Options and Improvements for Brewery & Distillery Tanks

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Various kinds of tanks and tank systems are used in both breweries and distilleries to create the amazing craft beverages we know and love. Brewing and distilling tanks also require specialized systems to work properly, ensure quality control and serve other purposes. Therefore, it’s important to understand the tank and tank system options available to brewers and distillers, including what’s been updated and what can still be improved.

Types of Brewery & Distillery Tanks

  In a brewery setting, there are often many different tanks in use simultaneously. Mash tun tanks mix grain and water for sugar conversion, lauter tun tanks separate grain and wort, and wort kettle/whirlpool tanks boil wort and add hops. Liquor tanks hold cold and hot brewing water, while fermentation tanks ensure proper removal of yeast once fermentation is complete. Brite beer tanks enable carbonation, yeast brink tanks aid in growing yeast, utility hot water tanks assist with equipment sterilization, and CIP tanks help clean the vessels, hoses and pumps.

  Jef Lewis, CEO and Chairman of Grass Valley, California-based BrewBilt, told Beverage Master Magazine that stainless steel cylindroconical fermentation vessels are the most commonly used tanks in commercial brewing.

  “The cylindroconical shape maximizes volume while minimizing footprint, allows for faster fermentation and facilitates the hygienic collection of yeast from the cone,” Lewis said. “The size of these tanks range from three bbls (93 gallons) for nanobreweries up to 1,000 bbls (31,000 gallons) for very large production breweries. Most breweries are using 10 to 30-bbl tanks. BrewBilt Manufacturing builds cylindroconical tanks from 10 to 120 bbls, all of which are crafted from American 304 stainless steel that has stricter quality standards than imported stainless.”

  Brandon Mayes, the brewing and quality manager for Pittsburgh Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told Beverage Master Magazine that they use cylindroconical tanks and bright beer tanks.

  “CCTs are used to ferment wort into beer,” Mayes said. “BBTs are used to store finished beer ready for package. We have 15 500-bbl CCTs and four 250-bbl CCTs. There are six BBT’s.”

  Chase Legler, the chief operating officer of Sonder Brewing in Mason, Ohio, said that all of the tank vessels in his brewery are made from 304 stainless steel and built in Wisconsin by either Quality Tank Solutions or Pristine Process Solutions.

  “In the brewhouse, we have three vessels: Mash tun, lauter tun and wort kettle/whirlpool,” Legler said. “In conjunction with the brewhouse, we utilize a hot liquor tank and a cold liquor tank. Within the cellar, we use fermentation tanks, brite beer tanks, yeast brink, utility hot water tanks and CIP tanks.”

  Palmetto Distillery in Anderson, South Carolina, has been doing things a bit differently from other distilleries since it opened in 2011. It has worked hard to keep the distillery authentic, just as you would find a bootlegger using out in the woods. The big differences are that the Palmetto Distillery makes legal moonshine with government labels regulating what is inside the jar, pays taxes and is located directly behind the county courthouse, so it doesn’t have to out-run the law.

  Treg Boggs, President of Palmetto Distillery, told Beverage Master Magazine that his distillery started with a 30-gallon, 100% copper still made by a fifth-generation bootlegger in an undisclosed area of the mountains.

  “As soon as we were legal, we quickly graduated to our 250-gallon copper still built by the same fifth-generation moonshiner,” Boggs said. “We outgrew the 250-gallon immediately within the first year we were in business by the demand from people wanting ‘bootlegger-made but taxes paid’ moonshine!”

  Boggs said that Palmetto Distillery had to find a metal fabricator capable of handling the current 1,000-gallon copper still since that bootlegger was not capable of manufacturing anything that size.

  “Something that we learned from the old distilleries in Scotland over in the UK is if they duplicate, replace or rebuild a still, it has to have every scratch, dent or any type of character so that they can duplicate the same quality spirit,” Boggs said. “We took our time and made sure we copied this same process by creating the one-of-a-kind, 1,000-gallon still. We will not make a bigger still, only duplicate when needed to keep up with demand. We have a backup 1000-gallon still in the warehouse for our busy time of year, which is usually October to January 1. Keeping the size of the still the same is very important, so we do not lose the quality for the quantity while distilling our handcrafted spirits.”

Tank Systems for Beverage Production

  Concerning tank systems, Mayes said, “Each tank is equipped with level sensors, pressure sensors, temperature probes with automation to control the glycol jackets for cooling, spray balls for cleaning, sample ports for collecting analytical and microbiological samples, and safety valves to ensure we operate under the correct tank pressures.”

  Legler from Sonder Brewing said that it is common to have a pressure relief valve along with a vacuum breaker on the tank to protect it from over-pressurizing or creating negative pressure.

  “I would also recommend adding an additional PRV on the vent line when bunging (spunding) the tank for the same reason,” Legler said. “Having complete control over the product temperature is crucial for proper fermentation with regard to flavor consistency and quality. This is achieved by glycol jacketed tanks controlled by software integration, allowing you to have ramping capability whether decreasing temperature with glycol or increasing temperature with heat produced naturally in fermentation. The better the tank is insulated, the more efficient your system becomes.”

  Boggs from Palmetto Distillery said that his distillery uses every bootlegger tip that it has learned from some of the best and infamous outlaws on the planet.

  “For example, some fancy distilleries use clamps to make sure there is not any steam leaking out of the stills, but we used flour and wheat mixed together to make a thick, putty-like paste to put around all of the seals,” Boggs said. “If you see steam, you are losing liquor!”

Maintenance of Tanks & Systems

  However, having high-quality tanks in a brewery or distillery requires more than just buying the right products upfront. Tanks need regular cleaning and upkeep to ensure proper maintenance and avoid premature replacement.

  Mayes from Pittsburgh Brewing Company said brewers should “have a robust quality assurance program that tests and verifies complete and thorough CIP and tank sanitation.”

  “Cleaning the tanks is absolutely paramount and requires appropriate spray balls, pump curve calculations and process piping,” said Legler from Sonder Brewing. “Attention to detail is crucial for pressure and flow rate provided to the spray ball for proper wetting and cleaning. Inspection of the tank after the cleaning cycle, along with ATP swabbing, should be performed. Annually, the spray balls should be inspected for blockage and to ensure proper rotation. All connections on the tanks, such as zwickel, carb stone and racking arm, should be removed and cleaned. Ports should be hand-scrubbed and removed during the CIP process. Manway gaskets should also be removed and cleaned by hand, or better yet, in a clean-out-of-place pot.”

  “We use Brasso to clean the outside of the copper steel to make sure it stays nice and shiny,” said Boggs from Palmetto Distillery. “We use powder brew wash on the inside of the copper steel and our mash tanks.”

  BrewBilt constructs tanks with 304 stainless steel and food-grade welds done as smooth as possible and unable to harbor microbial contaminants.

  “The tanks also feature CIP spray balls for efficient recirculation of cleaning chemicals,” Lewis said. “BrewBilt tanks are ‘shadowless,’ which means that there are no areas of the tank that cannot be effectively cleaned by the spray ball, including the manway.

