We’ve spent the last couple of months gathering brewery equipment quotes. Fermenters, kegs, bottles and bottling lines, just to name a few, are on the list of items needed to operate a professional brewery. Online quotes are very popular today, and Google is an awesome resource.
As a Brewers Association member we get a copy of “The Brewers Resource Directory”, which has been an awesome resource. This publication is revised/updated yearly, and lists just about every reputable supplier for almost anything you can think of in a brewery. The Brewers Association also has an email forum for those who like to submit questions via email. The BA also publishes a bi-monthly magazine called “The New Brewer” which has a lot of brewery related equipment advertisements and articles.
Another great resource is “The Pro-Brewers Discussion Boards”. Registered members can post questions on many topics related to brewing, including a comprehensive equipment section. There’s a ton of information on the discussion boards. I found that googling was a fast and efficient way to search for a probrewers forum topic of discussion. There’s an endless body of knowledge and expertise on the discussion boards, but keep in mind that you have to screen the information, as there are some folks that seem to think they know everything, but they really don’t. The great thing about discussion boards, for the most part, is that the forum members keep each other honest.
The Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America is presented by the Brewers Association, a recognized leader in the national and international brewing arena. This conference is by far the best destination for all of your brewing equipment needs, all gathered together and executed during one week long fun-filled extravaganza. Scott and I traveled down to Washington D.C. in March for the annual event. We collected business cards and brochures, and talked to a variety of equipment manufacturers. We learned more in this one week about brewery equipment, then we have since we established the business. Not to mention, the seminars and comradery that made the $600 ticket price money well spent. Plus the beer was abound at the event. CBC comes highly recommended!
One of the most important things that I’m learning through this process is to make contacts with the suppliers and ask lots of questions. I’ve learned more about brewery equipment by directly contacting supplier representatives than I have through any other means. If you don’t know, then just ask and you shall receive. Most equipment manufacturers are more than happy to answer any questions that you have, and if they can’t answer your question right away, they’ll find out and get back to you later.
Ask for references! Most reputable equipment manufacturers will offer references. The odds are that there are probably equipment manufacturer’s tanks and/or equipment in a local brewery near you, or at the very least, within a couple hours drive. Breweries will typically allow you to tour/view their equipment so you get a firsthand look, and even ask questions with regard to the equipment performance, and overall experience.
I recommend quoting several suppliers. The old rule of thumb is to get at least three quotes for every capital equipment purchase. We initially started with ten manufacturers, and then paired it down to five, then three, and hope to settle on our final pick in the coming weeks.
Stainless steel tanks and equipment are very expensive. So take the time up front to do your homework, in an effort to make an educated decision. As the old adage goes “A stitch in time saves nine”, and all’s well that ends well. It’s also important to remember that all that glitters is not gold, and to never judge a book by its cover. The truth of all matters will eventually unfold with due diligence.