Posts in Blog

White Lies Bar Opens

October 21st, 2016 Posted by Beers, Blog, Breweries 0 thoughts on “White Lies Bar Opens”

Last week, I had the great pleasure of sharing a beer with Lee from White Lies Brewery to celebrate a significant moment in Lee’s and all Brisbane Craft Beer drinkers’ lives – White Lies Bar is now fully licensed.

Like most applications for breweries and bars in Brisbane, Lee’s DA and License took far longer than expected. It has been a long and frustrating time for him, but finally it has all come good.
To celebrate the moment, Lee poured a couple of glasses of his latest brew, a beautiful, rich Russian Imperial Stout. After drinking it, I was moved to suggest that Lee and White Lies was the ‘Mornington Brewery’ of Brisbane. Like Mornington, Lee does brilliant dark beers. I love his chocolate porters and the RIS was another cracker.

For me, there are two reasons to celebrate Lee opening his bar – firstly, I was the first blogger on the scene and beat all the usual suspects to the ‘scoop’, but more importantly, the White Lies bar is at Sumner Park, a very short drive from my office. How good is that! The Wacol/Sumner Park area is not noted for its drinking venues, but Lee has fixed that.

White Lies Brewery and Bar is officially opening this Friday from 12.00pm. Lots of details available on Facebook here. Drop in and help Lee celebrate the next milestone in the growth of White Lies. Absolute best of luck and hope the day is fantastic.

Cheers,

David.

China Trips – Brewery Inspection

October 13th, 2016 Posted by Blog 0 thoughts on “China Trips – Brewery Inspection”

Over the last few months, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take 2 trips to China to inspect our brewing equipment as it was being manufactured.  Having never traveled to China in the past, it was an eye opening experience. I visited Jinan, a small Chinese manufacturing city that you’ve probably never heard of, with a population of around 7 million people! It’s not very touristy and is pretty much full of factories and business people.

Some block asleep next to me on the plane.

China is an absolutely crazy place and what struck me most was the endless opportunities the country presents. You can find to purchase or have made virtually anything you can think of. Although I’m not personally about to buy or have anything manufactured in particular, I find the potential that exists incredibly exciting for some reason. Anyway…

When we first were looking for a brewery manufacturer we sent out our scope of works document to around half a dozen companies, Chinese and others, for quoting. We ended up choosing Tiantai who we had heard about as they were the same mob that the Black Hops blokes used. The reasons we chose Tiantai over the other companies were:

  • They had good technical knowledge.
  • They would respond to our emails generally within the same day.
  • They had very competitive pricing.
  • Their salesman wasn’t just a “yes” man, he worked hard to understand all of the specifics we had requested.
  • They were happy to custom build any piece of equipment that I wanted and would indulge my personal preferences for certain items.

I get the feeling that people are somewhat hesitant of purchasing brewing equipment out of China due to horror stories that are floating around and just general negative attitude towards the quality of work that is associated with the country. I believe this is down to a few reasons:

  • There are some dodgy manufactures out there that will cut corners,
  • Some people expect each manufacturer to have the same technical knowledge as other countries that have been building breweries for 1000’s of years and
  • If you aren’t specific about exactly what it is that you want them to build and to what standard, then it’s likely that they will build the brewery the way that they know but it isn’t necessarily going to be the way you would like it or are familiar with.
View from the hotel window

I personally think that if, as a customer, you are prepared to work closely with the manufacturer and are specific about what it is you want, then you are able to have equipment produced that is of a very high standard and comparable to equipment that is manufactured in western countries.

My first trip to the factory in August was mainly focussed around inspecting fermentation jacket welding and seeing their pressure testing method and reporting systems. I also spent a full day in their office in downtown Jinan designing and reviewing our brewhouse piping configurations with their in-house engineer. At this stage our brewhouse wasn’t really much more than being cylindrical pieces of stainless steel so there wasn’t much to inspect on this front.

The second trip in September was for inspecting our brewhouse before shipping. When I arrived on the first day after roughly 20hrs of travel from Brisbane we went straight to the factory. We spent the day going through all of the brewhouse pipe work. I ended up making around 20 changes to the pipework configuration, mainly for sanitation reasons or to make things easier for the operator. There were some bits of pipe that were too long which meant they were not able to be cleaned sufficiently, etc.

Although I brought it on myself, I also had the incredibly fun task of climbing into each and every one of the fermenters so that I could inspect the internal surface condition. I was glad I insisted on getting into every tank as some of the internals of the tanks were in pretty average condition. There was scratching, pitting and welding spatter in just about all of the tanks. Although Tiantai seemed to be a bit embarrassed, they were very open to going over every surface that I had circled with my permanent marker and re-polishing it.

