Fermenting Vessels #12 & 13 Arrive at Stone
August 21, 2003
Written by beerdedbastard
In late February 2003, ten thousand gallons of shiny new stainless steel fermentation space arrived at Stone Brewing Company. They came by truck, on the flat-bed of a semi-tractor trailer from the Mueller manufacturing facility in Springfield, Missouri in the form of two 150 barrel Mueller Fermenting Vessels or FV’s, as I will refer to them from here on. Having worked for 2 breweries in Cleveland that were closed, let me tell you that it is a great thrill to see new equipment coming in, rather than going out. And growth has been a constant at Stone.
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In the weeks prior to their arrival, the floor space these FV’s would require was readied. Large pits nearly 4 feet deep were dug though the cement floor, dirt and even stone. We joked about having a new Stone pool and jacuzzi! These holes were then filled not with water, but with over 30 cubic yards of steel re-enforced concrete, as well as a full bottle of Arrogant Bastard!
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These bases were made not only to hold the weight of beer that would be in these vessles, but to meet the earthquake code requirements here in California as well. A constant threat here in the “Shake & Bake” state! Additional drainage was also created, tying the new cement pads into the waste water system. These pads were cured and ready just before the fermenters arrived on February 27th.
It was now crunch time and various things in the brewery that would be in the way had to be moved. These included a Bright Beer Tank (or BBT- used for finished beer), a keg washing system and our grain auger that sends milled grains to the grist case for brewing, among other things. We brewed around the clock the days leading up to the event to prepare to be shut down, since we wouldn‘t be able to brew once the move began. On the morning of the 28th the rigging crew arrived with their crane to take the FV’s off the truck and all heck broke lose as everything inside was disconnected and moved out of the way.
Outside, any and all removable fittings were removed from the new tanks, so that they wouldn’t be damaged when the move began. Next, long straps were slung around the first FV (#12) and attached to the crane that would lift it.
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Tension was high as they tightened the slack and lifted it up. They then had the truck pull out from underneath, and lowered it into a cradle that would allow them to move it inside horizontally.
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This cradle was set on separate sets of maneuverable rollers, that with specific manipulations of each, would allow them to shift direction. Then a fork-lift operator was able to tow it by the leg, or cone end into the building and place it near where it would be uprighted.
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The crane operator then moved in behind the vessel, and attached to the top of it. Working together, the crane operator lifted the FV as the fork-lift driver came forward with the base. Slowly, with hand signaled direction from their supervisor, they lifted and set the FV upright on its feet. It only had to be moved a little and rotated into position from there. Many employees and visitors had stopped to watch in awe, as the tense moments played out in front of them. This all seemed choreographed and rehearsed, the way each team member of the rigging crew worked with the other to accomplish the task. As it must have been, because they then had it all to do over again with the next one. FV #13!
Once again the team approached, strapped, lifted, cradled, towed, rolled, uprighted and rotated…doing the same dance they did with FV #12, placing the shiny, stainless steel, wort-holding, yeast-fermenting, alcohol-producing, ale-birthing center on its feet, in its new home here at Stone. These new vessels were then readied for use over the following weeks and have been producing ales since mid-March!
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And growth is nothing new here... in the time I have been at Stone (2+yrs), I have been witness to constant change and increased growth. In fact, just since I began this story, it has grown even more! 10,000 additional square feet of building space was acquired, allowing us to double the size of our cold-box or cooler space to keep more packaged (bottled & kegged) beer ready for distribution. Also this spring we received a second bulk grain silo, doubling the capacity of base malt we hold on hand, and allowing us to begin brewing around the clock.
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And, a fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks was put on the roads & highways of southern California as well. Emblazoned with Arrogant images and logo’s, these vehicles are now taking the message from the border in the South, to L.A. and beyond in the North.
And so it grows…but no moss growin’ on this Stone!
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Large pits nearly 4 feet deep were dug though the cement floor, dirt and even stone. We joked about having a new Stone pool and jacuzzi!
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