Thursday, September 15, 2011

Looking, Looking, Looking for Equipment

We knew that we wanted a brewing system that we could physically see before we purchased it. Being new in the industry we were wary of buying something so expensive before we got a chance to touch it. Most of the equipment and brokers are on the west coast. If you’re not familiar with craft beer in this country, the West is where the industry we know today was born. Even after more recent growth on the East coast, the brewery concentration is still significantly lower here than out there. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know a thing about it here. On the West coast they have banks that specialize in brewery finance, out here bankers look at you like you are crazy. Seriously, I’ve gotten the “look” a dozen times.

In September of 2009 we found a system for sale out of a closed Rock Bottom Brewery just south of Boston. It was steam fired and 15 barrel capacity, exactly what we wanted. We set up a meeting to go see it that very weekend. We were the first to respond to the listing and knew that we were going to have to be quick because used equipment on the East coast gets scooped up FAST.

Ben standing on the platform of the brewhouse in Boston

We drove late into Friday and met with the broker first thing Saturday. We spent a couple hours inspecting, measuring and taking inventory of everything. On the car ride to Boston Ben had told me not to get my hopes up, since this was the first system we were going to look at. I knew from the moment he saw the brewhouse that it was ours. That was September 5, 2009. The very next day we called and told them we wanted to buy it. We were told it would take at least a month before it would be broken down to be shipped. This seemed like a decent amount of time for us to find a place to store everything. Then, 10 days later they called and said it was coming the 22nd. In less than one month from the time we saw the listing we became the proud owners of a complete brewery.

We hustled and found an available warehouse in the industrial park. The owners were extremely accommodating to us and let us use the space within a couple days. They seemed almost as excited as me the day we took delivery. It was one of the longest days of my life. I think in the end the whole thing took about 8 hours.

The first delivery truck

The equipment came on 2-50 foot trucks. The brewhouse was shipped separately to the west coast to have some refurbishing done to one of the tanks. That first delivery brought 5 fermentors, 6 bright tanks, a yeast propagator, mill, glycol unit, boiler and a paneled cold box that seems to have a million pieces. God only knows what the day we put that together will be like.

Ben & I the end of the delivery day

Buying the system then before we were ready was a leap of faith. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve made.

To be continued…..

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