  All Craftmaster Stainless tanks come pickled and passivated, and this Rancho Cordova, California company provides cleaning instructions for its equipment as simple guidelines. These procedures provide instructions for first-time cleaning, removing brown spots and dark staining, removing krausen deposits, removing manufacturing residues and removing white powdery and calcium-looking deposits.

Tank Improvements & Recommendations

  In recent years, improvements have been made to tanks and tank systems that brewers and distillers may be interested to learn. For example, Lewis from BrewBilt said that real-time, comprehensive fermentation monitoring and analytics are a new development in the commercial brewing world.

  “These systems use a special tank probe that automatically measures dissolved oxygen, pH, gravity, pressure, temperature and conductivity and allow the brewer to remotely monitor all of these important parameters,” Lewis said. “Traditionally, the brewer would pull a sample from every fermentation tank each day to take the desired measurements. These new systems allow the brewer to be more proactive for fermentation control, as well as saving time and labor.”

  However, there are still improvements that need to be made. Lewis said that with the surging demand for craft lagers, many brewers struggle to produce crisp, clear lagers in a reasonable amount of time using the same cylindroconical tanks as ale fermentations.

  “Since lager yeast requires different conditions for a healthy fermentation, including colder temperature and more surface area on the bottom of the tank, the right equipment really does pay off,” said Lewis. “BrewBilt offers professional-grade horizontal lagering tanks that stack to maximize floor space and eliminate weeks of aging time to achieve the desired clarity and flavor profile.”

  Dave Silva, owner and operator of Craftmaster Stainless, Inc., said there have been a lot of changes in fermentation tanks and brite tanks throughout the years. These include advanced technologies involving the quality of material, thicker insulation–specifically zoned glycol jackets–and simple clean-in-place attributes to allow better sanitation during cleaning procedures. 

  “Over the years, Craftmaster Stainless has closely worked with brewers to design the ultimate brite tanks and uni-tanks, along with many more products for our customers. A few unique features of our tanks are industry-leading, three-inch-thick insulated glycol jackets, oversized racking arm handles, huge two-inch yeast outlets for drainage, and dedicated blow-off tubes to prevent clogging your CIP ball during fermentation blow-off. Also, all of our tanks come complete with a 10-year warranty, and all hardware with gaskets and tri-clamps are included.”

  Silva said the biggest complaint he hears from his customers is that they wish more industry suppliers had better customer service like Craftmaster Stainless.

  “Just a simple call-back or even answering the phone to help with customers’ questions goes a long way,” Silva said. “We love our customers and offer a lifetime customer service guarantee. We make it a point to answer our phone calls or call back any missed calls the same day. We pride ourselves on being the industry leader in customer service and believe having this service will lead into the best overall experience for our customers and steer the path to operating the best business in the industry.”

  “There are systems that range from simple to highly complex,” said Mayes from Pittsburg Brewing Company. “No system will function consistently without a robust quality program to assure proper flow rates, chemical dosing and chemical coverage through CIP. Start with well-written procedures, perform procedural audits and frequently verify tank cleaning through your quality program.”

Legler from Sonder Brewing said improvements in sanitary practices have come a long way in the brewing industry.

  “We brewers are fortunate that no known pathogen can grow in a properly produced beer, so innovative improvements driven from the pharmaceutical and food sectors allow us to piggyback on the newest tech,” Legler said. “As far as improvements to be made, it drives me nuts when I see threaded fittings on tanks. These should always be avoided, as they are inherently bug traps. If you do have these, then you should take these apart on every CIP and hand-clean. This practice seems to still be okay with brewery tanks, but hopefully not in the near future.”

  Boggs from Palmetto Distillery said that his team takes the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to tanks and tank systems. Last year, the distillery celebrated its 10th-anniversary and launched more than eight new flavors while still keeping the original favorites. Palmetto Distillery sells its products on its website and welcomes everyone to stop by the distillery in downtown Anderson for a free tour and tasting.

Brewery Filtration Benefits With Knowledge & Testing

By: Gerald Dlubala

Filtration systems touch every aspect of the brewing process, and in an industry that continuously must evolve with market shifts and trends, the filtration system has to respond in kind. While the various methods and types of filtration leave room for a brewmaster’s personal choice and individual opinion, one constant across the brewing industry is the need to work with a filtration professional to properly assess the brewery’s filtration needs. Additionally, shifts in the market, like increased seltzer production, may require filtration process changes to accommodate increased flavor enhancements and changing shelf-life expectations.

  Typical filtration processes fall into categories based on their function and impact on the final product. Primary, or coarse filtration, removes solids like hop particles, yeast conglomerates and protein compounds. Trap filtration removes filter aids like Diatomaceous Earth and other process additives considered valid as filter aids. Fine filtration removes proteins, yeasts, polyphenols and glucans that potentially foul final membrane filters. And final, or sterile filtration, helps eliminate microorganisms like bacteria and yeast that can potentially contaminate and spoil your final product before packaging. Filters are available in different configurations, including plate and frame, modular units, centrifuges, and cartridges using filtering media, including filter sheets and various types of membranes, each offering its regeneration possibilities.

Start at the Beginning with a Proper Filtration Plan

  Donaldson Filtration Solutions helps breweries by starting at the beginning, recommending proper filtration for primary utilities like air, water, steam and gas. Correctly filtering incoming raw materials and utilities naturally addresses critical issues: hygienic design in an allergen-free environment, integrity testing, and BSE/TCE statements certifying that products used are safe and free from potentially harmful materials.

  Donaldson Filtration told Beverage Master Magazine that in its simplest form, brewery filtration systems are meant to keep undesired brewing remnants out of the beer. It’s essential in producing any beer, but even more so in the production of bright or light beers. The basic utilities used in the production process are the preferred starting point for a quality filtration assessment. Quality, particulate-free water is critical for use as an ingredient, in process water, and in necessary steam applications. But feedwater can contain contaminants, including pipe scale, sludge, organic matter, sediment or some other suspended solid particulates. Sterile air, meaning air free from oils and moisture, is used throughout the beer-making process, from wort aeration through the purging and packaging process, and is critical for effective and consistent yeast propagation in the fermentation process. It’s common to use sterile or culinary steam as an efficient way to heat boilers and tanks, clean and sanitize brewery equipment between batches, or sterilize new or used packaging vessels like kegs before final filling. Suppose a brewer uses CO2 to clean and sterilize processing lines, aerate pipe systems, push out product, or purge containers and bottles before filling. In that case, filtered CO2 ensures that the finished product is safely delivered and packaged in clean, safe and sanitary containers.

A Pure Beverage that Retains its Distinctive Taste Characteristics

  “A pure beverage that retains its distinctive taste characteristics.” That phrase sounds a little lengthy to be ordering at a brewpub, but that’s just what you’ll get if a brewery has the correct filtration practices in place, according to Wayne Garafola, account manager at Sartorius Food and Beverage.

