Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Construction Completed

We spent the last month working with contractors and our DME representative to get the brew house installed and connected to the required utilities.  The DME representative, Paul, showed up right before Memorial Day and was here for 10 days.  The plan was to have all the DME equipment set up and utilities connected to the equipment so that we could perform a test brew with water and check the glycol system before he left.

The way it usually works with these type of installs is that Paul plans to come to the brewery when the steam, electrical, and water is a few days from being finished so that he can answer any questions the contractors have about getting the systems hooked up to the brewing equipment then he will have a few days to test and troubleshot any issues before he leaves. We coordinated the timing of his trip with our contractors to make sure we would be able to get all this done in ten days.

The most complicated part of the install was getting the steam system for the kettle and hot liquor tanks up and running.   The steam guys started a few weeks before Paul got here so that they would be ready for the test brew.

The first few days that Paul was here we spent getting the tanks in their final positions and getting them level and running the pipe water, steam, and electrical to them.  Once that was done we could connect the stainless piping that connects the mash tun, kettle and pumps on the brew house.

Once that was done we spent some time getting the plates into the mash / lauter tun and getting the rake motor mounted on top. 

Next we worked on getting the grain handling systems set up.  We have an existing room in the warehouse that we were planning to use as a mill room to keep all the grain dust separate from the brew house and cellar.  We realized that we were going to have to raise the ceiling to get all of our equipment in there easily.

We moved our mill, grist case and augurs into the expanded room and got those running.  The way our systems works is that the grain is sent through the wall of the mill room, behind our fermenters along the side wall and over to the mash tun.  


We also finally got the town to sign off on the placement of the chiller behind our building.  So we got the concrete pad poured and got the chiller in place so that when they got around to hooking it up it would be ready to go.

About half way through Paul's time here we realized there was no way the company putting together the boiler and glycol system were going to finish as promised.  They were way behind on the boiler install so we decided that it was better for them to focus solely on the steam and not work on the glycol system at all. 

One of the major mistakes we made was hiring one steam fitting / plumbing company to do both.  They were hired to install the boiler, the domestic water service, and pipe and start-up the glycol chiller.  All things we were told they did numerous times.  At the outset of the project they told us two weeks for everything.  Almost immediately they were behind and never managed to get caught up.  

If we had use two different companies like we had originally planned, we could have had both set-ups going at the same time.  Four weeks in they hadn't finished the boiler or glycol.
With a lot of pushing they manged to get the boiler fired up around 7:00 pm the night before Paul was scheduled to leave.  Since the boiler was finally working we were able to fill the tanks with water to clean out the residual oils and dust and check the pumps and piping between the brew house.

After that we filled the hot liquor tank and kettle and made sure the steam was heating both.  We did an hour boil to check the evaporation rates and see how the boiler performed over time.  Since we didn’t have the vent installed yet because of on going delays, we were a little concerned about the steam in the warehouse—mostly making sure we didn’t set off any sprinklers from the heat.   

We opened all the doors and set up a few fans and that seem to take care of any potential issues.  By the time we cooled down the tanks and drained the water we finished up around 3 am.  

The other thing we found out was that our drain worked like a champ, moving water from three tanks out of the brewery with no problem.  Although, there were some minor issues that needed to be fixed, overall the steam system worked fine.

When Paul left we had a working brew house, but we still needed to get the chiller fired up.  It took another week or two for them to get the piping finished.  Once it was ready we spent the better part of a day trying to get the chiller started-up, but once it was up and running it seemed to be working just fine.  There were no leaks in the pipes and the glycol was cooling down by design.  Since we thought that system was working fine they brought in their insulation guy to finish the job.  

While they were insulating the pipes we needed to get some sprinklers moved and a few heads added by request of the fire marshal. When that was done we could get our final fire inspection.  We also managed to pass our final electrical, plumbing and construction inspections.  With that we were able to apply for our Certificate of Occupancy, which we received early last week.  Now that all the construction was completed and we satisfied all the requirements from the town, the only step left was getting our brewing license from the NJ ABC.

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