Today is a great day.

Today is the day I ordered and paid a deposit on our first piece of brewing kit. A stainless steel chariot containing a 100L kettle, 2 x 100L fermenters and a 300L glycol cooling unit.

Here’s a photo of a similar kit the manufacturers had just finished for a client in Poland.

Let me walk you through my process to come to this momentous decision and all the costs involved.

When I first had the brainwave of starting a brewery, I began by researching the cost of equipment. As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t know shit about shit, so Google was my only friend. I saw that a bunch of other craft brewers were using equipment from NSI Newlands in North America, so a quick email enquiring about the cost of purchasing a 2,000L brewery seemed like a good start. Why 2,000L? It sounded like a good number, and I didn’t want to sound clueless. Nobody is going to take me seriously if I don’t even know how big the kettle needs to be…. so hook me up with 2,000L.

Their Australian distributor, Brian, quickly replied with a 12-page quote, and at the bottom, it read $535k…. USD…. holly guacamole…. I then jumped on the phone with him to discuss and see if I could learn a little about what the hell this quote even covered.

Click here to see the full NSI quote

“Not to worry, I also work with DME. They’re just as good, and a hell of a lot cheaper” Said Brian. “I’ll get you a quote from them!”

Too right you will… I don’t have half a million sitting around, let alone in greenbacks.

The DME quote came back at $411k… brilliant. Click here to see the full DME quote

Ok, maybe China has the answer.

For the uninitiated, Alibaba is the place to go if you’re looking source anything from China. There must be bazzillion manufacturers and distributors for everything from brewery equipment to ballpoint pens. After getting several quotes I soon opened a dialogue with JINAN ZHUODA MACHINERY EQUIPMENT CO LTD. Their price was on par with many of the other but the main difference was their relentless followup and pre-sales service.

After connecting with their sales rep, Alice Ma on WhatsApp, I was soon bombarded with photo’s, diagrams, instruction manuals. Even photo’s of her lunch.

I know, weird hey?

Anyway, dumplings aside, her enthusiasm and service was first class.

Their quote for the 2,000L brewery came in at $132,000USD. Plus, their head brewer would fly out and brew with you for a month for free (just pay for his flights and visa).

Only thing is… That’s still a lotta coin!

Then I get to thinking.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. Why don’t we start smaller and work at getting the recipe right? We’ll need a system to experiment with, so this could be a good opportunity to order a smaller system and test the quality of their equipment before going all in.

Once we get a smaller system cranking and confident people are going to love our beer, then we can start worrying about where to find the lazy $132,000USD to kick this thing of legitimately.

So after a bit of back and forth, we settled on a complete 100L system for $8,200USD.

What I love is they’re installing everything on a skid car and shipping it complete. All I need to do is plug it in and we’re away. This was big for me because I was worried about receiving a crate of stainless steel Chinese Ikea. Can you imagine? Shoot me now….

Before taking the leap opened up a forum thread on Aussie Home Brewer asking the community for advice before I sent through payment, and some real gems came back.

The big one was the cost of clearing customs. A couple of quotes with First Logistics coming back most affordable. Once it lands, I’m up for:

  • 10% GST
  • $185 Customs transaction fee
  • $600 Port charges
  • $550 Delivery from Sydney port to the property approx 90mins drive north.
    All up about $2,500 on top of the purchase price

One other suggestion was to contact previous customers and see what they thought. A quick message to Alice, and she was also good enough to send across contact details for two other Australian purchasers who were happy to have a yarn and both spoke highly of the company and their equipment.

Here’s one of their son’s from Melbourne posing with their new 50L kit.

After a little more haggling, they threw in a couple of kegs and dispensers.

20% deposit paid!

As I type, there is some bloke right now,  fashioning what is sure to be the most handsome pilot brewery the world has ever seen. Equipment soon to be graced with the delicious nectar that can only be created at Bucketty’s.

It should arrive within the next 2 months.

Now I just need to work out where to put the thing!

Time to get a shed sorted.

Here’s a bunch of photo’s that were sent through from Alice showing off their wares.

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