innovative products for craft brewers. “We have a very unique ½ barrel yeast brink (shown above). We designed it to be user friendly by adding rolling casters, an oversized yeast outlet, large 6-foot manway opening [and] CIP ball for easy cleaning,” Silva said. “[There’s] also a unique stir paddle to agitate your yeast without having to expose the yeast to extra oxygen, or lifting the bring to shake the yeast to keep it activated.”

  A brewery’s size dictates what tanks and tank systems it should use in its operations. Growth has a lot to do with the clients’ equipment choices.  “Most systems in breweries range from three and a half barrels to 30 barrels,” said Silva. “For instance, if you have a five-barrel brewhouse system, you would yield five barrels of beer. As the brewery starts to grow or gain more popularity, the brewery might start looking into doubling the size of [its] tank by going to a 10 barrel. Then, on brew days, the brewer will brew the same recipe twice, usually the more popular recipe, making 10 barrels of product and storing it in the bigger vessel for fermentation, streamlining their process. This is called double-batching. Most breweries will double the size of the tank to the size of their brewhouse.”

  Experts say that brewers need to factor in the initial capital costs and maintenance expenses when selecting tanks and tank cleaning equipment. Additional costs include water and chemical consumption needs. As with any industrial process, safety precautions should be exercised when cleaning and sanitizing tanks and using tank cleaning equipment. One of those precautions includes using standard PPE when using chemicals or when using water at high temperatures. 

  Shared information about tanks and tank cleaning equipment is helpful to craft brewers looking for affirmation on how some products and methods have worked for others.

  Additional resources are available through the Master Brewers Association of America, a nonprofit organization with more than 4,000 members in 25 regions from more than 50 countries. The organization offers many professional development opportunities and technical information, including safety in cleaning and sanitizing tanks.  Here is their website link…https://www.mbaa.com/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.mbaa.com/Pages/default.aspx

All About Hoses, Tubes, Clamps and Connections

By: Alyssa l. Ochs

In the brewing industry, many different small parts play a significant role in producing beer. While hoses, tubes, clamps and connections are often overlooked, it is never a good idea to use worn-down or ill-fitting parts that could compromise the product’s quality. Brewers can benefit from learning about different types of hoses, tubes, clamps and connections to determine whether an upgrade is needed now or in the near future.

Types of Brewery Connection Products

  There are various hose types and sizes that breweries use for different purposes. Commonly used hoses for beer operations include beer transfer hoses, washdown hoses, crush-proof hoses and general-purpose hoses. Hose widths are often between 1 and 4 inches, while hose lengths can be anywhere from 5 to 50 feet.

  Meanwhile, tubes connect pieces of brewhouse equipment and work in conjunction with various piping components. Black pipes carry water into the brewhouse and out into the wastewater system, while stainless-steel pipes are used for many parts of the brewing process. Galvanized pipes coated with zinc are important for corrosion resistance. Copper pipes, ABS plastic pipes and polypropylene-R pipes are all common in breweries. For tubing, thick-walled vinyl tubing is the top choice of many brewers because of its kink-resistance, taste protection and flexibility even while cold.

  One-inch crimped stainless-steel tri-clamp ends are useful in breweries, with typical sizes being a quarter-, three-eighths-, one-half-, five-eighths- and three-quarter-inch. Both plastic and metal clamps are used in breweries with cutter and crimping tools to ensure a good fit. Worm clamps are easy to find in hardware stores and operate with a screw mechanism and metal strap with slots cut into the strap. Easy to use and reusable, snap rings are clamps made with semi-rigid plastic that utilize pressure to tighten. Single- and double-eared clamps are circular and have ears that hold the strap in an open position until closed with pliers and cannot reopen. Meanwhile, stepless clamps apply equal pressure and require a tool to apply and remove, making them non-reusable.

  Connections include basic hose connectors called barb fittings and easy-to-clean sanitary connectors called tri-clamps. Camlocks and stainless sleeve QD connectors allow a brewer to make connections without swapping hoses or removing or installing clamps on hoses.

  James Lutgring, head brewer for Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, Louisiana, told Beverage Master Magazine that his team uses 1.5-inch tubing with 1.5-inch tri-clamp fittings for nearly everything in their brewery.

  “These hoses are used for transferring wort and beer, cleaning, sanitizing and moving water around to where we need it,” Lutgring said. “We also use ½ inch silicon tubing when transferring beer to kegs.”

  Rob Williams, sales manager for Alliance Hose & Rubber Co., said the company’s most popular products are custom length transfer hoses and specialty tri-clamp fittings.

  “We offer several types, each having a unique advantage,” Williams said. “For example, there are hoses that are kink- and crush-resistant for higher traffic areas, while extreme-flex corrugated covers offer higher flexibility and allow the water to pass through the corrugations to prevent water damming.”

  Also popular, he said, is Alliance’s washdown hose. “We offer hoses that have a high standard when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing. Our washdown hoses have the Microban cover, which does not allow bacteria to form on the cover, as well as FDA rated tubes. Finally, there are one-piece tri-clamp crimp elbows to reduce hose trip hazards and end damage to hoses used on manifolds. With the level of safety concerns and cleaning processes being updated daily, providing safe assemblies and best practices to help the brewing community meet or exceed their safety requirements is our goal.”