  “Some type of filtration occurs throughout every aspect of the brewing cycle, with each filtration point contributing to a product’s overall properties,” said Garafola. “Having the proper filtration at critical process points ensures the brewmaster’s recipe and intended flavor profile are maintained throughout the brewing cycle and into the final product for consumers to enjoy. For Sartorius, I focus on the processing products. The raw materials in brewing are barley, hops, yeast and water: each important. A brewery’s incoming water supply is involved in many specific steps, including mash, lautering, wort, fermentation, bright beer tank and filling. With water regulations and quality already being different across the country, your incoming water is also subject to the effects of seasonal events or area-specific municipal water issues. Therefore, breweries should always filter their incoming water to retain consistency for equally consistent brewing batches. It’s what a brewer starts with, so it must remain a constant for product integrity. Additionally, air filtration into your tanks is important to eliminate contamination from the environment into the wort, fermentation and brite tanks.”

      Sartorius offers a single-layer Aerosart PTFE filter for maintaining air quality without allowing spoilage organisms that cause contamination of the product while also providing high flow rates both into and out of tanks. In addition, Sartorius recommends their Jumbo Star System for applications that use trap filtration, which is especially suited for small to medium-sized craft breweries. The Jumbo Star filters are easily regenerated, decrease process time based on size and flow rates, minimize oxygenation by maintaining a high CO2 level during filtration and come in various pore sizes. The most popular dimensions used are 8um and 5um, with a 3um available for brews experiencing hop creep, the refermentation of beer after the dry-hopping phase. 

  “Trap filtration removes certain components that are added to the process and not naturally occurring,” said Garafola. “In many cases, our Jumbo Star filter replaces the use of DE/Lenticular filtration. We have better pressure drops, higher flow rates and less beer loss when compared to lenticulars. We offer easy setup and cleanup, with minimal oxygenation using the Jumbo Star filter systems. Additionally, Jumbo Star systems can be cleaned, regenerated and readied for reuse using the common chemicals that breweries typically already have on hand, offering up to 50% savings over lenticular options.”

  For final filtering or sterile bottling, Sartorius recommends the Sartocool PS 0.45um. The Sartocool PS 0.45um allows the brew to be final-filtered through a polyethersulfone membrane, keeping yeast and other spoilage organisms like Lactobacillus Lindneri from reaching and spoiling the final product.

Increased Testing Along with Proper Filtration Results in a Better Final Product

  Tricia Vail is the North America Applied Research Segment Manager for Sartorius, and she believes that testing is a valuable tool in finding appropriate filtration systems.

  “Testing is absolutely an overlooked tool,” said Vail. “Whether the brewery Quality Control lab is doing analytical or microbiological testing, filtering the materials is critical for raw material testing through the finished product. Accurate, interference-free chemical tests can then be conducted to detect unwanted microbiology, including spoilage microorganisms and wild yeast.”

  Vail told Beverage Master Magazine that it’s common for filtration needs to vary for each brewer. However, because of the potential existence of contaminants that can alter a beer recipe, brewers should test the incoming water used at least monthly. How a brewery decides to implement its filtration process depends on the overall nature of the beer and process. Most filtrations can be relatively simple, while others like Hazy IPAs or sour beers will need a double filtration. Vail also recommends sampling the beer at the brite tank, at the time of filling kegs and after bottling and canning. The more sampling done, the better and more informed a brewmaster’s knowledge of that beer becomes.

  “Most craft brewers don’t have a Quality Control lab, and if they do, it is usually small, with maybe chemical testing and yeast titers conducted,” said Vail. “Don’t be afraid to do more quality control testing. It’s all data, and the more data you get, the more consistent you can be when making beer. This type of data is helpful no matter what type or style of beer you want to produce. Ensuring that all microorganisms are out of the equipment setup before beginning a new brewing cycle provides the consistently best batch of beer possible. Testing leads to education, and with increased education, the importance of raw material and process testing becomes more forefront in the brewing process, with the overall impact being consistent, high-quality beer.”

  For chemical and microbiological testing, there are several resources that brewers can use, such as the American Society of Brewing Chemists and The Brewers Association.

More automation, Better Materials and More Education

  “More automation will become evident in breweries as time progresses,” said Garafola. “The same holds for filtration systems and devices. We’re always looking to improve based on brewers’ needs and market shifts, like the boom in seltzer production. As a brewer, you should look towards flexibility in the available products, considering pore size, ease of regeneration and operation, and how the product will react to and work with any possible future automation and expansion plans.”

  Sartorius has been building automated filtration skids for over 20 years. Garafola said they offer manual, semi-automated and fully automated filtration systems with a parallel design. The parallel design systems automatically switch to a second line while simultaneously starting the regeneration process of the primary line, increasing the life of the filters and naturally minimizing the need to purchase replacements continually.

  “Brewers should always be open to learning about filtration upgrades and solutions to any issues they’re having,” said Vail. “By partnering with your filtration professional, problems can get solved with a thorough understanding of why they occurred so that they can be avoided in future production. We can assist with testing brewer’s products, and Sartorius always recommends performing a small and intermediate scale to ensure their full scale will work. We have small-scale filter capsules to test beer throughput and estimate scale-up filter sizes based on a brewer’s batch. We get easy-to-use data to scale up in the future knowing the capacity based on your previous small-scale runs.”

  “It’s important to note,” said Garafola, “that in many cases, quality, right-sized filtration not only helps extend the shelf-life of the final product by removing any potential spoilage organisms. It can actually allow a brewer to increase the number of batches that they can complete by shortening certain timelines, all while retaining their product’s organoleptic properties.”

The Right Equipment for Your Brewery Startup

By: Gerald Dlubala

You’ve likely had a vision of the perfect brewing location in your mind for quite some time, and finally, you’ve found it. After all of the location hunting, permit wrangling and liquor license drama, it’s time to get the essential equipment installed and get to brewing. But how do you know what equipment is necessary? And how does that translate to your brewing goals?

  “Well, that depends,” says Chris Jennings, technical writer for Glacier Tanks LLC, a retailer of stainless-steel beer tanks, mash tuns, brew kettles, pumps and parts. Jennings is well-versed in the brewery startup process, having been part of multiple startups and currently opening his brewery.

  “You know, with a brewery, location is always going to be important,” said Jennings. “But as a potential owner, you need to take into account the inherent demands of your operation to understand your needs. For example, if you want a small little local brewpub, a smaller footprint to house smaller production equipment is fine. But, do you want to stay local? Are you looking to produce a regional brew? Do you see yourself as a regional production brewery? Are your goals to become nationally distributed? Your answers reveal your goals and ultimately factor into your basic equipment needs.

