Selecting the right equipment for your new DSP is a challenge. Even if you have the budget to purchase everything brand new, many of the items you need have long lead-times and require professional installation. Plus, everything you buy must work together. What is a new distillery to do?
The best option is to seek professional help. A qualified consultant can walk through your business plan and figure out your needs, balancing your budget and your growth plans so you don’t over or under extend your business financially. Plus, they might have some leads on secondhand equipment, which is a great strategy for some items and a bad idea for others.
What type of equipment will I need?
- For those brave enough to go at it alone, here’s a basic outline: Are you going to mash grain? You will need a mash tun. If you plan to use corn or another grain that requires gelatinization, you’ll probably want your mash tun to double as a cooker. And, a grain silo lets you buy larger quantities of grain to reduce your COGS.
- Are you fermenting? Just about any vessel can be used as a fermenter in a pinch, but a tank with a jacket will allow you to control the temperature of your ferments, which is a major advantage.
- How about your stills? If you’re planning to make traditional brandy, then an alembic still is your best shot. Love that Vodka? You’ll need a column still. There are hybrids, gin baskets, custom designs, and many other considerations, depending on your product mix and production level.
- Now, you have to think about heating. How is your mash tun heated – through a jacket via steam? Or perhaps bain-marie? You can also find direct-fire and heating coils. The same question applies to your still: how will you heat it, and do you need additional hardware, like a steam boiler?
- Cooling follows the same line of reasoning. You will need a way to supply your still’s condenser with cool water for many hours at a time. Traditionally, a distillery uses an adjacent lake or well for this purpose, but if you aren’t lucky enough to have a body of water on your property, you’ll have to look at an industrial chiller.
- The final major consideration is tanks. At a bare minimum you will need a tank you can bottle out of, and ideally you will have multiple tanks, for spirit collection, storage, blending and bottling. One cost-effective strategy is to use portable IBC Totes and 55-gal Drums. Those vessels will work until you’re making enough money to invest in proper tanks.
Another blog post will cover hardware and machinery: items like forklift/pallet jack, water treatment, air compressor, pumps, agitators, grain mills, augers, scales and more. Stay tuned!
If you’d like help with the right equipment for your new DSP, or just want to save yourself some time and headache by having someone else do it for you, we’re here to help. Reach out to us here to schedule time with our consultant and take your operations to the next level.
Tyler Derheim is Fx5’s in-house consultant, using his expertise to help distilleries of all sizes make it easier to make great things. Tyler first entered the regulated beverage industry in 2010, when he started working harvest and crush at a midsize winery in Slovenia. After returning to California in 2017 he joined a startup DSP, with responsibilities for formulation, production, compliance, lab services, and more. In 18 months, he led the DSP from mason jars and buckets to tankers and trailers, then moved into a freelance consulting role, helping distilleries of all sizes with every aspect of production, operations, and compliance. A long-time Fx5 user, Tyler brings a wealth of experience unmatched in the industry.