In a short Q&A with Zane Piercey, Lead Brewer at Garage Project, we asked about their new pilot brewing set up.
1. Describe your pilot set up?
We have the 1 bbl Ss Brewtech brewhouse, set up near our main 20 bbl brewhouse for ease of access to hot and cold liquor. We have 3 x 1 bbl Ss Brewtech FVs, as well as 3 x 1/2 bbl FVs all supplied by a 3/8 HP glycol chiller using the FTSs temperature controllers. Simple heat pads are attached at the cone of each vessel, and each vessel is wrapped in a neoprene insulation jacket.
2. What are the benefits for Garage Project to have a pilot system?
Using a pilot system helps us test new recipes, new products, and new techniques while keeping raw material costs to a minimum. The Ss brewhouse allows us to make high quality small batches that closely mirror our full brewhouse's quality. It is also used by our brew team to produce personal recipes, fun one-offs, or simply a crispy pilsner to quench the thirst.
3. Why 1bbl and not larger?
A 1 bbl system is small scale, yet enough finished volume to easily provide for dry hop / adjunct bench trials and multiple tasting sessions with our sensory team. Being able to split a single brew over two 1/2 bbl FVs opens the door to different fermentation profiles and experiments on the cold side. We used to use a 1/2 bbl Sabco brewhouse that has since been retired, and the physical size requirements between a 1 and 1/2 bbl were similar. A 3.5 bbl system would be overkill for our pilot purposes, and too small for our production.
4. How do you scale a pilot brew to production size?
For us, scaling involves taking the average efficiencies of both kits to keep extract levels consistent, and breaking down hop and adjunct additions to a 'grams per litre' format for easy maths. Adding yeast slurry by weight allows us to tightly control pitch rates and keep them uniform. Often we will scale down a production recipe, rather than scaling up a pilot, which makes all the involved equations a breeze.
5. Any tips or recommendations for other craft breweries considering a pilot system?
A pilot system is an excellent investment for a brewery. It allows new product development as well as a means to 'test drive' possible improvements of current products while keeping the related costs of brewing to a minimum. Make sure you've got sloped floors and good drainage, with easy access to a source of product water! As a brewer, I would highly recommend the 1 bbl Ss brewhouse. It's fun to use and helps keep new ideas flowing in the brewery.