Brewery Construction

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Brewery Expansion – Part II

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Part two of our brewery expansion blog post series. If you missed out on Part I, you can catch up here.

Phase VI
Expand glycol lines and install new fermentor

The first part of this phase involved Captain Chris driving the BT1 (Brewery Truck 1) down to San Marcos to pick up the new fermentor. This, of course, also involved staying down there for an extra night hobnobbing it with other breweries and having a few beers. Market research.

After we unloaded it at the brewery, it was time to use our good friend the rotohammer again and anchor the fermentor to the ground.

Then, we began Operation Frosty Pipes II and extended our glycol line down the wall with ports for several fermentors to come.

After we hooked our new fermentor up to the glycol lines, it was time to christen the new ferementor “Resi” right before we pumped our first batch over to her.

(pretty sure we’re still cleaning up glass after that)

Phase VII
Expand Brewery Barrel Program

With the increased storage over at the other location, we have the ability to store more barrels and expand our barrel aged beer program.


To start off we got 6 Jim Beam bourbon barrels, thanks to The Bruery ordering extra for us. We have four of these filled with Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout, and one filled with Black Valkyrie.

What will we fill in the remaining barrel? At this point, only time will tell – but rumor has it, it could be an IPA.

Phase VIII
Acquire New Brite Tank from Ladyface


This was a surprise expansion phase for us. While some phrases are banned from the brewery like “accidental validation” or “unmarked chemicals” (safety first!), “surprise expansion” is not – and is in fact welcomed. Ladyface Brewery is currently upgrading the size of their tanks, and we were fortunate enough to be offered one of the 7bbl tanks they are replacing. So we stopped by one afternoon, picked it up and delivered it to the brewery.

picking up tank from ladyface

It is currently named “Tax Determination Tank #2” – however we do have a planned renaming and christening ceremony like all new tanks at Enegren Brewing. Stay tuned…

It should also be noted that Fireman Dave purchased a new and improved roto hammer which cut our cement drilling time down from 5 hours to 10 minutes. May we never speak of the old roto hammer again.

Phase IX
Embiggen Tasting Room Area

In an effort to provide even more seating than previously imagined in Phase IV of our expansion plan – the brewery crew got creative and smashed down the wall separating the office and the tasting room.

We had several options of how to tear down the wall. The first was the classic move from The Shining – only problem is it didn’t tear down the wall completely and was just a little creepy.


Our second option was to tear down the wall X-Men Juggernaut style – but we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to stop before crashing into our brewery.


Our third and final option was to relive our childhood and attempt the classic Kool-Aid “OOOOHHH YEAAAAAHHH” wall breakdown.


After some debating, we decided to go for the Kool Aid wall breakdown – but it didn’t go quite according to plan. You can see for yourself in the video, but it turned out to be more of a cross between The Shining and Kool Aid.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our Brewery Expansion!

Brewery Expansion – Part I

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If you’ve stopped by the brewery over the past three months, you might have noticed some changes. And, as you might have surmised, we are expanding. While normally we post our upgrades as they happen – with all the time and effort we’ve put into the big brewery expansion we’ve found it hard to spare the few hours to write them all up. So, over our next few posts, we’ll catalog what’s happened at the brewery, and what is still to come.

The big brewery expansion plan’s goals are fourfold:
1) To increase current brewing capacity & barrel aging program
2) Lay the foundation for future brewing capacity expansion
3) Increase brewing efficiency
4) Expand tasting room

The project was broken into several phases spread over several months. Most of our expansion is complete, but there are still some upcoming changes.

Phase I
Secure a new unit close to the brewery for increased dry and cold storage.

After months of searching, and trying hard to get the unit directly across the alley, we found a new place about a block away from the brewery off Zachery Street. The building, roughly the same size and shape as our brewery & tasting room, is a perfect size and shape for our storage needs.

Our lease started December 2012, and we quickly moved to utilize our new-found space and implemented phase II of our expansion.