  “A common path for brewery startups is to fit the brewing operation into an established and secured location, especially with the popularity of historic buildings,” said Jennings. “It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have a location set, but if you do, then you already know the building’s options and available utility choices. You’re going to have to get permits for everything, especially in historic locations, which will make you fully aware of your on-site choices. Does your location have three-phase electric, 40-amp circuits, and 220-electric? What fuel source is available for the boilers? Are we looking at electric heating options, direct fire options (natural gas or propane), or steam, which, by the way, is the most efficient option and should always be the first choice if available? And please, always involve your preferred equipment supplier as early in the process as you can, even when considering specific buildings and locations if possible. We can help with building a potential brewery layout with AutoCAD software, and then custom fabricate an entire brewhouse based on the available footprint and specifications if needed.”

  Jennings told Beverage Master Magazine that the bottom line for brewery startups is to save time, money and heartache by getting equipment to make your daily work life more manageable. During the brewery startup process, it’s imperative to associate yourself with informed people who can offer guidance and experienced purchasing information. The essential equipment to consider for brewery startups include the mash tun, a hot water source or hot liquor tank, depending on the production size, a boil kettle, heat exchanger and fermenter. Matching these essential items to your brewery’s goal-driven production needs within the allotted space goes a long way in ensuring a quality startup.

  “Other things can technically wait,” said Jennings. “But when considering equipment, I always suggest that anything else you can add to the actual production process immediately makes your brewing life more manageable. Any production process needs equipment. It’s just the way it is, so the more equipment you can have available upfront, the easier and more manageable your daily brewing life will be. Of course, I’m talking about anything and everything else, including a brite tank, filter, glycol system, applicable pumps, valves or other minor equipment. As a brewmaster, you want to focus on brewing your beer rather than losing quality time to menial or time-consuming tasks that the proper equipment or tooling can handle.

Size, space, and the Limits of Customization

  “Custom tanks like those we offer at Glacier Tanks are awesome,” said Jennings. “But even though our tanks and brewing equipment can be customized, there are not infinite options. Brewing is a science, and science determines the effectiveness, performance and size of the brewing equipment needed, including tanks.”

  But Jennings said there’s more to consider when matching projected production numbers to equipment. For example, adding additional fermenters doesn’t necessarily increase your production capability. If your boil kettle is a five-barrel capacity and you add a 20 barrel fermenter, you’ll need four brew sessions to fill it. So yes, you’ll have more beer, but you have to account for the extra time spent brewing. Adding two 10 barrel fermenters or four five-barrel fermenters may be more economical and efficient. Rather than looking at an 18- to 20-hour brew day to use a single 20 barrel fermenter efficiently, smaller capacity options allow more time between brew sessions while providing greater batch control and increased possibilities for brewing variety.

  Glacier Tanks offer stainless steel certified tanks that can adapt to any extraction process a brewer considers, including kombucha, soda, non-alcoholic products and even winemaking. The company keeps experienced brewers on staff to ensure that their systems remain industry-specific, including their turnkey brew systems that can be a two or three-vessel system, ranging from three barrels to 15 barrels requiring a 14’ x 16’ space.

  “Space is always at a premium for brewing operations, so when projecting a layout, it’s important to take every square foot into account,” said Jennings. “As for equipment, science says that the larger everything is, the larger everything needs to be. If you’re considering a three-barrel boil kettle, you’re looking at a piece of equipment just over seven feet tall and about three and a half feet wide. A three-barrel fermenter is 6’4” and three feet wide. A 10 barrel kettle will be 8’ 6” tall and 4’ 9” wide. A 10 barrel fermenter will take up 8’ 5” by 4’ 2”. A 20 barrel kettle requires a 15’ x 15’ space. Fermenters can range up to a 20’ x 8’ area required for a 100 barrel option.

  “What a brewer needs for a startup depends on the production goals. If your production is greater than five barrels, you should have an HLT just from a water conservation standpoint. To calculate the production capacity of any system, multiply the size of the system in barrels by how often a week you want to brew. Take that weekly amount and multiply by the number of weeks a year (50 is standard) you intend to brew to get your annual production number. You can also work backward to set your brewery production goals and scale the equipment and system to the necessary workload. Divide your annual production goals by the weeks you will brew to arrive at a weekly production number. The number of brew cycles needed per week then depends on the capacity of the system you install.”

The Never-ending Evolution of Brewing Technology

  While it’s true that brewing technology is constantly evolving based on needs, Jennings said that technology generally changes because of the potential of greater efficiency or measurable cost savings. One example is in the area of water conservation. “The brewing process wastes a lot of water, so there is always interest in any new technology that decreases, limits or stops wastewater and saves money. Glacier Tanks has incorporated a spud valve based on old German technology that allows a brewer to off-gas produced CO2 at a predetermined PSI setting during the fermentation process. As fermentation ramps down, the amount of CO2 released naturally lessens, allowing the brewer to capture more of their own produced CO2 to keep in the solution. It’s more efficient and can reduce the cost of purchasing CO2 after releasing all of your own. Higher efficiency plus cost savings drives successful changes.”

  “Sizing your system is the important first step in starting your brewery,” said Jennings. “Brewery equipment is scalable and should be scaled to your brewhouse so you won’t have to upgrade too rapidly. Even though saving money is important for a new brewer, penny-pinching or skimping on initial equipment purchases upfront can lead to supply and demand issues, income and product loss, and increased waste. Rather than wasting money on things you might need, spend the money on quality equipment you need. Also, don’t consider expansion only for the sake of growth. Fixing a problem due to bad planning is very expensive. Instead, make sure that the market is there and you’re prepared to expand your workday.”

When Even the Basics are too Much: Small Batch Equipment for Limited Spaces

  Quality equipment is essential, especially if you’re a small batch brewer with limited space. No one knows this better than Adam Sommer, Head Brewer and owner of Evergreen Farm Brewing in Metamora, Illinois.

  Sommer used his detail-oriented background as an electrician and mathematics enthusiast to start a small-batch, ground-to-growler brewery on a farm that’s been in his family since at least the mid-1800s. However, by choosing the old farm as his brewery location, his available brewing space was limited by the dimensions of the original farm buildings. That meant fitting a complete brewing system into a 15’ x 15’ space, and after researching his options, he found an all-in-one brewing system option from BREWHA Equipment Company. Their turnkey system allows the entire process of mashing, boiling and fermenting to occur in the same portable, conical fermenter, saving both space and time for a small-scale brewer.

  “Space was definitely an issue, but being out here in the country, we operate out of an existing well, so wastewater is an important issue as well,” said Sommer. “With the BREWHA unit, we only use two gallons of water per gallon of beer compared to four gallons that are normally needed.”

  Sommer told Beverage Master Magazine that he has been brewing beer for less than a year but estimates his production to be about 50 barrels for his first year. He plans to expand by renovating more original buildings and combining those with new structures that will feature the same aesthetics and appeal as the original structures. Sommer also has a couple of one-barrel fermenters for experimental brews and for producing different beer styles. Additionally, he uses two jacketed water chillers with a third in the works that provide a steady range of temperatures throughout the fermentation process.

  “And it’s easy to overlook at first, but you can’t forget about the small but equally important equipment and supplies that you need to serve your customers properly,” said Sommer. “We keep a supply of growlers and howlers so our patrons can take and enjoy our products at home or share with others. The amount that you’re going to need is just kind of guesswork at first, but the important thing is to have a relationship with a supplier to get your orders delivered when you need them.”

