Hand Barrel Bourbon: Three Friends, One Idea and the Perfect Partnership

photo of 3 small hand barrel bottles in different colors

By Gerald Dlubala

We’ve all heard the phrase about loving it when a plan comes together. When it’s a plan that three friends come up and run with, we love it all the more. And that’s just what happened to Jim Hand, Scott Pirello and Beorn Brueckner, founding members of Hand Barrel Bourbon Company.

“It kind of started when I got recruited by Scott Pirello, a college friend, to play on a men’s softball team,” said Hand. “Scott was working on a project to make cool bottles for packaging. I thought it might be cool to make a whiskey bottle that resembles a real barrel and fill it with quality whiskey to sell. The initial idea was honestly as simple as that.”

Hand and Pirello were both fans of brown spirits and always considered the whiskey industry an exciting arena. They also believed that their bottle idea might just be good enough to attain what would become their first goal of surviving their first year in business. Well, they’ve not only reached that goal, which occurred the last week of October 2023, but they’ve done very well in their first year with an idea that admittedly seemed backward.

“Our approach was different, going from packaging first to the product inside,” said Hand. “But getting into the spirits market without some huge backing is tough. We brought in a third partner, Beorn Brueckner, who attended high school with Scott. Beorn was the GM of a bar in Boston during the pandemic and was now looking for something else. His industry experience fits in perfectly with what we needed, and he currently runs many operations within the company. Scott is our CEO and numbers guy. Additionally, Scott has an entrepreneurial background and experience starting and selling businesses. Without him, there would be no Hand Barrel Bourbon. He had the know-how to start this thing up and run with it. I come from a software sales background and now handle the sales and marketing aspects of the business. So, that’s the whole company, three friends and equal partners.”

Using Unique Packaging to Tell a Story

Hand tells Beverage Master Magazine that it came down to three friends getting together with an idea for a different and unique packaging idea and decided to put premium bourbon into it to sell to the public. Hand says that they knew they would run the risk of consumers thinking their bottle may just be a gimmick to sell their product. But the Hand Barrel Bourbon bottles are instead a motif, providing packaging that tells a story of what is inside the bottle. 

“We sell our single barrel, small batch in the white barrel bottle, signifying the unique minerals and deposits found in the Kentucky water,” said Hand. “Our double-oaked comes in a black, charred finish bottle, signifying the barrels and type of exposure the spirit encounters along its journey. These are specific ingredients and attributes to Kentucky bourbon whiskey, and we want to recognize, respect and make note of those attributes through our packaging.”

Partnering with the Right Contract Distiller is Key

After settling on the bottles, packaging, and message they wanted to send, the group had to find a contract distiller. Hand says they didn’t have the time or capital to start up and wait five or six years, so the search was on to find the best partner for them and their situation.

“We happened into Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky,” said Hand. “We tried their products, looked at their facilities and met the people behind the brand. From that day forward, they became the perfect partner and our contract distillery. It really was a slam dunk for us, and we are now completely vertically integrated with them. They are a state-of-the-art distiller with the best column in the industry. It is our mash bill that we use, a 64-24-12 sweet mash recipe. It’s not the traditional higher corn content (70 to 78 percent) of many bourbons. We wanted to try something a little different. There aren’t as many high-rye mash bills out in the market. We come in at 105 proof, which we believe is the sweet spot for bourbon and the perfect place to land. And because our bottles are preprinted, we don’t deviate from that number. Our barrels age at Bardstown’s facilities, and we use their blending team and bottling line. Our responsibility is to provide the mashbill, the marketing and the cool bottles to package our product.”

Hand says its goal is to provide a bourbon experience that positively appeals to all the senses, including touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

“We want our bourbon to be a total experience,” said Hand. “It’s an excellent-tasting, authentic Kentucky bourbon whiskey wrapped in a unique bottle that consumers will proudly display in their home or on their bar.”

One of those unique bottles was a special-release camouflage bottle.

“All three of us have connections or ties to the military somehow,” said Hand. “The camouflage bottle was our first special release and offered us the opportunity to give back 10 percent of sales to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SWOF) to benefit families of our fallen Special Operators. We feel that anytime we can give back to one of our military organizations, it’s absolutely worth it. It was a huge success, and we’re looking into other partnership releases. We’re considering things like NCAA or professional sports teams as well as personalized bottles for special occasions”.

Hand says their bottles would make perfect gifts for weddings, groomsmen’s and bridesmaids’ gifts or to celebrate and commemorate special occasions for clubs, groups and organizations. He also mentioned single-barrel picks to make the occasion even more distinctive.

“The bottle is one thing we can change to meet our customer’s special occasion needs,” said Hand. “That’s our edge in the marketplace. You can really only stretch one mash bill about three different ways, ending in a small batch, single barrel and double-oaked, similar to what we did. But we can also change the bottle to create something unique, distinctive and special for our customers.”

Pinpoint Focus and Smart Decisions Will Shape the Future

“We’ve been in business and on shelves for over a year now,” said Hand. “We started in just two states, Massachusetts and Kentucky. We had a minimal release our first year, maybe 6,000 bottles, and sold out within the first two to three months. That was a testament to the acceptance of our idea and gave us the confidence to try to gain market share. We’ve since added 19 more states to our distribution areas and are looking toward expansion and continued growth. We’ve had talks with Canada, South Korea and Japan, who all have interest in our bottles.”

“You know, we have a potentially wide footprint with customized bottles,” said Hand. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also very daunting because we can go in many different directions. Since our path can go in so many different and diverse ways, we, especially as a small business, must focus on the best opportunities for us. If we have so much as a flop of 2,000 to 3,000 bottles, it would be very detrimental to us. We have to be careful about our choices and focus on what we need to do to build our business and gain customer commitment. We have to focus on who can commit to the best volumes early to get that extra volume and padding for us as a business. We’d love to eventually be able to do as little as six to 12 bottle orders for weddings or parties with names and dates, offering that custom gift for the guy or girl who has everything.”

Joining the Welcoming Community of Distilled Spirits

“The biggest surprise I’ve had along this journey is the general welcomeness of the bourbon industry. I mean, it really has been noticeable,” Hand said. “I was sitting with other bourbon reps trying to launch a market, and we were all sharing drinks, ideas and information. Unlike some other businesses, there weren’t any highly secretive behaviors or unwillingness to share our experiences. It helps everyone to grow with a better chance of success. This industry uniquely welcomes newcomers; everyone I’ve come into contact with has been willing to help and give quality advice. This industry is such a big piece of the overall spirits pie that we can all succeed. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, which is a truly refreshing and beneficial approach. Spirits consumers traditionally welcome variety. We love to build our bar cart with a variety of diverse brands. It’s just fun to build your display to share with friends, whether for a hobbyist or a serious collector. It’s a pretty straightforward sales approach.”

Displaying Products Together Boosts Sales

Hand tells Beverage Master Magazine that he learned a ton about the industry, which was expected. What sticks out for Hand and the other founders of Hand Barrel Bourbon is that along their path, they’ve noticed a distinct advantage to having all their products together on a shelf displayed as a suite or grouping. Because of their unique bottles and the meanings behind those bottles, when the products all stand together in unison on a shelf display, they combine to show and tell a story that ultimately leads to an increase in sales. Hand Barrel Bourbon’s sales are better when their products stand together, even if that means giving up less width on the shelf in return.

“When it comes down to it, we are just three friends who raised a little bit of money and came up with an idea that we thought was pretty cool, and we want to make an impact on the market with quality products that we are proud to offer, and that consumers are equally proud to own.”

Find more information on Hand Barrel Bourbon at www.handbarrel.com.

What Beverage Producers Should Know About Hoses and Tubes 

beverage brewing equipment

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Hoses and tubes are used for various purposes in a craft beverage production setting, including transferring liquids, washing containers and connecting essential pieces of equipment. Over time, this equipment can begin to show signs of wear and tear, or it can cease to be adequate for growing operations during times of expansion.

  Industry experts from companies specializing in these products weigh in on what breweries and distilleries should know about hoses, tubes and related accessories, plus how to choose the right options for your business.

Hoses and Tubes for Breweries

  Breweries benefit from using specific hoses to transfer and mix liquids at various levels and avoid contamination risks. All-in-one brewery hoses can be used to brew multiple beverages and eliminate manual labor tasks from mixing and transferring. Crimped hose fittings, clamps, gaskets, mounting bridges and hose barbs are hose accessories that help clean and maintain brewery vats and barrels.

  The most common materials used in brewery hoses are chlorobutyl, FDA UHMW, PVC, nitrile, silicone, EPDM and Teflon. Chlorobutyl hoses are common in brewery settings because they meet sanitary compliance standards and are ideal for non-oily applications and clean-in-place tasks. Yet it is crucial to ensure that the hoses you use can withstand specific temperature ranges and pressures. A food-grade, temperature-insulated, pressure-rated, 1.5-inch insulated brewer’s hose will accomplish many brewery tasks. But you might also look into highly rated hoses for resistance if they are placed in a high-traffic area where the hose could become kinked, twisted, or crushed. Tubing connects large components in a brewery to send waste products outside the production area.

Hoses and Tubes for Distilleries

  Craft spirit distilleries also use hoses to transfer products safely, hygienically and in a way that ensures excellent taste. Distillery hoses must meet industry sanitary requirements and FDA and USDA certifications. It is beneficial to use hoses specially designed for suctioning and delivering alcohol up to 96 percent.

  Clear tube hoses help ensure quality and cleanliness, and specific distillery hoses are designed to be odorless, so as not to alter the spirits’ taste. A higher working temperature allows for steam sterilization after use. Using hoses with a chlorobutyl or UHMWPE tube and EPDM cover in a distillery setting is common. Distilleries may want to look for kink-proof and compression-resistant hose and tube products to maintain flexibility under cold temperatures.

Alliance Hose & Rubber Co. Offerings

  One company that specializes in this industry is Alliance Hose & Rubber Co., an Elmhurst, Illinois-based company that has been providing construction and industrial supply products since 1932. It serves a variety of industries, including beverage, chemical, transportation and construction, with products that include industrial hoses, flexible tubing, couplings and fittings. Rob Williams, the sales manager for Alliance Hose, told Beverage Master about how craft breweries and distilleries use his company’s products.

  “We currently serve breweries in multiple ways,” Williams said. “One way is custom-cut and coupled hose systems, including a product hose, chemical hose, washdown and tubing to mate with the variety of connection options available, standard and special fittings, pumps and hose reels. Alliance Hose also serves breweries, distilleries and wineries with education on product knowledge and safety in person, at conferences and through webinars and podcasts.”

  He said nearly all Alliance Hose’s beverage products are also used in distilleries.