When to use Different Types of Connections

  Experienced brewers know the best parts and accessories for different purposes, such as brewery suction and discharge applications. Concerning hoses, vinyl hoses are easy to obtain and use, but they can curl easily and accumulate residue inside. Reinforced vinyl hoses are stiffer but aren’t the best at handling high temperatures. For less curling and high-temperature resistance, many prefer silicone hoses. Good qualities in a brewery hose include flexibility, lightweight design, durability, ability to easily bend around brewing equipment, purity so that smells and tastes aren’t affected and a smooth structure that’s easy to clean.

  For tubing, transparent tubes are good choices for seeing what is collecting inside the tube and perhaps even causing contamination. Tubes should withstand high temperatures and have thick walls for high pressure. Beverage-specific tubing is also designed to prevent curling.

  Brewers often use tri-clamp fittings to move unprocessed beer from one place to another, leading to many variations being sold on the market today. Tri-clover, Camlock, Blichmann NPT and Quick Connect are the most commonly used connection types. Tri-clover fittings are sanitary, have a separate silicone seal and a tri-clamp that holds the pieces together. Blichmann NPT connectors require screwing in with each use, so they aren’t as quick to use, but they have a plastic sleeve that allows brewers to connect it without gloves, even when hot, and to connect and disconnect without leaks. Meanwhile, Camlocks are made from stainless steel, have a water-tight seal and are quick to connect and disconnect.

The Importance of Hoses, Tubes, Clamps and Connections

  These small details add up when operating complex brewing machines and trying to make the best beer possible for consumers with minimal hassles for staff. Hoses, tubes, clamps and connections are all important because, when working correctly, they help preserve the intended taste and smell of the beer. The right parts also help staff work in confined spaces without feeling cramped or frustrated. Having working parts will also help maintain overall equipment investment. When these products aren’t checked and maintained regularly, serious leaks in the brewing space or tainted beer that is not safe or desirable to drink could result.

  Williams from Alliance Hose & Rubber Co. said that the use of various hose and fittings is crucial since not all hose and fittings can handle the temperatures, pressures and chemicals present in the brewing process.

  “There are many safety issues concerning the proper attachment methods – i.e., crimping, bands and clamps – used with the brewery hoses as well,” Williams said. “Brewers suffer a great deal of product loss and also personal injury every year due to the misapplication of hoses, tubes and fittings. Some stages of the brewing process can use the same type of hoses, such as the transfer of beer from one vessel to another in either the heating stage or to the kegging process. However, brewers who are also making sours, distilled liquors or seltzers will need to use specific hoses for these processes.”

  For example, Williams said that brewers tend to use a different cover color and fitting when making sour beers.

  “This ensures that the same hose is not used in the regular brewing process and that sour hoses are only used for sour beers,” he said. “When distilling or making seltzers, it is highly recommended that brewers use a higher-proof-capable FDA hose with a wire reinforcement so that the hose can be grounded to the system and not cause a potential fire hazard.”

  Finally, Williams said that proper tubing and fittings should be used when higher concentrations of cleaning chemicals are in the brewing system or when transferring flavorings into the brewing process. Alliance Hose offers phone consultations – as well as on-site visits for breweries in the Elmhurst, Illinois area – to assist in selecting hoses and their safe use.

Choosing the Right Product

  Some of the most common mistakes and oversights that breweries make regarding these products are over-use and not regularly checking on them. Other common errors are settling for the cheapest option and making do with multipurpose parts that don’t best serve specific needs. It’s also vital to remember that brewers will need tools to cut tubing and hoses and crimp clamps. Cutters and pincers are available in different sizes and should factor into a brewery’s overall equipment budget.

  Lutgring from Bayou Teche Brewing said, “The hoses need to be able to withstand temperatures of 220 degrees Fahrenheit, caustics, acids and pressures of up to 200 psi, while also being durable enough to last.”

  “Cost is also a big factor when we are shopping for new hoses,” Lutgring said. “The tri-clamp fittings are just about the same wherever you get them, so it usually comes down to price and convenience. Some of the valves may last longer than others, but you just have to learn that from experience with the vendor.”

  Williams from Alliance Hose & Rubber Co. said breweries should get their S.T.A.M.P.E.D information to the hose and fitting supplier. “S.T.A.M.P.E.D. is an acronym used to get all the correct details of the application so that the safest and most proper hose and tubing system can be provided,” he said.

  Here’s what the acronym stands for to help breweries be as safe as possible while using these products:

S = Size (i.d. and o.d.) and length.

T = Temperature (product transferred & atmosphere).

A = Application (what is the hose being used for).

M = Media (what is being transferred).

P = Pressure.

E = Ends (fitting type).

D = Delivery (how soon the product is needed).

  Regarding safety, another resource is the Master Brewers Association of the Americas’ Safety Toolbox Talk that discusses hose fitting attachment methods in practical terms with helpful visual depictions.

Canning and Bottling Beer:

Choosing a Filling Machine for Your Brewery

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Largely due to pandemic-related brewery closures and limits for on-site consumption, the popularity of to-go packaging is at an all-time high. Cans offer a portable and recyclable way to consume craft beer when draft pours aren’t an option. Meanwhile, bottles remain a classic choice preferred by some brewers and consumers because of their ability to protect against light for optimal flavor and freshness. Also, there’s just something refreshingly classic about sipping a cold brew from a frosty bottle.

