COWBELL Brewhouse Factory Acceptance Test

  • May 9th, 2017
  • By Stephen Rich

The building part of building a brewery is one of the quicker activities involved in the process from start to finish. The Cowbell brewing team has spent over a year with a crew of engineers, architects, experienced brewers, suppliers and installers designing our custom, four vessel 50HL Newlands Systems Inc. (NSI) brewhouse for Cowbell Brewing Co. before we could even think about building. The build itself requires significant amounts of work from many parties and can take two to three months, or more, depending on the build. Until now, we have only been able to conceptualize and envision how our brewhouse will look, sound, and feel.

In late March, after countless emails, conference calls, meetings, site visits and revisions, we were finally ready to go visit our newly-built Cowbell brewhouse for the Factory Acceptance Test. It really did feel like a historic moment in our brewery’s young life.

The Factory Acceptance Test is a major milestone for our project. For it, we travelled to NSI’s manufacturing facility in Abbotsford, BC, to see the Cowbell brewhouse assembled for the first time, and verify its function and construction meet our specifications and goals.

For this process, the NSI team built the bare bones of the brewhouse and supplied it with power in the same way it will be constructed on site. The full platform with stairs is assembled, all four brewhouse vessels go in, the spindle station (sampling station) is installed, the digital controller is active, the hop dosing units are functional, the rectification unit is on (more on that in a later blog) and most pumps and valves work to see water flow. The stacks are left off, steam is not connected, and electrical conduit and other detail plumbing is left off. Essentially the system is built so its process-driven components are operable and it can push water around.

The Factory Acceptance Test allows our Team to verify basic function for the brewhouse and all its major components. It is also a great time to talk about automation, maintenance, build quality, and any changes, directly with the people who engineered and built the system. We spent nearly two full days at Newlands with the brewhouse, inspecting (and swooning over) pumps, valves, welds, tanks and function. The level of craftsmanship that went into building the Cowbell brewhouse was very obvious when we got our first look at it. It was clear the NSI fabrication team was proud of their work and of the results.

Special thanks to the entire NSI team for the time spent with our Cowbell team during the Factory Acceptance Test, and for the attention and focus applied over the last year to help us reach our goals. We can’t wait to showcase the Cowbell brewhouse and the delicious beer we make with it!


Stephen Rich