We speak to a lot of drinks producers as part of our consultancy work. We have a number of clients making cider who we are proud to work with. They have all engaged us to help them work out how to set up, or how to expand.
They may not know what the best equipment setup may be. Some have been let down by suppliers who haven't sold them the most appropriate equipment in the past. They may have a long term growth plan and want help to prioritise equipment purchases as they move forward.
Sometimes having somebody to help you understand your requirements, possibly challenge your thinking, specify your equipment and help source it can save time, inconvenience and money. It can also mean that you are equipped not only for the short term, but for the future. Here is what one of our clients said:
'We embarked upon a seemingly insurmountable challenge of doing what has never been done in the Indian market - developing and manufacturing premium quality craft hard apple cider. Never having had made craft cider, even at a small-batch level, I felt overwhelmed with the technical and operational challenges of figuring out where to start and what to do to turn this dream into a reality. I chanced upon Jon and was lucky to become one of his first few clients.
In the beginning, I was impressed by Jon's level of technical knowledge and his keen eye for detail. One of the primary reasons that we've decided to continue nurturing our association with Jon and Element Equipment is because he has the uncanny knack of putting himself in the client's shoes and understanding how each suggestion and recommendation he makes impacts the business. Jon values practicality and objectivity over everything else. He isn't your regular consultant who will push or peddle his wares so he can earn a commission on theside - quite the contrary. He will lay out all the facts, together with his unbiased objective professional opinion that will always be in the best interest of the business at whatever stage you find yourself in. That quality in and of itself is more valuable than his consulting charges. There are very few professionals like Jon who'll put their client's interests first before their own.
I also had never worked with a consultant remotely and was initially skeptical of being able to make any progress for a scope of work as large and as complex as the one that Jon is currently helping us with. Jon has always worked to accommodate the time difference between India and the U.K. and never have I ever felt that I had to chase or hunt him down to get a response to any technical query. The promptness and the responsiveness to our technical queries and with the experience that Jon brings to the team, we hope to continue working with him as we scale our business from 0 cases all the way up to half a million.
We've enjoyed every moment working with Jon and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone better than Jon and Element Equipment for your technical consulting.'
We are receiving calls from a lot of people who are thinking of starting up a small scale spirits business; especially gin. As people who love to talk, these are a favourite type of call to receive.
Usually, our callers have had a look at our website, have taken a look at the small batch stills, and call with questions. Each conversation makes us think of things to change or add on the website, and the list grows day by day! (a comprehensive update is certainly on our ‘to do’ list). We are asked how much each still can make, how much labour is involved, preparation, cleaning, power, water usage, etc. etc.
However, we don’t just talk about stills, or fillers, or labelling. We are asked about recipe development, licensing, suitable premises, finance, sourcing other equipment, bottles, labels, ingredients…pretty much anything that new entrants to the industry come up against. We certainly don’t claim to be experts on all of these things, but we know plenty of people, companies and organisations who are, so we put callers in touch with them too.
We hope that by the time our call is finished, we have cleared the ‘mist’ a little, and given those people a good idea of what they need to think about, what they need to do, and who they need to speak to. We also hope that they finish the call a little more reassured that things aren’t necessarily as difficult as they thought. And then we like to follow things up in writing to summarise what they need to think about, with our increasingly used and growing list of great suppliers of all the things they need.
We don’t need to do this, but we like to. After all, our success is dependent on the success of our customers, and the success of the craft spirits industry as a whole. Anyway, we love to help, and we love to talk, so you’re doing us a favour!
Maybe you are thinking about starting out. Or maybe you have started out, enjoyed some success, and want to expand a little. It doesn’t matter if you want a still or not; whether you are buying anything from us or not; please feel free to call us for a chat. If we can help, we will. If we can’t, the chances are that we will know somebody who will.
labelling bottles and cans. how you can save time and money, and enhance the appearance of your product.
You may have seen yesterday that we have added a new set of products to our range - labellers for bottles, cans and jars. We have been asked for some time if we can help drinks producers find solutions to their labelling problems.
Labelling can be so important. Your product is on a shelf with many others. You have spent time and effort ensuring your product, be it a spirit, beer, cider, wine or any other drink, is perfect. You have designed great looking labels. Hand labelling is certainly a good way to start up, but can you be sure that your labels will be straight? Free of creases or wrinkles? In the right position on the bottle? Would you prefer a different label, but you're stuck with one that is a convenient size to hand apply? Do you spend too much time labelling, which could be much better spent doing other things?
