A Guide to Choosing Brewing Equipment

So, you’ve decided to open a new brewery, huzzah!

Making the decision to open a brewery is an exciting one, but moving from home brewing to production brewing can be a daunting task when trying to figure out what type of equipment and setup will work best for your brewery.

Well have no fear, a tool is here! We’ve come up with useful flowcharts and diagrams to help guide you in the right direction in choosing the best equipment configuration, setup, and size.

Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company Brewhouse

Minnetonka brewing & Equipment Company Brewing Equipment

Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company Brewhouse Heating


What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Beer Show

With the ADI 2015 Spirits Conference Vendor Expo kicking off today, and the Craft Brewers Conference just around the corner, we wanted to re-post our blog from last year, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Beer Show’, to help give you a resource to prepare for any upcoming brewing tradeshow you’re heading too.

Be sure to visit MBEC at the ADI 2015 Spirits Conference Vendor expo today and tomorrow at Booth 534, and the Craft Brewers Conference April 15-17th at Booth 1801!

Minnetonka Brewing and Equipment Company


In one week thousands of craft beer breweries, businesses, and fans will flock to Denver, CO for the annual Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America™. This is a must go to event for pretty much anyone associated with the craft beer industry, especially for emerging breweries.

Now, as exciting as craft shows can be, and especially the Craft Brewers Conference, it can also be quite overwhelming for first time goers. Where should I start? What should I focus on? Your mind can feel pulled in a million directions the second you walk into the convention center. SO, have no fear, MBEC is here!

We are here to provide 5 key points to help anyone, not just new comers, on how to navigate the Craft Brewers Conference!

Plan a Schedule

There are a lot of amazing panels to attend, as well as a large floor of vendors to see, so making…

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Hello 2015! New Year’s Beer Resolutions


Hello, and welcome to 2015!  

First off, 2014 was great. MBEC had a fantastic year full of new customers, fun with existing customers, product updates, and all around craft beer adventures.  We can’t thank everyone enough for being so fabulous and supportive, we appreciate everyone and all who were apart of the amazing journey that was 2014.  But let’s not look back, let us look forward!

2015 is off and running (all be it a freezing trot) and what a better time for New Year goals and resolutions?

Now, there are your standard resolutions of working out more and cutting back on the sweets, but those, although a good idea, aren’t particularly fun, am I right?

Why not make a fun list of resolutions you want to complete, and there are a lot of great resolutions to make as a beer lover.

So let’s kick off 2015 right, and with a bang!  Adding any of these resolutions to your list will be sure to make 2015 a great year.

1)  Host a craft beer party, head to your local liquor store or brewery and grab some great craft beer, invite some of your raddest friends, and enjoy!  Simple as that, and sure to be both a fun and delicious time.

2) Introduce someone to craft beer, because everyone needs to experience the greatness that is craft beer!

3) Attend a craft beer festival or event, all beer lovers need to go to one at some point, so why not this year!  There are amazing craft beer festivals going on year round all across the US. Check local listings for beer events, or head to the fabulous Craft Beer Events page to plan!

4) Cook with beer, because it tastes amazing, and all beer lovers should embrace the wonderful bond of food and beer

5) Try a new beer every month, there are an unbelievable amount of delicious beers out there, branch out and try a new beer every month and by the end of the year you will have tried 12 new ones!

6) Take a brewery tour, whether you have been on several, or a newbie, head to a brewery and take a tour. They are always fun, always informative, and always get a taste of their beers at the end of the tour – complete package!

7) Plan a beer trip, no matter where you live there is good beer around, but what about elsewhere?  Both within the US and around the world there are some great places to check out beer, so plan a trip to check them out!  Can be headed to a famous beer bar, or a brewery you love, a great way to combine traveling with your love of beer.

8) Read a beer book, could be to  learn more about beer making, to learn new recipes, or just to learn more about beer, a book is a great way to expand your love and knowledge of beer.

9) Give the gift of beer,  because who doesn’t love to get a tastey beer? Plus it spread the love of great beer!

10) Make beer, what better way to flex your beer love muscles that making your own!  If you’ve never brewed beer you will grow to love beer even more, or if you are a veteran in making beer, brew something new or make beer with someone who never has!  Beer making kits are easy to come by and are inexpensive, and this is a fabulous resolution to make.

There are more beer related resolutions to make of course, but these should all make your 2015 a little better, and include more beer in your life, which of course is never a bad thing!

Have a beer related resolution you are planning to make? Share so others can put it on their list!

GABF 2014 Reflection: Competition With A Capital C!