  When asked about advice for startup craft brewers, Sommer echoes the thoughts of Jennings. “Don’t skimp upfront. Instead, buy the best option to handle the capacity you need. That will allow you to make a quality product at a good price point for all involved. At the onset, the BREWHA brewing system was what I needed to get started. The price was right, and the system met my goals, needs and specifications.”

  Sommer’s ultimate goals for Evergreen Farm Brewing include becoming a destination brewery featuring event spaces with Airbnb rental options.

For more information, go to www.evergreenfarmbrewing.com

Packaging With a Purpose

How the Right Packaging Can Protect, Promote & Preserve Your Craft Beer

By: Cheryl Gray

Putting a distinctive face on a craft beer product means giving it a good chance to shine in the marketplace spotlight. However, that’s only part of the role of packaging. It should also protect craft beer from outside contamination while preserving its flavor integrity.

Equipment

  Enter the expertise of companies that shape the multiple roles of packaging for breweries. Among them is SKA Fabricating of Durango, Colorado. Founded in 2012, SKA Fabricating is the result of a demand for a can depalletizer designed by Matt Vincent, one of three partners in Durango’s award-winning SKA Brewery. SKA Fabricating now employs more than 70 people and manufactures and sells depalletizers, conveyors and packaging line equipment to businesses worldwide.

  Ska Fabricating has more than 1,000 clients in 23 countries, providing them with depalletizers and other custom packaging line equipment. Beyond the craft beer industry, the company also provides packaging line equipment to producers of food and beverages such as coffee, tea, water, kombucha, soda and orange juice. Non-beverage industries include aerosol, paint cans and spice jars.

  The size and capacity of systems built by SKA Fabricating fit virtually any brewery packaging line need. They range from a 20’ x 20’ square at 20 containers a minute to a 60’ x 60’ square running 250 CPM and above. The company is big on automated packaging line systems, touting them as more economical since automation requires less manpower. However, SKA Fabricating provides manual systems for clients who prefer them, such as start-up breweries on a tight budget. Those manual systems are available for half-height use and do require more personnel. As breweries grow and want to advance to automatic packaging systems, SKA Fabricating can help with the transition. 

Filling

  Another part of packaging is filling the cans and bottles that craft brewers use as containers for their products. XpressFill offers multiple fillers for the craft brewing industries. Rod Silver spearheads marketing and sales for the company.

  “XpressFill’s filling equipment is suitable for breweries that are not ready to invest in a full-blown production line. Our artisan brewers can realize significant savings in their efforts to grow their markets before making such a significant investment.”

  Since XpressFill offers fillers specifically with start-ups and smaller craft brewers in mind, the company promotes its products as the gateway to an opportunity for artisan brewers to run efficient, cost-saving packaging production lines. The company cites its products as top industry choices when it comes to being affordable, compact, user friendly and easy to maintain.

  Silver added that customer support is an important key to client satisfaction and that XpressFill has products for production brewing lines, large and small. He described how brewery clients are already benefitting from the range of products that his company has on the market, all designed to optimize productivity.

  “We offer counter-pressure fillers for both bottles and cans. We also offer an open filler that will fill both bottles and cans,” Silver said. “The XF4500C is a counter pressure system for cans capable of filling 200 12 ounce cans per hour. The XF2200 (two-spout) and XF4400 (four-spout) are open fill systems for cans capable of filling 300 to 600 cans per hour. The XF2200 and XF4400 can also be adapted to open fill bottles. The XF2500 (two-spout) and XF4500 (four-spout) are counter pressure systems for bottles capable of filling 200 to 400 12 ounce bottles per hour.”

  Silver laid out the pros and cons of manual versus automated production lines. “The most obvious distinction is production capacity and cost. The XpressFill systems are affordable for start-up breweries, ranging from $2,500 to $6,500. Automated systems are, at a minimum order of magnitudes, more expensive. Often, brewpubs will provide cans or bottles to be sold at the pub in limited quantities. Brewers getting started in retailing their brews will want to start in a deliberate manner to test the market. Larger breweries will also use our fillers for small batch or specialized runs that do not require start-up of larger production facilities or mobile operators.”

  Silver described how XpressFill works to protect the integrity of the beer inside any container. “All of our fillers have a pre-fill CO2 purge cycle to minimize the oxygen in the container prior to the fill cycle. Our can-fillers also have a post-fill top-off function to ensure an adequate layer of foam on which to place the lid. The counter pressure systems require a minimal air compressor to operate the pneumatic actuators. Our fillers operate at 110 volts, although they can be provided at 220 volts for our international customers.”

  Ease of use is also important. Silver said that his company prides itself on the simple operation of its products.“XpressFill can-fillers can easily be operated by a single user. Weighing under 40 pounds, they are intended to be used on a tabletop for portability. A few test runs are required to dial in the settings and bring the equipment to temperature for best results. Our fillers will purge and fill the cans, and a separate seamer is required. To maximize the production and efficiency, many of our customers use a second operator for the seaming function.”

  Silver said that XpressFill products have state-of-the-art safety features, compliant with industry-standard safety measures, including all applicable electrical and mechanical requirements. All materials in the flow path are food grade and meet the standards set by the National Sanitation Foundation.

  Fillmore Packaging Solutions is another company focused on small craft brewers. Its history highlights how owner Tony Saballa, a craft brewer in his own right, founded the company because he couldn’t find products on the market catering to the needs of small breweries like his.

  Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Fillmore Packaging Solutions provides its clients with options for automated can filling machines that utilize an automatic shutoff feature. This prevents cans from overfilling, a costly and time-consuming production line mishap. The product’s four-head can-filler is designed to fit into small spaces and accommodate small budgets. The product features double pre-evacuation counter-pressure filling, designed as an effective method of reducing dissolved oxygen during beer packaging. It can fill 12 to 16 cans per minute. Standard features on the product include under lid gassing, automatic lid placement and seaming. Additional features such as tank and CO2  pressure sensing and temperature monitoring with onscreen readout help to enhance the product’s ease of use. 

  The firm has also created two- and four-head filler machines for bottles. The machines operate on 110v/220v and compressed air. Fill rates for the two-head machine range from six to eight bottles per minute. The four-head machine fills at a rate of 12 to 16 bottles per minute. Features for both include automatic filling and self-leveling to correct fill height. The four-head model has a feature that pushes bottles onto the production line’s packing table. The models are operator-controlled from start to stop, loading and unloading bottles and loading crowns onto crown heads for capping. Fillmore also created a keg washing machine featuring a 25-gallon detergent reservoir with heater and a 25-gallon sanitizer reservoir.

Labeling

  When it comes to the aesthetics of packaging craft beer, labeling is the star. Colorado-based Lightning Labels has provided clients with custom-designed labeling for nearly twenty years. The company uses HP Indigo digital printing technology, which combines the best features of traditional offset printing with digital techniques. This hybrid delivers top-notch quality whether the client’s order is large or small. 