  “We do focus on the right hose for the distilling process, from front-end mash to the final high-proof product to be transferred,” Williams said. “Distilleries vary on what they like to use best. We just like to share insights and any additional knowledge that will help make their final product the best it can be.”

Kuriyama Offerings

  Another industry leader in industrial hoses, couplings and accessories is Kuriyama of America, Inc., which opened for business in 1968 and is located in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Kuriyama of America group of companies has eight subsidiaries and six distribution centers. It works through numerous distributors to provide thermoplastic, rubber and metal hose products and accessories, including couplings and fittings, for commercial and industrial applications.

  Tim O’Neill, marketing manager for Kuriyama, told Beverage Master Magazine that his company is best known for its high-purity, food-grade Kuri Tec® brand, clear vinyl hose and tubing products within the brewing industry. Most breweries use clear vinyl tubing, and Kuri Tec is a popular choice because it effectively maintains the purity of the materials that  the hose and tubing are made from. He explained that to ensure a high standard of quality and purity, Kuri Tec hose and tubing meet a wide range of safety standards, such as FDA, USDA, 3-A, NSF and USPS Class VI. To ensure compliance with these standards, Kuri Tec makes its own materials to manufacture its hoses and tubing, allowing for complete quality control.

  “An important consideration brewers should keep in mind when purchasing hoses and tubing is to understanding the difference between products that are simply considered ‘food grade’ and ones that are considered “high purity.” Often, brewers will hear the term ‘food grade’ and assume the hose will meet all their needs. However, the term only implies the product meets the basic standards of the FDA CFR 21 for food contact safety. It does not ensure the hose will not impart taste or smell on the ingredients or beer that pass through.”

  O’Neill said that the 3-A Sanitary Hygienic Standard, which originally started as a quality standard for the dairy industry, is quickly gaining acceptance in the brewery industry as the standard of choice to ensure the safety and purity of transferred materials. 

  “The 3-A standard defines additional criteria, such as ensuring low-extraction materials, as well as ensuring cleanability by reducing areas where materials can become stuck, potentially resulting in bacterial growth. Hoses, fittings and assemblies meeting the various 3-A Sanitary Standards have become a requirement at many craft and commercial breweries.”

  More recently, Kuriyama introduced a rubber “vat to vat” transfer hose under the Aflagomma® brand, called “The Brewt™.” In addition to meeting the 3-A standard for rubber purity, the hose provides a more flexible alternative to the heavy rubber hoses commonly used at larger breweries.

  “We found a lot of the smaller breweries were using the same heavy rubber hoses initially designed for larger commercial breweries,” said O’Neill. “The Brewt was designed to exhibit a similar ability to withstand the dragging and high-temperature cleaning to which these hoses are exposed, but to be light and flexible enough to work well in smaller craft breweries that may have space limitations.”

Common Hose Issues Among

Breweries and Distilleries

  Williams from Alliance Hose told Beverage Master Magazine that the most common problems that breweries and distilleries encounter with their hoses all relate to safety. These problems include pressure and temperature issues, trip hazards and finding the proper hose, tube and fitting for a particular application. These problems exist with product, gas and chemical transfers.

  “We address these needs by asking the right questions and recommending the safest option for that particular application,” Williams said. “We are not a click-of-the-mouse and a shopping cart. We ask questions and connect on a personal level with the beverage community. Concern for our customers safety and quality of their product is a high priority.”

Choosing the Right

Hoses and Accessories

  There are certain questions that brewery or distillery owners should ask themselves when buying a new hose. Williams from Alliance Hose uses the acronym STAMPED to get essential information from customers and provide the correct hoses and fittings for the application.

S    (size) What is the hose I.D./O.D. and length needed?

T    (temperature) What is the max fluid temperature inside the tube? What is the external atmosphere temperature?

A    (application) Where and how is the hose or tubing being used? What are the surrounding conditions?

M   (media) What is going through the hose or tube?

P    (pressure) Pressure product is being conveyed?

E    (ends) What fittings are required to make the connection?

D    (delivery) When do you want the hose or tube?

  “If we don’t have all the information we need, we will press in to gather those details as they are important to the hose system and overall brewing process,” Williams said.

  While discussing the topic of craft beverage hoses and tubes with industry experts, we found that there are few, if any, new technologies or innovations for brewers and distillers to be aware of. These are well-established and reliable products that get the job done, but there are differences in product quality and customer service to keep in mind.

  “I recommend talking to a hose professional instead of just relying on e-commerce to provide you what you think you may need,” said Williams from Alliance Hose. “I’m always available to talk product knowledge and especially safety.”

  O’Neill from Kuriyama said that the most important thing a brewery or distillery can do is ensure they have a good local hose supplier they trust to provide them with the right product for their needs.

  “The difference between using the right hose and one not best suited for a particular application can result in premature hose failures, causing lost production time,” O’Neill said. “Having a hose supplier that will understand your particular needs, rather than simply providing whatever hose they happen to have on the shelf, will improve overall operations.”

Carbon Dioxide & Nitrogen Play Important Roles in Craft Beverage Production

4 gas tanks

By: Gerald Dlubala

The production, delivery and packaging of beer and the use of gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) are inseparable. But because CO2 is also a natural byproduct of the brewing process, monitoring its levels during and in the delivery of draught beer is critical. Carbon dioxide has flavor characteristics that could cause your beer to undergo flavor changes if left unmonitored. Additionally, if pressures are left unchecked and become too low in the draught beer delivery system, the CO2 is allowed to leave the beer, causing the pour to be flat. Conversely, too high CO2 pressure results in over-carbonation, causing flavor flaws and a foamy pour. Either problem causes increased product usage and waste, increasing the brewery’s costs and decreasing an already thin profit margin.

Inline CO2 Sensors: Mettler-Toledo, LLC

  Dissolved CO2 sensors are inline sensors that continuously monitor dissolved CO2 in numerous applications, including the beer brewing process. Using dissolved CO2 sensors allows brewers to monitor key quality attributes of their product, ensuring a consistent product and all-important mouthfeel to their craft beers.

  Mettler Toledo offers its InPro5500i inline sensors, thermal conductivity sensors optimized for brewing quality control and monitoring the carbonation levels of the beer. The InPro5500i line uses digital technology to simplify handling, provide durable performance and offer increased product life, reducing lifetime sensor costs.

  Additional benefits and characteristics of Mettler-Toledo’s inline sensors include the following:

•   Helping the brewer maintain consistency and overall beverage quality control

•   Sensors are manufactured with a food grade, hygienic, intelligent design and diagnostics

•   The use of proven technology to accurately provide trusted CO2 measurement

•   Maintenance predictability

•   Process connection compatibility, available with three process connections: Variant Type N, TriClamp 2 inch and 29 mm with cap nut M42

For more information on Mettler-Toledo’s CO2 sensors, visit www.mt.com/analytical

Nitrogen Dosing for Shelf Life, Stability and Packaging Excellence: Vacuum Barrier Corporation

  While the applications for nitrogen dosing in the beverage industry have remained consistent, the products that benefit from being dosed have and will continue to grow. Cannabis-based beverages, the dramatic growth and variety of available RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails and all nitro-style beers, coffees and teas benefit from nitrogen dosing in one way or another. Through its preservation and pressurization qualities, nitrogen dosing has allowed the explosion of new and flavorful RTDs to be distributed on a widespread basis to more markets. Pressurizing a can or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle with nitrogen adds stability to the container, allowing for easier, more efficient and effective stacking and shipping. Additionally, the fact that nitrogen is inert and will not react with other substances or ingredients makes it ideal for use in beverage applications and industry because it doesn’t impact the aroma or flavor of the packaged liquid.

  “Adding a nitrogen doser to a filling line is a pretty simple process,” said Jim Fallon, international sales manager for Vacuum Barrier Corporation (VBC). “Our VBC dosers are designed to be bolt-on additions to a filler, with no requirement for complicated electrical or control integration. After determining the proper application for dosing, meaning pressurization, inerting or nitrogenating, the next step is to find the optimal location on the filler for installation. VBC application engineers also determine the appropriate dosing unit based on the available filler space, the brewer’s line speeds and the dimensions of the container that the brewer is using. Then, along with the doser, sensors and control panel, all that’s needed to start dosing is your power supply or compressed air supply, depending on the models used.”

  Fallon tells Beverage Master Magazine that the optimal amount of nitrogen dosing recommended for any application is found by looking at the associated needs.

  “In the beverage industry, these applications vary from pressurizing non-carbonated drinks for container rigidity to purging oxygen from the headspace for extended shelf life and nitrogenating a cold brew coffee or beer,” said Fallon. “VBC engineers collect necessary details about the container volume and dimensions, fill heights, line speeds and the brewery’s target specifications and goals. Equipped with that information, we can guide customers to the appropriate settings to ensure the dose is sized properly and, just as importantly, makes it into the container in a timely and consistent manner.”

  Fallon says that for many years, the only new advances in nitrogen dosing had to do with the availability of increased dosing speeds. But today, VBC dosing units can consistently and reliably dose up to 2,000 containers a minute, more than enough for most filling lines. Because of this achievement, VBC was allowed to shift its focus on advancing and improving the reliability and ease of adjustability of its dosers.

  “We’ve continued to build out the functionality of our Servodoser that we initially released in 2016,” said Fallon. “We’ve reduced the parts prone to wear along with maintenance needs of the long-life servo actuator, which has a cycle life into the billions. In addition, a servomotor on the valve stem allows for dose amount adjustment without changing any mechanical parts. These improvements reduce downtime and allow on-the-fly adjustment of dosing parameters. Vacuum Barrier’s modular aseptic dosing systems are quickly becoming the go-to design with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) fillers integrating aseptic filling lines.”

  For more information on Vacuum Barrier Corporation and nitrogen dosing, visit www.vacuumbarrier.com

Gas Blenders for Draught Beer Delivery Solutions: McDantim, Inc

  To successfully dispense draught beer, you need pressure, and that necessary pressure generally goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. As far back as the early 1800s, that pressure was supplied by compressed air, but as all brewers know, oxygen doesn’t play well with beer. The solution to this dilemma was to use CO2, which was good unless you tried to use 100 percent CO2 in draught beer delivery systems that needed to push the beer over long distances from huge brite tanks that were only safety-rated for up to 15 pounds of pressure. Unfortunately, increasing pressure to push more beer only puts the tank over the intended safety rating or puts the brewer at risk of over-carbonating the beer.

  But by using blended CO2 and nitrogen gas technology in the appropriate amounts, breweries and taprooms can maintain and balance their beer storage and delivery systems to ensure the integrity of their draught beers glass after glass, maintaining product integrity without losing any quality of taste, aroma or mouthfeel, just as the brewer intended. However, premixed cylinders were found to be expensive and generally offered the wrong blend for the beer industry. McDantim Gas Blending Technologies was the first company to introduce a gas blender that was technically sound enough and appropriate for the beer industry. 