  Since to-go package sales aren’t expected to decline anytime soon, it’s a good idea to keep up with the latest filling machine technology in case a new installation or upgrade is necessary.

Types of Bottle Filling Machines

  There are several types of bottling machines used by breweries today with both manual and automatic functions. Modern machines serve multiple purposes within the brewery to save space and offer both continuity and efficiency. For example, specialized machines handle rinsing, filling and capping all within one system.

  Tandem fillers usually fill one to eight bottles of beer at a time and are small machines that use long filling tubes. Rotary fillers are high-speed machines that utilize a rotary system and offer greater capacity. Semi-automatic rinser/filler/corker/cager machines are often used for bottle-conditioned beers. Also, isobaric manual beer bottling machines come in different configurations for rinsing bottles and sorting them.

Popular Can Filling Machines

  From Pneumatic Scale Angelus, a Barry-Wehmiller Packaging Company, Mike Davis, Global Product Line Leader of can filling, and Mark Pirog, Director of Seamer Sales, told Beverage Master Magazine about several can filling machines commonly used by craft breweries. Pneumatic Scale Angelus is one of nine operating companies within the Barry-Wehmiller family, a form/fill/seal technologies and services leader that has served various industries for over 100 years.

  The CB50F is an open-air – known as atmospheric – integrated filler/seamer for production speeds up to 50 cans per minute. 

  Davis and Pirog said that this canning line is ideal for craft brewers entering into packaging cans or who have been mobile canning and are ready to invest in a canning line that offers the autonomy of canning on its own schedule. They also said additional upstream and downstream equipment, such as an accumulating table or palletizer, can be purchased and phased in later as desired

  The company’s CB100F model (shown above) is an open-air integrated filler/seamer canning line for production speeds up to 100 CPM. 

  “This machine is designed for the craft brewer looking to expand production from the entry-level, or who has been mobile canning on a regular basis and wants to see a greater ROI on canning expense,” said Davis and Pirog. “This canning line is best coupled with automated upstream and downstream equipment to accommodate the faster speeds. This line comes standard with a buffer tank to help manage product feed from bright tanks.”

  The newest member of PSA’s portfolio, the CB50C (shown above), is a counter-pressure integrated filler/seamer canning line for production speeds up to 50 CPM. With this model, true counter-pressure filling allows craft beverage producers to run a variety of products ranging from still to highly-carbonated and even including nitrogenated beverages in widget cans.

  “Flexibility of the fill sequence also provides a means to control or mitigate dissolved oxygen for oxidation-sensitive products, like beer,” said Davis and Pirog. “An optional product supply pump is available for maintaining product pressure at filler without compromising limits at the bright tank.”

  All three PSA canning lines incorporate sanitary design standards throughout the product path. Each delivers standard features that include CO2 flood purging before filling, a gassing tunnel, and undercover gassing to reduce oxygen pick up. Davis and Pirog said that flow meters are standard and will withstand clean-in-place temperatures up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. All the machines will accommodate the various standard can sizes, including sleek and slim varieties.

How Bottle Filling Works and Comparing Machines

  The process of filling beer bottles generally works by moving the bottles along a conveyor belt. Part of the process involves keeping the vessel safe with a separating device and situating it on a lifting platform underneath the filling component.

  A brewery employee begins the process by removing the bottles from the pallet, rinsing them and controlling the amount of oxygen that gets into them before filling. The bottles are then automatically filled by the machine. Once filled, they run through a capping machine to seal them. The final step involves applying labels manually or through a labeler before transferring bottles to cartons or crates for sale in the brewery or for transport to a distributor.

  Small to mid-size breweries generally look for bottle filling machines that fill between 700 and 4,000 bottles per hour. For breweries that are mid-size to large, choosing a machine with a 4,000 to 12,000 bottle per hour capacity is recommended.

  There are some important differences between bottle filling machines. Some bottling systems come with “dummy bottles” and spray balls for cleaning. Some machines fill kegs in addition to bottles. Others have canning add-on kits available if the brewery currently serves beer in both bottles and cans or plans to in the future.

  Brewers should choose filling machines made with high-grade stainless steel and that perhaps come on lockable wheels for easy maneuverability if necessary. Other features to look for when comparing models include ease of cleaning, a user-friendly control panel, filling cycle speed, remote operation capabilities and easy changeover from bottles to cans.

Modern Can Filling Technologies and Differences

  Davis and Pirog said there are two basic filling technologies within the craft beverage canning market – open-air and counter pressure – and there are variances among suppliers for each technology. 

  Open-air filling is the primary technology for linear fillers in which product carbonation is not that high, typically less than 2.7 vols. The main differences between open-air fillers lie in how the particular equipment purges the can of oxygen, controls foaming and measures the amount of product dispensed.

  “In beer filling, oxygen content must be minimized, so full and complete purging prior to filling is key,” said Davis and Pirog. “Product foaming or breakout can lead to inaccurate fill volumes and carbonation loss. Open-air fillers usually incorporate some kind of restriction to create a gentle fill but are susceptible to product temperature.” 

  If the product is not cold enough or maintained, breakout can easily occur with open-air filling. To measure the fill, brewers can use level sensing, time-pressure or a flow meter.

  Counter-pressure filling is typically used on rotary-style fillers, but some linear fillers also use this technology. Davis and Pirog said the main difference between these machines’ suppliers is how the product feeds into the pressurized can and the method for measuring the amount dispensed. For example, some counter-pressure fillers use the same product feed process used in open-air filling: either using the bright tank pressure or a buffer tank to push the product up through the filler and into the container. 