Phase II
Move Dry storage to new unit to free up space in brewery and tasting room

As soon as the new unit was ready (nicknamed The Grainery), we started moving over all of our dry storage. This included our grain and grain racks that were sitting in the tasting room. We also moved over our keg washer and all empty kegs – all of which are now cleaned over at the new unit. Lastly, we moved over our workbench and all of our brewery odds-and-ends (spare parts, extra tools, etc.).


The Grainery – Post Move In

Combined, this opened up a lot of space in our tasting room which allowed us to expand seating (see Phase IV).

Phase III
Buy and install a second kettle to decrease brewing time.

One of the big limiters in how much beer we are able to produce is time. The less time it takes us to brew a batch of beer, the more we can make.

Every batch we brew, we double brew (two mashes, two lauters, two boils). After we finished the first lauter, the wort would sit in a holding tank until our mash-kettle was clear. This holding tank was insulated, but did not heat our wort.

With the second kettle, we no longer have to go into a holding tank. Instead we lauter into the new kettle and it heats our wort as we fill it. Believe it or not, this extra heating cuts our brew day by 5-6 hours. This saved time enables us to brew two batches on weekends instead of just one without killing ourselves.

Like a new ship, all new tanks in the brewery must be properly christened. It would be bad luck to brew in an un-christened tank, so right before we pumped our first wort into our new kettle we did it proper:

Phase IV
Expand brewery tasting room with tables, chairs & fancy lighting

One of the main goals of this expansion was to expand the tasting room with more tables and seating. We wanted people to be able to come in, sit down and relax while they have a brew. The increased table space would also allow customers to easily bring in some outside food – whether a sandwich from Custom Melt, some chips and salsa from home, or some pastries from Carrara’s.


So we asked Fireman Dave, who you may remember from such construction projects as Bathroom Upgrade II, Build a Brewery Bar and Super Work Day to build us up some tables for the tasting room in a style similar to tables Chris and Matt saw on their trip to Germany in Dusseldorf, home of the altbier. Stop on by the brewery to check them out if you haven’t seen them yet. Also, keep an eye out for Dave’s hidden Easter Eggs in his construction.


If you’ve stopped by during the evening after sunset – you also might have noticed that we’ve moved away from standard warehouse florescent light. The primary reason for this change is because florescent lighting makes Captain Chris depressed and angry. Not wanting him moping around the brewery, and because we wanted to provide a more enjoyable experience to our customers, we replaced these lights with soft lighting on dimmer switches over the bar – and accent lighting over the brewery.

new brewery lights

New lights above the bar

Phase V
Operation Frosty Box III – Move and expand fridge, buy and install new fridge

More difficult than Operation Frosty Box I & II combined, this was the most daunting task for the EBC. In one weekend we had to disassemble the entire fridge in the brewery, move it and all of our kegs to our new unit, rebuild the fridge at twice the size, hook it up and load with all of our kegs. Simultaneously, we had to build up a new, smaller, fridge in the brewery while still being able to serve beer to customers.

It was a long weekend with little sleep, but thanks to the help of some friends, the Brew Chief’s brother Mike, and a few patient customers who didn’t mind waiting a few minutes for us to finish installing the taps Sunday morning, the plan went smoothly.

The new fridge we installed in the brewery is just big enough to hold kegs, gaining us a lot of extra space – extra space for things like more fermentors.


The new, smaller, fridge in the brewery

Stay tuned for part II of this exciting brewery expansion review!

Brewery Laboratory

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Sick of the drab gray speckled carpet office room – we decided to tear it up and turn our office into a lab where we can count yeast and create various scientific concoctions.