  “It started in the late 1980s,” said Kayla Mann, sales and marketing director for McDantim, Inc. “McDantim’s previous owner’s father was approached by Guinness to develop an on-site gas dispenser. Unfortunately, industrial blenders wouldn’t work well because they couldn’t handle low-flow needs. So, McDantim devised a blender optimized for low flow rates to ensure that the beer secured in your keg or brite tank is the same beer dispensed into the glass for your thirsty customers. Our goal is to improve draught beer consistently and continuously worldwide.”

  Mann said that McDantim Trumix® Blenders are generally maintenance-free, with a plug-and-play mentality that demands no electricity or cumbersome maintenance schedules.

  “The goal here is to set it and forget it,” said Mann. “Brewery or taproom managers already have enough on their plate without having to worry about gas blending. Trumix® Blenders are easy to install and set up with regulators and can be nestled in wherever a brewer decides to locate their gas storage. All our products are customizable for different CO2 and nitrogen blending needs, so no matter what beer you are brewing and serving, you’ll get what you need. We use six eager and local breweries as our testing grounds with our products, so we receive real-life and real-time situational help to ensure our blenders and products do what breweries need them to do. Our custom-configured blender solutions improve efficiency and decrease waste and are based on useable volume, including the length of delivery lines, the number of available taps and servers and the forecasted number of kegs per hour you can expect to use at any given time. It comes down to how many servers will be drawing out of how many taps simultaneously. Busy, large taprooms with several servers that stay busy for lengthy amounts of time will need a higher flow rate than the smaller craft breweries.”

  Mann tells Beverage Master Magazine that McDantim also offers a free downloadable app that can be used anywhere within the depths of a brewery because it needs no internet connection.

  “We’re all about education to improve the quality of the draft beer industry across the board,” said Mann. “The app is there for you to know what blend of gases is optimal for the beer you are producing or if you are struggling with pressure or specific lines. We can easily walk you through the app and teach you how it can help and improve your draught beer. It’s just another tool for everyone from the beginner through the seasoned professional, and it is valuable for those that may be hesitant to ask for help as well.”

Conditions included in the calculations are:

•    The beverage temperature in the keg.

•    The required keg pressure.

•    The CO2 content of the beverage.

•    Elevation above sea level.

•    The gas blend (CO2 percentage) of existing blender.

Your input conditions help determine the following:

•     The optimal CO2/N2 blend for your specific location and conditions.

•     What range of pressures you can safely apply to your beverages for optimal carbonation.

•     Easy U.S. and metric unit conversions.

•     The predicted CO2 content that will be maintained under unusual conditions, like high elevation production.

Additionally, McDantim’s free gas blend app includes helpful calculators for other areas of your draught beer process, including these:

•    The cost analysis calculator provides insight into how on-site gas blending with Trumix® blenders can save you money.

•    The gas usage calculator will forecast and determine how many kegs of beer you can expect to dispense using Trumix® Blenders or premixed cylinder gas.

•    The line restriction calculator helps brewers with their draught system design to get the correct restriction values to keep the beer from under or over-carbonation.

  McDantim’s Trumix® Blenders can be used equally well with all clean CO2 and nitrogen sources, including high-pressure cylinders, bulk tanks and separators. 

To contact McDantim or get more information on gas blenders, visit www.mcdantim.com

More Than a Pretty Face

Image Is Important, but so is Safety and Productivity

beer can lying on a flat surface

By: Cheryl Gray

While attractive packaging can draw new business for craft brewers, protecting what’s inside that packaging can make or break the bottom line. The same detailed attention is required to move products to store shelves swiftly. Fortunately, there are companies with specializations in each of these production areas.

  Among them is Industrial Physics, a test and inspection company considered to be a global leader in its field. Industrial Physics operates across a wide range of testing brands, each cornering a specialty. Those brands include CMC-KUHNKE, Steinfurth, Quality By Vision, Eagle Vision and TQC Sheen. Although it offers its customers multiple options, the company has a singular purpose: to guard the integrity of brands and products for manufacturers, production lines and laboratories across multiple industries worldwide.

  Steve Davis is the global product line director at Industrial Physics. He leads a team of experts who ensure that the company’s equipment protects the integrity of its customers’ metal packaging. Davis brings more than 20 years of engineering experience, with particular expertise in designing and developing metal packaging testing systems. He describes how Industrial Physics provides practical solutions for breweries large and small.

  “From seam inspection to label inspection, leak detection, code reading and abrasion testing, we’re here to protect the integrity of our customer’s beverage product.”

  Industrial Physics offers 40 testing applications and 2,500 products for a vast array of manufacturers, including breweries. Davis explains how the company leverages industry leadership to benefit its brewery clients:

  “The power and versatility of Industrial Physics allow us to support a broad range of breweries all over the world. And that really sets us apart from any other test and inspection provider. No matter the size of your brewery or the type of test you need to conduct, we can support you.

  The equipment allows organizations to test across a multitude of applications. Whether that’s ensuring that a can containing a fizzy drink won’t leak or that a cardboard box is strong enough to survive the turbulence of transit, the solutions are extremely diverse. We have a wealth of solutions available for the beverage space. From bottles to cans and kegs, we support beverage manufacturers of all sizes.

  But we don’t just provide equipment. At Industrial Physics, we’re equipped with some of the world’s finest minds within the world of beverage packaging and metal packaging. With an unrivaled portfolio of products that span so many specialties, we speak with our customers to ensure they’re discovering a solution that is suitable for their unique needs. With our equipment, we can help customers take their production and testing to the next level by investing in an instrument that will allow them to enhance their current setup and ultimately grow their offering by reducing waste and costs significantly.

  We also offer service solutions for our instruments, supporting customers with installation, calibration, preventative maintenance and repairs. No matter where you are in the world, we have local experts on the ground who can support your needs to ensure your instruments are operating efficiently.”

  One of the Industrial Physics brands is CMC KUHNKE. Davis describes its versatile options, all designed to save time and money:

  “Whether you’re a small brewery needing a compact and cost-effective solution like our useful CMC-KUHNKE seam saw, or a global giant within the world of beer looking for a more advanced, automated solution such as our CMC-KUHNKE Auto XTS, we can help you with this and everything in between!”

  Safeguarding the integrity of brewery products requires thought in every step of production. When it comes to keeping production lines moving swiftly and efficiently, Custom Conveyor Concepts promises to meet the needs of virtually any brewery. Matthew Gill, a co-founder of the company, has been in the packaging industry for some 40 years, working various floor positions before moving into management, sales and consulting. Gill explains how Custom Conveyor Concepts evolved:

  “In terms of the number of years in business, we are relatively new, as we were founded in 2015. However, Custom Conveyor Concepts (CCC) was formed after having been producing conveyors for more than 10 years for Exchange Team Advantage (ETA) and their customers. ETA was founded in 2005 as a used equipment supplier and OEM rep for virtually all aspects of liquid and powder packaging – depalletizing/unscrambling, filling, capping, labeling, coding, case packing and palletizing – literally, start-to-finish, turn-key applications. In doing so, we were requested to provide the connecting, often challenging, conveyor. After years of producing it for specific applications, the decision was made to make it available as its own commodity, and Custom Conveyor Concepts was born.”

  Gill emphasizes that his company’s products are designed to solve problems confronting breweries, whether accommodating tight spaces or tight deadlines.

  “We provide solutions. Whether it is space limitations, the need to expedite size changes or how to increase output, the only essentials required are your needs. Tell us what you want to do, and we will work with you to make it happen. We have worked with many startup companies, as well as very large, universally recognizable companies, and helped them grow. Our conveyors are versatile and expandable, as you can easily add, remove or re-route them. We only offer stainless steel, and our conveyors are constructed out of 11 ga., providing solid, durable equipment that will stand up to the harsh cleaning chemicals and offer ease in cleaning.”

  Gill adds that Custom Conveyor Concepts understands how to help breweries maximize their equipment investment while, at the same time, staying within budget.

  “We have worked with 600 cpm breweries down to 3 hd. fillers and manual crowners, when bottles were more prevalent. Our defining quality, in addition to the quality product we provide, is the attention we give to our customers and helping them achieve their needs, often providing options to help them stay within or define their budgets. We provide specialty equipment and service at ‘regular’ pricing. We don’t charge extra for non-stock items or detailed line layouts for placing the equipment. 

Our entire team’s product knowledge and industry experience are irreplaceable for providing application solutions. We do where others say it can’t be done. Many of our competitors don’t want to be bothered with small, low-dollar projects or small projects that require you to seek a solution. We excel at those.”

  Among the most popular products from Custom Conveyor Concepts are its serpentine conveyor and accumulation tables. Gill explains that while space is at a premium in most production facilities, it is more so in smaller operations. These two items, he says, offer ready solutions.

  “Utilizing a serpentine conveyor can convert the space a 5-foot conveyor consumes into 15 feet. The ability to make a roll change on a labeler without shutting off the filler makes the ROI for inline accumulation tables worth every penny.”

  Creating the bottling for breweries worldwide is the role of BPS Glass, a company based in Panama City, Panama, with its U.S. office in Atlanta, Georgia. As a family-owned business that began some 60 years ago, BPS Glass now boasts a reputation as one of the leading suppliers in the glass packaging industry. At its core is an emphasis on investing time, resources and effort in training its team members to create viable, innovative solutions for clients. Isidoro Cherem, a spokesperson for BPS Glass, says that the company works with breweries and distilleries that range from small craft operations to large commercial facilities. Cherem adds that dedication to optimal customer service sets the company apart from its competitors.

  “Thanks to our amazing team of experts and our commitment to excellence and creating long lasting relationships with our customers, we have grown to be the largest packaging supplier in the South and Central American region. We are constantly working towards expanding into the USA, and we are sure that we can replicate our success in the North American region.”

  BPS Glass offers more than 150 types of glass bottles for multiple industries, along with custom bottle designs. It also promotes services that include client-specific packaging and assistance with logistics to ensure timely, secure delivery of orders at the most cost-effective rates.

  Label design is another service BPS Glass provides its clients, with a focus on label colors and shapes, materials, textures and other aesthetic components. The company adds that it equips its clients with real-time marketing analysis, keeping an eye on marketing trends to help clients choose the right bottle, label and packaging for a product.

  Multiple choices in bottle closures are also on the company’s product roster. It points to its decades of knowledge in the chemical processes, physical considerations and industry safety standards to help clients safely package a product for consumers.  