If those factors present you with a problem, it may be time to think about a labelling machine. These are designed to apply your labels effectively, consistently and efficiently.
We have partnered with Electradue, a well known Italian labelling machine manufacturer, to offer their machines to UK distilleries, breweries, cider makers and wineries. They build high quality semi-automatic and fully automatic labelling machines, with digital controls to store each label format you use and activate the setting at the touch of a button. You can also add batch numbers of best before dates on most label types using the optional hot foil printer.
Besides presenting your product in the way you want, having a machine to apply your labels saves time, waste and money. The return on investment can be fast. You may find that looking at finance options can help you get your machine quickly and efficiently. We can help with this.
We understand that every label is different. That's why we will ensure that every machine is tested with your bottles and labels prior to delivery. This gives you the reassurance that your machine will work perfectly from the moment you unpack it.
If you want to find out more, please contact us, and we will be pleased to talk about your requirements.
It's been a little while since we last wrote anything on here. A lot has been happening, and not just Christmas and New Year. We've been extremely busy. Lots of people are hearing about us and are looking for advice on setting up a small batch distillery. They have seen the range of small batch stills that we offer, and want to find out more. There's a lot to think about - working out how much labour is needed, how much spirit can be produced, how long the process takes, licensing, bottling, sourcing ingredients, and labelling to name a few. We can't claim to have all the answers - things such as licensing and labelling requirements are best left to the experts, but where we can't offer the best advice, we'll point you in the right direction. Give us a call or an email - we love to help!
Brew systems are a hot topic at the moment. Word continues to get around that we supply Premier Stainless systems, and brewers want to talk! We provide a real alternative. Systems that are high quality, made with top notch components, with excellent design and workmanship. It was great to see the Ratebeer top breweries list recently, and I had a chat with Rob Soltys at Premier about it. It turns out that Premier have built systems for five of the top 10 breweries; worldwide. So as somebody who keeps saying that world class beers have and continue to be brewed on Premier kit, it’s great to be proven right! And that is just five of the 600 systems installed worldwide!
We also hear from breweries who want to expand - not by swapping out their brew kit, but by adding more Fermenters and Brite tanks. Premier give their tanks the same level of care and workmanship as everything else they make. Lead times are also pretty good at the moment, so let us know if you would like to discuss anything.
Premier are also known for their keg washing systems. We are pretty excited waiting to see the first system for the UK ordered through Element arrive shortly. We'll put lots of photos out there for everybody to see.
We are also busy talking about Reverse Osmosis systems, which we introduced recently. These give you a way of removing solids, odours, salts, chlorine and many other impurities from your water - very useful for breweries, distilleries and many other applications. The systems we offer are for a range of scales, very fairly priced, have a low ongoing consumables cost and require little maintenance. We're excited to offer this range.
And of course, consultancy is how we started out. We have grown our client base around the world, mainly cider makers who are seeking to start up, increase production, or start packaging their own product.
And what has also kept us busy are a couple of new product ranges we hope to introduce soon. We can't say much right now, but we'll let you know! Watch this space!
We're getting out there and meeting people, both old and new friends. We really do love talking to anybody who is interested in what we do, and are happy to help, so please do contact us if we can help in any way, even if you just need us to point you in the right direction.
We spend a lot of time talking to people who want to start their own spirits business. Many asked if we had a brief guide to what distilling is and how the various spirits are made on our website, so we thought we would oblige. This is by no means a manual, but just gives a brief flavour of what it is all about. So, today we are giving a very brief overview of what distillation is, and what some of the spirits we see every day are derived from.
Distillation is a process where compounds are separated due to their different boiling points. This happens when a liquid containing a mixture of compounds is boiled. The compounds with a lower boiling point vapourise more quickly than a compound with a higher boiling point, so the vapour rising off has more of the low boiling point compounds than the higher boiling point ones. This vapour is collected and condensed back into liquid, which now contains a higher proportion of the low boiling point compounds to the high ones.
Distillation is used to produce spirits. It is where an initial liquid containing alcohol, known as a wash, is heated, and alcohol, amongst other things, vapourises and is collected and condensed by cooling. Different washes can make different spirits, but the distillation method can also change the character of a spirit. Some methods carry over a lot of the flavour of the wash, which is desirable in spirits such as whisky and brandy, and others produce a much purer spirit, which is needed if making vodka.
Whisky is distilled from fermented grains. These may include barley, corn, wheat, rye and others. The grains used determine the type of whisky made (malt whisky, rye whisky, bourbon, etc.) and the distillation technique determines the alcoholic strength. When distilled, whisky is clear, and the characteristic colour comes from barrel aging, where the wood gives colour. In the UK, malt whiskies need to be barrel aged for three years and a day to be able to be called malt whiskies. Whiskies can range from 40 to even 80% ABV.