By Dan Kahn

I recently had the honor and pleasure of judging at the GABF again this year.  I have had a lot of brewers ask about the judging process and wonder what exactly happens to their beers when they are entered, so I thought it might be helpful to write a little about my experiences as a judge.

After starting to attend the GABF as a brewer and entrant about 20 years ago, and beginning to judge at it a dozen years ago, the growth and changes What I have witnessed have been amazing. With about 5700 entries in the competition, even with 90 categories there are over 60 entries per category on average.  The largest category, American India Pale Ale, had 279 entries.  That’s a lot of beers to be competing against!  With this many beers entered, there is no question that every beer that wins a medal is a top quality beer that deserves a medal.  However, not every really good beer wins a medal, which can be frustrating to a lot of brewers making excellent beer.

So, for brewers that are hoping to increase their chances to medal, a few observations and words of advice:

  1. Have lots of people taste your beer, and train your tasters. Most categories have at least 3 rounds of tasting, usually with 9-12 beers in each flight for groups of 3 or 4 judges.  The goal in each of the early rounds is to select the 3 best beers to pass forward to the next round.  The easiest way to whittle down to those 3 is get rid of the beers with obvious flaws.  Keep in mind that obvious flaws have a different threshold at a table full of judges than at a taproom, but also that different people, even trained tasters, have different taste thresholds for specific flavors.  This is why it is critical to have multiple tasters provide feedback for your beer.  You may be highly sensitive to diacetyl, and less so to DMS, for example, but if any one of the judges at a table picks up a significant flaw, that beer goes out.  By the time any beer goes through 3 or 4 rounds of judging, it’s going to have to pass judges that are sensitive to anything, essentially.

Want to give your tastebuds a workout? Head to the Food and Wine guide on how to become a better beer taster.

  1. Pay close attention to the style guidelines.Years ago, it was often thought that beers did better in competitions by being more dramatic, pushing the boundaries of styles, that just being stronger, hoppier and more intense would automatically make more of an impression.  If that ever was true, it certainly isn’t any more.  For one thing, there are so many more styles now, especially for stronger beers, that there really is no excuse for having an entry too big for its category.  I saw number of entries rejected for being “too hoppy for the style,” so if the guidelines limit a given flavor to “low,” make sure your beer reflects that.  That said, the guidelines don’t cover every conceivable combination of ingredients and process, and there can still be well balanced and enjoyable beers that don’t quite fit any of the styles well.  There is no reason that every beer you make has to be for competition; just don’t expect an entry to do well in a traditional category unless it fits the description.
  1. Aside from avoiding mistakes and staying within the parameters, give the beers depth of flavor, balance and interest. There are more beers than ever before, and they are better than ever, too.  This is the first year I have had multiple first round flights where every single beer (out of 10 or 11) was pretty good, and nothing was obviously sour, buttery or oxidized.  Once a beer gets out of the first round, there is probably a couple more rounds to go through to get to medals, each time being compared to other beers that were among the best 3 in their flight.  It used to be that entering a well made beer would almost guarantee getting passed into the second round at least, but I saw some first round flights where there really were more than 3 beers that were truly quite good. In order to stand out among a flight full of quality beers, beers do need layers of flavor.  Even among light bodied styles, malt flavor can be smooth, crisp and apparent.  Even in styles with low bitterness, multiple hop varieties and additions can provide complexity, freshness and depth.  Use balance and nuance to make beers memorable.

And of course, if you are lucky enough to be able to attend, give yourself the chance to taste a lot of other beers, see what other people are doing with new and traditional styles!

It is a fun event with lots of learning opportunities as well.

And if you do have suggestions for any changes to make in the festival itself, or specific style guidelines, let the Brewers Association know. We are privileged as an industry to have such a responsive professional organization to work with, so make sure you take advantage of that.


Women & Craft Brewing: A Growing Force!

There is no denying that the craft beer industry is booming, and now more than ever craft beer is becoming more than just a bearded boys club, but women are continuing to make their presence known as consumers, as brewers, and as executives.

Long ago are the days where beer was a mans drink, and women were side-lined as casual dabblers of beer or only consumers of only fruity alcoholic drinks, but are getting their hands hop deep in the craft movement and their voices are being heard. as well as changing perceptions and trends along the way.

Women have always drank beer, but the numbers are showing an increase of female beer drinkers. Let’s break down women’s presence as beer lovers with numbers and science!

  • 26% of women named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in 2013, versus 24% in 2012
  • Women drink 25% of all beer by volume in the USA, and
  • Women make up 37% of craft beer drinkers

There is no denying it, women like their beer. And specifically, love their craft beer.