  Whether using cans or bottles, breweries must factor in how best to protect the integrity of their product, both in terms of taste and safety of consumption. In addition, the efficiency of a production line depends upon investment in the right equipment that can move products swiftly and safely to store shelves. These considerations require the expertise of companies that know how to help breweries achieve these goals on time and within budget. 

Inside the Heritage Distilling Company

people inside a winery

By: Gerald Dlubala

At six years old, Justin Stiefel, CEO of Heritage Distilling Company (HDC), was watching reruns of MASH with his father and wanted to know what the contraption was that the characters were constantly hanging around and pouring drinks from in their army tent. That contraption was a hand-made still, and among other things, it fueled Stiefel’s interest in chemistry and engineering. His interest culminated in Stiefel submitting a working model of a still for his seventh-grade chemistry class experiment. While he obviously couldn’t partake in any experiments from his submission, his teacher happily accepted the challenge, deeming it a worthy working model and giving Stiefel top grades for his project.

  “That accomplishment felt good,” said Stiefel. “I became interested in chemistry in that process, and since distilling is a chemical process at its basic level, my interest in distilling naturally grew.”

  After adding a degree in chemical engineering, he and his wife Jennifer, president of HDC, founded Heritage Distilling Company in 2011 while sitting around a campfire with whiskey, cigars, good friends and family. The name Heritage came from Stiefel’s belief that no matter who we are, where we are or where we’re from, our story, state or background, we all have a shared heritage as a country and an individual heritage based on our experiences. So the word “heritage” captures all those spirits and everything around us into one customer experience that we provide.

  Later, as he and Jennifer both gained experience working in the U.S. Senate, Justin attended Law School and was ultimately put in charge of negotiating important issues and subsets related to native tribes, including reviewing past policies, academic advancement, job creation, investment issues and more.

  “Subsequently, Jennifer and I  enjoyed visiting the breweries and wineries for the relaxing vibe and experience, but it was never legal at that point to open distilleries until 2009 when the state of Washington legalized the process. It was noticeable from the brewery and winery experiences what benefits were available in agricultural and economic factors using local resources by allowing folks like us to open craft distilleries. Then, in 2011, when we moved back to Washington, where we grew up, Washington voters approved privatizing liquor distribution systems.”

  The Stiefels’ approach to opening a craft distillery is first to consider what consumers want rather than what they prefer to drink.

  “A distiller can’t fall in love with their own products,” said Justin. “If you’re opening a brewery, winery, or distillery because you love your beer, wine or spirits, that can be a recipe for disaster. If you enjoy the product that much, be satisfied with being a consumer and drink the things you like. We use a consumer-led, high-technology approach to every aspect of our distilling process, start to finish. We want to focus on what compels a consumer to choose any particular product because you only get that one shot with a consumer to trigger repeat purchases. No matter our approach, it always started and ended with the product’s taste and flavor profile. Using this approach, we’ve become the most awarded craft distillery for nine years running, per the American Distilling Institute.”

  “We like to say that if it isn’t in the bottle, it doesn’t belong on the shelf,” said Jennifer. “The final products are determined in double-blind taste tests, and our spirits’ taste profiles can take up to two years to reach the point of release. We include natural ingredients and processes, including our grain and mash, and tailor them to the consumer’s needs. We have experienced, trustworthy palettes and pride ourselves on our spirits’ taste, flavors and profiles. We have internal and external protocols for testing, including blind taste tests with unknowing consumers. Those consumers are the final gatekeepers of our products, and they’ll let us know when our product is ready. We import all of our distilling equipment from Italy simply because we’ve found that equipment produces the most amazing flavor profiles for us.”

  Stiefel tells Beverage Master Magazine that the six distilleries and tasting rooms HDC owns throughout Washington and Oregon serve as testing grounds for all products, including their homemade RTDs (Ready to Drink).

  “We get our consumers in the door, have them do a taste trial, and hopefully convert those tastings to purchases or membership program subscriptions,” said Stiefel. “For example, we offered free samples of our newly launched RTDs in our tasting rooms in return for an in-house completion of a 27-part questionnaire regarding their honest thoughts on the products. Our guests took an average of 27 minutes to complete those questionnaires. They provided informative and thoughtful responses and proved they were interested in helping us make product decisions and being part of the consumer journey with us.”

  Stiefel says that HDC has streamlined its processes and protocols for consistency, record keeping, compliance, and general tracking in case of a problem. They can track back to the particular release’s specifics and find the issue’s where, when and why.

  “It’s a personal development journey as well as a consumer journey,” said Steifel. “We have 10 years of experience in consistent production, successful policies and responsible behaviors. And we believe everyone opening a craft distillery is obliged to the industry, striving to provide excellence and total responsibility within this still-young industry.

Tribal Beverage Network: Turnkey Solutions with Individual Branding

  “There are 270 tribal, sovereign nations in the lower 48 states,” said Stiefel. “Because of our record of successful practices and responsible policies in opening craft distilleries, the Chehalis Tribe in Southwest Washington approached us to see if we would help them open a craft brewery and taproom with a new hotel development they had in the works. We explained that we are craft spirits producers, not brewery professionals. Additionally, we explained that, in our informed opinion, the craft brewery market is beginning to downsize, so if they wanted to pursue that market, we recommended that they go with a dual component facility that includes craft spirits.”

  The Chehalis Tribe agreed, and in partnership with HDC, they were on their way to an exciting and extensive 25 million, 36,000-square-foot project when the unthinkable occurred.

  “We were due for groundbreaking in February 2018 and 24 hours away from issuing the contract, complete with equipment on site ready to begin when we were issued a letter halting the project,” said Stiefel. “Citing a 1934 statute from the Andrew Jackson era, the letter stated that a distillery cannot be built on tribal land, and if it were, we would not only be subject to a $1,000 fine (a great amount back then), but the government had the right to destroy all related equipment, including the stills legally.”

  “Fast forward 184 years, and we now see that many tribes own and operate casinos, bingo halls, golf courses, resorts, entertainment venues and arenas,” said Stiefel. “In fact, there are currently 524 tribally owned casinos in the lower 48 states, including some of the biggest properties and wine and beer distributors in their respective cities. They are the largest operators in their respective areas except for some Vegas casinos, but in many cases, tribal casinos are bigger than their Vegas counterparts. So, we felt that this 1934 era statute was no longer applicable and decided to do something about it.”

  In April, the Stiefels introduced a bill to repeal the antiquated statute, and it was passed and signed into law by December of the same year. Their argument was simple and on point. Craft distilling is poised to take off nationally, yet only Indians are not allowed to participate in the benefits, which seems quite racist.

  “It was an extremely proud moment for us,” said Stiefel. “Our project with the Chehalis Tribe, Heritage Distilling at Talking Cedar, opened in 2020. As a result, HDC is working with five more tribes and soon a sixth to open craft distilleries in multiple locations, including Oklahoma, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We’re also involved in talks with tribes across the U.S. in Wisconsin and along the East Coast.”

  Talking Cedar is a destination brewery, distillery, taproom, tasting room and restaurant, and it also serves as the hub of HDC’s Northwest operations. All craft beverages at Talking Cedar are made on the premises by the Chehalis Indian Tribe and Heritage Distilling Company. Here, the HDC’s liquid base is distilled before being transferred to the individual tribal distilleries for final finishing, aging and any maturation necessary to get the final product the tribe deems worthy enough to reflect their heritage.

  “Tribal distilleries sound like a cool venture,” said Stiefel. “But the process is costly, time-consuming and time-sensitive regarding the reports involving the TTB (Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau). With our franchise-like, autonomous hub and spoke model, we help the tribes set up a small bottling operation with different production levels, aging and maturation levels. By getting the liquid base from Talking Cedar, we accelerate the process of perfecting spirits, putting the necessary, timely information before the TTB and gaining important brand consistency. We also negate the enormous expenditure involved in the engineering process needed to size each distillery’s equipment. It’s similar to how the tribes handle their casino openings, partnering with and using the management operations of larger casino operators for new products, support and marketing. Day one is often good because of the grand opening; we are there from the beginning. But by day two, you better be hustling and educating the consumer. Branding and marketing often get overlooked but can be a huge expense. HDC provides a marketing budget and team to create a halo marketing effort to drive customers to the locations and get products out the door.”

  Through HDC’s cohesive brand advantage, tribes receive pre-opening design and construction assistance, hiring help and applicable compliance and trademark assistance. HDC is there from before opening and along the way to help with product development, new marketing support, trademark research and support and TTB compliance reporting. The entire process is streamlined to get to the ribbon cutting and being ready to go with a full-scale operation, complete with a distinctive, retail-branded location (similar to Starbucks locations nestled in or next to grocers, retail outlets or hotels) and fully constructed tasting rooms, complete with 20 different flavored spirits.

  “Simultaneously, we are working with the tribes on what they want their products to be and signify to the consumer,” said Jennifer. “Each tribe has its own story comprised of its journey and history. When you visit their cultural centers, you see the beautiful and distinctive artwork, stories and historical imagery attached to the different tribes. These are all things that are not only important but need to be ingrained into their brand. You see the word ‘heritage’ used repeatedly, making HDC the perfect anchor partner.”

  “As an experienced partner, we can help limit mistakes that may typically happen throughout the initial distilling journey while also providing the tribes the immediate opportunity to start aging and creating their unique products,” said Jennifer. “The tribes can promote and label their distinctive products while receiving unmatched support from our Heritage brand portfolio. Visitors can expect to be immersed and recognize each tribe’s distinctively branded spirits, including the grains, flavor profiles, and cultural attributes that reflect their heritage, culture and history.”

  Stiefel says craft distilleries are significant earning opportunities for tribes when their revenues from tobacco and fuel are disappearing. Additionally, the current visitor demographic for these casinos is between 50 and 70 years of age. If the casino owners don’t have a plan for complementing and replacing the older demographic, revenues will naturally dwindle to the detriment of the business. Quality craft cocktails are a proven successful way to capture margin and tax revenue while gaining increased and repeat business from the desired 20- to 30-year-old consumer demographic.

  “And the best thing about these tribal spirits is that they can go national when they become popular and resonate with consumers outside the distillery’s four walls,” said Stiefel. “We have a national distribution agreement with the largest U.S. distributor. They are always hungry for these types of unique products. We’d love to see multiple tribal products hit multiple markets across our states, regions and nation. It would truly be a fantastic and monumental day for tribal-produced brands.”

Head to Tribal Beverage Network for more information.