  Lightning Labels prides itself on the vibrancy of its color palettes, produced in high-resolution and designed to be water-resistant. Labels can be affixed to bottles, cans, growlers and kegs in a wide range of finishes, using high gloss, matte or textured paper. There are separate front and back label options, or clients may opt for one large wrap-around. Lightning Labels touts that its print quality allows listing custom beer ingredients in a crisp, readable font. Bottle labels are available in paper,  vinyl and eco-friendly options as well as more durable alternatives. As the name implies, Lightning Labels touts a quick turnaround on product orders.

  Blue Label Packaging Company specializes in labels for beer cans. Headquartered in Lancaster, Ohio, the company also uses HP Indigo printing, offering its customers an array of materials and substrates, such as foil, film and paper cut and stack labels. Product finishes and decorative techniques aimed at creating high impact include hot foil stamping, die-cutting and embossing. 

  Cost, creativity, and careful planning matter when it comes to packaging for craft breweries. The combination results in products that distinguish themselves on store shelves and meet the benchmarks of industry standards and food safety requirements.

Pumps, Motors and Drives in the Distillery

By: Alyssa Ochs

There are various kinds of specialized machinery used in modern craft distilleries to produce the high-quality spirits we know and love. Among these are pumps, motors and drives, which are worth learning more about to choose the best options for your distilling needs. To kick off the new year, here are some best practices and tips for ensuring that these pieces of machinery are functional and effective for their intended distilling purposes.

Distillery Uses for Pumps, Motors and Drives

  Pumps perform many unique functions in a distillery, including bringing in water, mashing, wort recirculation and fermentation transfer. Distillers also use pumps during distillation, for filtration, to fill barrels for aging and fill bottles when the finished product is ready.

  Motors drive the pump and grinding mills using electricity. Motors serve various purposes in distilleries, including pumping cool water, charging, discharging the still, agitating tanks and transferring distillate and spirits. Explosion-proof motors are critical in a distillery as a safety precaution while handling high-proof liquids and vapors. Some motors used to make craft spirits are not explosion-proof, but the key to using them safely is strategic placement on the property.

  Drives are part of the mechanical device that brings about its dynamic movement and are a great way to streamline the bottling process.

  All of these moving parts contribute to the automation process that modern distilleries use to increase efficiency, improve safety and work around labor shortages.

Pump Recommendations and Tips

  Among the many types of pumps available, centrifugal and positive displacement pumps are common in distilleries. Distillers also use flexible impeller pumps and double diaphragm air pumps with grounding tags.

  Air-driven double diaphragm pumps work well in flammable distillery areas and are versatile and self-priming. Meanwhile, electrically-driven double diaphragm pumps tend to be more cost-effective because they do not require compressed or pneumatic air. Electrically-drive peristaltic hose pumps can discard botanical waste by pushing liquid through a rubber hose and ensuring the desired flavors and fragrances remain in the spirit.

  Typically constructed with stainless-steel and hygienic materials, air-operated diaphragms pumps can handle multiple fluid types and applications, and they can be trolley-mounted for greater versatility. Hygienic pumps comply with food and beverage safety requirements, while pumps with low flow rates can transfer spirits from tanks to barrels for maturation. However, it is important to have the capability to adjust the flow rate for different cask sizes to prevent spillage and product loss.

  Glenn Mulligan at FLUX Pumps Corporation in Kennesaw, Georgia, told Beverage Master Magazine that FLUX drum and container pumps are ideally suited for distilleries of all sizes.

  “The pumps are lightweight and portable for ease of operation in many areas of the plant,” Mulligan said. “Whether you are pumping concentrates, additives or sanitizing products or ingredients like honey, FLUX has a solution. Food-grade pump options and motors suitable for use in classified atmospheres, such as explosion-proof products, pose no problems for the equipment.”

  FLUX Pumps Corporation has been producing pump technology for over 70 years, starting with the invention of the first electric drum pump. Beyond its well-known drum pumps, FLUX’s product line includes eccentric worm-drive pumps, centrifugal immersion pumps, air-operated diaphragm pumps, flow meters, mixers and complete system solutions. The company also carries a comprehensive range of accessories to suit the needs of various industries and applications.

  Overall, distilleries need pumps that provide efficient transfer of their products over a wide range of head and viscosity conditions. Multiple seal options are also useful, as leaky seals are common. Other things to look for in a new distillery pump include clog-free check valves, durable integral mounting, corrosion-resistant materials and easy installation with quick disconnect ports.

  Jon Johnson from Carlsen and Associates told Beverage Master Magazine that using pumps in a distillery is tricky, and the only type of pump he would sell to a distillery is an air diaphragm pump. Johnson has been in the industry for over 30 years and understands that distilleries must abide by rules that vary between each city, county, state and fire department.

  Based in Healdsburg, California, Carlsen & Associates is primarily a wine equipment supplier that offers positive displacement pumps, centrifugal pumps and air pumps, along with various related tools and fittings.

  “If you use an explosion-proof, Division 2 pump––which means that all rotating devices are non-sparking and have a cast-iron frame on the motor––you can put the motor and pump in there, but you have to put the control on the outside of the building and can’t run the speed control into the room because that is still illegal,” Johnson said. “You also need to have three backups if the air pressure drops.”

  He said that air diaphragm pumps could be safely used to pump high-proof and mash anywhere in the distillery and an explosive environment. Some distilleries use positive displacement pumps, but this is only safe if not in an explosion environment.

  “Make sure the products are grounded and that elastomers in the pump are compatible with whatever you are pumping and cleaning it with,” Johnson said.

  Carlsen and Associates sells Yamada-brand diaphragm air pumps, and Johnson said that the NDP-25 and the NDP-40 pumps are the most popular options. An NDP-25 pump costs approximately $3,200, while an NDP-40 model is closer to $5,000. The main difference between the two is volume.

Recommendations and Tips for Motors and Drives

  Experienced distilleries prefer energy-efficient, hygienic and explosion-protected motors, as well as those with effective brakes and built-in encoders. Different types of pumps use different motors to power them, but distillers should seek out certified motors that are explosion-proof and have multi-phase power, as some motors only fit certain transmissions.

  Air motor pumps are small pumps used to ensure safety and prevent explosions. Air motor power costs considerably more than a direct drive electric motor; however, upgrading motors can dramatically improve safety and comply with standards.

  Variable frequency drives can provide power at low speeds and have options for efficient designs, normal and heavy-duty operation, safety functions and cooling systems. Distilleries use electric variable frequency drivers as motor controllers that vary the voltage and frequency of power. This is how the electric motor is driven within an RPM range instead of a binary on or off. Drives can be programmed to minimize hydraulic shock and provide great accuracy while maximizing the properties of heat exchangers.

Considerations

  When choosing new pieces of equipment, factors to keep in mind include having access to readily available parts and quality people who can install and repair the equipment when needed. Mobile machinery and multi-functional pumps can help save valuable square footage in small distillery operations.

