By: Gerald Dlubala
The production, delivery and packaging of beer and the use of gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) are inseparable. But because CO2 is also a natural byproduct of the brewing process, monitoring its levels during and in the delivery of draught beer is critical. Carbon dioxide has flavor characteristics that could cause your beer to undergo flavor changes if left unmonitored. Additionally, if pressures are left unchecked and become too low in the draught beer delivery system, the CO2 is allowed to leave the beer, causing the pour to be flat. Conversely, too high CO2 pressure results in over-carbonation, causing flavor flaws and a foamy pour. Either problem causes increased product usage and waste, increasing the brewery’s costs and decreasing an already thin profit margin.
Dissolved CO2 sensors are inline sensors that continuously monitor dissolved CO2 in numerous applications, including the beer brewing process. Using dissolved CO2 sensors allows brewers to monitor key quality attributes of their product, ensuring a consistent product and all-important mouthfeel to their craft beers.
Mettler Toledo offers its InPro5500i inline sensors, thermal conductivity sensors optimized for brewing quality control and monitoring the carbonation levels of the beer. The InPro5500i line uses digital technology to simplify handling, provide durable performance and offer increased product life, reducing lifetime sensor costs.
Additional benefits and characteristics of Mettler-Toledo’s inline sensors include the following:
• Helping the brewer maintain consistency and overall beverage quality control
• Sensors are manufactured with a food grade, hygienic, intelligent design and diagnostics
• The use of proven technology to accurately provide trusted CO2 measurement
• Maintenance predictability
• Process connection compatibility, available with three process connections: Variant Type N, TriClamp 2 inch and 29 mm with cap nut M42
For more information on Mettler-Toledo’s CO2 sensors, visit www.mt.com/analytical
While the applications for nitrogen dosing in the beverage industry have remained consistent, the products that benefit from being dosed have and will continue to grow. Cannabis-based beverages, the dramatic growth and variety of available RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails and all nitro-style beers, coffees and teas benefit from nitrogen dosing in one way or another. Through its preservation and pressurization qualities, nitrogen dosing has allowed the explosion of new and flavorful RTDs to be distributed on a widespread basis to more markets. Pressurizing a can or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle with nitrogen adds stability to the container, allowing for easier, more efficient and effective stacking and shipping. Additionally, the fact that nitrogen is inert and will not react with other substances or ingredients makes it ideal for use in beverage applications and industry because it doesn’t impact the aroma or flavor of the packaged liquid.
“Adding a nitrogen doser to a filling line is a pretty simple process,” said Jim Fallon, international sales manager for Vacuum Barrier Corporation (VBC). “Our VBC dosers are designed to be bolt-on additions to a filler, with no requirement for complicated electrical or control integration. After determining the proper application for dosing, meaning pressurization, inerting or nitrogenating, the next step is to find the optimal location on the filler for installation. VBC application engineers also determine the appropriate dosing unit based on the available filler space, the brewer’s line speeds and the dimensions of the container that the brewer is using. Then, along with the doser, sensors and control panel, all that’s needed to start dosing is your power supply or compressed air supply, depending on the models used.”
Fallon tells Beverage Master Magazine that the optimal amount of nitrogen dosing recommended for any application is found by looking at the associated needs.
“In the beverage industry, these applications vary from pressurizing non-carbonated drinks for container rigidity to purging oxygen from the headspace for extended shelf life and nitrogenating a cold brew coffee or beer,” said Fallon. “VBC engineers collect necessary details about the container volume and dimensions, fill heights, line speeds and the brewery’s target specifications and goals. Equipped with that information, we can guide customers to the appropriate settings to ensure the dose is sized properly and, just as importantly, makes it into the container in a timely and consistent manner.”
Fallon says that for many years, the only new advances in nitrogen dosing had to do with the availability of increased dosing speeds. But today, VBC dosing units can consistently and reliably dose up to 2,000 containers a minute, more than enough for most filling lines. Because of this achievement, VBC was allowed to shift its focus on advancing and improving the reliability and ease of adjustability of its dosers.
“We’ve continued to build out the functionality of our Servodoser that we initially released in 2016,” said Fallon. “We’ve reduced the parts prone to wear along with maintenance needs of the long-life servo actuator, which has a cycle life into the billions. In addition, a servomotor on the valve stem allows for dose amount adjustment without changing any mechanical parts. These improvements reduce downtime and allow on-the-fly adjustment of dosing parameters. Vacuum Barrier’s modular aseptic dosing systems are quickly becoming the go-to design with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) fillers integrating aseptic filling lines.”