First Matt started by angrily ripping up the carpet – after spending countless hours in the office doing brewery accounting, he had developed a special hatred toward it.

matt angrily ripping lab carpet up

more angry matt

After the carpet was removed, we had the enjoyable experience of scraping up all the left over carpet glue. This was a fun task that involved some sort of solvent (we tried several, all with varying degrees of success), a scraper, shop vac and lots of elbow grease.

carpet glue

Next up was to use our good ol’ friend the degreaser from episodes “Sealing The Brewery Floor Part 1 & Part 2“. For kicks, we donned our safety equipment to bring back memories.

degreasing the floor

Then we really did have to use our safety equipment as we acid etched the floor. Having done this three times before (one was a mulligan) we were now basically pros.

acid etching lab

We then painted the floor, careful not to paint ourselves into a corner.
painting the lab floor

Once the paint dried we called upon the brewery magi who magically installed rubber coving, a lab table and caution tape (aka we forgot to take pictures), but we imagine it looked something like this:

completed brewery lab

We then thoroughly tested the brewery lab

lab testing the beer

Lab testing the beer - for ghosts

Brewery Lab Test

Testing the beer in the lab


Science For The Win & A Job Well Done

Grain Pulley

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Since we don’t have an auger, our mash-in procedure requires filling buckets with crushed grain and dumping them into the mash. These buckets can get heavy (50+ lbs), making dumping difficult.

The old way of adding grain into the mash involved lifting the buckets above our head and dumping the grain into the mash tun. This was bad on our backs as illustrated below:

old school grain dumping

Concerned with the overwhelming possibility of hurting our backs, we installed a pulley system to do all the lifting for us. This saves our backs as seen in the below diagram while testing our system.

new grain dumping

And so our backs were saved, thanks to the miracle of the pulley. Here’s the pulley in action on brew day:

Grain Pulley from Joe Nascenzi on Vimeo.

Expanding Production – A Third Fermentor

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

We’ve been open for less than half a year, and we already have trouble producing enough beer to keep up with demand. So, thanks to the better than expected sales, and a timely surplus of 7bbl fermentors at Premier Stainless, we went out and purchased a third fermentor.

Once we decide on a name, it’ll be up and fermenting beer in no time! Until then, enjoy these pics from the delivery.

Evolution of an EBC Kegwasher

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Keg Washer #1: Commander Matt

matt keg washer
This model required someone (Matt) to hold a keg upside down on their lap while someone else worked the valves. This keg washer leaked, required two brewers, involved a chair, and took forever. We only used this to rinse our new kegs before filling them with our first batch – which is a good thing because we didn’t have to use any caustic chemicals to clean. Trust us, 185 degree water leaking on you is better than 120 degree caustic solution.

Keg Washer #2: NSF Approved Rack

ghetto v2 washer
Our second keg washer model (designed only a week after our first keg washer) was a HUGE improvement. This keg washer was rigged together with a spare NSF approved rack, scrap grain shelving pieces, nuts, bolts and a few prayers. It didn’t leak. It didn’t require two brewers. It required hook up to the brewery mash-kettle. It fell over and nearly crushed people. But it cleaned kegs!

Keg Washer #3: Manual Keg Washer

premier washer manual
After 5 months using the NSF Approved Rack – for the first time, our keg washer was actually a keg washer. Something actually designed, built and tested for keg washing. It washes two kegs at a time (halving our cleaning time), doesn’t tip over, doesn’t have to hook up to the brewery, and all around just looks awesome.

Keg Washer #4: ???

No one knows what the next keg washer will be – but here’s an artist’s rendering.
keg washer of the future

Float Sensors

Monday, December 19th, 2011

With the brewery up and running all ahead full, we’re continually working to improve efficiency before expanding capacity.

One of the biggest time vampires (process that takes a lot of time) in the brewery was the sparging process. We had to monitor water level in the lauter tun, flow rate and water level in the lauter grant, and flow rate out of the lautering grant. We also to monitor fill volumes on the HLT and holding tank. This prevented us from focusing on more important brewing operations.

To fix this problem, we installed float sensors on four tanks – lauter tun, lauter grant, HLT and our holding tank.

Lauter Tun

lauter tun float sensor top

view from the top of the lauter tun

lauter tun float sensor

Float sensors in the lauter tun

There are two float sensors in the lauter tun – a high level and a low level. At the start of the sparging process, we set both to the desired height. When the sparge level in the lauter tun goes below the low point float sensor, the HLT pump is automatically activated to start filling the lauter tun. When the high point flow sensor is triggered, the pump is shut off. This ensures a consistent and accurate level in the tank.

