Keys to Success: With pFriem Family Brewers’ Brewmaster and Co-Founder Josh PFriem

Keys to Success: With pFriem Family BrewersBrewmaster and CoFounder Josh PFriem

pFriem Family Brewers is a Northwest, German and Belgium inspired brewery and tasting room in Hood River, OR. Founded in 2012 by Josh Pfriem, Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner.

Josh Pfriem, Brewmaster/Co-Founder of pFriem Family Brewers states “Our goals are simple. We want to do everything we can to make the best beer possible. In order to do that, we want to make sure we have the best brewery facility and the best team. We all work every day at pFriem, with the goal to make better beer than we did yesterday. With that, I’ve always been inspired by different European styles of beers, as well as Europe’s culture and brewing traditions.”

“We’ve always looked at quality first with this and with the growth we’ve had over the years. We are always challenging ourselves. How can we make our quality better? How can we make efficiency better? We have created an opportunity with the recent expansion now that we have an even higher level of equipment and a super talented team to concentrate on these areas and deliver better beer to our fans in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” says pFriem.

What was your experience working with G&D Chillers on pFriems expansion plans?

“We had a bare-bones building and they helped us design not only the Chilling capacity, but also the glycol lines and the install itself. We have always taken a lager brewery approach and we pay close attention to every single point of the process. And it’s been awesome to have a partner like G&D that helped us create systems from design to fabrication to install that can spec our design needs and for the whole system. From fairly early on we just had 30-45-barrel tanks up to 90-barrel tanks, and now with our newest installation of 210-barrel fermenters we designed, not only current capacity loads, but future capacity loads.

They’ve consulted and helped us design a whole system that is built for now and the future so we’re not ripping things out or having to redo things. The partnership has been awesome and we’ve always been able to calculate what we need and stay ahead of the demand. One big thing for us, is always putting in more capacity then we need, whether it’s the electricity, gas from the utility side, or to the utilities on the brewing side, and making sure to put in extra cooling capacity. It takes quite a bit of calculation, work and experience but, G&D has always been able to work with us on that. And we’ve always been able to put in that extra 20 to 30 percent capacity, which we’ve always been really grateful for. You think you’ll never use it and then you do while you are bridging your next expansion. This all can happen a lot quicker than you think.

With the latest project, we needed a 100-horse chiller to come online to power our new fermentation capacity, but in that process, we realized we needed to bring an incredible amount more of power to our facility, 1200 amps at 480 volts to power two future chillers and be able to handle all or our other expansion equipment.

We had to create a bridge opportunity while we got the new power online and to get our new fermentation cellar rolling. So we put in a master glycol piping plan and then we ran all the calcs tight – what would our current chiller do, in order to handle our current fermentation, new fermentation while we get this power upgrade commissioned. We came up with a great solution, getting a loaner chiller from G&D. We temporarily put in a 13.5-horsepower chiller unit hooking it up just to our heat exchanger. So, we pulled our heat exchanger out of the overall glycol loop, which took a huge load off the current chiller, and then we were able to brew into our new fermenters and have an enough chiller capacity to satisfy our current and new fermentation demand. In the meantime, we got the new power online and the 100-horse chiller online and returned the 13.5 HP chiller to G&D. During that 4-month bridge we would have lost the potential of producing 5,000 barrels going into the summer months, we were very grateful for this creative solution.

G&D has been so great to work with, from our first chiller that we able to sell it back to another brewery to our new much larger chillers. The equipment has been easy to use, very little maintenance, all the glycol piping design and installation works great, these guys have worked super hard to help keep us growing and upgrading our facility.

It’s really important to work with people you trust, know what your goals are and can help you get there with creative solutions” said Josh Pfriem.

What did pFriem Family Brewers plan for initially in terms of growth?

“When we were building out our facility back in 2012, we were a startup and designed the facility to reach up to 5,000 barrels annually. It has been a wild ride and we have made many iterations and additions to the plan since then. We are still in the same building that we started in and with our current expansion that we are almost finished with we will be able to brew around 60,000 barrels and with another chiller and outside fermentation pack we could brew up to 100,000 plus barrels. We already have the concrete pad, power and glycol piping ready to go for the next G&D chiller.”

Where did you guys fall short? How did you overcome?

“Even with the greatest plans you still get thrown curve balls, unexpected things happen, and you have to adapt your plans. In terms of our facility expansions over the years, we have always been constrained by space, utilities, and capital needed to purchase more equipment and upgrade the facility. Rarely does a company have unlimited space, all the utilities they ever need, and as much money as they want to grow the business. To make up for this it really helps to have good knowledge of what you actually need over what you think you want. This is a fine balance and it really helps to have a great team and supportive partners in all these areas to help you problem and solution solve your needs and challenges.”

How important is having the right glycol chilling system in your brewing facility?

“Super important. It is really hard to make world class beer with a three-legged stool of a brewery. If you have a state of the art brewhouse, but insufficient chilling or heating capacity to supply it, you will never achieve its potential. If you have amazing fermenters and tons of controls on them, but you don’t have enough cooling capacity, you will never utilize your tanks or make the beer that you are trying to achieve. You can spend top dollar on a canning line, but if you can’t get your beer cold enough you will never get the fill levels and TPO’s that you are hoping to achieve,” responded Josh Pfriem.

About pFriem Family Brewers

pFriem Family Brewers (pronounced “freem”) is a Northwest, German, and Belgian inspired brewery and tasting room in Hood River, OR. Founded in 2012 by Josh Pfriem, Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner, pFriem has experienced incredible growth in the past eight years and has earned prestigious awards, including being named GABFR 2018 Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, Three-Time Brewery of the Year by the Beer Connoisseur, and numerous medals in national and international brewing competitions. Best known for artisanal beers influenced by the great brewers of Europe while staying true to homegrown roots in the Pacific Northwest, pFriem craft beers are unmistakably unique in both flavor and balance.

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About G&D Chillers

Since 1993 G&D Chillers have been manufacturing glycol chillers specifically for the brewery industry. With well over 2,000 brewery clients across the U.S. and beyond. Now, a leader in the refrigeration industry, G&D takes great pride in helping their brewery partners plan, execute and expand their brewery partners plan, execute and expand their brewery business to the next level!

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