From Publicly Traded Status to Special Whiskey Releases, HDC Barrels Towards the Future

  “With respect to our future, we’re looking at adding and nurturing more tribal partnerships and locations while focusing on our core wholesale products and expanding distribution out of the Northwest,” said Stiefel. “But while all of these other events have been happening, we’ve also been secretly distilling and aging whiskeys of our own over the last ten years and are releasing our line of Stiefel Select line of Ultra-premium single barrel picks, including a four-grain bourbon, a high rye bourbon, wheated bourbon, 100-percent rye whiskey, unmalted, which is very difficult to make, some single malt selections and some 100-percent wheat whiskeys. We didn’t want to be one of those distilleries promising to release something special in the future. We want to announce it when it’s ready to cut the ribbon and be consumed. So we decided that 2022, our 10th anniversary, was a great time to start releasing these in-house produced spirits to select markets in partnerships with retailers or directly to the consumer. Last year was five barrels, with a goal of 100 barrels released this year. They are all single barrel selections, with a few being small-batch, where we take the same barrel from the same distillation day and make a small batch, maybe a three-barrel combination individually numbered.”

  But the biggest news is that Heritage Distilling Holding Company has entered into a business combination transaction with Better World Acquisition Corporation to become a publicly traded company. Heritage Distilling Group will be the corporate name of the newly public company and will be traded on the NASDAQ in the late second quarter under the ticker symbol CASK.

  By the time you read this, the S-4 SEC form will have been filed, detailing an impressive, world-class board of directors that includes many well-recognized names from major corporations.

  “No one in the craft space can claim this type of expertise on their board,” said Stiefel. “I want to say that this board has previously handled over 150 billion in annual revenues and is simply unmatched in expertise and knowledge related to operational expertise, marketing excellence, consumer-based product development, global general counsel experience, extensive mergers and acquisitions experience and tribal economic development.”

Chronicling the Rise of Schilling Cider

5 ciders placed in a table

By: Becky Garrison

How did Colin Schilling go from making cider in his teens to operating Schilling Hard Cider,  the second-largest cidery in the United States? According to Emily Ritchie, executive director of the Northwest Cider Association, it’s a smart business. “That, combined with a passion for cider, has enabled them to be one of the top cider producers in the country! They’re pushing boundaries and finding shelf space for the cider category. They’re helping to lift all ships in the rising tide,” she notes.

  When asked about the inspiration behind his innovative cider portfolio, Colin Schilling points to his great-grandfather. In 1881, August Schilling founded the Schilling Spice Company in San Francisco, where he became known for products that put quality over a lower price point.

  Schilling grew up with cider in his blood. In the 1970s, his parents carried on this family craft tradition by pressing and making small-scale cider on their farm in rural Idaho. While he started making cider when he was 14 years old and continued homebrewing during his college days, Schilling says he never envisioned a future as a cidermaker.

  Then, after a five-month stint with Microsoft, he noticed how Angry Orchard kept trending in a direction that pointed to a growing interest in ciders. In Schilling’s estimation, his cider tasted better than other ciders on the market. So he convinced his friend, Mark Kornei, to join him on a new venture. They both quit their corporate jobs and launched the cidery, with Colin taking on the title of CEO and master cidermaker and Mark assuming the role of CFO.

  By November 2012, they had developed their initial concept for their cidery and filed their LLC papers the following month. At the start of the new year, they moved into a 30,000-square-foot facility south of Seattle in Auburn, with their first sales in April. Initially, raw apples were processed into juice, which was completed in Yakima in Eastern Washington, and then the juice was trucked to Auburn. They also employed a local cannery that filled and seamed their cans.

Pushing the Boundaries of Cidermaking

  From the cidery’s inception, Schilling has wanted to continue his family’s commitment to craft while pushing the boundaries of what he envisions as a cidermaker. Over the years, he has maintained a commitment to producing a craft cider that fits the definition of cider in the United States. Hence, 51 percent of the apple base in all Schilling ciders is made with 100 percent fresh-pressed apples. “At its core, cider is good quality apples. Then from there, the world’s your oyster,” Schilling reflects.

Canned Cider Pioneers

  Schilling proclaims they were a pioneer in producing cider in cans instead of bottles. When they started Schilling Hard Cider, ciders sold in the US were in bottles. But Schilling believed cans represented a far more sustainable way to package a beverage product. So, even though ciders had not previously been sold in cans, they committed to more sustainable practices on the assumption that canned ciders would also be popular.

  After California voters passed Proposition 65 (The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act) in 1986, the composition of canned liners changed from an epoxy base that contained trace amounts of BPA to 100 percent BPA-free cans. Schilling was able to access a canning process that was safer for both the planet and people. As an additional sustainability measure, they print their iconic labels directly on the cans rather than use non-recyclable stickers that must be peeled off the cans before they can be recycled.

  Schilling ciders are essentially sulfite-free, which the company states is necessary to make a quality canned beverage using their current liners. To ensure their products are self-stable without adding chemicals, they pasteurize their ciders through a large state-of-the-art tunnel pasteurizer.

  Among their earlier canning experiments, Schilling was the first cidery to produce a nitro cider in a can. Called Grumpy Bear, this was a nitro cider made with coffee beans that poured similar to a Guinness, replete with a foamy head. Also, they were the first to produce ciders from fruits other than apples, including grapefruit and pears.

Development of Tasting Rooms

  About ten years ago, Schilling decided to open tasting rooms in Seattle and Portland because these two cities represent the two fastest cider markets in the country in terms of per capita consumption and awareness of craft cider brands. In 2014, they opened their first cider house in Seattle with 32 taps, which, at the time, was the most extensive collection of cider taps in the world.

  Their number of taps has now grown to 35, featuring regional and local ciders and higher-end imports from Europe. At one point, they included two nitro taps into this mix. Because they are able to rotate multiple kegs at their cider house, they can test out new ciders and quickly gauge which flavor profiles resonate with consumers. Additionally, they now have the largest packaged selection of craft cider, with over 200 varieties in their cold cases for customers to enjoy onsite or take home.

  In 2018, Schilling opened a second cider house in SE Portland in the Goat Blocks neighborhood, which boasts the country’s largest selection of draft ciders with 50 cider taps. This site also has a restaurant serving a gluten-free menu and a winery license, where they show off some small-scale techniques by producing wines in five-gallon tanks. These wines are used primarily for special events and experiments.

Expansion of Schilling Cider

  Shortly after opening in 2012, Schilling ran out of space and utilized satellite warehouses to store empty cans, cases and other materials. So, two years later, they relocated to a 110,000-square-foot warehouse, also in Auburn.

  This expansion gives Schilling the infrastructure to scale up while still maintaining its craft sensibilities. For example, they can now store enough apples to fresh-press apples year-round. As proof, they are the largest fresh-pressed cider production facility in the country.

  Schilling also now has the fastest canning line in the world, which can run up to 1,050 cans per minute. The entire production line is fully automated, with a crew of highly trained individuals overseeing this production. Because the line is highly automated, and no one has to work shoulder-to-shoulder on the production line, they were able to assume total production during COVID while practicing social distancing. 

Changing the Corporate Culture

  Schilling attributes the high employee retention rate among his 75 employees to their work with Moe Carrick, an executive leadership consultant and author. “We’ve done a lot of soul searching, training and coaching regarding how I lead and run a company from the top. Then we’ve implemented policies that I think are quite different from what other folks experience in our industry.”

  For example, they benchmark their employee’s pay raises to the Social Security inflation number. Also, they engage in honest real-time feedback and just rolled out a company-wide employee training program whereby everyone gets to pick a broad topic they will focus on for a year. Along those lines, they work to ensure that all employees are tuned in to the company culture to function as effective brand ambassadors for Schilling Cider.

Charity Partnerships

  Every year they run a campaign called Keep It Wild with Oregon Wild and Washington Wild that raises money to help keep wild spaces intact. Last year, this campaign raised $20,000 for these charities. This year, they’ve expanded the program to eight states. In addition, the company hosts cider diners designed to raise funds for hunger relief charities. Schilling is also building multiple collaborations around National Cider Month in October, participating with the Northwest Cider Association and local events, such as Cider Summit Seattle and Cider Summit PDX.

New Product Developments 

  When Schilling’s Excelsior line of imperial ciders launched in 2018, they had the distinction of being the first cider to produce a cider with over seven percent alcohol that was packaged into a six-pack of 12-ounce cans. In doing this, Schilling figured out a way to scale up a high-tannin exotic cider by bringing in bittersharps and bittersweet apples from Europe and France, where cider apples are still grown in abundance. They combined these apples with locally grown apples to create a tart but semi-sweet cider.

  Also, through experimentation, Schilling developed the ability to produce a highly carbonated cider, a feature they employed in their Excelsior Red Glo! This one-of-a-kind dry imperial cider is made with unique and rare Lucy Glo™ apples. A cross between a Honeycrisp and an Airlie Red Flesh apple, these apples are grown by fourth- and fifth-generation growers in the heart of Washington State’s apple country.

  Another new Schilling product is Vida Maté, a non-alcoholic canned drink made from Yerba Maté, a South American plant that contains naturally occurring caffeine, brewed into a tea and flavored with real juices.

  Moving forward, Schilling points to their 110,000-square-foot warehouse, noting they have plenty of room for expansion. Along the way, Colin Schilling will continue to explore ways to be a sustainable leader in the industry while producing unique craft ciders. 

From the Ground Up: Building a Brewery

Expertise Now Rescues Craft Brewers from Costly Headaches Later

brewing materials in a convention

 By: Cheryl Gray

Quality, precision and productivity are just some of the elements that factor in when deciding what brewery equipment to install.

  Whether for a start-up or an expanding operation, equipment is a major investment, and there are companies whose expertise is to help guide their brewery clients toward making that investment pay off.

  One of them is Craftmaster Stainless, a full-service stainless equipment provider that provides an expansive list of products for breweries, wineries and distilleries. The California-based company has clients across the United States and Canada. The company prides itself on the detail and finishing of every product its manufactures, as well as the customer service it provides before and after the sale.

  Mackenzie Sant is a sales and equipment specialist for Craftmaster Stainless. He says that learning about craft brewing from the ground up introduced him to the company’s products. The team behind Craftmaster Stainless, Sant explains, has multiple years in brewing, technical detail and customer service. That experience supports the company’s ability to translate a client’s equipment wish list into a customized experience. It is just one of the company’s assets that Sant believes puts Craftmaster Stainless ahead of its competitors.

  “We offer every piece of equipment someone needs to start a brewery. We want to be your one-stop shop. We won’t furnish your taproom or install your walk-in cooler, but we have all the equipment you need to upscale that popular homebrew batch or to upgrade from the ugly  brewhouse you have been brewing in for four years. We wish we could have in-person meetings with everyone shopping for a new brewery, but a phone call works wonders. Tell us your business plan, what styles of beer you want to brew and projected production numbers, and we can spec out the equipment you need. We work closely with other manufacturers and suppliers in the U.S. to source equipment that we don’t produce, from the start of the brew day milling the grain, to chilling and carbonating before pouring a crispy pint.”