Rum is distilled from fermented molasses. The ABV can range again from 40% ABV to 80%. Rum can be aged in barrels, and flavours such as vanilla, spices or honey can be added. All of these factors can determine if a rum is light or dark.
Vodka can be derived from many materials, such as potatoes, corn, barley, rice, sugar beet and more. The original materials, distillation method, flavourings and filtration can all affect the flavour and strength of vodka. Vodka can be bottled immediately, without the need to age.
Brandy is distilled from wine. Typically barrel aged, the flavour can be determined by distillation method, length of aging and the original wines used. Cider brandy, or Calvados if made in the region, is distilled from cider, and flavours can be determined in the same ways.
Gin is a fermented spirit primarily flavoured with juniper and other botanicals. Some infuse their spirit with these flavours and then distill, and others distill their wash and the vapours pass through a gin basket, loaded with all the botanicals. Other botanicals can include citrus peel, coriander, liquorice, and countless others.
This is a hand built 500 litre all copper still from HBS Copper. Soon to be packaged for delivery, it is suitable for whisky, gin, and other spirits. It has an hour glass head, bypassable gin basket, and holding tank built into the condenser stand. It is 'electric over steam', meaning that the user can heat it electrically initially and then move to steam as they grow and become more successful. This was built to a bespoke design based on customer requirements.
Systems like this can only be built when you have a supplier who listens to customer requirements and works in partnership with the customer to come up with a design which not only does what is immediately required, but has some 'tricks' to help future proof the system and accommodate some growth. This is why we work with companies such as HBS and Premier Stainless.
Maybe we can help you and work as a partner to get you the system you need, be it distilling, brewing or other drinks manufacturing.
A few years ago, I went to visit a new brewery. I had met these guys a couple of times, and they had started up and we're doing well. So I drove over to Westcombe Farm in Somerset and met Andrew and Brett at the Wild Beer Co. I've always loved great beer, and back in my part of Devon, the 'craft beer' (I'm always nervous using that term!) revolution hadn't quite reached me, and some tasters from Brett and Andrew showed me exactly what could be done with some innovations! I was intrigued.
From there, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with many brewers, and I am even more fortunate to count many of them as friends. I learned that beer could be great in keg, cask, bottle or can, and that influences from other countries, or even other breweries around the corner could also lead to some amazing flavours. Barrel-aged, kettle soured, lambic, the list went on. The scene was and still is buoyant and growing, with people collaborating, innovating, exchanging ideas, ingredients, yeast strains and even equipment, with the common goal of pushing boundaries, improving quality and showing the world what craft brewers can acheive, individually or together. Now many of those breweries have grown and continue to innovate, whilst striving for quality and consistency. We are so pleased to work with friends in this amazing industry; it's been so rewarding to see small businesses grow. The parties have been good, too!
Now, we are seeing similar in the world of spirits. We have been for a little while now. My local pub, which used to stock two different gins, now has a big variety of gins from many different producers. Not bad for a village pub in deepest West Devon! We set up Element in April 2017, with the aim of working with craft distillers and eventually brewers too. We found HBS Copper in Barlow, Kentucky, who had a proven track record of supplying hand-built copper stills to hobby, small scale and larger scale commercial distillers. They knew exactly what their customers needed, and we knew that we just had to bring their equipment to Europe.
We chose HBS because of their integrity and commitment to producing the best they possibly can, every time - exactly what our customers want to do. So now we talk to and visit distillers who are doing exactly what I admired those brewers for - pushing the limits, producing a quality product, with integrity. We see and taste gins, vodkas, whiskies, rums, and all sorts of spirits, produced by people who have put their time, money and reputations on the line to make a product produced from the best ingredients, mixing tradition and innovation, striving constantly for improvement and quality. There is now genuine excitement amongst consumers who are now faced with such an array of world class products. We are delighted to be helping some of these spirits producers along the way, and also delighted to continue our relationships with brewers! They have more in common than you may first think!
As you know, we have recently agreed with Premier Stainless to supply their brew systems, tanks and keg washing systems to UK brewers. Premier have an amazing reputation worldwide, having installed over 600 systems worldwide, with an amazing client list of breweries who have taken world beer by storm. There is also a range of smaller systems which are perfect for pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants who want to brew their own beer, but are also ideal for larger breweries who are looking to develop new recipes or produce limited release beers, without tying up their main kit, which means they can innovate without affecting their precious production capacity from the main plant.
