Friday, December 01, 2006

Story of the Century

Tim drops in with this serendipitous story about setting up the brewing equipment…

Since we needed to outfit Beau’s with brewing equipment to be able to get our own thing going, we had been actively hunting for a system for a number of months. Finally we caught wind of a full brew system complete with a brew house, fermenters and brite tanks, available from a location in New Hampshire.

The brand name of this system was CENTURY, a manufacturer that we (later) discovered was no longer in business. The whole system was in pristine condition, albeit slightly smaller than we wanted (15 bbl), but with 6 fermenting and brite tanks we felt this would do the job for now.

We hired a truck from Canada to go down and pick up the tanks, with instructions that the tanks would be loaded upright — this required what is known as step-down trailer. I made sure our trucker talked to the loaders in New Hampshire so there would be no misunderstanding.

We needed two trucks for the load, and our customs broker told us that the trucks would have to travel back together since there was only 1 set of documents for clearance at the border. It was all set, but you know that saying about the best laid plans.

Our trucking company sent two trucks, but only one of them was capable of taking the equipment and the other had to be sent back to Canada without any cargo. A mad scramble from our customs broker saved the day, and was able to at least clear the one truck that had half of our brewing equipment. So we were halfway there.

We scoured for a step down trailer truck in Ontario but couldn’t find one, so we settled on a transport company from New Hampshire called Mayflower. We were told that the truck would be tarped and when it arrived we needed a boom crane to unload the standing tanks (approx. 10 ft. high).

Lo and behold, when the truck arrived it was a hard top and there was no way our crane operator could get to the tanks to unload. So we devised a plan B. We loaded our own hand pallet mover into the truck and moved the tanks one by one to the back of the truck. From the back of the truck we were able to unload with our forklift out into the parking lot, and then the crane was able to get them into our brewery.

After a week of recovering from that near-disaster, we started to try to piece it all together. Even heard that song “One Piece at a Time?” Try to imagine a behemoth jig saw puzzle and you start to get the idea. One million (well maybe not a million) pipes, valves, connectors, etc. had to be pieced together.

Our brewer, Matthew, and our consultant Charles MacLean were able to get a good start, but without any drawings it was not going to happen any time soon. No schematics were sent with the equipment, so we tried to contact Century manufacturers. Well, guess who closed their doors back in 1999? We also sent an email to the American Brewers Assn. asking if anyone was familiar with this system.

Here’s where the story gets a little weird. Matthew had discovered a handwritten note from a brewer inside some of the equipment with a name: Daryl Goss. Matt was able to track him down through some detective work (Matt’s fallback career), and found he was the brewer who had worked on that system a few years back.

Daryl then put us in touch with the actual installer of the equipment, a Mr. Bud Robbins who helped us tremendously by arranging for a set of sketches to be sent to us. Another set of drawings arrived from John of Thirsty Dog Brewery ( ….Cheers, guys, and thanks for your help!

We’re just about done the installation now, and we’ll be brewing out of it in 2 or 3 weeks….a great Christmas gift.

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