On the final day we did a complete water brew, testing every valve pump and motor in the brewhouse. There were some small changes I made but these were mainly around touch screen visualisation. Naming things differently and having valves numbered and displayed differently, etc. I’m now confident that we will have a high quality efficiently functioning brewery when it arrives.

The biggest challenge I found when purchasing a brewery from China was completing an independent pressure vessel design verification. As Tiantai are a Chinese company, they don’t complete their vessel designs to AS1210 which is the Australian Pressure Vessel Standard. Luckily for us, WH&S in Australia do accept pressure vessels built to other standards including GB150 (the Chinese Standard). The biggest challenge here was finding a local Engineer who works with GB150 and then getting the correct information translated from Tiantai and in the correct format so that our local Engineer could verify the vessel designs against the standard. I began work on this process towards the end of May and only had it completed last Friday, 7th October.

The welding quality on the equipment was generally good and they were prepared to test and report on anything that I requested. The main downside has been the production time. We were originally quoted 80 days from payment of deposit to when it would be on a ship. It has now been well over 130 days and will likely still be another week and a half. But all in all, for our project, buying a brewery from China has worked pretty well, and the price of the equipment and flexibility in design has made it well worth-while.

Birds eye view of the brewhouse.

What I have learnt and would tell someone who is buying a brewery from China is:

  • Be specific and go into as much detail as you can about everything!
  • Don’t write-off ideas or suggestions that they have, some are good and can be better than what you have seen before.
  • Go over everything with a fine tooth comb. And then do it again.
  • Visit the factory during production (at least once but more if you can) and be involved with process as much as you can.
  • Stay in regular contact with supplier.
  • Get spares and lots of them. Spare seals, elements, everything you can think of and more than you think you’ll need. Having a critical spare in stock could be the difference between brewing and not brewing for weeks.
  • Build in redundancies. For example, we designed the pipework of the brewhouse so that both pumps can do any task. If one breaks, then we can still brew using the other.

I’ve done a very basic list of Pros & Con’s that I found from working with a Chinese Manufacturer.

Pros:

  • They worked very hard to get everything to the standard I wanted
  • Pricing is very good, potentially half what you’d pay elsewhere
  • Very flexible and will customise any bit of equipment

Cons:

  • Language Barrier
  • Experience is less than manufactures from other countries
  • Pressure Vessel Design Verification
  • Have to be very clear about exactly what you want
  • Production time blew out for us

Finally, here’s a very basic list of what we purchased from Tiantai.

3 Vessel 25HL Brewhouse – Including all pneumatic valves controlled by my PLC

  • Mash Tun/Wort Kettle
  • Lauter Tun
  • Whirlpool

75HL Hot Liquor Tank

50HL Cold Liquor Tank

25m2 Heat Exchanger

2 x 25HL Fermentation Tanks

4 x 50HL Fermentation Tanks

3 x 2HL Fermentation Tanks (for use with our pilot kit)

CIP Cart

2 Head Keg Cleaner

2 Head Keg Filler

Massive list of assorted spares for all pumps, manways and electrical elements. Also a heap of cellar gear, t-pieces, valves, elbow, hoses, clamps, sight glasses etc.

Cheers & Beers

Lachy

Ballistic Beginnings

August 12th, 2016 Posted by Blog, Brewery Construction 0 thoughts on “Ballistic Beginnings”

So here we are. Ballistic Beer Co Blog number 1. Exciting times ahead for us and lots of info to spew out of my brain and onto the screen, I guess for this post though I should introduce us and then tell you a little about Ballistic Beer.

My name is Lachy Crothers. I am Head Brewer and sole full time employee at the brewery, at the moment. Besides brewing up a storm on our 200L Pilot Kit, I am currently pretending to be our Gardener, Project Manager, Cleaner, Engineer, Office Manager, Copywriter and Receptionist. Basically I’m in charge of taking our place from a 1000spm warehouse space to a fully functioning, 25HL production brewery with bar and tasting room attached.

As a bit of background on myself, I cut my teeth at Gage Roads Brewing Co in Perth. I started there in early 2010 and spent the next 5 years working predominately in Brewing but also in Packaging and Engineering. At the end of 2014 I threw in the towel to travel Europe and drink beer for the next 12 months with my soon to become fiancé. I did a short stint at Camden Town Brewery in London before accepting the job as Head Brewer with David (at the then unnamed) Ballistic Beer Co here in Brisbane, QLD.

image009

David Kitchen (affectionately known to me as Bossman) is the Founder/Managing Director/Commander In Chief/Big Dog. He is the business brains of the operation. He currently owns and runs the Brewers Choice chain of homebrew stores in addition to Ballistic Beer Co. He spends most of his time working at the Brewers Choice Head Office doing his “real job”. I am lucky enough to have him in the office every Friday where I get to annoy him about making decisions and allowing me to spend money on nice shiny things, while we try to hold off as long as we can before drinking a beer.

