As the home brewer hones his/her skills and serves ever better brews their circle of friends and family demanded more of that amazing fresh beer, the brewer starts to consider scaling up but on a shoe string budget! All kinds of equipment is found on websites, friends garages, farms, etc. and is adapted into something which the brewer hopes will work as a large mashtun, kettle or fermenter. Brewers are instinctively optimistic and believe that they can make use of almost any piece of kit for the purpose of brewing which is why most dedicated brewers have no end of useless equipment in their garages that didn’t quite make the grade! Some of these dedicated brewers decide to take the plunge and try to brew commercially either in the form of a brewpub or bottling for sale to bars, restaurant and shops. By this stage the brewer knows that a significant investment must be made and retrofitting dairy equipment won’t really cut it plus they no longer have the time for such endeavours. If the brewer is lucky enough to have a secret sugar daddy or very wealthy friends who like to use that wealth for cool projects then he/she may be able to limit the financial stress associated with starting up their commercial enterprise. However, that is not the case for most would be commercial brewers who instead have to arrange finance secured by collateral in the form of their most valuable possessions. While much has been written about starting up a microbrewery and the potential costs associated with that almost all brewers engaged in this process try to minimise the cost without compromising on the beer quality which is the end all and be all for a dedicated brewer.
We who own SBT completely understand the challenges associated with starting a microbrewery as we’ve done it! This is where the SURF concept was born, in an effort to save on expensive fermentation & conditioning vessels we used our experience from the Biotech industry and knowledge of the beer storage liners to develop a fully functional Recyclable Fermenter. It took several design iterations until we arrived at a design which provided all the functionality required which could be operated in a safe and user friendly manner, was very cost effective and most of all produced high quality beer.
The DIY spirit of brewers who are starting out in the craft brewing industry is admirable and something which we at SBT completely respect. However, DIY can be risky if the brewer doesn’t have sufficient knowledge of the system he/she is trying to fabricate or doesn’t take safety into consideration. At SBT we take safety very seriously and while it is possible to use plastic SURF shells fitted with cooling coils this design is not robust especially in the cylindroconical format. We have found the steel SURF shell to be very robust and safe to operate, all units undergo a Factory Acceptance Test as per our in-house protocol. Some brewers may have local contacts for vessel fabricators who are qualified to manufacture the SURF shell for them and SBT have no issue with this. If requested we can provide the SURF Shell drawing and specification but we cannot take responsibility for the SURF holder fabricated by the local suppler. In this instance the brewer takes sole responsibility for the SURF holder.
While SBT have developed a SURF Shell design which provides the required functionality at the most cost effective price possible a brewer may decide that he/she wishes to have additional functionality. This may be in the form of additional cooling zones on the cylinder to handle different fermentation volumes or even different insulation or no insulation. As long as the request is reasonable SBT will be able to provide the customised SURF Shell.