Hop Lot Brewery
It was quite the journey for both the kettles and myself, but everything/one is safe and sound. For the kettles, it was a cozy 2300 mile ride by truck and train from Portland, OR. For me, I battled two blizzards and some of the iciest highways I’ve ever driven on.
The brewhouse is the work horse of the brewery and is where the “hot side” of brewing happens. It consists of the hot liquor tank, mash tun, and brew kettle. Selecting the right brewhouse was much harder than we thought. We’ve spent the last year researching kettles from multiple manufactures locally, and across the U.S.. You wouldn’t believe how many choices there actually are.
One of the hardest decisions was to commit to a brewhouse size. The size of our tanks determines how much beer we can make per brew session, and therefore, how many batches and hours per day/week, etc. we would need to hit our production projections. Larger kettles make more beer… It was pretty straightforward up to this point.
Then we realized our dilemma; First, our production demands will vary greatly because we are located in a seasonal market. Second, we always want 10 or more taps with fresh beer. Too big of a system means the beer might sit around and “go bad,” too small, and we could run out and people will get pissed at us. Fortunately, after a few beers, the crystal clear logic was flowing and we decided on the 3 bbl system.
This is why. SKIP THIS IF YOU DON’T CARE.
If we chose to Brew 7 bbls batches (14 kegs/batch) for 10 taps, we’d have 140 kegs of beer before we even open the doors. Even if we could successfully brew half batches (3bbls), we would still be at 6o kegs. We are in a small town, not a metropolis. Some varieties won’t be as popular as the others, and therefore, take longer to be consumed. The real problem lies in the fact that our beers take about 2 weeks to be ready to tap and drink. So, to time it properly, we need to wait long enough for the beer quantity to be low enough to brew again, or we just brew to be prepared. We feel that the later strategy will lead to stockpiling of beer in which the quality begins to deteriorate while the mostly deteriorated beer is being consumed. However, if we choose the 3bbl system, we could brew 3bbl batches, half batches (1.5bbls), as well as double batches (6bbls). This will allow us to make smaller quantities in the slow season, and larger during the busier times. Yes, we could have fewer taps during our slower times, but we want to live a little and brew a lot!
In the end, John, at Stout Tanks and Kettles, hooked us up with the best gas-fired brewhouse we could get for the money. Some of the features that their kettles offer that we couldn’t find on others are;
-great reviews from other local breweries using Stout Tanks
-conical bottom tanks
-Side, tangential, and bottom (full) drain ports
-(Kettle) clamp down lid with condensate stack and clean in place capabilities.
-Legs instead of a brew stand.
-Recirculating ports on mashtun.