Our New Toys! 6-2-15

Today marks the first major equipment purchases that we have made. We put a deposit down on a forklift and a scissor lift. A forklift will be a very important piece of equipment to have. The days of rolling kegs around are no more (thank goodness). We were looking for a forklift that had the following features:

* 5,000 lb capacity. We probably could have gotten away with less, but many of the brewers that I have spoken to have voiced that they wish they had a gone a little bigger.
* 15 foot 3 stage mast. We plan on having shelves that are as high up as 12 feet.
* Solid Rubber/cushion tires. We will be conducting all of our business on paved surfaces so no need for pneumatic tires.
* Electric. This decision was based off a couple of things. The first was that most of our forklift use will be indoors,often in a sealed cold room. We don’t want fumes to build up. The other reason is that we expect to realize savings on fuel and don’t want the hassle of refilling propane tanks (or pay for a service to do it for us). We may have gone with LPG if we were not expecting a lot of use in the cold room since we have the ability to get a cross breeze through the warehouse.
Craig on the forklift we put our deposit on.

Craig on the forklift we put our deposit on.

We found what we believe to be a good deal on a used forklift from a company in Colorado. We put a 10% deposit down and they will deliver it to us once escrow closes and we have access to our new warehouse. The battery has a 12 month warranty.

The scissor lift, while not used as frequently as the forklift, is another valuable piece of equipment for a brewery. We plan to use it right off the bat to do some of our own process piping. We expect to use it for dry hopping (for those who have dry hopped a tall fermentor, let me say that ladders are scary as hell if you experience nucleation), changing light bulbs, and other sorts of maintenance where a scissor lift is safer and more practical than a ladder. For the scissor lift we were looking for the following features:

* 19 foot lift height.
* Extendable cage – so that we can reach out over the fermentor to dry hop
* 500 lb capacity
* Electric – for the same reasons as the forklift
* Solid rubber tires – once again this will always by on concrete/asphalt
We found the scissor lift used from a rental company that turns over it’s rental inventory every 5 years or so. With a deposit they are willing to set it aside for us until we are ready for it. When buying used equipment there is naturally a concern as to it’s working condition. Because this was a rental company, we felt more confident that it had been maintained properly and is at least safe to use.

Our scissor lift.

Our scissor lift.

A word of wisdom to any aspiring breweries out there. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW DANGEROUS WORKING IN A BREWERY IS. These pieces of equipment can kill their operators, or others working in the vicinity, if they arenot operated safely. I got forklift certified a couple of weeks ago, and will say that I was absolutely ignorant of many of the dangers these pieces of equipment pose.

So these are the first two of many more pieces of equipment we are in the market for. When we bought Schooner’s it was essentially a turn key operation and didn’t require us to purchase any major equipment. This time around we will be upping production from 1,500 bbl max to our goal of 15,000 bbl and with the increase in volume we will need a lot more equipment including:

* New fermentors
* Keg Washer
* Bottling Line
* Pallet Racking
* New Grain Silo
* Walk in Cooler
* Glycol system
I’ll keep you posted about our equipment decisions and purchases as they come along.