The decision to incorporate a distillery into your brewery should be highly considered. Giving your customers multiple options not only keeps your company relevant, but also adaptable. Your patrons may feel like a beer one day, but decide to have a cocktail the next. You can provide that service to them. In an increasingly competitive market, you can distinguish your company apart from the crowd with this simple addition. We can help breakdown what you need to know to help guide you in making the best well-informed decision for your business.
How different is the process of making liquor to beer?
Overall, it is a very similar process in the beginning. Alcohol like whiskey, essentially starts off as beer. Both go through the process of fermented grains that eventually convert into alcohol. The difference begins when beer goes on to be refined with other ingredients like hops, and the newly fermented whiskey is not meant to be consumed.
Because of this similar beginning process, the add-on of a still is not a colossal expenditure!
“A complete whiskey plant will cost about 70% of the capital expenditure on the brewing end. That means breweries have a quick entry into the distilling market.” – source: Paul Hughes, MBA, PhD of Oregon State University
What is the equipment needed to make a distillery?
Here at Brewmation, we have a full line of distilling equipment ranging from 150L to 2000L stills, mashing equipment, fermentation vessels, cooling systems, and state-of-the art controls to automate and operate your distillery. We can help guide you through the process of what each item does and how it operates. We will also help you with determining the size and equipment that will best suit your needs.
What are some of the safety risks involved?
When it comes to controls for a distillery, it's important to understand the strict requirements of the fire code. When a still is installed, an area around the still, typically 25' in all directions, will be rated as a hazardous location. This defined area is typically considered a Class 1 Division 2 (C1D2) area, and any electrical devices that are installed inside this area must be rated for C1D2. This includes lighting, appliances, fans, and electrical outlets. It also includes the controls, sensors, and heating elements - all critical components of your distillery.
The C1D2 area is typically defined as a 25' perimeter around the still rising 3' off of the floor. Above this is a 5' perimeter around the still. It is important to consult your local fire inspector for the exact C1D2 requirements in your area.
It is also worth mentioning that our panels are UL (for the US) and cUL (for Canada) listed as an assembly, and each panel has its own unique UL listing number assigned to it. Your electric inspector will look for this number before signing off on a certificate of occupancy.
Suffice it to say, we take it seriously and design our solutions in accordance with the NEC and cUL requirements. We build our panels with the required barrier controls that are UL 698A certified (as required by electrical inspectors for controls used in a hazardous location such as a still.)
Are new permits and insurance required if I already have a brewery in place?
Yes, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) site is a great resource to find out what you need to get your company started on the right path. The TTB covers a lot of territory from labeling, importing/exporting, proofing, laws/regulations, permits, taxes/filing, and formula approval. Not following the protocols and having the proper paperwork could result in fines or even being shut down.
In addition to the TTB, you'll also want to make sure your distillery is registered with the US Food and Drug (FDA) as a food facility. While the TTB covers alcohol beverages, there's overlap with the FDA who covers food safety, which includes alcohol beverages (wine, beer, and spirits).
Now that you have checked with the TTB, FDA, and state by state regulations, you'll also want to be mindful of local authorities (water, fire marshal, inspectors, etc.). Your state's alcohol authorities should be a good first resource for learning about the local rules and regulations specific to your area.
Finally, Research the types of insurances that are available for distilleries. Check out this article on distilling.com for a breakdown of insurances to include or expand on.
While all these steps may seem daunting, just remember, you got where you are because of your tenacity and determination of opening up your very own brewery. The same will be true when you decide to expand into the distilling market.
Whether you're building a new craft distillery, adding distillation to your existing brewery or winery, or just in need of components to round out your equipment, give Brewmation a call to help. Take a look at our distilling section for more info, and try our Distillery Designer to get the conversation started with our solution experts today!