  “Counter-pressure filling is typically used for products that are highly carbonated, so gentle filling is just as important as pressurizing the container,” said Davis and Pirog. “PSA incorporates true counter-pressure filling like that used on the highest production beverage packaging lines. The can is pressurized to the equivalent pressure of the filler bowl, and the product is allowed to fill the can by gravity. By doing so, carbonation levels are controlled, and temperature is less of a factor. Similar to open-air filling, fill measurement can be by level, time-pressure or flow meter, and PSA has standardized on flow meter filling.”

  Brewers looking for a new or upgraded canning line should consider how containers will be sealed. Quality seams are critical for package integrity and product freshness in canning, and there are many seaming machines on the market. Bending and folding metal to create a seal may sound simple enough, but repeatedly creating a high-quality hermetic seal is more complex than it seems.

  “Some suppliers use pneumatics or servo actuators to perform the seaming operations,” said Davis and Pirog. “At PSA, our machines are designed for the slower-speed needs of the craft market and use the same mechanical cam technology used on our high-speed seaming machines. In other words, the same technology that the largest beverage manufacturers use to seam thousands of cans per minute has been tailored for the production needs of the craft market.”

Expert Advice About Bottle and Can Filling Machines

  Bottle filling machines are a vital part of the packaging process for many breweries today, so it’s essential to look at the big picture of beer filling, conveying, bottling, cleaning and labeling. When choosing a new machine, consider long tube fillers over short tubes for their affordability and purging oxygen.

  Sanitation is always a concern for keeping bottles clean and bacteria-free. Brewers must understand what output speed means and how that correlates to the brewery’s needs, so they don’t invest in a higher output machine than necessary. Meanwhile, used equipment may be available and provide significant cost savings, as long as it has been well-maintained and is in good working condition.

  Whether bottles or cans, Davis and Pirog recommend looking for quality and flexibility. A filling line is a major investment and will require many years of reliable service. They suggest considering the beverages being packaged today and what may be coming in the future to make sure the filling line can accommodate a growing portfolio. 

  “And finally, breweries should invest in quality equipment that not only fills accurately and seams precisely but also allows them to utilize every can and lid, so they don’t waste materials,” said Davis and Pirog. “If the pandemic has offered any lessons, it’s that having the means to get your product into the hands of your customers is critical and investing in a canning line is a great way to do that!”

Promising New Equipment & Technology for the Brewing Industry

Photo Courtesy of BrewBilt

By: Alyssa l. Ochs

Breweries have been around for thousands of years, and while some aspects of the brewing process remain the same, a lot is changing in the modern brewing industry. Craft beer producers have been asking for more from the machinery they use, and innovative companies have answered that demand with some exciting new technology.

  Whether your brewery is brand-new or has been around for many years, it’s worth learning about the new mechanisms, tools, technology and improvements that are being made to brewing equipment right now.

Brewer Demand Driving Innovation

  From automated bottling to bourbon-barrel aging methods and distilled hop oil, there have been many brewing industry innovations over the years. Yet modern brewers are still asking for more changes in the equipment and technology they use to suit their brewing styles and customer preferences better.

  Bob Haggerty, head brewer for Steel Bender Brewyard in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico, told Beverage Master Magazine, “While loads of improvements have been, and continue to be, made to increase the convenience and connectivity of today’s equipment, I think that the focus on fewer bells and whistles and more quality is what I look for.

  “I’m not interested that my mash tun can send me email updates and would rather have mash screens that effectively filter wort,” Haggerty said. “I am not saying that I think we should move backward and eschew technology in all forms, only that shiny gadgets don’t impress me on their own.”

Concerning brewery equipment that holds great potential for the future, Haggerty said that he has been intrigued by the idea of real-time, continuous monitoring of product in fermenters and brite tanks for data, such as gravity, pH and dissolved oxygen.

“Though I have been approached with a gadget that does this already, it came with a hefty price tag and was coupled with a pricy subscription service,” Haggerty said. “I’d be more interested in something that was lower in cost and could be installed on every tank without the obligatory online aspect or subscription model.”

  Basically, when it comes to equipment, the Steel Bender brewing team prefers the focus to be on function, not Facebook.

  Torrey Lattin, the co-owner and head brewer for Hopping Gnome Brewing Company in Wichita, Kansas, has found that the most crucial brewing equipment is basic supplies that are in high demand, such as access to aluminum cans right now.

  “There have been several shortages during the pandemic, and it has been difficult to find enough cans with most breweries increasing their to-go options,” Lattin said. “We know of a few companies that we regularly purchase from, but we’re wondering if there are more options out there and if we can discuss this more with others in the industry.”

  In terms of machinery, the most in-demand pieces of equipment are generally the ones that save brewers time during the brewing process.

  “We recently purchased a keg washer, and it is probably my favorite piece of equipment for the time and work it saves,” said Lattin. “I highly recommend it for anyone utilizing a lot of kegs.”

Recent Advancements in  Brewery Equipment

  In general, there has been a lot more automation in the various steps of the brewing process to replace manual oversight and guidance. Brewery-focused companies have created cryogenic products for hop preservation and used advanced laboratory science to effectively can beer and measure dissolved oxygen.