Lauter Grant

lauter grant float sensor

High and low point sensors in the lauter grant

The lauter grant float sensors work the same way as the lauter tun, except they aren’t adjustable. When the lauter grant fills up to the top sensor, the wort pump is activated, pumping the wort to the collection tank. The pump automatically shuts off when the low sensor is triggered.

HLT & Holding Tank

hlt float sensor

Top of HLT float sensor

holding tank float sensor

Float sensor on top of holding tank

Both of these tanks have one float sensor. We set it to the desired fill volume and then start filling the tank. When the float sensor is triggered – the tanks stop filling. On the HLT this is important because we have to make sparge water adjustments based on water volume. On the holding tank, this is important because we don’t want to lauter off too much wort.

Floats in Action

float sensor in action

Lauter tun float sensor during sparge

While we still have to monitor the tank levels to double check the sensors, they have greatly freed up time during the brew day for us to focus on other brewing operations – and even allows us to take some short breaks.


Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Last week the last two smokestacks were installed in the brewery. There is one attached to the burner to remove all carbon monoxide (very important), and one attached to the top of the mash-kettle to remove all steam from the boil.


One day we hope to have big brick ones, but for now these do just nicely.

It’s Alive!

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

With the brewery completed, Captain Chris started programming the brewery’s control system (aka, the brewery brains).

completed 3 bbl brewery

The programming process gives the brewery her soul and personality. It talks to us, flashes pretty lights and lets us know when we mess up.

Within a day we had a simple program in place so we started testing out the pumps. We filled up the HLT with water and pumped it around the whole system. We quickly learned a few key lessons.

Lesson learned #1 – Never pump water through the CIP spray ball at full speed with the lid open unless everyone on the brew deck needs a shower and we want to wash the ceiling. (We decided to put off our acid cleaning after this mishap)

Lesson learned #2 – When quickly assembling the brewery in excitement, you apparently don’t tighten a lot of fittings. These fittings leak.

After we tightened up all the fittings and confirmed that all the pumps worked as expected, we tested our thermocouples (temperature sensor) and runoff flowmeter. This was an exciting moment for the brewery because we used Chris’ favorite electronics tool, the Ghost Detector (in layman’s terms, an Oscilloscope).

chris with ghost detector

Each blip on the Ghost Detector screen shows when the flowmeter rotor sweeps across its built in magnetic sensor. The Ghost Detector was used to trace the pulse signal from the sensor wire to the signal isolator, and then to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).

And with that we were able to accurately meter the lauter tun run off rate.

Tank Mounting and Welding

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

In case of earthquake, and to prevent general tank falling and moving, we had to bolt our tanks to the ground.

After we made triple sure our tanks were in the right locations, we marked each mounting pad and removed the tanks.

forklift brewing tanks for mounting

The first tanks we mounted were the fermentors. We had Patrick, a friend of a friend, come in and drill the holes for the two tanks using a roto hammer. Never had we seen concrete drilled with such ease.

patrick using roto hammer

We then anchored the mounting plates to the ground and lowered the fermentors back onto the plates.

brewery mounting plate with anchor

That night Captain Chris had sweet dreams about the awesomeness of the roto hammer. He bought one the next day and went to work mounting the rest of the brewery.

chris using roto hammer

Turns out it wasn’t as easy as Patrick made it look. We managed to smoke two drill bits and drive to the hardware store 3 or 4 times while mounting the tanks, but in the end we were successful.

Next up was to weld the tanks to the now secured mounting plates. Local homebrewer and craft beer fan Brian Oliver, is an underwater welder for the Navy. We were going to flood the brewery so he could weld the tanks for us, but we were unable to do so thanks to a well placed floor drain.

Instead, he asked around the Point Mugu Naval Base, the task was passed through command, and Tait Sorlie Sw1 volunteered to help – he’s a Navy welding instructor and inspector for the Seabees, they’re trained to fight and build. They also have an awesome logo:

seabees insignia

He was able to easily weld all of our tanks securely to the mounting pads.

tait welding

SeaBees Sorlie beer growler

And now our brewery won’t fall over during earthquakes.