Now that we're that much closer toward a potential location that'll house GrassLands Brewing Company (in addition to being healthy for the first time in about a week and a half), it's time to give serious consideration to our eventual equipment. It seems everything domestic gets manufactured in the northwest portion of our continent...and there are so many different avenues with which to go. The easiest decision to make is the size of the equipment you want (i.e. capacity). Logistics get subsequently harder from that point. This week's fun topic: New or Used...or both? Let's get to it.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both angles. It's a lot like buying a new or used car. The new car is everything you want, just not what you might want to pay for at the time. You've got the security of knowing it's just come off the assembly line and that (supposedly) everything should work right out the gate. Typically, there's an operating warranty and service available from the manufacturer so should you get in a bind, it'll get addressed in due time. Plus, it's shiny and has that "new car smell." There's something about interacting with brand spankin' new things, isn't there? The primary downside: cost. In a business where you typically don't reap the fruits of your labors until a few years into your operation, dollars and cents begin to make a big impact in decision-making.
With a used car, you're dealing with more risk. The extent to which it's been used and is operational is always in question. A new car is used the second you drive it off the lot...and as such, the value decreases. With a used car, you've got no idea how the previous owner(s) treated it. Did they go nuts every weekend and rev the RPMs into the red at every stoplight? Or were those 25k miles all highway? Most used equipment will have to be serviced before getting thrown into operation, but like the used car industry - you can find real gems out there at bottom dollar prices. The craft beer industry is booming and there are handmedowns out there to be found. Some breweries have outgrown their lovable little toys, which are perfect for the newbies (like GrassLands) that are starting out...same thing goes for a brewery's expansion. Looking at the popular website ProBrewer and its classified forum is evidence enough.
Hell, our experimental brewing system that we have right now is nothing more than a used homebrewery that was handed down to numerous talented brewers before it got to me. As rugged and aged as it looks, our system is definitely a reliable jalopy. :D
Perhaps the best approach is to take the equipment's value into consideration first and foremost. How valuable is it as a relatively new kid on the (brewing) block to have a brand new brewhouse? What about fermenters? Do we care about consistency or is a piecemeal system not a problem? The ultimate decisions we make will come down to considerations between equipment value, practicality and cost. The easy part was deciding what size we wanted to start out at - now the tough part is deciding, really, to what extent we want our equipment to be new/used. Most likely, we'll go new on a brewhouse and as slightly used as we can get with the remainder of the equipment. Unless we're flush with capital, and can get all of the equipment right away, we'll probably go that route. More stuff to keep me up at night, eh? :) We haven't even gotten into how we can insert energy conservation components into our system!
What's fun will be documenting the selection, transportation and installation of our stuff when the time comes. Even if it's not fully 100% new, it'll be new to us and that's what counts. Whatever we can do to make sure we're bringing you guys the best beer possible, that'll be our primary objective. You can rest assured that with each & every decision we make, the number one consideration we have will be the ultimate product and experience provided to our patrons...to you. We'll do it right; that I can promise.
Soooooo...can you tell I'm feeling better? As the strength/energy returns, so does my ability to get longwinded. As we mentioned in our Fermentation Friday email newsletter (have YOU signed up?), we've got the long-awaited and anticipated Broken Cog wedding this weekend in gorgeous Thomasville, GA and we're looking forward to tasting Tyler's creation as well as sampling some of what's been lovingly called "Something Borrowed Hard Cider." Should be a great time and we'll also get the chance to sit down & chat with Jack W. of Drink Florida Beer. Stoked!
Have a freakin' blast of a weekend my dear readers, because you most definitely deserve it.