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Old 11-22-2012, 02:46 AM   #1
sivdrinks
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Default Need advice, brew pub equipment

Long story short. A bar wants to go the next step and make and sell beer. A half barrel of "house beer" would sell very fast even if it was mediocre just because of the customer volume. What's the best brewing system for someone who needs to produce volume without being a brewery?

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Old 11-22-2012, 03:51 AM   #2
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produce volume without being a brewery?
What does that mean? If you brew and sell beer, you are a commercial brewery and you must be licensed.

A brewing system depends on a lot of things:
capital
space
desired volume
automated or mostly manual
diy or turnkey
bottles, kegs or serving tanks
You could spend $5k for diy or well over $100k for a semi automated 7BBL brewpub system
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by limulus

What does that mean? If you brew and sell beer, you are a commercial brewery and you must be licensed.

A brewing system depends on a lot of things:
capital
space
desired volume
automated or mostly manual
diy or turnkey
bottles, kegs or serving tanks
You could spend $5k for diy or well over $100k for a semi automated 7BBL brewpub system
Well I'm ignorant, for realz. Local bar would like to have 1-3 house beers, asking me for opinions based on the fact that I brew decent beer. I BIAB 5 gallon batches, not really qualified to provide info on anything bigger than that. Pretty sure 100k is not happening but 10k is reasonable.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #4
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Long story short. A bar wants to go the next step and make and sell beer. A half barrel of "house beer" would sell very fast even if it was mediocre just because of the customer volume. What's the best brewing system for someone who needs to produce volume without being a brewery?
The second half of your statement is where I see the problem. Set aside all of the licensing, regulatory, and investment requirements for sake of argument.

"A half barrel of 'house beer' would sell very fast even if it was mediocre just because of the customer volume."

So, if you're looking to capitalize on customer volume and sell lot of beer, you've got to make lots of beer. In order to even make that worthwhile, you're probably looking at a 7-10bbl system with fermenters, glycol, serving tanks and grain storage. That's a very significant investment in equipment, space and additional labor just to make a few extra bucks per keg.

Around where I live a number of bars have "House beers" but no brewery. What they do is usually contract with a local brewery to buy some portion of generic amber or pale lager and just claim it's their own beer. In some cases, local chains have a custom beer made for them - but again, this is a contracted brewing solution, they're not making any beer themselves.

Then of course, there's a bar down the street has a "house beer" that is just a keg of PBR.

If the customers would willingly guzzle crap beer, then why bother with the effort of making anything custom for them? Just get the cheapest acceptable keg, charge an extra dollar a glass and tell them it's the house beer.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Barnesie

The second half of your statement is where I see the problem. Set aside all of the licensing, regulatory, and investment requirements for sake of argument.

"A half barrel of 'house beer' would sell very fast even if it was mediocre just because of the customer volume."

So, if you're looking to capitalize on customer volume and sell lot of beer, you've got to make lots of beer. In order to even make that worthwhile, you're probably looking at a 7-10bbl system with fermenters, glycol, serving tanks and grain storage. That's a very significant investment in equipment, space and additional labor just to make a few extra bucks per keg.

Around where I live a number of bars have "House beers" but no brewery. What they do is usually contract with a local brewery to buy some portion of generic amber or pale lager and just claim it's their own beer. In some cases, local chains have a custom beer made for them - but again, this is a contracted brewing solution, they're not making any beer themselves.

Then of course, there's a bar down the street has a "house beer" that is just a keg of PBR.

If the customers would willingly guzzle crap beer, then why bother with the effort of making anything custom for them? Just get the cheapest acceptable keg, charge an extra dollar a glass and tell them it's the house beer.
I'm saying it would sell no matter what, most people would try it just because it's the bars beer and a half barrel wouldn't sit around very long. Don't plan on making a **** beer. Owner has an adjacent building with space and was interested in finding out his options. Making a big profit isnt necessarily the priority, just another step for the business. But yes, it seems like something that needs to be well thought out and over my head.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:04 PM   #6
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My point being it's a very low return for a very high investment. Restaurant/bar margins are pretty darn low, so the only real reason to do things "in house" is to assume more control over the product - not to squeeze out more profit. (and I understand that isn't the core motivation)

Think if it like baking. If you had a restaurant, you could easily source all your bread from a local bakery and contract either one of their existing products or custom contract bread to your specs. You could also bake all your bread in-house, but that requires investment in ovens, equipment, proofing space, a salary for a baker and extension of your operating hours. You'd choose to do your baking in house in order to maintain full control and boast to your customers - not to save money.

I just don't understand why someone in the hospitality business would want to get into the beer manufacturing business when there are so many quality products that you can offer the public already. This is me putting myself in the shoes of a bar owner, not me as a beer-loving homebrewer.

If this person is serious, I'd suggest exploring the world of contract brewing. I don't know the specific laws in PA and if you can contract brew as a retail establishment, but that would be one option to get a house beer without investing the $100k+ you'd need to in order to get a very modest brewing operation up and running.

(Note: my experience with brewpubs is drinking in them and dreaming about opening one, so take my opinions here with a grain of salt.)

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Old 11-22-2012, 05:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Barnesie
My point being it's a very low return for a very high investment. Restaurant/bar margins are pretty darn low, so the only real reason to do things "in house" is to assume more control over the product - not to squeeze out more profit. (and I understand that isn't the core motivation)

Think if it like baking. If you had a restaurant, you could easily source all your bread from a local bakery and contract either one of their existing products or custom contract bread to your specs. You could also bake all your bread in-house, but that requires investment in ovens, equipment, proofing space, a salary for a baker and extension of your operating hours. You'd choose to do your baking in house in order to maintain full control and boast to your customers - not to save money.

I just don't understand why someone in the hospitality business would want to get into the beer manufacturing business when there are so many quality products that you can offer the public already. This is me putting myself in the shoes of a bar owner, not me as a beer-loving homebrewer.

If this person is serious, I'd suggest exploring the world of contract brewing. I don't know the specific laws in PA and if you can contract brew as a retail establishment, but that would be one option to get a house beer without investing the $100k+ you'd need to in order to get a very modest brewing operation up and running.

(Note: my experience with brewpubs is drinking in them and dreaming about opening one, so take my opinions here with a grain of salt.)
Good stuff, totally hear what yer saying. I know how much work it is for me to have three taps up and running, and that's pretty much just me and my wife drinking.
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