Vital Thought Processes ​for Brewhouse Purchases

​The little things can make the biggest difference. For Chuck Silva, ​little was the idea when opening his Silva Brewing.

The former Brewmaster and VP of Brewing for Green Flash staked a new venture in 2016 by opening the 1,200-square-foot Silva Brewing in Paso Robles, California.

During the buildout, Silva shared some tips on purchasing both old and new brewhouse equipment.

​New pieces have integrity and ​it is under warranty​ he pointed out.

“Of course there is the expense. It will cost you more. More today even than a year or two ago,” he said. He added, unless you have mechanical expertise, ​new is the only way to go because of the potential for having to repair or recondition used equipment.

Waiting for the new equipment to be created can go hand-in-hand with waiting on licensing if you are building for the first time or adding a second location, ​s​o for the most part waiting for the equipment to arrive times out fine anyway.

During the research and evaluation process, ​Silva agreed that having familiarity with ​you work with can be key. Silva has worked with many different companies for a variety of​ types of​ equipment, so he knew how many promises may have been broken along the way versus others that were on time and helpful even after installation. That meant using a supplier than may have cost a bit more, but with the knowledge that it will be less of a headache, and possibly lighter on the wallet, in the long term​.​

Silva ​went up​ instead of wide​ with his 4-foot wide, 13-foot high ​fermentation ​tanks, using a 3:1 height-to-width ratio​.

It wasn’t ideal as ​Silva said likes to stay closer to 2.5:1, but with smaller tanks he noted​ that good convection and chilling is easier since there isn’t as much propensity for stratification.

Work flow around the brewhouse and avoiding workspace crossover can be eliminated during any planning stage, whether it be as a startup or during an expansion.

“You want to make sure you get your layout set, even with a small square footage in a clockwise or counterclockwise, left to right flow and keep lanes open,” Silva said. “You don’t want a forklift, say going next to your shiny and pretty tanks and you don’t want to run people over.”

When it comes to automating systems​ either when starting out or upgrading​, Silva pointed out that using Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) are great in terms of technology gains, but it could mean another expense.

“In an expansion it’s good to stick with all the same controls,” he said. “Buying from different people, you may want to hire an integrator or have someone on staff that is tech savvy enough to integrate PLCs across the board to talk to an HMI to automate the whole brewery.​”​

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