  And just what does a newly-minted brewing operation need? Sant provides a checklist of essentials, beginning with a business plan and a building followed by must-have equipment, such as a mill/auger for crushing and transporting the grain to the mash tun, a mash tun/lauter tun for converting complex malt sugars into fermentable sugars and a kettle for “cooking” unfermented beer (wort), as well as for adding hops/adjuncts and pasteurizing the liquid to ensure a clean fermentation.

  Sant adds that additional essentials include a heat exchanger to cool the wort down to fermentation temperatures, pumps for cleaning or transferring liquids, unitanks/conical fermenters for the bulk of fermentation, brite tanks for conditioning, clarification and carbonation and, lastly, a glycol chiller for controlling fermentation and conditioning temperatures. The latter, Sant advises pairs well with a cellar control panel to control each tank.

  Regarding some of the most popular items on the product list for Craftmaster Stainless, Sant points to a number of items that highlight the company’s unique feel for what breweries need, including one piece of equipment that takes the tedium out of a very mundane but necessary chore.

  “I would say our keg washer is the most popular piece of equipment at the moment. I think I speak for most brewers when I say that keg washing is probably one of the most repetitive jobs in the industry. This machine makes that job easy. It is seriously your best ‘employee.’ Once again, our customer service is always there to help with any trouble shooting. We understand downtime is not profitable, so we are always available to help. I would say our brewhouses are popular as well. They look great and they get the job done. Our level of customization on our brewhouses will catch your eye. We do have a couple other products releasing this year that will steal the spotlight for a while.”

  The company’s new product launches include the Craftmaster Stainless Semi-Auto ‘Keggernaut’ Keg Washer and another new equipment item.

  “We just released our Three Gallon Hop Doser. The Hop Doser is a great attribute in our equipment line up. When introducing hops into the brewing process, you don’t want to introduce oxygen. This hop doser allows you to dry hop without oxygen ingress. It can be used for other adjuncts as well, so use your imagination. Keep an eye out for equipment to come. There is so much technology in the industry that isn’t being used, and we have big plans for the future, while staying competitive.”

  From Lincoln, Nebraska, is ABE Equipment Company, which designs and manufactures a variety of equipment for breweries. The company’s brewhouse equipment is custom-built, paying special attention to solving problem areas such as low ceilings, tight spaces, ventilation barriers and utility requirements. Ashlei Howell is the marketing manager for the firm’s parent company, Norland International.

  “Our sweet spot is the 1,000 BBL to 5,000 BBL per year brewery. Our products cater to much larger breweries, and much of our equipment can be used on a much smaller scale, but the niche we serve will be a bit on the higher production end.

  We pride ourselves on being able to offer a complete solution at a fair price. We handle everything from grain to glass. Everything is designed and assembled in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we employ over 130 hardworking Americans to make our suite of products. Our dedicated customer service technicians train our customers and make themselves available nearly anytime to answer questions.”

  When it comes to introducing new products to the market, Howell explains that ABE Equipment Company is focused on what will increase its clients’ bottom line.

  “Our newly released products have changed how breweries and distilleries package their product. The new CraftCan Go is a small footprint, one operator and a dual-purpose (atmospheric and counter pressure) canning machine. Breweries are packaging so much more than just beer in today’s environment.

  A canning line capable of making beer, coffee, seltzer, tea, and anything else that may be high or low in carbonation adds versatility to the brewery. It sets that particular machine apart from anything else on the market.

  The Patriot Fill Station allows companies to package virtually any beverage on a budget. It is a manual fill station allowing the user to package around eight bottles per minute. This machine can handle alcohol, syrups, oils and many more viscous or non-viscous liquids. With so many craft beverage companies coming to the market, having an affordable machine to get a product into a package at a reasonable price is a must for any beverage company wanting to stay ahead  of the game.”

  Howell offers input on some advanced equipment choices for breweries to consider.

  “There are numerous products a brewery can add to its lineup to optimize production, save time, cut costs and much more. A yeast brink allows breweries to reuse yeast and can easily be added to your equipment lineup. If harvested and stored correctly, you can sometimes yield up to 10 generations of yeast, spreading the cost across multiple brews. With rising grain costs, adding a bulk grain silo is becoming a more economical option for breweries. Buying in bulk saves time when brewing, but you can cut significant costs when ordering large amounts of grain at a time. The ROI on a silo is easier to prove now more than ever. There are also a variety of smaller, simpler items, such as brite tank monitors, CIP carts, and brewhouse automation options that help improve production within a brewery.”

  MISCO Refractometer and its 70-year history have earned a place in the specialty field of refractometry. Refractometers in the brewing industry are among the equipment needs experts say breweries should have on their checklist of items designed to ensure quality control. As the singular item that the company manufactures, MISCO offers a wide range of refractometer choices for different industries, but one specifically designed for brewing. The company says that its MISCO Digital Beer Refractometer deploys a patented design specific to wort and eliminates the need to use a refractometer correction factor when placing measurements into beer calculators.

  Another advanced equipment option for breweries is a set of sieve plates for the mill. According to experts like Sant, even a one percent efficiency loss in this area could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year. Along with this, brewers may want to consider keg washers along with portable and inline flow meters. Sant recommends breweries make equipment choices with long-term gain in mind.

  “Can you save money in the beginning by cutting cost on your equipment? Absolutely. But what about labor cost, repair cost for failing equipment and bad batch efficiency? The list goes on. Spend less time worrying about the equipment and more time worrying about the beer you are creating. A popular beer podcast said that every 10 minutes you save brewing is a cold beer at the end of the day. Spend that extra time focusing on different aspects of the process.”

Proper Tank Selection Begins With Business and Production Goals

2 huge brewing machine

By: Gerald Dlubala

From start to finish, a well-equipped brewhouse or distillery is a complex linked chain of equipment, including specialized tanks and storage vessels, each important to the final product. But brewery and distillery experts agree that before finalizing any decisions on the purchase or upgrade of your tanks and tank accessories, it’s critical that the equipment manufacturers know your business and production goals, both now and in the future, so that they can recommend the proper vessels for your needs.

It’s in Their Name: Quality Tank Solutions

  To help sort through all of the possibilities, Jimmi Sukys, owner of Quality Tank Solutions (QTS), says that it’s critical to research and choose a manufacturer that carries an excellent reputation in your industry with the equipment they manufacture or import and with the knowledge and service capabilities for support of those products. Quality Tank Solutions brings over 50 years of expertise in the stainless-steel industry, providing sanitary liquid solutions to the brewing, food and beverage, dairy and pharmaceutical industries. QTS builds lifelong partnerships because of its willingness to work alongside each customer from start to finish and beyond. They offer everything a craft beverage producer needs in quality, right-sized equipment and accessories.

  “Before we even get to the tanks, a producer should know the production goals that match and support their business plan,” said Sukys. “From there, we can determine the size and quantity of necessary equipment, develop a plan for future growth and plan for the type and size of the facility that will support this plan. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, when a craft producer finds their perfect location, say, a great space for a taproom, we work backward using the available space. A quality manufacturer helps clients determine the optimal equipment size for their production space and provides the production capabilities of that recommended equipment.”

  “The first step is knowing the process or function required of the tank in question,” said Sukys. “A quality manufacturer should ask questions to be sure they design and offer a proper vessel for your needs. For example, is it a process tank, and if so, what will the process involve? What type of products will you be mixing, adding, heating or cooling, and to what extremes? The more details you provide to a manufacturer, the more value you get from your tank purchase.”

  Sukys said that knowing the size of batches is critical as well. Too small of a tank limits production. Conversely, going too big with a goal of doing double or triple batches or more can raise issues when wanting to do only a single batch. Most tanks are not designed to heat or cool less than maximum volume production batches efficiently. Smaller batches may not hold temperatures correctly or cause stratification. A manufacturer that understands these limitations can be beneficial in presenting options that work for the producer’s needs.

  “Stainless steel has become the standard choice of construction,” said Sukys. “Stainless steel tanks can withstand decades of use when properly maintained. The range of temperatures in stainless steel tanks is much greater than other material choices, allowing a craft producer to use them for a wider range of processes. Welded ports replace screw-on fittings, which may need more maintenance. Additionally, stainless steel offers superior sanitation capabilities and can withstand aggressive cleaning with different chemicals. Quality manufacturers provide maintenance schedules for any equipment they provide.”

  Sukys told Beverage Master Magazine that any other accessories and equipment needed, like boilers and chillers, will depend on what the beverage producer plans to offer. Budgets must also include more minor things that add up, like hoses, gaskets, extra clamps, and fittings. He recommends using a manufacturer that helps with recommendations on what is necessary for startup and what additional equipment is good to have on hand. It’s common for equipment manufacturers to have accessories available to the beverage producer.

“The most important aspect of all of this is to choose a quality manufacturer that keeps current on the evolvement of the beverage industry and has the capability and expertise to design equipment that allows you to produce better beverages consistently,” said Sukys. “A strong warranty and service department is critical for peace of mind and knowing that you have a partner to have your back if unforeseen things happen. And remember that as your business and production goals grow, so do your equipment needs. The industry is constantly evolving, and better design of tanks and auxiliary equipment can help save energy, raw materials and production time. Finally, American-made equipment always has a higher resale value than Asian imports. That can be important when it comes time to resell your smaller tanks to replace them with larger capacity models.”

  For questions, consultations, and more information on Quality Tank Solutions, visit www.qts4u.com.

Flexibility, Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness: Paul Mueller Company

  Since 1940, the Paul Mueller Company has provided experienced help and demonstrated expertise in the processing equipment industry. Their reputation as being not only a quality manufacturer of brewing-related vessels and equipment but also a true partner of craft beverage producers is demonstrated through their equipment and industry knowledge and their respectfulness of client schedules and available workspaces to provide seamless transitions and minimal disruptions or interruptions, whether you’re purchasing new systems or replacing outdated or undersized equipment.

  “The first thing we should look at, as far as necessary equipment and proper sizing, is the planned production, and then work back from there,” said Jon Sprenger, regional sales manager for the Paul Mueller Company. “We find the best way to do this is to consider what your business will look like and what production levels you expect to attain in five years. That number is critical because bottlenecks in brewing and production are generally about available cellar space rather than brewhouse issues. You can brew beer around the clock, but you’re at a dead end if you don’t have the cellar space.”

  Sprenger also said that equipment like tanks could depend on the heat source chosen for the production space. Steam and direct fire are the two most popular, with steam being the easiest way to brew. The boiler can be pricey upfront. Conversely, with direct fire, you’ll be paying regular monthly payments for natural gas on a utility payment plan. It depends on available capital and the owner’s perspective from a cost standpoint.

