Piloting the Pilot System


For those of you in the loop, you know what our plans are between now & the end of the year. For those out, you 'bout to find out. Today we navigate the pilot system - an integral component to our business model.

What you're looking at above is a 2 barrel (62 US gallons) fully-automated (and castered!) pilot brewing system (featured courtesy of Psycho Brew, who GrassLands is planning on utilizing for its pilot system fabrication). Here's the skinny on pilots. Sometimes it's THE system for breweries - for example: our good friends at Fermentation Lounge brew all their beer on a similarly-sized system. 2 barrels will produce 4 standard sized kegs in one session...so you can begin to do the math that these systems can serve a specific purpose. If your goal as a brewery is to be a nano (<5 barrels), that's fine and well. Our goal isn't that...our goal is happy, healthy growth in our market, region and state. Ultimately, we'll be brewing on a 15 barrel system in 2015 to aid in that anticipated growth. So where does the pilot system fit in and how?

The pilot system, as we previously noted, is an extremely important cog in the GrassLands Brewing Company wheel. Basically, it's a glorified homebrewing system, but gives you the opportunity as a brewery to test out different ingredients and combinations of adjuncts and provide them to taproom patrons with minimal risk of denting the bottom line of your operating budget. For example, say we wanted to work with an experimental hop and a new malt with our Big Cypress IPA - think we're going to just go forth and hope for the best and brew it on our production system? Methinks you might already know the answer to that question, dear reader - because you're so freakin' smart!

The answer is absolutely not. The pilot system allows us to ensure the highest quality in ingredient utilization before scaling up to a larger production batch. However, sometimes we might not even do that. Take, for example, our sour program...it's likely that we'll only have one or two batches in our sour program that will make it to the production-sized system in the relatively near future. Most of them, for the time being, will be solely brewed on our pilot system, feeding into a closed loop fermentation process that is kept totally separate (for good reason) from our primary fermentation area. We also want the opportunity to have the pilot system help with the tap pipeline within GrassLands' taproom. It'll give us the chance to provide patrons with our beer while we work out the kinks in the fabrication, delivery, setup and operation of our primary brewing system.

Sound cool? It is. Just Google the Sabco BrewMagic system sometime and see what Sam Calagione (founder of Dogfish Head) has to say about the importance of a pilot brewing system. Ours is getting ordered this week! #BOOOOOOOM!

In other news, we're nearly there with our crowdfunding campaign! This week was great to see us go from 50% raised to over 80% raised in one afternoon! Muchas gracias to our buddy Brian (aka: the Beer Apostle) for writing a great article on our campaign...that and to a few individuals who pledged at the highest levels of our rewards! If you haven't come in yet, your time to do so is dwindling...fast! 11 days left, to be exact! Hop on board and let's have some fun!

So with that, we'll leave you to it for now. Have an absolutely awesome weekend, my dear readers, because you freakin' deserve it! We'll keep everyone posted as to the progress of our building construction and our equipment orders!