So Ballistic Beer Co – we are based in Salisbury, according to Google Maps, 16mins from the CBD via the M3. Hmm… good to know. Salisbury has a history of manufacturing ammunition back in the WW2 days and we have set up in a big old shed which, although unconfirmed, we like to think was used for such purposes. As a business, our main focusses are on making high quality beer and helping to grow and educate about good beer.

As it stands, on site, we have a freshly installed cool room (that takes up nearly 80sqm), a 5000L ambient water tank, aforementioned pilot kit with one fermenter and an air compressor. Our brewhouse and fermentation vessels have been ordered and are currently being manufactured by Chinese crew Tiantai. I’ll be over to China to inspect all of our equipment in about a month but more on that later. The next big task to be completed is having the floors cut up, drains installed and all of the additional plumbing works completed. If all goes to plan, we should have this started in the next couple of weeks. Also power upgrade starts next week.

IMG_0584With no official opening date set, the plan is to open doors sometime in early November. In saying that, this will become a reality if we don’t have any other hold ups, Council DA issues, the manufacture and shipping of our brewing equipment runs to schedule and also relies on my ability to get it all commissioned and running ASAP. But never fear, we will have beer for you in time for summer!

The beers… We will have 4 beers that will be on all day, every day and then a rotating list of some different and experimental beers I have brewed on the pilot kit and some exiting and slightly different collaborations that we have lined up. More details later regarding the beers as we will play those cards close to our chests for the moment.

Stay tuned for updates and advancements.

Peace out

Lachy

BEERLOSOPHY

July 24th, 2016 Posted by Blog 0 thoughts on “BEERLOSOPHY”

Here at Ballistic Beer Co. HQ, we don’t often take ourselves too seriously, I mean we brew beer after all. But we thought it would be a good idea to sit down over a quiet brew and discuss the wonderful beverage we have dedicated our lives to, it’s place in the world and why we love it so much. After much discussion we came up with our Beerlosophy.

We believe that beer is the greatest beverage in the world. Full stop.

Beer is special, it does things that no other beverage does. It encourages conversation, promotes community and encourages collaboration. A beer is something you share with your mates, brings people together and is perfect to enjoy with food or to wind down with after a hard day at the work. It’s ability to relax, satisfy, surprise and inspire are second to none.

Beerlosophy guys

Beer is a complex tapestry of thousands of flavour compounds, masterfully woven and only limited by a brewer’s imagination. We believe it is something to be savoured, explored and enjoyed. The simple joy of getting your hands on a beer that you’ve never had before, the little thrill you get as you open it not knowing what it will taste like, taking time to mull over its complexities and delicacies, contemplating the work that goes into creating it and sharing that experience with others is one of life’s great pleasures. But we don’t always do that, we also live for taking a 6 pack to a mate’s place, sipping on a clean refreshing beer on a Saturday afternoon and allowing the conversation to flow. Neither is right or wrong, it just showcases beer’s ability to come to the party in any situation. It can be the focus of the situation or take a back seat and enhance peoples’ experience. Good beer fits easily into any environment and makes it better.

We believe that fermentation is king. Brewers in the modern world all have access to the freshest and best malt and hops on offer. They can test and define the water they use with scientific equipment and they brew in modern stainless steel vats. So where is the magic? What makes a good beer great? We believe the key to making great beer comes from the one uncertain variable in brewing – fermentation. Healthy, happy, vital yeast in the correct environment and temperature, given enough time to do their work. Someone great probably once said “Treat your yeast well and they’ll reward you with great beer.” So we love and care for those little guys. We don’t rush them and we only ever let them listen to good music.

But most of all we believe beer should be fun. It’s all about enjoyment, entertaining and being entertained. Marvel in its wonder and remember that beer can change your world, or it can refresh your soul. Enjoy a beer and be happy.

 

SEE WHAT WE'RE UP TO ON

Instagram

Instagram did not return a 200.

Sign up to our email updates. We like talking about beer almost as much as we like drinking it.

We'll never spam or give this address away
<SPARE>
PRIVACY POLICY
JOBS
<SPARE2>
© BALLISTIC BEER COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Website - Cake Web Solutions
<SPARE>
PRIVACY POLICY
JOBS
<SPARE2>
© BALLISTIC BEER COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Website - Cake Web Solutions.