Going pro

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jorgeft

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Here in Portugal the craft beer scene is getting pretty big and there is a trend raising harder each month, while me and my brew-bro are doing a couple small time brew (10 gals more or less each batch) we are thinking to go pro.

Our plan is to produce something around 260 gallons per month divided into 2 or 3 beer styles.

Our biggest concern is that we have to bottle condition the beer and (see my 1st thread here in homebrewtalk) we are a little afraid that things might go bad.

In your opinion, since you guys are certainly more experienced than we are, is bottle conditioning viable for small craft scene? Are there many brands selling "living" beer, or do they just pasteurize the beer to be sure?

First let's assume we don't make any mistake during the process.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How many of you have gone pro/creating a brand and are selling it? Do you know any stories of bottles exploding? Any tips on going pro?

Share your stories with us!
 
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I'm not a pro brewer so I can't comment on the commercial process (what works vs. what doesn't) but as a craft beer consumer I've had quite a few bottle conditioned beers, so it is being done out there and (to me) it is a little bit more special. I would be remiss if I didn't refer you to ProBrewer. Definitely check out what they have to say on the subject.
 

Hello

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I know small breweries who bottle condition. It is definitely doable.
I know nothing about going pro and especially out of the US so I'm no help there.
 
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jorgeft

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Do belgian brands pasteurize their beer? Beers like Chimay, Rochefort 12, Orval and so on
 
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In the book Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus, he mentions that some of the St. Bernardus beers may be pasteurized depending on their shipping destination. (p. 123) I didn't see any information on some of the other heavy hitters.
 

pmonti80

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Trapist beers are centrifuged mostly to remove yeast and other particles out of the beer and when bottling they put a little amount of yeast and sugar for bottle conditioning. That is why belgian beers have only a little bit of sediment at the end of the bottle instead of the huge amount found on a lot of the craft beers of small breweries (at least most of the spanish ones).
 
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jorgeft

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How expensive would be the means to centrifuge the yeast out of beer? Any idea?
 

Wayne1

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How expensive would be the means to centrifuge the yeast out of beer? Any idea?
Very. Not really possible on nano or even small micro scale. Best return is on regional scale. Hard to find a good one for use at under 50hl brew length. A good, reliable centrifuge still requires a lot of mechanical maintenance.
 
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jorgeft

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Bottle conditioning will always be the more profitable/convinient way right?
Since we'll be handling distribution as well as production we can advise people to properly store the beer.
 

bobeer

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I would assume as long as you can keep the beer flowing in your tap room, and also get a good rotation for bottled beer, I think it's doable. You just have to create a schedule based on how much money you need to make and how much time you have to put into bottling. Besides the basics of running a business there's brewing, cleaning and maintenance, selling your product, ordering inventory, juggling the books, and personal time away from the business.
Is there any reason you would want to bottle instead of selling growlers or kegs to other bars?
 
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jorgeft

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Our keg system isnt build as the american (as far as i've read about) cornelious kegs arent no longer in use and the other ones would involve lots more logistics. And law wise arent allowed to.sell home filled kegs, as far as i am aware
 

broadbill

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Our keg system isnt build as the american (as far as i've read about) cornelious kegs arent no longer in use and the other ones would involve lots more logistics. And law wise arent allowed to.sell home filled kegs, as far as i am aware
Pro-brewers don't use cornelius kegs either; the bars that will buy their product don't have cornelius keg fittings.

What is the cost of the logistics of kegs versus the labor cost wrapped up in a bottling line (don't tell me you are going to hand bottle!), as well as the the carrying and maintenance costs of the bottle conditioning process,etc.? Do you have room to store a month's worth of product while it bottle conditions before you can ship it? Do you have a way to keep the product at a consistent temp so that all the bottles conditioning similarly? These are the things you have to ask yourself.

Most things that work on the home-brew scale do not work profitably on the commercial scale.
 

Weezy

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You're talking almost ninety gallons a batch. I'd think if you have space to do that, you could invest in a combination fermenter/bright tank to ferment and carbonate in one tank?

(I'm assuming your not planning to do this in 30 glass jugs)

Basically, how can you have enough room to brew and ferment 90 gallons but not room to bulk carbonate it?
 

jbaysurfer

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You're talking almost ninety gallons a batch. I'd think if you have space to do that, you could invest in a combination fermenter/bright tank to ferment and carbonate in one tank?

(I'm assuming your not planning to do this in 30 glass jugs)

Basically, how can you have enough room to brew and ferment 90 gallons but not room to bulk carbonate it?
This ^ solves a lot of problems. I highly suggest you start with the red tape/regulatory questions rather then the brewery ops questions at this point. You can pull your hair out answering a question that you'll later find out was irrelevant.
 
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jorgeft

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I wasn't aware that i could bulk carbonate it in the fermenter, guess i'll search about it.

Well have a 30 gallon kettle on our disposal and we have "unlimited" 55.5 gallons to use as fermenters.

Gladly we got our hands on a bottling machine that should be enough to handle bottling.

Storage won't be much a bother since we have a really big garage at our disposal.

At this moment i'm trying to figure out how to do things the best way available since we can't invest that much money (on actual professional brewery equipment), we're just trying to "improve" our hobby at the same time we make some money out of it since the raising trend on homebrews/craft beers here in Portugal.

People don't understand really that much about beer, so any simple style/simple recipes, as for example the centennial blonde from BierMuncher, are really big hitters among the couple dozens of friends and clients, from my sisters bar, who've tasted it.

And meanwhile i'd like to thanks for the amazing support and feedback from you guys :)
 
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