The Brewlog: Regulator Brewing Company Blog

News, etc. from Regulator Brewing Company. Updated sporadically.

Posts marked ‘Equipment’

What’s Making Us Happy to Brew in NC, Part 3: Kegs and Hops and Yeast! Oh My!

In our previous post, we talked about how lucky NC breweries are to get great raw ingredients from local agribusinesses (shout out to Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro for fresh hops).  Did you know that NC breweries can also source just about everything else they need from local companies? One of our main goals as a small business is “keeping our beer dollars in North Carolina” (thanks, Glenn and Dave!). We do that by working with local suppliers as often as possible–and this week, we want to spotlight two more NC businesses that are pivotal in closing our supply chain loop:

Deutsche Beverage Company

Deutsche Beverage is a boozeness in Charlotte, NC. Since 2007 they’ve helped breweries, wineries, and distilleries across the country quench your thirst. While their brew systems are too big for our operation, their INK Kegs are perfect; they’re made out of high-quality 304 stainless steel to help fight off flavors, and they’re stackable (great for a brewery that’s tight on space!). Not only is the product great, the customer service is even better–they’re always ready to fill an order and they usually have it to us the very next day. Next time you’re touring the breweries in South Charlotte, take a second to duck into their showroom and drool over all the beautiful stainless (surely that isn’t just a brewer thing, right?)

Bull City Homebrew

What do you do when you need supplies, but you’re too small for most suppliers’ minimums? You turn to the homebrew shop that’s been there for you from the beginning! We’ve been visiting Kyle and his Bull City Homebrew team from our very first homebrew sessions and we’re thrilled to keep working with them now that we’re a brewery. They’re always doing their best to keep us in hops and yeast, along with all the other tiny parts we need on a given brewday. This is a great relationship for us–we get to keep supporting one of our favorite local businesses, and get access to hops we wouldn’t be able to order on our own. If you’re a homebrewer or thinking about homebrewing, make the trip over to Bull City. You won’t be disappointed.

These are just a couple of the local suppliers we couldn’t bring you delicious Regulator brews without; we also lean on the homebrew shop at  Fifth Season Gardening in Carrboro and get our CO2 from the fine people at ARC3 Gases in Durham.

Regulator is Legal!

Regulator is North Carolina’s newest brewery!  Yahoo!

So, we’re gonna crank up the system this weekend for a double brew day.  Is there a better way to celebrate Labor Day and our final permit approval?

*crickets*

Nope, we didn’t think so.

If you wanna know more about what we’ll be brewing, scroll down for details on beer names and the label design.

And we’re pretty sure that your now-burning questions include when and where to get Regulator beer. We hear you!  Details are coming on our beer releases, which we’ll share via our email list and on our events page.  If you want updates delivered to your inbox, sign up for the email list.  You can also catch us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cheers!

The folks behind Regulator Brewing, L to R: Stephanie, Dustin, Ryan, and Anna.
Stephanie, Dustin, Ryan and Anna

 

What’s a nanobrewery?

Regulator Brewing Company is a nanobrewery — a term we realize may not be familiar to everyone.  At its core, it just means we’re really, really tiny. You’re probably familiar with “microbreweries,” and if you believe it, there’s such a thing as a “picobrewery.”* A “nanobrewery” falls somewhere in between, determined by both system size and production quantity.

System Size

Let’s start with the size of the system that we use to brew beer.  Our system allows us to brew one barrel of beer at a time. That’s equivalent to two kegs of finished product (i.e., the amount one might buy for a wedding reception).  For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the size of our system next to that of some other breweries you might be familiar with:

1http://www.highlandbrewing.com/about-us/history
2http://www.aviatorbrew.com/brewery
3http://www.duckrabbitbrewery.com/our-brewery
4http://homebrew.mysterybrewing.com/

 

Production Quantity

The next factor that influences our designation as a nanobrewery is how much beer we expect to produce in a given year.

