If the idea of a festival based around sausages is right up your alley, New Braunfels, Texas, should be your destination…at least in November, when it’s time for Wurstfest. Since 1961, New Braunfels has played host to Wurstfest, a celebration of sausages, beer and just about everything else German. This 10-day festival plays host to thousands of visitors who come to enjoy many music performances, a wide variety of delectable foods and, of course, beer.
To dispense that beer, Wurstfest officials wanted something out of the ordinary — in fact, way out of the ordinary. Kris Byrd, president of Liquid Logistics in Austin, Texas, says he had heard through “the draft grapevine,” as he calls it, that the festival wanted to add a large draft beer dispensing system. Additionally, they were looking for “something striking,” he says. Obviously, they wanted something that was, as Byrd says, “the biggest and the best.”
For that, Byrd turned to the Micro Matic team and their unmatched custom design capabilities. Daren Ogden, Micro Matic product engineer, explains that Kris Byrd “provided us with a profile that was suited for the location of this tower and we ran with it from there.” The design that Micro Matic came up with was truly staggering in its size: 120 beer-dispensing faucets in a tower that’s more than 38 feet long and weighs over 3,000 pounds.
The logistics behind producing the Wurstfest tower were equally impressive. According to Ogden, more than 43 feet of 10-inch diameter carbon steel pipe was used in manufacturing the tower. A laser was used to drill the faucet holes. Seam welding was left exposed for a “modern industrial” appearance, with somewhere between 500 and 600 bolts used in the tower. On the inside, Ogden says, “there are 750 feet of stainless steel beer line in the tower and more than 250 feet of glycol line to keep the beer cold.”
Shipping the tower to New Braunfels also took some creative problem-solving and intricate logistics. Ogden explains that Micro Matic “broke the tower into five different components, which were roughly 500 pounds apiece. We shipped it in five different crates, partially assembled, with instructions so they could just connect it like puzzle pieces.”
Once the material arrived in Texas, Byrd and his team faced the daunting challenge of assembling and mounting the system. “We had to make sure the guys at Wurstfest built a structure that could hold an almost 40-foot, 3000-pound tower forever,” he said. “That’s where all our brainpower was spent at first.” But besides that, there was one more directive they had been issued by Wurstfest. “The other neat challenge they gave us was that they wanted to be able to serve beer as quickly as they could,” says Byrd. After consulting with the Micro Matic team, a unique system was engineered that allows two faucets to be poured at the same time from the same keg. “With two faucets open, they can pour a pitcher of beer in 15 seconds,” Byrd says. That pour rate of four pitchers per minute comes in especially handy during peak rush periods.
Micro Matic’s proprietary Kool-Rite™ technology keeps the beer flowing at the proper temperature, even in a system this large. Regardless of the design of the tower, Ogden says, “we can make an insert to fit inside it. They can be square tubes; we can put a radial fit on them so they fit in a curved wall or curved bar. Everything’s going to be consistent because our technology surrounds the environment it’s going into.”
Even with the massive size of the system and the operational challenges involved, the Wurstfest beer tower was up and running in time for the 2019 festival in November to satisfy the thirsty guests.
To Kris Byrd, it was no surprise that Micro Matic could take on this complex job and deliver it on time because, he says, Micro Matic understands that it’s a team effort to provide the end user with the right system for their needs. “Anything we need, draft-system wise, they have it. Their custom department is fantastic,” he says. “Their ability to get jobs drawn, quoted and built is best-in-class. They were able to build it perfectly the very first time.”