  Meanwhile, depalletizers help improve quality control for canning and require just one operator on the line. Some breweries use a mash filter press that is a specialized plate and frame filter to recover extract, improve wort production and be more efficient.

  A recent development involves two holes on cans’ standard ends to improve airflow and let consumers get a smoother pour with less foam. There’s also technology for cans that transform them into their own cup to eliminate the need for glassware and reduce waste. Brewery equipment is also enabling breweries to create packaging with an airtight seal that re-closes the tab after opening so you can save part of a beer for later.

  Another trend worth noting is investing in machines that can produce both beer and spirits so that beverage companies can have crossover brewery and distillery operations. A barrel-aging system makes it easy to combine these two methods of beverage production.

  Cavitation involves a rotating impeller that generates low pressures at its fast-moving tips. This process increases the rate that starch passes from pulverized malted barley into the wart and eliminates the need for milling malted barley in advance.

  Other equipment upgrades and innovations that breweries may be interested to learn about include multi-purpose aseptic container brewing vessels, kink-resistant brewery hoses, beer-serving tanks to use in taprooms as an alternative to kegs and scalable wastewater treatment.

  With regard to significant brewery equipment updates in recent years, Jef Lewis, the president of BrewBilt Manufacturing, told Beverage Master Magazine that the drop dosing tank has become very popular among breweries lately. Based in Grass Valley, California, BrewBilt is a handcrafted brewery equipment company that has been working on several exciting new pieces of equipment.

“Hopping techniques have changed since the old days, and there’s a lot of dry hopping going on in the fermentation process,” Lewis said. “The hop dosing tank allows brewers to fill it with whatever they want to add to the fermentation. You would then purge the tank of any air and begin recirculating with a pump.”

  Lewis said that, lately, his company also includes whirlpool recirculation heat exchanges.

  “These are specially designed heat exchangers that cool the wort down from boil temperature to 167 to 170 degrees in about 10 minutes,” he said. “This allows the brewer to do hop aroma additions without getting any bitterness from the hop.”

Rusty Riley, founder and president of Oronoko Iron Works in Baroda, Michigan, told Beverage Master Magazine the most significant shift he has seen in the last 10 years has been toward a greater degree of automation in every corner of the brewery, better-equipped laboratories, and better data collection and utilization. Oronoko Iron Works is a custom-fabrication, CNC plasma cutting and machining company with a foundation in the brewing and distilling industry.

  “From grain handling to the brewhouse and on to fermentation, people have begun to utilize automation and data analysis to develop more consistent processes, which, in turn, leads to a more consistent product,” Riley said. “As consumers become more health-conscious, more breweries will move into producing non-alcoholic products that still satisfy a beer drinker’s palate. I anticipate some innovation in that sector in the coming years.”

New Brewery Equipment to Consider

  One example of a new piece of equipment from BrewBilt is this company’s Wort Oxygenator that allows breweries to eliminate the need for an oxygen tank to oxygenate their wort on the way from the heat exchanger to the fermenter. This is an important piece of equipment because sanitary oxygen is the most expensive and dangerous type of gas used by breweries.

  “What we offer is a safe alternative that eliminates the recurring cost of getting a tank filled,” said Lewis. “All that is needed is a small air compressor to deliver air to a specialized filter, and what comes out is sanitary oxygen. Then it goes through a flowmeter that allows the brewer to select and monitor how much oxygen is added to the wort through a venturi.”

  Another popular piece of BrewBilt equipment is its Mobil Flow Meter. It is a magnetic, digital sanitary flow meter that can be connected to anything in the brewery through a tri-clamp.

  “Plug any 120-volt extension cord to the unit, and you’re on your way,” Lewis said. “It includes a reset button to set it back to zero when you’re done, and it’s packaged in a small, sturdy stainless-steel frame with a handle to keep it safe from the rigors of the brewery environment.”

  Other BrewBilt equipment currently on-trend with breweries are the CIP Cart that uses electric or steam heat for cleaning brewery tanks and the three- and six-head manual and automated keg washers. 

  Oronoko Iron Works launched in 2014 with a mission to build a better roll mill for brewers. It is still the company’s top product.

  “The biggest factor in consistency is repeatability, and our mills are easy to adjust and get the same setting over and over again,” Riley said. “Since day one, we’ve strived to make our mills more user-friendly and bomb-proof. We’ve created additional particle reduction solutions like hammer mills, comminutors and other types of crushers and grinders, as well as ancillary products, like bulk bag stands, bins and bag-dump stations.

  “Along the way, we discovered that our customers also have a need for automated knife gates and other automation, so we’ve begun focusing on those areas too,” Riley said. “We’ve tried to become a ‘one-stop-shop’ for our customers so we can grow as they grow.”

Conclusions and Advice About New Brewery Equipment

  Although not all equipment innovations add significant value to the brewing process, certain strategic pieces can make life much easier. For both new breweries and well-established ones, it is a smart idea to stay up-to-date on recent equipment trends and learn about forward-thinking companies that are helping brewing processes become more efficient.

  Lewis of Brewbilt recommends that breweries don’t underestimate themselves and buy too small of a brewhouse. “There are golden ratios for brewhouse tanks, like boil kettles, mash tuns and lauter tuns that greatly increase your brewhouse efficiency,” he said. “Don’t buy the wrong shape tanks!”

