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Beverage Industry Consultants’ Advice for Craft Brewers

MARKS - June 1, 2020 - 0 comments

We at MARKS Design and Metalworks are proud of our custom-crafted stainless steel tanks and equipment. We are also proud of our leading beverage industry consultants and the services they offer the craft beverage industry.


The craft beverage industry continues to grow and mature. For those on the front line producing beer, wine, seltzer, cold-brewed coffee, cider, or distilled liquors, having great equipment is one part of the puzzle. Having beverage industry consultants to partner with on production efficiency, new and used equipment purchases, expansion into new craft products, equipment layout, and automation is another part of that puzzle of creating a successful business.


MARKS' crew peels off the protective tape from a new tank after setting up in a brewery.


Craft Brewery Consulting Case Studies


At MARKS, our technical sales beverage industry consultants are experts in production and equipment. Our well-staffed engineering department includes experts in beverage manufacturing and automated controls. These experts are the heart of MARKS’ consulting services. If you are a seasoned craftsman who is looking for a partner to help increase the efficiency and profitability of your maturing production facility, MARKS has the experts who can assist you. Even if you are looking to buy used equipment and need to ensure the equipment can meet your needs, including refurbishing the used equipment to current standards, MARKS’ beverage industry consultants are right there to help.


Here are just a few case studies of how MARKS’ beverage industry consultants have helped brewers continue to grow and be successful.


Start-Up Services


So you’re a start-up brewery with lots of questions on the perfect configuration of equipment. You have worked for other breweries and are ready to go out on your own, to make your dream come true. Recently, MARKS’ beverage industry consultants worked with a brewer to start his own brewing business.


Mike Roberts, MARKS’ senior sales and technical consultant, worked to develop a configuration of equipment that would get the new brewer well on his way to brewing a great craft beer. With a building set and equipment confirmed, the brewer was ready to go. But wait, no, what about the hurdles of water and wastewater permits? How to figure out how much water will get consumed? What about waste? And then there is the issue that is the focus of many municipalities, Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD). How does waste yeast get treated? With no production yet, how does a new brewer estimate the amount of water, waste, chemicals, and BOD? 


As part of MARKS beverage consulting services, Mike was able to help the new brewer estimate the amount of water needed in the production of beer to meet forecasted sales, what would be lost to process, fermentation, and in packaging. By working with MARKS beverage industry consultants, the new brewer successfully set up his equipment and maneuvered through the permit process. 


Mike, one of MARKS beverage industry consultants, helps set up new tanks at a new brewery.

Mike from MARKS with the new tanks being set up.

Expansion of the Brewery


You started modestly in your new adventure in craft brewing. It has gone better than you could have expected, and now you are ready to expand. Expansion can be easy if you have a big square building with lots of extra space. All you need is some additional equipment, a bigger packaging line, and more storage. But what if your dream building was a beautiful heritage site-building? 


A brewer with a heritage site was struggling to find beverage industry consultants who could work with them to find the right custom-designed equipment to fit the building requirements. Facility consulting engineers could help, but they don’t have the expertise in brewery production to know how to install equipment without cutting through walls or roofs. So, the brewer turned to MARKS’ beverage industry consultants for help with their expansion equipment needs. Jim Paulsen, President of MARKS and an engineer with specialty rigging skills, was able to create unique custom-designed tanks to fit low ceilings, odd rafters, and unusual contours. At the end of the project, MARKS had to install equipment in some incredibly tight spaces. Today, customers who come to the brewery, marvel at the beautiful building and the equipment packed into the unusual space.


MARKS' crew raising a new brew tank in a brewery.

MARKS’ crew works on setting up new equipment


Increasing Efficiency and Reducing Costs 


Your brewery is humming along nicely. You have loyal customers and an excellent portfolio of beers and ciders. However, you and your partners are wondering if production could be better. Growth is slowing. Labor costs keep going up. The cost of ingredients keeps rising as does cans for packaging. Margins are getting thinner. Are there efficiencies that you are missing that could improve the bottom line? 


MARKS’ expert beverage industry consultants work with this question all the time. A brewer might start asking about some new equipment that might improve production. In talking to one of the technical consultants, the brewer may determine that production efficiency might not be in that new piece of equipment. Instead, it may be in the production flow, considering a different mix of craft beverages, or something else entirely.


Three partners in a brewery came to talk to Steven Brack, MARKS’ sales and technical consultant who has expertise in brewing, wine-making, and cannabis extraction. It became apparent that the first step was to include Steven in their project to increase efficiency and help reduce costs. After the review process, Steven presented the partners with several recommendations.


Steven recommended adding a MARKS’ infusion vessel that connects to the brewhouse piping as a gravity-fed hop back and can be disconnected and used as a cellar infusion vessel. This vessel provides a two-for-one enhancement for ingredient infusion. He also suggested reconfiguring the tank layout to improve production flow. He recommended alternatives to the wastewater and chemical disposal with a more efficient CIP system and by using the public water system. Finally, Steven recommended that the partners use the brewery’s down cycles to make hard seltzer. Since the brewery was already making cider, using the cold-side of the brewery for hard seltzer was a natural next step, and seltzer production increases in the months when beer production is down. The addition of hard seltzer to their line helps use the staff more efficiently. The three partners found the work with Steven gave them plenty of ideas to increase efficiency, lower costs, and grow their margins.


Steven from MARKS Design and Metal Work tests a beer from a stainless steel vault.

Steven Brack, one of MARKS’ leading beverage industry consultants, is testing a new beer.


Refurbishing Used Equipment 


So you are in the market for some additional equipment. Should you go with new and American-made custom, import, or try used brewery equipment?


With the recent economic downturn, there has been an influx of used brewing tanks. However, used equipment can rarely be used “as is.” It generally has to have some refurbishing work done to it so that it effectively works with your existing equipment. After all, it is “used,” and similar to a used car needs some TLC to get it back into perfect running shape.


In searching for used equipment, the biggest concern for many brewers is the myriad of options that are online or in auction houses. How do you tell if the equipment will work with your production needs? How do you tell what the condition is of the equipment? MARKS technical specialists and beverage industry consultants are experts at helping you assess the equipment and providing estimates of the amount of refurbishing work that will be required.


MARKS’ Mike Roberts was consulting with a new start-up brewery trying to decide whether to purchase new, imported or used equipment. Mike was working with another brewery who had outgrown their MARKS’ custom brewhouse and needed to upgrade their equipment. Through the consulting process, Mike brought the two breweries together. The new start-up bought the used brewhouse and some other equipment from the growing brewery. Mike then proceeded to help design the refurbishing requirements for the used equipment. His design updated the tanks for the new start-up’s need to produce traditional German decoction styles as well as higher alcohol-American beer styles. The new start-up brewery was well on its way to brewing their craft beer, and the established brewery was able to sell their equipment. This consulting project ended up as a win-win for both breweries!


MARKS setting up new equipment for a new brewery.


MARKS Beverage Industry Consultants


With the growing sophistication of craft breweries, there is a need for a partner who can help the brewer with all types of issues that arise in craft beverage production. Whether you are building a new brewery, assessing used brewery equipment, looking at brewery expansion, or enhancing production efficiency and lower costs, MARKS’ beverage industry consultants have the experience to help meet your needs. With our technical sales consultants and design & electronic engineers, MARKS has the experts you need. Get started today and find out how MARKS’ beverage industry consultants can help you move to the next level in your beverage industry.

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