Filling An Empty Warehouse

Now that we have a warehouse to call our own, we are doing a good job a filling it up with stuff. The idea is if we get enough stuff, one day it will magically transform into a brewery. Of course, there are some minor details to take care of so that the stuff will actually coalesce into a functional system, but we’ll worry about that later  constantly.

As we are working with the city on permitting and getting our certificate of occupancy, we are filling some of the downtime (not that there is much of it) with scouring the Internet, talking to other brewers, and checking news boards for pieces of the brewery that we will need. It can be pretty fun to parse through all the options we have for our various toys, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking.

Are we getting the best price? Is it dimensioned properly for how we are going to use it? Is it going to break down the first time we power it up? It’s one of those situations where you could keep searching and second-guessing yourself into oblivion without ever actually making a purchase- not a great habit to get into if you are time-constrained.

Usually, the stuff we acquire is budgeted in the business plan, and we expected to spend money on it. For some of it, we are opportunistic. Our cold liquor tank (Pac-Man) falls into the latter category.

What is a cold liquor tank you might ask? Well, in brewing we call water “liquor” and its contents will be cold. After boiling 1,000 gallons of wort, we’ll need to cool it down before fermentation. Yeast does well at a certain temperature, and it can ruin a beer if the temperature is off. So when pumping the wort into the fermenters (knocking-out) we will cool the wort by piping it through the cold water from this tank in a heat exchanger.

It’s possible to do this step (and do it right) without a cold liquor tank, but it adds significant time onto each brew, and time is money. So when we saw Pac-Man on the ProBrewer website, we jumped. Southern Star Brewing was moving on to bigger and better tanks, and we were happy to drive down to Houston to pick up the big yellow dude. Our brewing process will now be considerably more efficient, and we have a piece of history- before Southern Star, Pac-Man lived with Real Ale Brewing, so he has a track record of contributing to successful breweries- we hope it rubs off on us.

Some stuff that is in the business plan is a pallet jack and a forklift. Brewing and distributing involves the daily moving tons of material, and without some mechanical assistance, we would probably all need chiropractors after a couple of days. The pallet jack is pretty unremarkable (although fun to scoot around on), but the forklift has a personality. She’s very blue (bright blue), with plenty of battle scars, and already leaking oil on our floor. We paid next to nothing for her, so the price was right, but it remains to be seen how many Band-Aids she is going to need in the future. She was the subject of my all time favorite MHB Facebook post where we asked fans to name her- I was laughing out loud at the creative responses we got, but we still haven’t decided which one to use. At this point I think we are still calling her “Bluey” (creative, huh?)

The main shipment of stuff (the brewhouse, fermenters, canning line and ancillary machines) is schedule to ship very soon. Once we get those things, we’ll have considerably less floor space. The list of things to buy, install, and build is seemingly endless, and there are probably a couple of items we don’t even know we need until we see them on Craigslist. (Just kidding investors, we have a precise, all-inclusive itemized list).

Anyway, the acquisition of stuff rolls on, and I am sure we’ll have plenty of future posts about our cool new toys. On that note, if you happen to have any commercial brewing equipment in your guest bedroom, and you feel like getting rid of it at firesale pricing, please let us know. Oh, and a free 10 year bumper-to-bumper warranty on everything would be nice too.

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