  Lewis also said breweries should make sure the dead space under their lauter tun’s false bottom is minimal, to get a larger hot liquor tank than you think you need and to invest in lab equipment.

  “New technology is important and exciting, but don’t overlook ROI of the technology you’re investing in and examine how it might impact the growth trajectory of your business,” said Riley of Oronoko Iron Works.

  Riley also encourages breweries to ask themselves whether investing a few more dollars now will see them through to the next phase of growth. “Look out one, two, five or 10 years and try to envision what will improve your bottom line and help you achieve those goals over that time frame.”

Barrels Old and New: Make Crafting Spirits a Careful Balance of Art & Science

By: Cheryl Gray

Distilleries are as selective about the barrels they use as they are about the ingredients that go into crafting their spirits. In fact, the right barrel plays an integral role in the entire process.

  Experts say that new barrels impart the highest wood impact into a spirit, giving it color and emphasizing characteristics exclusive to the wood. On the other hand, older barrels play a very different role and are used in a variety of ways by the spirits industry.

  Brown-Forman is the only spirits company in the world to handcraft its own barrels. Michael Nelson is Director of Brown-Forman Cooperage.

  “The barrel plays an important role in the making of whiskey,” said Nelson. “With more than 50% of the flavor and 100% of the whiskey’s color coming from the barrel, it is a key ingredient, not just a storage vessel. Barrels impart this flavor and color by sucking whiskey into the wood and through the char and layers of sugar behind it during the winter. When summer comes, it pushes the whiskey back out. That process repeats itself several times before it’s ready.”

  Brown-Forman has two cooperages, one in Louisville, Kentucky, and the other in Decatur, Alabama, both of which use American white oak to custom craft barrels for time-honored brands including Jack Daniels, Old Forester, Canadian Mist and Woodford Reserve. Few know better how barrels impact the end product than Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris.

  “When crafting a straight whiskey, such as Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Rye, the use of a new, charred oak barrel is required by the federal standards of identity,” said Morris. “The pros of using a new barrel are that we achieve the product type and descriptor we desire. The cons would be that if we filled a used barrel, we wouldn’t. There are additional pros and cons as well—those of crafting a desired flavor profile. A new barrel is an intense source of color, aroma and flavor, while a used barrel is not. During our initial use of a new barrel, we extract approximately 85% of the heat-induced oak character. Therefore, to create the product profile that consumers expect, we must use new wood.”

  However, Morris said, that doesn’t exclude using barrels from another beverage class, a technique he calls “finishing.”

  “We have finished Woodford Reserve in wine barrels, port, sherry and cognac barrels for a specific flavor formation purpose. Of course, by finishing a straight whiskey in a barrel that was previously used in any form or fashion causes us to lose the straight whiskey designation. That con is superseded by the pro of getting a unique finished product.”

  Morris told Beverage Master Magazine the concept of using finishing barrels is an innovation that Woodford Reserve Distillery introduced to the whiskey industry in 2006 when it became the first distillery to “finish” a whiskey in Chardonnay barrels. The flavor notes found in such barrels, like citrus, apple, pear and vanilla, are also found, Morris said, on the Woodford Reserve flavor wheel.

  “The ‘finishing’ barrel is selected so that it will highlight and enhance an existing Woodford Reserve flavor,” he said. “This will create an out-of-balance flavor presentation by design, therefore making the ‘finished’ expression ‘flavor focused.’”

  Canton Cooperage is also headquartered in Kentucky. Its master coopers handcraft barrels for wineries and distilleries worldwide, using American white oak, aged in open air. The company creates “Spirit by Canton,” a line of branded barrels for its distillery clients, who place orders based on specific barrel details, including the age of the barrel’s wood.  Bruno Remy, a veteran enologist, is Vice President and Sales Manager for Canton Cooperage.

  “At Canton Cooperage, our production is limited to craft premium spirit barrels,” said Remy. “We make our barrels by order with American oak wood seasoned for 12 months, called ‘Spirit by Canton;’ two years, called ‘Spirit Premium;’ three years, called ‘Spirit Grand;’ four years, called ‘Spirit Limited Edition;’ and even a very limited production of barrels with five-year-old wood called ‘Spirit FIVE.’”

  Remy told Beverage Master Magazine that distilleries pay attention to a barrel’s every detail.  He said that list includes dimensions, the thickness of staves and headings, logo branding on the heads, number of hoops, position and diameters of the bunghole, toasting recipe and charring.

  Another critical factor that distilleries look for in a barrel is the percentage of leakage, with 0%, of course, being ideal. That’s where handcrafted barrels have the edge. Industrial barrel production can show a higher percentage of leakers compared to artisan production.

  As for the life span of a barrel, some barrels can last 30, 40, 50, even 100 years or more, provided they are well-kept. Barrel recycling is fundamental to the spirits industry. Not only is it environmentally responsible but also financially practical.

  “Commonly, the large distilleries have a contract with their cooperage to sell back the used barrels after a certain number of years. Large distilleries can also transfer used barrels to subsidiary distilleries when part of a group,” said Remy. “There is a market of used barrels, and effectively, the barrels can have a second life when shipped to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Caribbean islands, Japan, Brazil and Chile for whiskey, Scotch, sherry, rums, cachaça, pisco, etc.”