Premier make pilot systems from 2BBL up to 10 BBL (UK). They have paid the same attention to detail as they do with their larger systems, with a focus on design, functionality and quality. They consist of a mash/lauter tun and kettle/whirlpool, with sanitary pipework and valves, a stainless steel working platform with ladder, sanitary heat exchange and wort aeration systems, sanitary wort pumps, and a central control. Their combi-tank systems include the Hot Liquor Tank positioned underneath the mash/lauter tun, saving space and cost. FVs and Bright Tanks are available in appropriate sizes, with all the features of their larger versions. Their appearance also makes them a great feature in any space, where customers can look and see how the beer they love is produced.
One key benefit of these systems is how they can allow brewers to replicate recipes time after time, giving their beer the consistency they want, but also providing the flexibility to push the boundaries and innovate.
Element can supply and install these systems, and provide comprehensive back up for the life of the equipment, giving you the reassurance that you are in safe hands.
We are sure that these systems provide a great solution for a lot of different requirements, and we hope that you agree. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your requirements with us. We would love to chat.
We were delighted to announce our new partnership with Premier Stainless Systems recently. We wanted to work with a well established manufacturer of brew systems, tanks and keg washers, with an outstanding reputation for quality and service. Premier have worked with over 600 breweries worldwide, including Cloudwater and Lovibonds in the UK, and Mikkeller, Stone Brewing, Pirate Life, Garage Project, White Labs, Edge Brewing, just to name a few. This impressive list told us a lot, and we were keen to find out more.
Talking to Rob Soltys, President of Premier, we understood why so many truly great breweries chose to work with them. A company that lives for quality, design and service. Talking to brewers who use their kit daily backed this up further. We heard nothing but praise for everything they do, and we knew that we would have to also have to work in the same way to keep this reputation, which was exactly what we were looking for.
You know that ordering Premier equipment will give you great design and quality at a fair price. We can add further value by giving you access to our experience of what UK brewers need, being easy to work with, being available when you need us, and providing all the advice and information that you need. We can supply and install your brew system, offer advice and contacts for other services, such as steam and chilling, and most importantly, be there when you are using the equipment, with spare parts and service. We understand that down-time costs money, and seek to minimise that by offering you great quality kit, with the backup you need.
We know that this provides you with a great combination. Feel free to call Jon on 07789 001044 if you would like to check us out, or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch.
Element to distribute Premier’s range of brewing equipment to UK craft brewers
Element Equipment and Consultancy Ltd. and Premier Stainless Systems LLC (USA) have agreed to work together to provide Premier’s range of brewing equipment to craft brewers in the UK. Element Equipment will act as Premier’s distributor, providing sales and technical support to UK craft brewers. Premier is known for its brewhouses, fermentation and brite tanks, and keg washers, and all will be made available in the UK through Element, who will provide sales and technical support to UK brewers.
Element Equipment was set up in April 2017 by Jon Clatworthy, who has considerable experience in supplying equipment to the UK craft brewing market. Their activities to date have focused on consultancy to drinks producers, and supply of equipment to craft distillers. This is an exciting addition to their portfolio, in an area where Jon is experienced, and was keen to find the perfect partner to work with.
Premier Stainless Systems was founded in 2000 by Rob and Michelle Soltys, in Escondido, California. They have built and installed breweries, tanks and keg washers for customers around the world, and have established a well-deserved reputation for quality and service. To date, they have supplied over 600 breweries to customers including Mikkeller, Cloudwater, Stone Brewing, Pirate Life, Ballast Point, Garage Project, White Labs, Edge Brewing and countless others.
Jon Clatworthy, Director of Element Equipment, said, ‘We are naturally delighted to establish a partnership to supply Premier’s range of brewery equipment to craft brewers across the UK. The UK craft beer market is in an extremely exciting phase, and I know that brewers will welcome the opportunity to consider Premier equipment for their businesses. Premier’s reputation for quality equipment at pricing which offers real value for money, along with the service and backup which can be provided by Element represents a great option for anybody looking for brewery equipment’.
Rob Soltys, President of Premier Stainless Systems, said, ‘At a time when the UK craft brewing industry is flourishing, it made a lot of sense for us to work with Element to make it easier for brewers to access our range. We have worked with Cloudwater and Lovibonds breweries in the UK, and we look forward to the opportunity of working with more British breweries in the future’.
For further information, please contact Jon Clatworthy: email@example.com or 01837 89277.