How Breweries Manage Delays in Sourcing Equipment

Manufacturing backups have stalled the opening of many new breweries and caused delays on expansions for others.

Timelines of starting something new are always bounced around and setting a concrete date for completion in any project is typically scoffed at as a running joke in the industry. Yet, it’s gotten worse as the pandemic has continued to plunge forward.

“We’ve definitely [have] seen delays locally on sourcing equipment, mainly due to manufacturing backlogs,” admitted Ratio Beerworks founder Jason zumBrunnen. 

The Denver brewery is adding a second production brewery and taproom in the former Declaration Brewing space around six miles south of its current location, and certain items that zumBrunnen used to almost always be able to purchase off the shelf are coming with three-month time delays now.

Most equipment purchases over the last two years for Columbus, Ohio’s Wolf’s Ridge Brewing have been domestic buys, which helps with timing, said Head Brewer Chris Davison.

READ MORE: Key Equipment to Look at for Quality Liquid After Canning Day

An example he mentioned to Brewer was a supplier for custom oak vessels is busier than ever but they still managed to commit to a four-week lead time.

“However, a new stainless tank we ordered — manufactured in China, via a Canadian supplier — has a much longer lead time than we saw in years past,” Davison said.

Unfortunately, the addition of time means longer project times, but it can also mean a brewery can work on internal aspects to be ready for incoming equipment.

​When it comes time for installation, ​zumBrunnen noted that having customer service back to “normal” is a positive sign.

“We’ve actually seen quite a strong return to in-house support installation with proper precautions,” he said. “[I’m] glad to see folks returning in person when they are safely able to.”

Photo courtesy Ratio Beerworks

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