We have a special giveaway at end of this email. 🎁
I've been a bit caught up, so Nitin is going to be writing today's newsletter - about how we learned to stop worrying and love our bottling machine.
When we first started Moonshine, our conversations with almost anyone in the bottling business typically closed with, “…buy an Italian make, they are expensive but reliable or if you're strapped for cash, buy an Indian make. At 50% of the cost, they are sturdy but incredibly difficult to calibrate and fine-tune.”
To us however, both options set us back at least 8 figures and we did not have that kind of capital when we started; hence both options were a strict no-go. Now the good thing about having limited capital is one needs to think out of the box.
What started as a typical late-night YouTube bingeing session on bottle fillers, soon turned into ‘yet another mechanical engineering project’ for us. Maybe one of the few times our engineering degree came in handy. 😎
We teamed up with our good friend Sarun Shivanandan, who had a fabrication unit in Pune and helped us develop a single-head, handheld prototype of a filling system. To our surprise, it worked like a charm and a few months later, Sarun helped us scale up the design to a 4 head manually operated machine.
That’s dhanno at Sarun’s factory. This was the first trial we ran.
Failed miserably. Took another 2 attempts to get her to work properly.
The machine had 3 push buttons and a simple on-off switch. The buttons read ‘CO2’, ‘Mead’ and ‘Porge’. Once each bottle was fixed under each head and sealed, CO2 was added into the bottle and when you pressed hit Mead, all 4 heads would start filling the bottles together.
Unfortunately, a fully manual process also meant that, not all bottles would fill at the same speed, since even the smallest gap in sealing would mess up the fill levels.
To fix that, 4 simple override switches were installed to ‘top up’ each bottle separately, if needed. To ensure we could see the level of the liquid in the amber-coloured bottle, a flashlight was tied on the other side of the machine.
Once the bottles were full, we disconnected each of the bottles and individually capped them using a hand-cranked capping machine.
We like to thank this set-up for helping us build the little upper body strength we currently have!
Our first bottling machine was so notoriously reliable that when our friends from Goa Brewing Company started to have issues with their automatic machine, they reached out to us and then asked Sarun to replicate the same design for them.
18 months later, volumes grew and we needed to move from 4 bpm (bottles per minute) to 40 bpm and soon got ourselves an automated line too; and sort of partially retired our first machine.
But, even to this date, Dhanno, as she is fondly called, operates perfectly!
Rohan likes to joke that if there's ever a museum of moonshine, Dhanno would be behind a pane of glass with the caption - in case of emergency, break the glass.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to hear more about our Meadery and the process of making Meads, we invite you to visit us! For information on available slots—and everything else related to visiting us—you can find it right here.
We're giving away 2 concert tickets to Anumita Nadesan Kabhi Kabhi Tour on 28 August 2022 at 8:00 PM at GYLT Bangalore. Just click on this link to enter!
We'll pick a winner by random draw on Friday, August 26th.
Here is a playlist to get you ready for this weekend.