We plan to run our system roughly once per week; barring holidays or unforseen circumstances, we’d produce 56 barrels per year.  Let’s take a look at that comparison graph again in terms of production:

Annual Production Graph

1http://www.highlandbrewing.com/about-us/history
2http://beerpulse.com/2013/11/aviator-brewing-to-double-production-in-2014-1941/
3http://www.greenvillemixer.com/mixer/duck-rabbit-makes-twc-arena-debut-2234807
4http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2015/02/23/carolina-brewery-20th-anniversary-chapel-hill-nc.html

 

So we’ve probably convinced you that our system is tiny, and and now you might be wondering: “why?” Our brewery is a size that we feel we can manage well with an eye toward focusing our distribution on the Hillsborough community, using as many locally-produced ingredients as possible, and–last but certainly not least–keeping our day jobs!  We love the idea of Regulator Brewing Company growing into a larger facility in the future, but that’s a long way off. For now, in the words of Goldilocks,  this is “juuuuuust right.”

*Still curious about what a “picobrewery” looks like? You could put one on your kitchen counter.

The Setup!

Well hey, y’all!  We’ve been working hard getting things set up at the brewhouse.  Thought we’d take you on a preliminary tour.

photo 4
R-L: Hot Liquor Tank, Mashtun, Boil Kettle

Check out the pots on that custom-built table!  The black box on the wall is the brains of the system, allowing us to control temperatures and liquid flow. We’ll use the HLT (right) to heat water, half of which will run through a hose into the mashtun (middle), where we’ll add the crushed grain.  Water will continuously cycle between the HLT and mashtun to retain appropriate temperature while the grain mashes/steeps.  Once that process is done, the wort will be drained off into the boil kettle (left)…to be boiled.

Electric heating element in the boil kettle

Electric heating element in the boil kettle

Once boiled, the beer-to-be is transferred into the Fermenators, which are housed in temp-controlled freezers.  The yeast goes to work during this stage.

Fermenators

Fermenators

And finally it will transfer to the kegs/brite tanks to condition, clarify and carbonate.  The whole process is a little bit magic, but we actually get to use a magic/carbonation wand during this last step to introduce the bubbles before bottling right out of the brite tanks.  Sweet.

Brite Tanks

Brite Tanks

We’re getting there – one electrical outlet, one vent hood, one fermenator at a time!

It’s Electric!

One of the first questions we asked when dreaming up Regulator was, “Is there any equipment that will allow us to produce beer of the highest quality in a small package?”

After hours of research we finally found a setup we were happy with, The Electric Brewery. The Electric Brewery is designed by a mad genius named Kal and is perfect for us. Not only is the system meant for small brewhouses, but it also allows brewers the same amount of control as the nicest large brewery setup.
elect_brewerydarker

The Brains

The heart of the The Electric Brewery is a custom control panel that operates a series of pumps and the electric heating element, allowing brewers precision temperature control throughout all steps of the process. This precise control will allow us to effectively and consistently manage our brew sessions to ensure quality product each and every time.  Replicating recipes will be easier, so each bottle of Regulator beer will be as great as the previous one.

After selecting the system, we decided to see this beast in the wild. So we piled in the car and headed on a brewsness trip to Crooked Run Brewing and Bad Wolf Brewing in the suburbs of DC. After checking out the system in action, talking with the brewers about their experience with it and tasting the delicious results (going pro isn’t all hard work), we were sold. We just needed to figure out how to outfit the rest of the brewhouse.

The Boil

We opted to use Blichmann kettles for our Hot Liquor Tank, Mash Tun, and Boil Kettle. These are exceptional kettles that we have drooled over for years as homebrewers. Like The Electric Brewery these kettles mimic the gear found in the large-scale, craft breweries.

Fermentation

After the boil, we’ll pump our wort into 42-gallon Blichmann Fermenators for fermentation. What really sets the Blichmann tanks apart is their weldless interior. The absence of welds makes it easier to ensure the fermentor is 100 percent clean – there’s no place for bacteria to hide.  Cleaner fermentors lead to better quality beer.

Sabco SankeyCarbonation

We’ll finally transfer the newly minted beer to Sabco Sankey Select Kegs (right) for their last stop before your fridge.  Those just arrived yesterday!

From start-to-finish, we have first-class equipment and no excuse not to make excellent beer. We feel really fortunate to be implementing a high quality system that fits our needs as a business.  Thank you to everyone who made it possible – we can’t wait to share the results.

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Hillsborough, North Carolina
regulatorbrewing@gmail.com
(919) 589-BREW