For more information on Vacuum Barrier Corporation and nitrogen dosing, visit www.vacuumbarrier.com
Gas Blenders for Draught Beer Delivery Solutions: McDantim, Inc
To successfully dispense draught beer, you need pressure, and that necessary pressure generally goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. As far back as the early 1800s, that pressure was supplied by compressed air, but as all brewers know, oxygen doesn’t play well with beer. The solution to this dilemma was to use CO2, which was good unless you tried to use 100 percent CO2 in draught beer delivery systems that needed to push the beer over long distances from huge brite tanks that were only safety-rated for up to 15 pounds of pressure. Unfortunately, increasing pressure to push more beer only puts the tank over the intended safety rating or puts the brewer at risk of over-carbonating the beer.
But by using blended CO2 and nitrogen gas technology in the appropriate amounts, breweries and taprooms can maintain and balance their beer storage and delivery systems to ensure the integrity of their draught beers glass after glass, maintaining product integrity without losing any quality of taste, aroma or mouthfeel, just as the brewer intended. However, premixed cylinders were found to be expensive and generally offered the wrong blend for the beer industry. McDantim Gas Blending Technologies was the first company to introduce a gas blender that was technically sound enough and appropriate for the beer industry.
“It started in the late 1980s,” said Kayla Mann, sales and marketing director for McDantim, Inc. “McDantim’s previous owner’s father was approached by Guinness to develop an on-site gas dispenser. Unfortunately, industrial blenders wouldn’t work well because they couldn’t handle low-flow needs. So, McDantim devised a blender optimized for low flow rates to ensure that the beer secured in your keg or brite tank is the same beer dispensed into the glass for your thirsty customers. Our goal is to improve draught beer consistently and continuously worldwide.”
Mann said that McDantim Trumix® Blenders are generally maintenance-free, with a plug-and-play mentality that demands no electricity or cumbersome maintenance schedules.
“The goal here is to set it and forget it,” said Mann. “Brewery or taproom managers already have enough on their plate without having to worry about gas blending. Trumix® Blenders are easy to install and set up with regulators and can be nestled in wherever a brewer decides to locate their gas storage. All our products are customizable for different CO2 and nitrogen blending needs, so no matter what beer you are brewing and serving, you’ll get what you need. We use six eager and local breweries as our testing grounds with our products, so we receive real-life and real-time situational help to ensure our blenders and products do what breweries need them to do. Our custom-configured blender solutions improve efficiency and decrease waste and are based on useable volume, including the length of delivery lines, the number of available taps and servers and the forecasted number of kegs per hour you can expect to use at any given time. It comes down to how many servers will be drawing out of how many taps simultaneously. Busy, large taprooms with several servers that stay busy for lengthy amounts of time will need a higher flow rate than the smaller craft breweries.”
Mann tells Beverage Master Magazine that McDantim also offers a free downloadable app that can be used anywhere within the depths of a brewery because it needs no internet connection.
“We’re all about education to improve the quality of the draft beer industry across the board,” said Mann. “The app is there for you to know what blend of gases is optimal for the beer you are producing or if you are struggling with pressure or specific lines. We can easily walk you through the app and teach you how it can help and improve your draught beer. It’s just another tool for everyone from the beginner through the seasoned professional, and it is valuable for those that may be hesitant to ask for help as well.”
Conditions included in the calculations are:
• The beverage temperature in the keg.
• The required keg pressure.
• The CO2 content of the beverage.
• Elevation above sea level.
• The gas blend (CO2 percentage) of existing blender.
Your input conditions help determine the following:
• The optimal CO2/N2 blend for your specific location and conditions.
• What range of pressures you can safely apply to your beverages for optimal carbonation.
• Easy U.S. and metric unit conversions.
• The predicted CO2 content that will be maintained under unusual conditions, like high elevation production.
Additionally, McDantim’s free gas blend app includes helpful calculators for other areas of your draught beer process, including these:
• The cost analysis calculator provides insight into how on-site gas blending with Trumix® blenders can save you money.
• The gas usage calculator will forecast and determine how many kegs of beer you can expect to dispense using Trumix® Blenders or premixed cylinder gas.
• The line restriction calculator helps brewers with their draught system design to get the correct restriction values to keep the beer from under or over-carbonation.
McDantim’s Trumix® Blenders can be used equally well with all clean CO2 and nitrogen sources, including high-pressure cylinders, bulk tanks and separators.
To contact McDantim or get more information on gas blenders, visit www.mcdantim.com