Building a Brewery in a Desert AND Saving Water

In this video, Barn Owl Brewing discusses how they started their craft microbrewery using the beer brewing sytem from BREWHA Equipment Co and provides a review of the BREWHA BIAC. With BREWHA, they were able to open their small brewery in a historic barn in a desert, with a very small brew space footprint, and conserve water (as the brewery is located in a semi-arid location). They discuss the key criteria they had for creating a successful brewpub. They have created a very remarkable and inviting community brewery. 

Link to the brewery architectural drawings / floor plans
Benefits of the BIAC complete brewery system
BIAC complete pilot and microbrewery system product page
Expand your brewery capacity with these BIAC microbrewery fermenters
BREWHA beer brewing workshops and consultants
Video: 3 Dogs Brewing on how to successfully open a brewery



00:00 Barn Owl Microbrewery Taproom (Kelowna, BC)
00:25 Keys to brewpub success
01:40 Brewday
02:45 Brewing equipment choice
05:00 Brewery site selection, construction and interior design
06:50 Creating community

Hi, my name is Tim Kramer and I'm a partner in Barn Owl Brewing Company here in Kelowna BC. Two of the other partners I work with are Gary Brooker and Steve Van Damme. We are all long-term Kelowna residents that are having a great time making craft beer. Between the three partners in our group we have over 100 years of beer drinking experience so we put a lot of time into this.

So when we started this process (to build a brewery) basically we needed three things; we wanted a good location, we wanted to have a great atmosphere inside, and finally we needed great beer.

We are after all a small batch brewery; we make all of our beer on site and people can see it being made and they can enjoy it within days of it being kegged. We've created different types of growlers that we sell and we have a crowler machine so we can beer as people wait... if you want fresh beer this is kind of the place to come because the shelf life is seconds until it's in your hand. We have a huge variety of beer and we make small batches and sell them all locally and our brewer is keen on making great beer that people like to drink no matter what kind of beer they like.

You don't need to love every single beer but every person that walks in this barn I want them to love one of my beers. I like to make a big variety of beer for a lot of people to choose from and try to make every single variety of beer as best as I possibly can. The biggest thing is having something for everybody. You can see for yourself that one of the big differences about our brewery is that you can see everything being done tucked in that little corner so we have it out for the world to see every part of the process.

Little things like making sure all the grain is equally being used making sure all the temperatures of your mash are right on point.

Barn Owl Brewery - adding grain to the mash colander

Since we're in a heritage building we have a limited footprint. We also needed the ability to brew beer in a small area so we looked at a number of different types of brewing and realized that the standard four vessel system would not work for us.

And in fact, if we had gone to that I don't see how we would be successful today, so we settled on the BREWHA 5BBL system which is a four in one brewing system where we can do everything in one kettle.

The BREWHA system is quite different than the traditional four vessel system being that it is all done in one tank.

We have a tiny little brewing space back there and to be able to have four tanks filled with beer versus having an empty kettle and empty mash saves a lot of space and opens up worlds of opportunity for being able to make a ton of different styles of beer and being able to have some filled tanks in a little cramped spot. Kelowna is at the north end of a desert so water restrictions become a real deal for us.

Barn Owl Brewing - moving the BREWHA BIAC system in a small space

In the BREWHA system we use two liters of water to make one liter of beer; the standard four vessel system uses four to six liters per liter of beer so a lot more water gets used and saving it is important to us.

We use water to cool the beer while we're cooling it and we reuse that water or pump it into the next fermentation tank to make our next batch of beer because it's filtered water and perfectly clean. Keeping things clean is really important.

The BREWHA system is really good for this because you'll be boiling in the tank and there's nothing more sterile than a full tank of boiling wort.

Once you have that you can use the boiling water to sterilize lines and heat exchangers as well. Because we use only one vessel we don't need as much cleaning so there's a lot less chemicals that go into our water drainage system. It's ecologically friendly, easier on cleaning and water, and also makes great beer so we think we've hit on a process that really fits our needs. I think beer is beautiful in every way. It looks and tastes amazing, people love to drink it i love to drink it. Making a beer beautiful in looks and taste is super important to me. When you get that first time that you make that recipe and it turns out to be amazing, you are head over heels... just oh yeah that's one of the best feelings ever!

So when we decided to lease this area we were given a shell of a barn with the original roof, a gravel floor and three quarters of a loft, but we realized that we had a really good opportunity to create a special environment. We wanted a nice atmosphere that people would enjoy coming back to. The three of us that are involved primarily are a little bit less creative than some and so we realized we needed help, but we've asked for help in the right places. Our designer has added so many interesting features here that people will miss a number of things the first time and see something new each time they come in. She's hit a home run as far as we can tell from the comments we get. We have a lot of wooden accent shelving that we've built and we use wood that was sitting in this very loft that had been left over from years of inactivity in the barn before they renovated it so we think we kept it quite authentic. We had a chandelier sitting in a basement and it's been rewired and used to create a lighting feature in the top of the loft. We created a school chalkboard that we refinished and then put our brewing process on which people like to come and look at. We rescued some lights that were being thrown out from the community theater in Kelowna. For better or worse i had a collection of stubby beer bottles from my misspent youth. We have a pay it forward board that we use where people will maybe be here before a friend's birthday and buy them a beer ahead of time. We have lots of friends through our community that have helped us with little decorations and all sorts of things like that -- the list goes on and on we feel like we've created a unique and welcoming atmosphere.

Our idea for the brewery was to have a great location and we are in an area that is residential. We're a little bit away from the brewing district in Kelowna but because of that we have a lot of people that consider our bar their local we are away from the tourist area if they find their way out here they're certainly welcome but we have a strong local following and we're quite happy with that.

Two of us have lived in this city for more than 25 years I only live about six blocks away from this site and so I'm part of the community and will be for a long time going forward and I think people appreciate that. People come here with a sense of belonging, people from my neighborhood, people that I've worked with over the years. We have had tremendous support from the local community and we feel obligated because of that to provide support back to the people that are supporting us. We donate to various charities and events that are going on and feel like that is part of our purpose of being here to help out the community which is supporting us so well. Even though we're only into this a year, so far it's created a fun place to hang out where you're bound to run into friends and enjoy great beer.

I can't say that I grew up wanting to run a craft brewery but I've always loved drinking good beer and now I own a brewery and I get to serve it to people that like it every day -- life doesn't get much better than that.



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