  Distilleries benefit from having pump-related products built from materials that conform to FDA and 3A requirements and can be quickly taken apart, cleaned and put back together. Mulligan said that this is why FLUX pumps are perfect for pumping different liquids while preventing cross-contamination. He also said that there is a common misconception that drum pumps are pieces of “throw-away” equipment.

  “While this may hold true for the lesser-quality brands, FLUX is committed to providing the best pump on the market with the lowest overall cost of ownership,” Mulligan said. “Every part for all of our pumps and motors are sold as individual components, which can result in repairs costing as little as just a few dollars. FLUX has customers that have been using pumps for over 20 years–some by just completing only the bare minimum for maintenance.”

  Mulligan also said choosing the best pump should be easy because many drum pumps on the market will solve the customer needs, but with varying degrees of customer satisfaction.

  “Selecting equipment from a manufacturer that is long-lasting, with the ability to be repaired when necessary, will result in a pump life that can be counted in decades,” Mulligan said. “Quality equipment results in less downtime and more production, ultimately adding to the bottom line. We can show you how the break-even point for the return on investment comes in just a few months, with thousands of dollars saved over the lifetime of the pump.”

Types of New Software & Technology in the Beverage Industry

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Everything is going high-tech these days, and the craft beverage industry is no exception. If you work in this industry, staying updated on the newest technology will help you make smart decisions for your business. Not all forms of technology make sense for every beverage business, but the benefits of familiarizing yourself with what’s on the market will pay off in the long term.

How Technology Can Improve Beverage Production

  Although the processes of making beer and spirits haven’t changed much over the years, many smart technology options are available to help with everything from product-tracking to label-making to helping consumers connect with brands interactively. Whether you’re looking for help with beverage planning, supply purchasing, production assistance or quality control, there’s likely a tech-savvy solution.

  In the front of the house, technology makes it possible for customers to order drinks via touchscreen rather than through a human server. Behind the scenes, it allows tracking and data management for traceability and knowing what’s in demand. Breweries and distilleries may be interested in learning how to print 3D materials, such as creative artwork for glasses. Blockchain technology can improve trackability across the supply chain and assist producers in better adhering to regulations. Many companies use software platforms to ensure they meet compliance standards.

  Many breweries and distilleries would benefit from upgrading their data management systems to eliminate time-consuming and error-prone spreadsheets. A sound data management system can help producers with sales, distribution, production metrics and demand analytics to better understand what and when to order. Cloud-based software is often preferred by breweries and distilleries because the data can be accessed from anywhere, regularly updated by a vendor and maintained by a professional IT team. Pieces of technology should work together with existing task management apps, such as Trello, and communication apps, like Slack, that your team uses.

  Another use of technology in the industry involves mobile apps to integrate different data points, such as diagnostics, GPS, electronic logs and temperature controls. Artificial intelligence data can develop new flavors based on predictions of what consumers want. AI is also being used to improve quality control through the use of sensors and cameras.

In today’s era of staffing shortages, technology can be utilized to train staff, retain the workforce and recruit new talent when resources are strained. Beverage-makers may also use technology to expand where they sell products to lessen their dependence on traditional distribution channels.

Technology Spotlight: Refractometers

  Based in Solon, Ohio, MISCO designs and commercializes digital handheld and inline process refractometers for industries requiring quantitative determination of fluid concentration and quality. MISCO has been in the refractometer field for four decades and is the only U.S. manufacturer of digital handheld refractometers. It is actively developing new technologies to bring even greater usefulness of refractometry to its markets.

  Mark Keck, Chief Commercial Officer for MISCO, told Beverage Master Magazine that MISCO digital handheld units are ideal for generating immediate results anywhere in the operation. He said they can be programmed with up to five measurement scales from an extensive scale library to provide customers with a device tailored to their exact testing requirements.

  “This feature is especially useful for operations that produce a range of products, eliminating the need for multiple units with a single readout capability,” Keck said.

  Meanwhile, inline process refractometers are best for larger operations and give continuous readings that can be output to any data capture system.

  “For breweries, MISCO has developed a set of measurement scales that were scientifically derived from a complex sugar profile specific to wort,” Keck said. “Other refractometers base their readings on sucrose, which is why using a correction factor is required when using these units. MISCO Pro-Brewing Scales account for the wort’s complex sugar profile, which includes maltose, maltotriose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose and other materials, eliminating the need for correction factors and providing more accurate results.”

  Recently, there have been advances and innovations in refractometry that breweries and distilleries may find helpful.

  “Because every operation has unique testing requirements, MISCO has developed a build-your-own tool on its website to allow customers to easily design and order digital handheld refractometers with programming they select from our large measurement scale library,” said Keck. “In addition, we are developing new refractometers that utilize technologies that are part of the Industry 4.0 paradigm for improvements in operations, automation and communication.”

  Even when beverage-related technology looks and sounds intriguing and exciting on the surface, there is little benefit to trying it just for the sake of novelty. Keck told Beverage Master Magazine that “spyglass-style” analog refractometers are still commonly used in the industry, but these devices have numerous limitations compared to digital units, such as reading subjectivity, precision and durability.

  “When upgrading to a digital refractometer, or even considering a different digital unit, customers would want a unit that is easy to use, employs quality materials, is durable, has automatic temperature compensation, is easy to calibrate and provides readings that match the fluid testing requirements of the operation,” Keck said. “Lastly, product support should also be considered – where the unit would be serviced for routine maintenance and calibration certification.”

  Whether refractometers or any other technology, learn about the products and choose those that set themselves apart from the competition. Depending on the device, this could be related to durability, level of precision or ease of use.

  “Our optics utilize sapphire prisms for high precision, improved temperature equilibration and durability,” Keck said. “Signal detection is achieved with high-definition detectors that provide up to eight times the resolution of other handheld units. Lastly, our commitment to Lean Manufacturing principles and adoption of ISO guidelines ensures that the quality of our products is second to none.”

Benefits of Trying New Software and Technology

  Even with practical considerations in mind, producers benefit from having a forward-thinking approach to brewing and distilling and an open-mindedness about technology solutions that may help your business. Technology can help you be more flexible with production, consume less energy for an eco-friendly operation and make the quality of beer and spirits better.

  Certain pieces of software and technology help integrate functions and manage assets more efficiently, optimize production lines for greater control over processes and attract the attention of tech-savvy consumers. When used correctly, technology can help breweries and distilleries be competitive in an oversaturated market. A good technology solution exists for every brewer and distiller, whether that involves on-premise software, cloud-based software, mobile applications or specialized devices, such as refractometers.

Choosing the Right Tech Upgrades for Your Business

  It’s not always practical to take on multiple types of new technology simultaneously, but a few innovations are worth looking into further. For example, there are some excellent platforms for brewery and distillery management software, and food-ordering software for establishments serving food and drinks. Online restaurant POS systems accept instant payments and provide food traceability solutions for inventory and beverage distribution management solutions. Beverage warehouse and logistics management systems, as well as “Internet of Things” solutions to keep track of food safety recalls and shelf-life management, can be addressed with the latest and greatest technology available to the industry.