  In producing its rum, Washington D.C.’s Potomac Distilling Company uses a mix of new and old barrels to create Thrasher’s Rum. Owner Todd Thrasher told Beverage Master Magazine that multiple factors go into his barrel choices.

  “One con associated with new barrels is cost. It tends to be very expensive,” said Thrasher. “Also, because we have limited storage space, I only use 30-gallon barrels, which are more expensive than 50-gallon barrels. I find that many American spirit drinkers tend to enjoy the taste of oak, so it definitely makes for an easier transition for whiskey drinkers and can open our rum up to a potential new audience of drinkers.”

  Thrasher said that he sources old barrels from a variety of local distilleries with whom he has relationships. He chooses used barrels that are, on average, three years old, and inspects them for any aesthetic defects, especially for any signs of leakage. That aside, he is sold on the benefits his distillery gains from barrel recycling.

  “Barrels can absolutely be recycled! For example, one of our barrels is a used peach brandy barrel. I find that the recycled barrels can imbue the new spirit with a slightly different profile or flavor.”

  New barrels, Thrasher said, can be harder to source but, when he does place an order, in addition to size, he looks for other specific characteristics. “All new barrels are number three char with medium-toast. That’s the barrel profile that best suits my needs.”

  Cooperages do not typically stock a lot of new barrels in their inventory since most are made-to-order, and empty barrels sitting too long can cause problems. Even with a new barrel, the wood is continually drying out. As it does, the barrel shrinks. Once a shrunken barrel gets filled, it will almost certainly leak.

  Heidi Korb, owner and co-founder of Black Swan Cooperage in Park Rapids, Minnesota, said her cooperage’s typical lead time for a barrel order is approximately two months but will vary depending on the quantity of the order.

  Korb told Beverage Master Magazine there is a wide range of possibilities for clients to consider when choosing barrels. “The variables and options are fairly endless, so it very much depends on what the customer is looking for, what product they are aging and their preferred aging timeframe,” she said. “Using new barrels, especially smaller barrels 30-gallon on down, can be a great way to test new products because the age time will be less than if aged in a standard 53- or 59-gallon barrel.”

  Although used barrels are a staple in the spirits industry, Korb said that careful inspection includes more than watching out for aesthetic imperfections or signs of leakage.

  “In used barrels, you want to avoid any barrels that have off-flavors or barrels that have gone sour. This means they have sat too long empty or were stored in an area where they started to grow mold,” Korb said. “If a barrel is treated well and used rather continuously, it can be used—for lack of a better term—a very long time. Think of your 20-80 plus year aged Scotch whiskey!”

  Virtually all experts agree that the best method to protect a barrel’s integrity is always to keep it full. Industry veterans recommend that if barrels are to be ricked, empty them with the plan in mind to fill them within hours. Cellar or rick house temperatures should stay between 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Moisture in a cellar is vital for the barrel’s physical stability and aging of the spirit, with 50% to 80% of humidity recommended. Low variances of temperature and moisture present the ideal environment.

  New or old, the common denominator in the industry conversation about barrels is that they are a significant part of the distilling process that uniquely defines a crafted spirit, giving that spirit an identity all its own.

Brewery Start-Up Tips for a Successful Launch

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

  In the United States, there are currently over 7,000 breweries, but that isn’t stopping entrepreneurs from opening even more in cities, small towns and rural areas. Fortunately, craft beer lovers are plentiful across the country, loyal to their favorite brands and curious to try new brews.

  When making plans to open a new brewery, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Initial Considerations

  Many things go into starting a brewery, even before searching for a physical location. You’ll need to choose a business structure for your brewery to operate within, such as an LLC with an operating agreement, which is often preferable to a brewery corporation because it’s quicker, easier and more affordable. You may choose to hire an attorney to handle these matters for you or give it a try yourself with online legal resources for a DIY approach. Insurance is also an important consideration to protect the business with liability, property and casualty coverage.

  When it comes to the legalities of opening a brewery, things can get complicated quickly. Permits and licenses must be filed at the local, county, state and federal levels. Depending on where you live, regulations, licenses and permits vary, so be careful to do thorough research to eliminate surprises in this regard. Be aware of when to file permits as well. Filing permits in the wrong order can lead to delays or stymy plans altogether. State liquor licensing and a federal brewing permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau can take several months to process, so file those as soon as possible.

  You must also consider if you want a simple taproom or if you will include food in the business model. Those choosing to include food will face more permitting and costs for equipment and location modifications. The overall cost of opening a brewery is often between $250,000 and $2.5 million, and much of that money goes towards equipment.

Physical Location

  The location you choose makes a huge difference in the type of customers you will attract and how your brand will grow in the future. At this stage of development, there is also the need to weigh the pros and cons of opening up on a busy street with lots of foot traffic versus opening in a more isolated industrial park with space to grow and more affordable rental prices.

  Remember that you’ll need to secure the proper zoning for your new brewery and meet all the necessary legal requirements in your jurisdiction. Zoning laws matter because you want to create a favorable community gathering space that’s welcome with local neighbors.

  While searching for a storefront, you must have at least enough funds for the first month’s rent and the security deposit for the lease. Also, consider any construction that will be needed to outfit the building for brewery purposes. For example, you will need a sturdy floor in your physical space that can withstand the beer-making process. Also, take into consideration the plumbing and electrical capacity of the building and start getting quotes from local contractors for any work that needs doing before opening.