  Along with this, Sprenger adds that an owner has to consider if they want to distribute their products or remain true to being a craft taproom. How do you want to handle your packaging? A quality equipment manufacturer will use this information to develop a successful equipment plan that incorporates the entire business model, not just presently but also with an eye toward the future.

  “And we can achieve that in different ways,” said Sprenger. “Consuming beer is like eating food. You do it first with your eyes. So many times, older, trendier and historic spaces have become desired locations for breweries and taprooms. That’s okay, and we can fill an already acquired space, or we can look at a producer’s projections and recommend comfortable square footage estimates to fulfill those goals. Either way of building a system is acceptable and falls under the umbrella of what we can do. Most manufacturers, including us, offer layout services and work with the available contractors and architects to develop a successful system. Stainless steel is advantageous simply because of its longevity. It’s built to last with simple and easy maintenance and cleaning capability. When compared to oak, which is difficult in this day and age to brew beer in, it becomes an easy and economically sound decision to go with stainless products just based on ease of cleaning and maintenance, lifespan and consistency in product endpoint and taste.”

  Sprenger tells Beverage Master Magazine that Mueller offers everything for a complete brewing system that falls in between the raw ingredients and the end glass.

  “We understand that it’s a lot easier and less time-consuming for beverage producers to deal with as few vendors as possible, so we offer all the necessary related equipment and accessories that they’ll need to complete their brewing system. That being said, we also easily adapt or integrate our products into any existing equipment that a craft producer already has in place. All of our equipment is customizable and will comfortably fit where it is supposed to go using as little movement as possible. Our equipment and installation successes are great marketing tools as well. Like consumers, we love to see our tanks on display in taprooms because they are also on display to other industry professionals that visit, including other brewers.”

Saving Money, Increasing Efficiency With Mueller’s Serving Beer Tank

  “One thing we’re excited about, and brewers should be too, is our serving beer tanks,” said Sprenger. “They’re a great alternative to kegs, and they don’t require the cleaning or CO2 that kegs demand. Beer goes into a mylar or polymer, food-grade bag inside a pressurized tank using only compressed air. The serving beer tanks don’t require cleaning because the replaceable bag protects the stainless steel from ever contacting the enclosed product. The use of compressed air negates the use of CO2, and we all know about the cost and shortage issues there. They come in various sizes and are perfect for taprooms. The tanks are completely mobile, easily transported outside for parking lot events, off-site festivals or stacked above your bar or in cold rooms for an awesome visual experience. The uses and locations are endless, and our serving beer tanks provide ultimate flexibility, space savings and costs incurred with keg ownership. In addition, the serving beer tanks offer a self-cooling, streamlined process of serving beer directly from the tank that promotes longer shelf life and fresher beer. We do recognize the need for kegs for distribution and other uses, but our serving beer tanks give brewers a cost savings option to replace kegs where available.”

  Mueller’s serving beer tanks show well in a copper or stainless finish, are ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) code-rated and can easily push beer several hundred feet with no issues and serve multiple draft towers at once.

  For those looking for a complete system, Mueller offers their Beer Genius brewery system, a space-saving craft brewery package customized for your space and featuring their serving beer tanks, making everything from buy to brew easy and efficient with expert help and advice along the way.

  “We work with brewers through these types of things daily,” said Sprenger. “It’s critical to think through expected future growth. If you think you’ll need a size five tank, get a seven. The small extra cost will surely be less than the headache accompanied by a misjudgment in equipment sizing. Always consider your cellar tank needs, including brite and fermenter tanks, to accomplish your desired production goals. It’s always worth the effort.”

For questions, a consultation or more information on Paul Mueller or their serving beer tanks, go to www.paulmueller.com.

In the Market for Quality Parts and Accessories

  Many top tank and equipment manufacturers rely on parts and accessories from Gould Stainless Products. Gould Stainless Products sells everything you need except the tank and is a leading wholesale importer and distributor of stainless-steel sanitary tank accessories. Since 1991, Gould Stainless Products has filled the need for sanitary fittings, valves, pumps, tank manways and related accessories for the brewing, distilling and winemaking industries.

  Their extensive catalog is available online and by mail order. You can order a single, threaded joint, sight glass or replacement fitting up through stainless tubing lengths and replacement manways in various shapes, sizes and closure choices compatible with your existing system equipment.

   For more information and to view the extensive line of products that Gould Stainless Products offers, go to www.gouldstainless.com/home

Uncovering the Hazards of Adulterated Tequila

Keeping Your Products Pure for Better Taste and Quality  

tequila bottle in a bar

By: Alec and Ana Tesa

When it comes to distillation, quality and consistency are key components for a product that is worthy of consumer loyalty. Unfortunately, as the alcohol industry continues to grow, so do the possibilities of encountering counterfeit spirits or poor-quality imitations – particularly when discussing tequila. While it’s easy to overlook minor discrepancies in taste or color caused by adulteration during production, these small changes can add up quickly and adversely affect your business.

Quality Issues Associated with Tequila Production

  The production of tequila has been around for centuries, and it has long been celebrated as one of the most popular spirits consumed worldwide. However, with such a high level of popularity comes an increased demand for the product, which can lead to quality issues in its production. One major issue is the agave plant, the main ingredient used in tequila production.

  Many producers have resorted to using poor-quality, premature agave plants or adulterated mixtures in order to cut costs and boost their profit margins. This can result in substandard tequila that lacks flavor or consistency. Additionally, many producers take shortcuts during the distillation process, resulting in a spirit that is not up to standard quality requirements.

  Another issue surrounding tequila production is related to the fermentation process. Certain profiles of Tequila (Reposado and Anejo for the most part) must be aged in oak barrels before it can be sold on the market, but some producers may opt to use non-oak barrels or even plastic containers instead. This results in an inferior product with lower levels of flavor and complexity due to oxidation being prevented by non-oak containers. Moreover, improper fermentation processes can also create off flavors, aromas, and contamination from undesired microorganisms.

  Lastly, another quality concern regarding tequila production relates directly to labeling regulations and accuracy. In Mexico, and most other countries for that matter, there are strict labeling regulations when it comes to spirits like tequila.

For example, bottles must clearly state what type of agave was used and if any additives were added during production (e.g., sugar syrup). Moreover, labels must also display information about alcohol content and aging time for each product too.

  Without accurate labeling standards being enforced by lawmakers, it’s difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are purchasing – leading them vulnerable to unknowingly consuming low-quality products with inferior ingredients or distillation methods employed during production.

The Risks of Adulterated Tequila and its Impact on Future Sales

  Tequila, historically, has been known as a spirit made from blue agave and produced in Mexico. It is an iconic beverage that has become popular among many cocktail enthusiasts and drinkers. Unfortunately, over the years, there have been cases of adulterated tequila being produced and sold on the market. This type of tequila contains additives or substitutes that are not traditionally used in the production process and can result in a product that may taste different or have negative health consequences.

  Adulterated tequila is often created to cut costs and increase profit margins for producers. This can lead to dangerous consequences for unsuspecting consumers who buy what they think is pure tequila but isn’t. Some of these risks include potential allergic reactions caused by added preservatives or coloring agents and problems with alcohol content if the tequila does not contain all-natural ingredients. Furthermore, it is important to note that this type of alcohol can also lack flavor and complexity compared to traditional tequila due to its lower-quality ingredients.

  The impact of adulterated tequila on future sales could be significant if consumers become aware of its dangers. People looking for an authentic experience may be hesitant to purchase any product that could be an imitation or an inferior version of what they thought they were getting. In addition, retailers may decide not to carry certain brands if they suspect the tequila might be counterfeit or unsafe for their customers. As a result, producers who produce authentic tequila have a responsibility to ensure that their product is safe and meets regulatory standards in order to protect their brand’s integrity and consumer trust.

The Dangers of Spoiled Ingredients During Distillation

  When it comes to distilling alcohol, understanding how to handle spoiled ingredients is essential. Spoiled ingredients can not only affect the flavor of the end product but can also introduce bacteria into the process, leading to health and safety risks. To avoid these dangers, it is important that distillers always check the quality of their ingredients before they begin distilling. This means examining the color and smell of each ingredient, as well as checking for any visible signs of spoilage. If any ingredient is found to be spoiled, it should not be used in the process.

  In addition to examining each individual ingredient, it is important for distillers to take special care when sourcing their supplies. Ingredients should come from trusted sources with a good track record in terms of freshness and safety.

  It is also important that all ingredients are stored properly prior to use; refrigeration is often necessary for food-based ingredients like fruits and grains, while other materials such as alcohol must be stored away from light and heat sources.

  Regularly inspecting storage containers can help ensure that spoiled or contaminated materials are not inadvertently used during the distillation process.

Identifying Untrustworthy Suppliers in Tequila Production

  The importance of identifying untrustworthy suppliers in tequila production is paramount to the success and safety of your business. There are a few key steps to take when evaluating potential suppliers for tequila production.

  First, research the company’s history and track record. Take a look at how long they have been in business, their past experiences with customers, any complaints filed against them, and more.

  It is also important to look into the quality of the products and services they provide. Make sure to ask any questions you may have about how they produce their product, what process they use, how often they test it and what happens if there is an issue with the quality of their product.

  Look at the supplier’s financial stability as well. Make sure that they are able to meet all of your requirements for payment terms and that they can continue to provide quality supplies over time without going out of business or becoming unreliable. You should also ensure that you have access to their up-to-date contact information in case any issues arise during your transaction with them.

  Finally, make sure you thoroughly review any contracts or agreements you enter into with a supplier before signing them. This includes ensuring you understand all of the terms and conditions and verifying that everything written in the contract is accurate and legal. Doing this will help ensure that all parties involved are protected from any future misunderstandings or disputes.

  Overall, taking the time to identify untrustworthy suppliers in tequila production is essential for ensuring the success of your business’s operations moving forward.

Minimize Risk by Ensuring High-Grade Spirits Are Delivered to Consumers

  When it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, safety is a priority. The risk associated with consuming low-grade spirits can be potentially dangerous and even fatal. That’s why ensuring that only high-grade spirits are delivered to consumers is important. Doing this can reduce the risk of adverse health effects from consuming these beverages.

  High-grade spirits are defined as those that have been produced under stringent quality control processes and contain higher levels of pure alcohol, such as vodka and other distilled liquors. These products must meet certain standards in order to be classified as “high grade,” which include passing through all necessary steps in the distillation process and passing tests for purity and alcohol content. Furthermore, they must also have a long shelf life in order to provide consumers with the highest quality product possible.

