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Allan

Ice Machine / Ice Maker?

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Has anyone bought a dedicated ice machine / ice maker for their distillery tasting room, or is everyone basically using a standard household refrigerator/freezer with an ice maker? If you bought a dedicated ice maker, what size did you get? Any advice?

Thanks,

AD

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Dedicated. Something from the local restaurant supply house. About $2k after all expenses.  Standard household will never in a million years make as much ice as you think you'll need.

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1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Best part of owning an ice maker - so much ice.

Worst part of owning an ice maker - cleaning the ice maker.

About 100x worse than cleaning a still

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Holy crap, 2k for an ice machine...

 

We're looking at only like 800 cases our first year, so not anticipating a HUGE volume of traffic. Having said that...do you know how many lb/ice your 2k machine produces - just so I can gauge it?

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Ours does about 300 lbs / day. The bitch is that we need this amount about three days a week. But when you need it, you need it!  You can alos lease them. You do pay a premium but they include all PM & cleaning on the lease.  We use it for our soda machine as well and I've been known to pinch 100lbs from time to time to cool down mash. 

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https://www.amazon.com/Costway-Portable-Compact-Electric-Machine/dp/B0728GBDF2/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1504106547&sr=8-13&keywords=portable+ice+maker

Our tasting room was fairly small, but this little machine could keep up pretty well.  When we got super busy we eventually had to get ice bags out of the freezer, and we had an ice maker in the freezer.  The upside to this machine is that it fits behind the bar.

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Before you select an ice maker I would suggest selecting a type of ice you want to make. One that looks good in the glasses you have, complements the cocktails you offer, and melts at the rate you wish for dilution. Ice is a major component of any cocktail.

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The commercial Ice maker had cost a hair over 2000 and was money well spent as we never ran out of ice on even the busiest day. It cranked out about 300 pounds a day. It was supposed to be able to make more, but thats only if it is in a cold room with cold incoming water

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For us, making ice also requires a restaurant license as our local health department considers ice food.  At that point it has to be commercial grade as consumer grade equipment is not allowed. 

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On 9/20/2017 at 2:11 PM, SlickFloss said:

Before you select an ice maker I would suggest selecting a type of ice you want to make. One that looks good in the glasses you have, complements the cocktails you offer, and melts at the rate you wish for dilution. Ice is a major component of any cocktail.

Thanks all for the input. Yeah, after doing some research I decided we wanted "gourmet, top-hat" cubes. Found a pretty low (comparatively) priced unit that only does about 60lb/day from Costco, but for the size of my store at this stage, that's like 18 cubes every 30 minutes + storage tray, I think it will do the trick. 

Reviews for the unit are terrible, but they're all complaining about the noise. Given that the machine will be located in a storage room, I'm not TOO concerned about it, but we'll see how bad it is once its installed (thankfully anything can be returned to Costco, no?)...Also waiting to see how much of a pain it will be to have the ice made "in the back" and have to stage a bin "at the bar" and keep it replenished. My gut tells me I'll end up returning it and spending the extra $800 or so on something in the 2k range...I'll report back with my findings (for anyone else looking to get one down the road). 

This is the unit I'm trying out and installing this week: 

https://www.costco.com/Brema®-CB249A-Undercounter-Economy-Ice-Maker-with-3-year-Manufacturers-Warranty.product.100086419.html

Cheers,

AD

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21 hours ago, Allan said:

Thanks all for the input. Yeah, after doing some research I decided we wanted "gourmet, top-hat" cubes. Found a pretty low (comparatively) priced unit that only does about 60lb/day from Costco, but for the size of my store at this stage, that's like 18 cubes every 30 minutes + storage tray, I think it will do the trick. 

Reviews for the unit are terrible, but they're all complaining about the noise. Given that the machine will be located in a storage room, I'm not TOO concerned about it, but we'll see how bad it is once its installed (thankfully anything can be returned to Costco, no?)...Also waiting to see how much of a pain it will be to have the ice made "in the back" and have to stage a bin "at the bar" and keep it replenished. My gut tells me I'll end up returning it and spending the extra $800 or so on something in the 2k range...I'll report back with my findings (for anyone else looking to get one down the road). 

This is the unit I'm trying out and installing this week: 

https://www.costco.com/Brema®-CB249A-Undercounter-Economy-Ice-Maker-with-3-year-Manufacturers-Warranty.product.100086419.html

Cheers,

AD

Im glad you did your research on ice its something a lot of people over look! Somethings to keep in mind when sizing an ice maker and choosing type as well:

-Size of your tasting room and complexity of your cocktail program: how much ice goes into constructing and serving one cocktail, and if your tasting room is a hit, whats your anticipated maximum output of cocktails per hour, per night? If you come in under the ice is just never used.... if you come in over on your need you will be castrated. 

-How often are you going to have special events and what is going to be their size? Its not appropriate to run out of ice when throwing a wedding.

-Depending on where you are and what drink you want to serve: top hat ice is usually larger, harder, clear ice and is not best for frozen cocktails or blended drinks so keep that in mind! 

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We've gone through this exercise several times recently with a couple new tasting rooms.  Get larger than you think!

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/guide/525/types-of-ice-machines.html

This is a good place to start - two things to keep in mind: 1 - the stated ice production is under ideal conditions. Cool air and cool water.  You will never make the stated amount. 2 - The storage capacity.  The costco unit will only store 20lb of ice at a time.  That's 2 bags of ice from the grocery store.  Without knowing anything about your business model, but we need a lot more business than that to pay the bills.

If the $2,000 makes you uncomfortable (and i get that...) you can most likely find a local company that leases equipment.  Typically they take care of maintenance, installation, and emergency repairs for $100 - $200 a month.  We used this option in the past because of cash flow, but you can quickly see that within a year you've paid for that brand new unit. (except that you have to maintain it, which as stated is a PITA).

Having had to run to the 7-11 in the middle of a shift for bags of ice, take my word that you want as large as you can.

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You could get a water-cooled ice maker and use some water from your chiller for the chiller.  You would be able to site it without worrying about the air discharge and also get more capacity from the refrigerant.

Be careful on the size of your bin as well.

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1 hour ago, fstmatt said:

Typically they take care of maintenance,

For us that did not include cleaning out the storage bin which can be a truly nasty job. We clean ours monthly. Also never ever leave the scoop in the bin... you never know when the health dept might make a surprise visit.  :-/

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