At this point in your career as a brewer you're likely under no delusion about the amount of actual brewing you’ll be doing vs. cleaning. It’s like our neighbor Collin McDonnell from HenHouse Brewing has said, “brewing is 90% cleaning and 10% paperwork.” Brewing beer requires a lot of sterile food-grade vessels and cleaning supplies. Everything in your day will start and end with cleaning. Start a love affair with the tools that you use and give your team good tools to use. They’ll thank you for it.
We carry world-class cleaning tools from Vikan & Remco that will help you develop and maintain cleaning protocols in your facility. Vikan & Remco's tools are available in the full rainbow of colors to aid you in creating a color-code system specific to your facility to prevent cross-contamination.
A solid washdown setup is also advised. Initially it might seem ridiculous to spend triple digits on a hose nozzle but consider how much you and your team will be using it. Next to your forklift, it will probably be your most used equipment in your facility. Don’t scrimp here. We have a good entry level washdown bundle package that will do the trick. Whatever you buy, remember to avoid plastic components on the nozzle and get something solid that can take a lot of day to day wear.
After you clean your tools and equipment, remember to store them in a way that will keep them clean and ready to sterilize for your next use. Invest in ways to store your tools to keep them clean and make them last. We could write pages and pages more about storing and cleaning hoses. In fact, we have. Read more about storing and cleaning your hose here.
You’ll need compressed air for your canning, bottling, and cleaning equipment. Not mention Air Diaphragm Pumps. Dry and filter your compressed air. One area we often see people skimp—to their great detriment—is in equipment to clean, dry, and filter the compressed air. Air compressors take in ambient air. If the air is humid, that humidity will turn into water. The water will mix with any dust or dirt in the lines and make its way into your equipment where it will wreak havoc.
Additionally, parts inside your pneumatic equipment may be lightly lubricated. When water enters the system it can displace the lubricant, increase the friction, and turn the insides of the equipment into a gooey mess that will self-destruct. Sometimes within a matter of hours.
We don't sell refrigerated air dryers, but we strongly recommend that anyone who uses compressed air in their facility purchase one. They can run $800-$1,300, but in short order they will easily save you that much in replacement parts, downtime, and voided warranties. Work with a company that specializes in compressed air equipment to see what they recommend.
Sometimes when you receive equipment you're still setting up your space and aren't sure about the layout or where equipment will go eventually. Still, we recommend unpacking, inspecting, and testing equipment as soon as you can after it arrives. Some of the most difficult situations we encounter involve people who waited till the last minute to unpack their equipment and learn about problems as they are about to use it. They may find hidden damage that occurred in transit, or discover that they thought they had the right adapters to mate up to the equipment, but they got the wrong size.
Whatever the case may be, unpacking and setting up your equipment quickly ensures that it's ready for you on its first day of production, that you understand how it works, and you're ready to put it to use.
They say you don't miss the water till the well runs dry. Likewise, you probably take something like a working pump for granted, and don't consider just how much of your production rests on it. Without it, your beer is stuck in place.
Luckily, we keep spares of many common wear parts for the products we sell. But even we run of out of stock from time to time. It's best to always keep at least one spare of common wear parts on your shelf. We're happy to tell you which parts of the equipment you purchased from us are likely to need more frequent replacement based on wear and usage, and we recommend you keep at least one spare ready to go. We promise: whatever it costs up-front to stock it, you'll save on production downtime and overnight shipping costs.
Some customers that we talk with are trying to build a business plan, build or lease a space, learn about the equipment they need to purchase and how to use it, design their packaging… It's a lot. Luckily there are a lot of people who've done it before, and some professionals that can help you get set up. If we don't have the information you seek, we can probably put you in touch with someone who does.
Contact suppliers and ask for quotes. Nearly every piece of equipment will have a base model and then added features that bump up the usability and cost. When you know the basic equipment you’re looking for, contact suppliers and learn the variations that are available. After you know the equipment and add-on options you want, call and get as many estimates as you can from many suppliers.
You’re not just finding price in these calls - you’re learning about their company. What is their turn-around time for quotes? What brands do they carry? What resources can they offer for operating and servicing the equipment. From here, find one or two suppliers who you can work with. Go visit them or do Zoom calls. You're spending a lot of money so don’t skimp on time invested. Plan for things to go wrong. It’s Murphy’s Law.
Check the temperament and problem solving attitude of the supplier you choose. Many equipment suppliers have nearly identical warranties and ultimately you want to find a company who works in the style you do. For example, do you like phone calls, communicating via text message, or are you an all-email communication type of person? Find a supplier who will communicate with you in your preferred way because chances are, while starting up, you will be in touch with them a lot.
It’s often not just the dollar amount that matters, it's a personality and communication fit too. Find a company who will work for you on the details you want. Find a company that wants you to be successful with their equipment both in the near term and down the road. Find a company that gives you additional information that will help you be successful in producing your product.