  Space requirements for your location may be based on equipment needed, but consider whether it’s in your best interest to secure a location with space to accommodate future fermentation tanks and storage needs.

Brewing Equipment

  Equipment is, by far, one of the biggest financial hits for a new start-up brewery. Equipment costs can range from $100,000 or less for a very small-capacity brewery, to over $1 million for a brewery that uses a new 30-barrel system.

  The brewing equipment you need will primarily be based on the number, category and style of beer you plan to make. There are significant differences between a brewery that will only brew a couple of types of beer compared to one that is looking to launch eight to ten styles right away. Unless you have ample support staff and financial resources, most new breweries find it in their best interests to start small and build up their offerings and services over time.

  The list of equipment needed for a brewery can be very overwhelming at first, but do your best to take it one step at a time. Some of the equipment to start thinking about and budgeting for early-on are kettles, kegs, boilers, bottling and canning lines, conveyors, cooling systems, storage tanks, fermentation tanks, filters, labeling machines, piping and tubing, refrigeration equipment, cleaning equipment, waste treatment systems and tap handles.

  Now is also the time to learn about the differences in piping, tubing and brew pump equipment so you can make informed decisions about buying peristaltic, diaphragm or centrifugal pumps. Fermentation tanks and temperature gauges will be needed for beer storage. Meanwhile, immersion wort chillers and counter-flow chillers are essential for cooling systems, and brewing kettles and boilers are necessary for heating processes.

  Andrew Ferguson, sales manager for Codi Manufacturing, told Beverage Master Magazine that packaging is more important than ever in today’s rapidly evolving beverage market.

  “Codi manufactures complete canning systems that scale to meet the demands of our growing customers,” Ferguson said. “Codi’s counter-pressure filler allows for a high temp caustic CIP and over four CO2 vols, giving you the ability to package seltzers or other beverages.”

  Ferguson said that a common mistake among brand-new breweries in the start-up phase is buying on price and speed instead of function and quality. He recommends always finding others who own the equipment you are looking at and asking for their advice.

  “You can have the best hops, malts, yeast, water, recipe and brewer, but a bad packaging machine will ruin all your hard work,” he said.  He also recommends buying spare parts to decrease your equipment’s downtime and avoiding machinery made with aluminum and cheap plastic materials so you can CIP with caustic at 180-degrees Fahrenheit.

“Form solid relationships with suppliers and stay in touch to get the latest updates and functionality out of the equipment you purchase.”

Ergonomics

  Stocking up on all the necessary equipment is often the first goal of a start-up brewery. According to Ron Mack, the regional sales manager for Bishamon Industries Corporation, one of the most common mistakes that new breweries make is being “laser-focused on production equipment and often forgetting to consider ergonomics that increase worker safety and productivity.”

  Based in Ontario, California, Bishamon Industries Corporation specializes in quality, innovative, ergonomic products that enhance worker safety and productivity. The company offers a wide array of ergonomic assist lift equipment, including the EZ Loader Automatic Pallet Positioner, that are useful for craft breweries that hand-palletize cases of beer.

  “This product keeps the top of the pallet load at waist height, eliminating worker bending, which can lead to back injuries,” Mack said. “The EZ Loader also features an integral rotator ring like a lazy Susan that enables near-side loading and eliminates reaching, stretching and having to walk around the pallet to load or unload. For breweries that do not have access to a fork truck for loading or unloading, we offer products that are pallet jack accessible, like our Lift Pilot and EZ Off Lifter.”

  Bishamon products can significantly help reduce the risk of worker injuries related to lifting, bending, reaching and stretching while loading or unloading cases.

  “Another great benefit is that the EZ Loader also significantly increases productivity, as pallet loading and unloading can be accomplished in much less time with much less effort,” Mack said.

  Mack said breweries should “think about how to make the work environment, especially in the packaging area where the heaviest lifting is done, more ergonomic and efficient for the employees.” From ergonomics to scheduling and operations, making your employees’ needs a priority from the very beginning is a positive way to launch any type of new business.

Other Early-Stage Planning

  Once you’ve gotten a handle on these aspects of opening up a new brewery, think about the customer experience and how your staff will work onsite starting on opening day. An efficient, friendly front-of-house staff can make all the difference for a brewery’s reputation, particularly in areas with a lot of competition. Start picking out and ordering glassware and growlers that reflect the brand image you want to create. Keeping the brewery hygienic and sanitary is essential to its long-term success, so make a list of cleaning products you’ll need and narrow down your list of suppliers. Before you get too entrenched in your operations processes, invest in a POS system to track inventory, outline your staff management system and begin thinking of ideas for a loyalty reward system to entice new customers.

  Building a clear brand identity early-on to help you stay focused, and establishing a robust online presence as early as possible can spread the word about your new brewery.

  Also, consider your relationships with vendors. Ferguson from Codi told Beverage Master Magazine new breweries would be wise to support family-owned suppliers who are invested in the industry.

  “Private equity held manufacturers are lowering quality to meet your price point and are not concerned about your long term needs,” he said.

  Starting a new brewery is rarely easy, but it’s often worth it if craft beer is your passion, and you have a great business plan and support team behind you. As you prepare for your initial launch, remember some things can wait. Focus less on merchandising, loyalty programs or decorating for every event and allow the business to grow a little at a time. Once you’re established with a good reputation, those things will come naturally and pay off quickly.