Busy!

Uber quick post. Last week I was approved for my small business loan which is HUGE! More investors on board (and room for a few more). Lease negotiations seem to be complete, contract being written up now. Will be ordering 20 BBL brew house, 40 BBL fermenters, 40 BBL bright tank, 40BBL hot liquor tank and accessories this week. So busy, lots to do in order to close on the loan. I'll go into great detail on loans, leases, and such when time allows.

For the absolute latest news, follow me on Facebook.

The brewery is finally happening!

Cheers,

Gary

Wandering About Equipment

Ha! See the title of this post? It's a pun! You'll see how in a second, but right now let's just talk about how incredibly inventive I am! I'm the goddamn Einstein of puns. Alright then.

I can't figure out why I'm the only bidder on this sweet, sweet deal. Who says used brewing equipment doesn't exist?

I've been collaborating a lot with my friend from brewing school, Chad, who is opening Wander Brewing in Bellingham, Washington. (See the punniness now?) Chad is one of the few people I've run into who's done as much if not more research than I have on opening a craft brewery. Quite frankly, Chad has me beat on several fronts, including brewing equipment quotes. I received quotes from the main players in the game, Premier Stainless, DME, JV Northwest, NSI (Newlands), and a few others. Chad has received quotes from pretty much every single domestic based brewery equipment manufacturer, including the aforementioned and quite a few I was not familiar with. The one that has really stood out for him is Marks Design and MetalWorks based in Washington state. Unlike Premier, DME, and others, who build some components in North America, but have some or most components built in China, particularly vessels, Marks is 100% built in Washington state. Chad visited the factory and was well impressed with everything and has placed an order. Because I trust Chad implicitly, I've received a quote from Marks as well and will be comparing it line by line to my other quotes this next week.

Chad also had a very smart idea that I will be using. He was able to put 10% down just to get into the manufacturing queue. See, these manufacturers have hellacious lead times right now. Anywhere from 6 months or more. So if you order today, you'll be waiting at least 6 months to take delivery. That's a long time, especially if you're paying for a lease. And usually manufacturers want 50% up front. By getting a place secured in line, Chad was able to remove a significant amount of waiting time as he secures his funding. I love that idea and will try to do the same in the next couple of weeks once I have a final price negotiated. That's a big step.

One thing you'll discover if you're publicizing your start up brewery is that you'll get lots of interest from Chinese manufacturers who will email you seeking your money. My advice: avoid like the plague. You'll have no service, huge language barriers, questionable quality at best, and little if any post purchase support.

Folks like Premiere Stainless have their fermentation vessels manufactured in China, but they have very high quality standards, provide plenty of support, and fit the vessels with top of the line valves and such. I have a very simple rule: if it has a moving part, make sure it's not made in China. I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, but I'm not willing to seek them out.

Until next time.

Cheers,

G

Quickie: Progress This Week

Great scotts! As I mentioned last week, I'll be doing short and sweet blog posts just to let everyone know I'm still alive and moving along.  I spent a lot of time this week tweaking my cash flow and profit and loss spreadsheets and completed the break even analysis spreadsheet.  At this point, I'm pretty confident in my models for costing out everything and cash flow. I added some logic to account for buying an additional fermenter when production reaches a certain level as well.  Utilities were broken down more accurately to allocate the lions share to cost of goods sold based on production volume.  I'm really pleased with how far along all of this analysis has come.

I also created a quick timeline spreadsheet which back calculates when major milestones need to be completed based on an opening date.  These milestones include TTB Brewer's Notice, equipment ordering, lease signing, etc.  My current model says that the brewery will open 10 months from the day the business plan is completed.  Of course parts of the timeline are complete guesswork so who knows?  It could be 14 months, 16 months.  Depends on a lot of factors.

This week I received an updated quote from Premier Stainless for a 15 bbl brew house with 30 bbl fermenters instead of 20/40 bbl.  The price difference is about $40,000.  That's a small amount of money for what would be a 33% increase in production capacity, but I'd rather start up with a smaller loan (and loan payment) and be able to launch with a canning line.  The canning line will significantly lower packaging costs and I'm dead set on that path.  As I've mentioned a few times before, I'll have a very detailed post discussing canning costs when time allows.

All of this was completed while also preparing for the final push of finishing my giganto container vegetable garden project and finalizing the fill date for my group Templeton Rye barrel project with English barley wine.  I need 35 hours in a day. Working on very little sleep.

The next steps are to complete the opening balance sheet, which won't take long and then move to the written portions of the business plan.  My goal at this point is to have the entire business plan completed and off for review with a select few friends (including an MBA or two) by end of June.

Quickie: Brain Dump From Craft Beer Conference 2012

If you checked out my Panic Brewing Facebook page over the weekend now the Alarmist Brewing Facebook page, you probably saw some updates from the Craft Beer Conference. I was at the trade show portion on Friday only. I had a great time and learned a lot. Here are a few quick tidbits: I already knew Premier Stainless made excellent equipment, but it was great to get an up close look. Amazing stuff made incredibly well, despite the fact that most of the manufacturing occurs in China (which I'm never a fan of).  Once the equipment arrives from China, Premiere brings it into their Escondido facility and ensures that all fabrication is absolute world class. They also fit the finished equipment with very high quality tri-clamp valves, pumps, and motors. And the heat exchanger is made in Washington state. Nice. We visited the Pizza Port brew pub in Ocean Beach later that night and sure enough, there was a gorgeous Premier brew house and fermenters front and center.

Only takes 3 hours to wash one keg!

Premier makes a dual semi-automatic keg washer, meaning you have to lift the kegs, but the cleaning cycle is automatic. It's beautiful and will be in my brewery at launch.

Rob Soltys of Premier Stainless recommended 16 ft minimum height ceilings.  When I asked him how high you need for 30 bbl fermenters (and you always need extra height for the rigging equipment, remember that!), he said if you go with 16 ft minimum, you'll be able to fit 60 bbl fermenters in the future easily.  Good tip.  They can customize fermenters just about any way you need them, so smaller clearances would require short and squat fermenters which affect fermentation flavors (brewing school). Not a big deal, but you'd probably have to adjust your fermentation temperatures to deal with less hydrostatic pressure due to shallower depths.

Wild Goose Engineering's canning line is awesome AND they're not tied to Ball Canning like Cask is. That's a good thing. Their two head filler can package cans faster than Cask's five head filler. The secret? The seamer, which is the device that seals the lid onto the can. Both canning lines have only one seamer, but Wild Goose's is so damn fast, their line cans faster with less than half the fill heads! The people are awesome as well. When the need arises, you can easily add two fill heads to the machine for a total of four. Awesomesauce.

I spoke to the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), very nice people. Here's the gospel from the horse's mouth: If you fill out your TTB paperwork correctly AND submit it online, it currently requires about 51 days to get your Federal Brewer's Notice approved. If you submit your application via paper, it takes 90 days, but who would be that dumb anyway? I inquired what the biggest mistake people make that causes their application to be rejected. Answer: improper handling of the Brewer's Bond process. They have a phone number you can call to get all your questions answered and encouraged me to use that resource. I'll add that number to this post when I find it. I'll go into all the nitty gritty of dealing with the TTB and the State of Illinois once I begin that part of the process.

Great stuff, well worth the effort and money.