Women are seemingly drawn to the craft beer industry more than their bigger production counterparts, which could be the case for numerous reasons, but one may be the versatility of brands and products amongst craft beer, as well as the ability for women to get involved at the grassroots level of the craft brewing industry.

As numerous new breweries are popping up all over the country, you are seeing more than ever that it isn’t just men going to pick up a home brewing kit, or helping formulate a new brewery on the business side.  Even though only 1% (approximate) of those employed in the craft beer industry are women, women are finding that they want a career in the craft industry and are applying their talents where they can in the business. Whether that be with administrative tasks, financial, or marketing, owning the brewery itself, or being the master brewer, women are being seen more– and the numbers are growing.

Groups and organizations have popped up to aid female brewing professionals, including Pink Books Society, which was created to empower women who are beer professional advance their careers within the industry. Social groups such as Barley’s Angels and Girls Pint Out were formed to bring women together to drink a variety of craft beers and encourage women’s love of beer with other women.

It is also great to see women being supported by all corners of the industry, from hop growers to consulting firms, including your very own MBEC. Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company was proud to be involved with helping St. Paul, MN brewery Urban Growler, the first female owned and brewed brewery in Minnesota, make their dream a reality.  Running their business with both men and women patrons in mind, breweries with a female presence are helping shape the future of the industry.

Although the beer industry is still predominantly populated by men, it is clear that women are making their mark. It is great to see women popping up more and more at craft beer events, in the board room, and making great beer whether that be at home or at a production level. Check out the article 10 Amazing women In Craft Beer You Should Know and Follow to see where women have made their mark in the industry, and how others are following in their footsteps.

Prost, ladies!

Fun Fact! did you know that women were the first brewers? They sure were! Egyptian and Sumerian women brewed the first beers, and there were actually laws prohibiting men from brewing beer.


10 Amazing Women in Craft Beer You Should Know and Follow – http://drinkwiththewench.com/2012/04/10-amazing-women-in-craft-beer-you-should-know-and-follow/

Pink Boots Society – http://pinkbootssociety.org/

On Gender and Beer: Why Do We Think Men Are from Ales, Women Are from Lagers? – http://thisiswhyimdrunk.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/on-gender-and-beer-why-do-we-think-men-are-from-ales-women-are-from-lagers/

More women getting into craft beer, not just as drinkers but also as brewers  – http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/women-moving-craft-beer-brewing-article-1.1522304

Women changing the ‘boys club’ nature of craft brew businesses – http://swmichigan.secondwavemedia.com/features/Women-changing-the-boys-club-nature-of-craft-brew-businesses-0424.aspx

Summer Beer Crunch Time

Light, crisp, and full of bright flavor, summer brews are a great way to beat the heat and enjoy a relaxing summer day.  Now, even though the summer months are starting to slowly tick away, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the refreshing experience of a tasty summer brew – so make one last crunch, and head out to enjoy some summer beers!

Every year breweries across the world, and especially around the US, brew up some amazing beers to compliment summer, and with the wide base of brews being offered, it can be hard to cut through the noise to find one to go out and try.  Well, we have you covered!

Below are some links to well formulated lists of top summer brews for you to check out and enjoy.


Want a quick and organized list to run through to find a summer brew? Here is the bible of such a list.  Tasted and reviewed, there are 161 seasonal summer beers on their list to make for a compact guide on what to hunt down to try.

The 12 Best Summer Beers to Drink Right Now – Esquire

Esquire went out and found 12 great summer beers that are worth your time to seek out.  Delicious brews from across the US, this list provides a quick guide on finding some last minute summer brews to try.

The 20 Best Beers for the Summer Season – HiConsumption

Another list compiled to highlight some top summer brews out there is one by HiConsumption, which consists of brews from large domestic breweries to craft breweries, giving a wide range of options.


 MBEC Customer Brews

These lists are great an all, but we are excited to also provide our own list of MBEC equipment customers and the fabulous seasonal beers they provide, and beers that also just go great with summer.

Mispillion –Citron

Bigwood – Amigo Grande

Tin Whiskers –Flipswitch IPA

Red Leg Brewing Company – Cutter WIT 

Lucid – Silo

Fat Point Brewing – Big Boca Ale

Mexitaly – Extra Pale Ale

Burning Brothers Brewing – Fused

Arcade Brewery – Grapefruit IPA

Ale Syndicate – Du Sable Hoppy Saison

612Brew – GLAM Session IPA 

So what are you waiting for? Summer isn’t going to be sticking around forever, so go to your local watering hole, grab a six-back, or make a trip to a local brewery and be sure to check out some seasonal beers to wrap up the summer months.