If you want to own a brewery, you have to have a brewery!

A couple of weeks ago, Sonya and I took a quick trip over to Vegas to visit an old friend, Rock Davis. While we were there, I made a command decision to visit a brewpub, since we don't get to do that a lot here in the big city of Lemoore. We chose the "Triple 7" up in old town, right across from Fremont Street. As we made our way from the smoky casino in to the restaurant, the haze parted and there right in front of me were those glorious copper-clad pillars of malt-conversion nirvana that are the hallmark of any brewpub worth it's hops. I immediately started salivating, and grabbed the seat at our table that allowed for the best view of the system. For the next hour-or-so, Sonya and Rock chatted like high school girls and I stared at the brewhouse, fermenters, and brite-tanks like they were my old long-lost friends. Sonya was getting annoyed because she thought I was staring at any one of the lovely ladies in the place - wish it were that simple. I was lusting after that brewery, which appeared to be about a 20 BBL system with 5 fermenters and multiple brite-tanks, all filled with malty-hoppy delight. I was plotting how I might distract the staff while I made out the back with each component, until I realized there was no back door and that I had no 18-wheeler to haul the tanks away with. SIGH...one can dream.

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Sonya and Rock catching up....................................A wall of fermenters taunting me

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Grist hopper (top), Mash Tun, and Brew Kettle in the background

Not surprisingly, a system like the one I saw in Vegas is just a wee bit out of my level of affordability. Just for kicks, I got a few quotes on some larger (for me) systems from various manufacturers, all which confirmed that I will be starting as a Nano and working my way up. Quotes for the minimal-size systems (7-10 BBL) range from $200K - $350K, and that's for pretty much a basic system, with no frills. Looking at the smaller systems (3 BBL), I got quotes that range in $40K - $50K price point. GULP!!! None of these include the bottling/kegging lines or cleaning equipment, nor do they include shipping. It's no wonder that more folks don't get into this business. It's downright oppressive!

I just want to make beer and have others in this area get to appreciate the good stuff. I did receive a quote from the nice folks at SABCO, who are the manufacturers of a slick little system called the "Brew-Magic". It is a fully automated and computerized small brewing system with all the bells and whistles - in essence, a full scale large production system in miniature. It is affordable (at least compared to the big systems) and would certainly work for my needs EXCEPT that you can only brew 10 gallons of beer at a time.

After Roscoe and I put our heads together, we decided that he is a pretty industrious guy and that I have a little bit of money. We think we have the technology and skill to buy all the components and construct the brewery ourselves. For the same amount of money as the Brew-Magic, we can build a larger-capacity (1 BBL - 31 Gallons) - one that has triple the capacity of the Brew-Magic, and with the help of the nice folks at High Gravity Brewing, make this thing work at a reasonable cost. So I have made the decision to purchase a 55 gal electric-element brewery with three 42 gallon fermenters to start. The entire system, which included the pump, three 55 gallon brewhouse vessels, electronic temperature controller, wort chiller, fermenters and all the necessary lines and probes will cost me less than $10,000, and will give us the capacity needed to start our little enterprise. Of course, that still doesn't include the kegs or the keg washing station, but at least I can swallow this cost without too much pain. If for some weird reason, this all goes down the tubes, I will have the best home-brewing system ever and will apply for the monthly "Pimp My System" on the AHA site. Next, how I plan on "breaking-even (at least initially).