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Not exactly a craft distillery, but we're pretty damn proud all the same


John McKee

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Hey all,

As many of you know, I came from a refining background larger than our current 2 DSP's and that itch to do things bigger has just kept with me. So, for the last year, we've been through planning our Phase 3 distillery expansion project.

I've attached a few links to news pieces, but here are some distillery nerd stats.

  • 4, 40,000 gallon fermenters.
  • 1, 53g barrel of whiskey every 7 minutes.
  • 20 acre facility.
  • Production house is 40,000 sqft.
  • Barrel rickhouse is 57,000 sqft, with 30' sidewalls.
  • Onsite waste water treatment plant, with methane co-gen for the boilers.

This is the expansion of a dream that started at the ADI conference in KY about 5 or 6 years ago. I know its not exactly artisan or craft at that size, so we've decided to keep our original small distillery and operate that in perpetuity as well......don't want to forget our roots.

Thanks for letting me say thanks to everyone on this forum and elsewhere in the industry for letting team Headframe be a part of all of this. We're working our hearts out and we hope we have your support for our crazy new endeavor.

Best,

McKee

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12-15,000,000 btu/hr for the cooling load as well?

Certainly would have the efficency for it, but the first cost on them (absorbers) is way up there (!!!) unless you're getting a rebate to cover a share.

The Absorption chiller uses a cooling tower for the "high pressure" side, which would be a monster, but you would be in the same boat if you were doing evaporative cooling only.

Evaporative cooling can only get to within 7 to 8 degrees of the wet bulb temperature, which in the summer doesn't usually get you cool enough water.

I think Tuthill is using something like this, aren't they?

Mike

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We have also done some expanding recently. Not quite on the scale of John McKee in Montana, but we are going there.

Here is an updated photo of the distillery after construction. 5,000 sq ft. now.
The right side half is the new addition. We have over 3.3 acres in the Teton Valley so there is plenty of more room to expand.

We also have a barrel rickhouse under construction on the other end of the property. Only 3,200 sq ft. for our first stab at this.

However we are already planning the next expansion (another 12,000 sq ft) because of something special with a new investor ... more to be announced soon ....

10429355_724311027640247_426259789109195

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Mike,

We'll be operating 350 days a year. Coldest winter night -40F, warmest summer day 102F. Mash feedrate of 39 gpm.

It'll take some big condensers in a few places to ensure complete condensing, but I'm pretty sure that the closed loop water cooling water system (with blowdown of course) is the way to go. Its still early in the game, but if I'm not mistaken its 1 ton of cooling = 12,000 btu/hr. If so, I need 1000 tons of chilling, which has to be crazy expensive from an electrical standpoint......which leads me to cooling water systems.

Still, you're the pro in this field. Which route would you go?

Average wet bulb data for Butte, MT

JAN FEB MAR....... DEC AVG

BUTTE-BERT MOONEY AIRPORT (KBTM) | 1996-2011 | 18.0 18.4 26.5 31.6 38.9 45.7 51.6 49.3 42.7 34.1 23.2 16.3 | 33.0

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John,

It's been my experience that a natural gas-fired chiller is most cost-effective once you get to those sizes. Installation runs around $570/ton (which is about mid-range), but operating costs are a fraction of direct-fire or steam. I've used single and dual stage steam-driven compressors as well, and if you're already going big on the heating, that might work well. But driving the compressor with electricity at that size seems unusual :-P

Double-absorption units are fairly easy to find used, these days.

Watching this with interest :-)

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I have nothing to add to the cooling conversation, but I do want to offer my congratulations to John on the expansion. This guy's distillery could eat my little fledgling shop for lunch, but he spent hours with me talking gin and brainstorming ways to improve my formula. All this on an unannounced visit. I truly believe that it's attitudes like John's that make this industry accessible and fun to be in. I applaud your success.

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Chris,

Thanks for the shout out. Your visit was awesome and it was a blast to get to brainstorm your product lines with you.

Chris makes a good point. A single big distillery has greater losses in a single year than all of us combined, make. We all need to support each other and in turn the industry will just continue to grow.

Chris, like I told you that day. In the future, when someone shows up at your place with the same questions, offer them the same I did for you....my time, my support, and my enthusiasm. It'll pay forward, promise.

Best,

McKee

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John,

When you're figuring evaporative cooling, you require 15,000 btu/hr for cooling (evaporation increases the flow required which is where they get the 3 GPM per ton for a 10 degree rise in the cooling water.

It looks like you could do this with an evaporative water cooler (I do have a large evaporative cooler line which would fit into your realm) and possibly run a smaller chiller with an isolation exchanger to boost the capacity if you run into trouble in summer (or even rent a chiller for a few months if you pre-pipe an exchanger to the process to gauge how much you need to add).

The 64 dollar question are you going to have enough make-up water for the evaporative unit, about 2% of flow when not running "dry", or about .02 x 3gpm/ton x 1000 tons= 60 GPM plus or minus- doesn't look like a lot until you multiply it out what the daily volume will be.

You also will have some large indoor sumps if you are thinking cooling tower instead of closed loop evaporative (water/glycol inside of steel/copper tubes with water running over tubes).

You have a lot to consider and no doubt will have to spend time with you consulting engineer, too.

When you get to the point of talking about the cooling equipment, I can budget out some possibilities for you.

Mike

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John,

Forgot to ask, what is the the highest water/glycol temp you can live with?

Based on the worst case wet bulb, the best you could get is 60F, anything lower you would have to supplement.

For example, if 55F was the lowest you can live with, you would be short 5 degrees and need a 500 ton chiller to get to 55F or you would have to have a large enough reservoir to chill it overnight to get to 55F during the day when you couldn't get any cooler than 60F.

I hope you are planning on a large steel reservoir somewhere onsite.

Mike

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Mike,

If cooling water system, the initial concept is:

  • Hot side return cistern of 1000g
  • Cool side supply cistern (tower return) of 1000g
  • 3 pump centrifugal system (2 on, 1 backup) with flow rates somewhere between 40-70 gpm
  • 55F is way too much cooling in our opinion, we are designing for full condensing with process water temp ranging from 60-80F

In the past, when I've installed systems of similar capacities, I've used http://www.advantageengineering.com/. However, nop vendors have been selected for this project yet, so I promise you I'll be reaching out to you soon.

Cheers,

McKee

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