  The importance of ensuring that only high-grade spirits are delivered to consumers cannot be overstated – these products provide a higher level of safety and can also reduce the risk of intoxication due to their higher concentrations of alcohol. Furthermore, by providing consumers with high-grade spirits, they can enjoy the taste and quality associated with drinking them without any fear of health risks or potential intoxications due to low-grade impurities or chemicals in lower-quality products. This not only protects people from possible harm but helps them maintain a healthier lifestyle as well.

  Overall, minimizing risk by ensuring high-grade spirits are delivered to consumers is essential for protecting public health and safety both now and in the future. By taking this approach, we can help ensure that people remain safe when consuming alcoholic beverages while still being able to enjoy their favorite drinks with confidence, knowing that they are made from the highest quality ingredients available on the market today.

  Ultimately, all these factors together – quality assurance, reliable suppliers and attention to detail during distillation – ensure that customers receive only the best tequila available. If companies in the industry can focus on delivering high-grade spirits with safety and trustworthiness as their top priorities, they will be able to provide superior customer experiences while also safeguarding their bottom lines.

About Eleven20 Tequila

  Eleven20 Tequila is an award-winning tequila crafted with traditional distilling techniques and a passion for excellence. Founded by a husband and wife team, the brand uses only premium blue agave sourced from producers in the region. Through their commitment to quality, Eleven20 Tequila has become recognized as an innovator of flavor and aromas, with its signature blend being celebrated by mixologists and connoisseurs alike. With a culture rooted in respect for tradition, expertise, and craftsmanship, each bottle of Eleven20 Tequila is a testament to the highest standards of excellence.

CO2 Struggles Breed Innovative Practices & Alternative Gas Use

bubbles accumulation close up

By: Gerald Dlubala

Shortages, surcharges and sketchy availability: that’s not what any craft brewer, distiller or winemaker wants to hear about their supply stream. Yet that’s the reality that many brewers have been, and still are, living with after the pandemic played havoc with CO2 (carbon dioxide) availability.

  The lack of regular, planned delivery and variable costs and surcharges of CO2 has brewers looking at ways to cut their costs or amount of usage of CO2, including replacing CO2 with nitrogen in some capacity. Nitrogen is readily available and an inert gas that does not typically   react with its surroundings, so there’s no worry of adverse reactions with the brewed products.

Reducing and Replacing CO2 Use

  Matt Malloy is the founder and CEO of Dorchester Brewing in Boston, Massachusetts, a contract partner brewery usually brewing for and partnering with 12 to 15 breweries at any given time. When facing a 75 percent reduction in planned CO2 deliveries from their supplier, Malloy knew it was time to look into new and alternative ways to keep his taphouse and brewery producing, especially as he is responsible for brewing beer for his partner breweries.

  “We’ve long had a great relationship with our gas supplier,” said Malloy. “But this became a serious issue for us. We are a contract brewer for others, so production and quality are always our absolute priorities. We adhere to strict best practices with the required equipment for our industry and have to perform at a certain expected level. We have a bulk CO2 tank but couldn’t get the supplies necessary to keep us going, so we had to start looking at other options and even other suppliers than we had previously. We began by looking at where we use CO2 in our production. (Like other brewers, they found it in use virtually everywhere in their process.) We decided that the 25 percent supply we could get would go towards the most needed tasks. Then we would look for alternative solutions for other tasks that would cut the CO2 usage or, in some instances, replace the need for CO2 altogether with a better, more economical option. In our research and testing (Dorchester Brewing has a full-time quality control and testing lab), we found that we could initially replace CO2 with nitrogen in our canning, seaming and kegging operations. Additional notable savings came from using it to purge our two 60-bbl and one 120-bbl brite tanks. It was pretty much a one-for-one swap between CO2 and nitrogen. Our gas supplier helped with suggestions, and we were able to use our current piping systems by installing T-valves for switching use to liquid nitrogen supply, vaporizers and dewars when needed. We also found that cleaning under pressure used less gas than cleaning in place. All of these changes were made incrementally, using slow and steady testing to ensure that using nitrogen in place of CO2 did not compromise the quality of the beer in any one step of change.”

  Malloy told Beverage Master Magazine that one very effective thing he and his brewers started doing is incorporating the German method of Spunding in their brewing process, using special valves attached to your tanks. Spunding literally means bunging, and the old German technique is making a comeback and something that Malloy says every craft brewer should at least try. It involves carefully monitoring the present gravity and sealing off the tank after the initial, aggressive fermentation stages have been completed. Once the wort ferments to near the targeted final gravity and orifices are closed off, you set the Spunding valve on the tank to your desired hold pressure setting. The valve’s attached gauge monitors PSI levels, and any levels above your set pressure tell the variable pressure relief valve to open automatically and release pressure down to the preset level when the valve will once again close. Spunding traps the naturally occurring CO2 created during fermentation so that it absorbs into the wort as it turns into beer. When done correctly, a brewer ends up with a perfectly carbonated beer ready for packaging and a decreased need for additional purchased CO2.

  “Right from the start, we reduced our CO2 needs by 30 percent,” said Malloy. “Spunding saves us money, but I also believe it makes better beer. There is an increased sense of quality with better aroma components. We are making better beer, with less cost and more flexibility.”

  Malloy encourages brewers to initially consider ways to save on and reduce CO2 usage before blindly transitioning everything to nitrogen.

“As brewers, we have to be super nimble and flexible in our thinking,” said Malloy. “Here at Dorchester Brewing, we’ve looked at and studied every step in our brewing and production process. As a result, we now see some of the duties that traditionally call for CO2 use, like purging and blowing down, as valid ways to use nitrogen instead and save money.”

  Malloy says that Spunding, combined with an intense review of brewery practices, has gotten their facility down to a 50 percent reduction in the amount of CO2 they would typically require, but he’s not stopping there. He is currently testing nitrogen use in his can seamers and fillers. As a result, he expects to reduce his CO2 deliveries from once a week to once a month, resulting in even more savings.

  Nitrogen offers a way to create your own gas supply or have a less costly bulk option. Onsite nitrogen generators provide nitrogen on demand and, depending on use, can pay for themselves in a short time, sometimes within the same year. Cryogenic bulk tanks offer an onsite nitrogen supply with fewer deliveries, and dewars are available for more minor production needs.

Innovation Leads to a Change in Philosophy and Brewery Practices

  “Spunding and nitrogen use have changed how we approach brewing, but those practices have also built a new philosophy within our brewery,” said Malloy. “We are always looking to improve, and now we see a change in behavior within our team. We’ve changed cleaning protocols and team behavior. Our team now sees value in every pound of gas used. Each pound used is sacred, and this type of thinking breeds innovation. We’ve used these protocols with all our brews, with no issues, differences or deficiencies noticed.”

  Malloy says that these changes help production, but just as significantly, they also add up to reduced costs for brewers. The cost savings in buying bulk is significant, with some breweries paying up to eight times as much for supply as Dorchester Brewing.

  “I would recommend that craft brewers first look at all of their production tasks in detail and, where applicable, incorporate the Spunding valves in their process,” said Malloy. “The upfront cost would be that of the valves, but the savings resulting from Spunding can be significant. Getting caught short can cause irreparable harm as a craft brewer, so you should also work with your gas supplier to investigate and research the possibilities of using nitrogen for as many practices as possible. It’s a win-win situation for both of you.”

  Malloy is invested in the brewing community and is willing to discuss his experiences and help to show other craft brewers how they can start reducing costs through Spunding, nitrogen use or both in their brewery, pub or taproom. In addition, Dorchester Brewing offers free lid seaming checks and DO (dissolved oxygen) testing for area brewers.

Reusing Produced CO2 Through Carbon Capture: Earthly Labs

  Due to the nature of the brewing process, breweries produce large amounts of CO2. With CO2 supplies being in such short and erratic supply, plus variable pricing structures, it may make sense for breweries to consider recapturing some of that produced CO2 for their use. Earthly Labs, a division of Chart Industries, is at the forefront of CO2 capture technology, manufacturing plug-and-play carbon capture units that enable a brewery start capturing and using their own produced CO2 within one day of installation.

  The Earthly Labs CO2 capture technology is designed to capture CO2 waste from smaller sources that ultimately make up more than half of all CO2 emissions. For breweries specifically, this translates to allowing brewers to capture their own produced CO2 and subsequently purify it to food-grade gas for reuse in the packaging and carbonating processes.

  Using recaptured CO2 for your beer immediately allows a brewer to reduce CO2 purchases and the associated delivery fees and surcharges. Additionally, peace of mind comes with decreasing worries and making an environmentally conscious decision to increase sustainability. Earthly Labs compares the capture and reuse of CO2 to brewers or distillers disposing of spent grain because it is also a way to become more sustainable while also simultaneously benefitting your brewery’s bottom line.

  Amy George, founder and CEO of Earthly Labs, says that while distilleries and wineries don’t have the amount of need that breweries have, they are also in the early stages of showing interest. Distilleries are continuously looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, with some having plans featuring net zero carbon futures. Wineries are also exploring ways to capture and reuse CO2 onsite to help with tank purging or carbonation needs for specific products.

  George says that their CO2 capture units are about the size of a double-door refrigerator and can be running and capturing gas the next day after installation if the brewery is producing gas. Training is straightforward, taking one to two days. After that, the brewery employees will be fully able to use the system under the oversight of the Earthly Labs team. Additional support is always available, including the possibility of remote monitoring. Return on investment timetables varies by producer, based on the amount of gas captured versus what a craft producer would have to pay for supply, surcharges, frequency of delivery, and more. As the price of CO2 rises, the return-on-investment timeline shortens, but on average, the client can expect the units to pay for themselves within two to three years.

  Earthly Lab’s units are currently in use by breweries and craft producers of all sizes, but George says that the sweet spot for their workhorse unit, the CiCi ® (Oak), is for producers in the 5,000 to 20,000 bbl range. They can accommodate smaller producers with their CiCi ® (Teak) units, and larger producers will benefit from their CiCi ® (Elm) units.

  George believes the complex, ongoing supply and delivery conditions will ultimately lead breweries to explore ways to remain viable and become more efficient in their operations. This includes capturing the CO2 waste for reuse that would typically be released into the environment and looking at replacement alternatives for CO2 within production operations. 

  Earthly Labs works to accommodate all producers, including offering a winery leasing program to provide flexibility during harvest seasons and to help eliminate the upfront expenditure by spreading payments into more manageable monthly programs. Additionally, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act also allows for tax credits for these types of purchases.

  Chart Industries CO2 storage solutions and partner networks offer opportunities to turn waste streams into value for businesses while reducing environmental impact. Chart also partners with buyers and distributors to help sell excess CO2 to other partners in the exchange ecosystem. The ultimate goal is to reduce as many emissions as possible to help achieve overall climate goals.