  “Tools are available or in development that can impact productivity, improve product quality and consistency and result in greater operational efficiency,” said Keck. “MISCO is integrating many of these technologies into our refractometer to allow our customers to do what they do better.”

Packaging for Distilleries:

Making First Impressions Count Through Efficient and Attractive Packaging Options

By: Cheryl Gray

Packaging for a distillery is as important as the product. They either coalesce or collide. Successful packaging means consumers are immediately drawn to the product for the image as well as what’s inside the bottle. Likewise, the opposite is true when packaging goes awry, resulting in a product that doesn’t move. 

CDA USA

  Packaging experts help their distillery clients decide which packaging to choose and how best to deploy it. One of these experts is Henrico, Virginia’s CDA USA. CDA has manufactured labeling and filling machines for a variety of industries, including spirits, since 1991. Its engineering and design teams create customized packing, labeling and filling solutions for distilleries of any size.  

  CDA attracts distillery clients who need standout, state-of-the-art packaging solutions by drawing upon its versatility. Clients include producers of cognac, brandy, bourbon, rum, whisky, vodka, gin, tequila, liqueurs and more. It offers a wide range of automatic and semi-automatic machines that can handle virtually every type of bottle–rectangular, square, conical or cylindrical. Its labeling machines accommodate new technologies, including tin, transparent and mirror printed labels. 

  For micro-distilleries, production space is at a premium and accommodating new machinery can be a challenge. CDA offers a solution with Ninette 2, a semi-automatic labeling machine that applies two adhesive labels in a single operation. Compact and portable, it solves a major packaging need without taking up a lot of space, and its speed can accommodate up to 500 bottles an hour. The machine also handles different product formats, such as glass or PVC, eliminating the hassle of changing materials. The Ninette 2 works with CDA’s automatic and semi-automatic filling machines. Another model, the Ninette 1, applies a single label at a time and is also designed for small distillery operations.  

  CDA also has a range of labeling options to suit the production needs of medium and large craft distilleries. Some of the company’s clients turn to its R1000/R1500 automatic labeling machines that can label up to 1,500 bottles an hour and place up to four labels on a bottle at a time. 

  Regarding industrial size distilleries, CDA touts product solutions that can readily integrate into existing packaging lines. The company says that its evolving products of automatic labeling machines can either be added to a complete, existing line or as a dependable backup option.  

Belmark

  Belmark is a Wisconsin-based company specializing in pressure-sensitive labels, flexible packaging and folding cartons. Founded in 1977, the company has grown from three employees and a single printing press to 1,000 workers in six facilities and three locations. 

  One of Belmark’s key customer service specialties is helping clients achieve high-end labels on a budget. Belmark uses its Web-to-Print process to get the look clients want within a price they can afford. For example, to achieve the quality and appearance of a hot foil stamped label, Belmark uses its Web-to-Print metallic inks. To get the look of embossing, the company uses a dual finish appearance with a spot gloss. The combination of these methods gives clients the metallic look they want without a hefty price tag. Web-to-Print makes it possible to handle orders in as little as 24 hours. 

  Belmark points to its Trident and Trident MAX processes as the pioneering technology designed by highly trained staff to create high-quality labels. The finished product boasts standout features such as enhanced color accuracy and consistency, finer detail, shorter lead times and lower total costs for mid-run and longer-run quantities. 

  Trident is a process printing method that achieves optimal results through advanced pre-press and press technologies. These technologies work together to create an attractive label with the color consistency, superior print registration and finer detail of a more expensively produced product. The Trident MAX process builds on the strengths of reduced lead times and production costs by utilizing fixed colors in fixed printing decks. Belmark says this method guarantees labels that consistently match client specifications. It also creates more vibrant printing with greater detail.

SourcePak

  Located in Billerica, Massachusetts, SourcePak is a one-stop shop for distillery packaging that makes branding a top priority. The company has been in business since 2002 and touts the benefits of using one source for all packaging needs. The company claims that distilleries save time and money by using one source, eliminating the need for multiple vendors for packaging supplies and services.

  Todd Wallace, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for SourcePak, explains how it works. “We are able to provide best-in-class value by sourcing reliable suppliers, resources and pricing for our distillery partners. This enables distillers to focus on the product rather than what it is going in or how it will be shipped. Outer shippers, partitions, warehousing, JIT delivery and 3PL services ensure the packaging gets where it’s going when it needs to be there. Service is as necessary of a component as the packaging is when you work with the fast-paced and multi-faceted distilling industry. The service we offer is typically the first thing the brands we work with say sets us apart.”

  SourcePak offers a range of products and services to address design, labeling and industrial needs, streamlining the packaging process for distilleries. Services include graphic and packaging design, inventory management, product order fulfillment and distribution services. The company has an engineering and design team that can develop packaging solutions for multiple applications, from designing product bottles and the boxes used to hold them to the corrugated displays used in stores.   

  SourcePak regards the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of packaging as equals. Primary packaging holds the actual product in place, secondary packaging identifies the brand and product information, and the tertiary layer protects the product during shipping. The company provides multiple protection options for the third packaging stage, including cushion pallets, custom foam case inserts, foam fabrication and assembly and antistatic polyethylene.

  Another service that SourcePak offers is value-added packaging. These are customized packaging options, such as brandy packaged with a snifter, that create an added value to the consumer and give the spirit a competitive edge. 

Manual Packaging

  Instead of semi-automatic, automatic and outsourced options, some distilleries choose to package manually.

  Potomac Distilling Company, located in one of the newest waterfront developments in Washington, D.C., makes Thrasher’s Rum. The distillery, which opened in 2018, produces six rum varieties: traditional white rum, gold rum, coconut rum, white spiced rum, relaxed rum and a flagship green rum, the latter infused with six aromatic botanicals.  

  Owner Todd Thrasher says that besides cost, he decided to assemble his packaging manually to protect the environment.

  “We package Thrasher’s Rum in cardboard boxes with biodegradable peanuts. We strive to be as environmentally conscious as possible when it comes to packaging. One aspect that is unique about our bottles of Thrasher’s Rum is the wax seal on the top of the bottle. It was important for us to reduce the amount of plastic throughout our operation and when it comes to packaging.”

  Thrasher adds that manually packaging his products does not mean skimping on aesthetics, industry safety standards or product branding. 

  “In terms of labeling, we utilize two label colors. The white indicates a specialty label while the black indicates a release that is always available,” Thrasher says. “Our graphic is meant to evoke the ocean. The edge of the label features the sketching of ship rope, and the curved designs at the center are meant to be representative of waves. The lettering and general aesthetic are meant to be reminiscent of the labeling you would expect to see on packages being loaded onto old cargo ships. These nautical and maritime elements are personal to me. I am an avid scuba diver, and Thrasher’s Rum was actually inspired by my rum-soaked adventures island hopping as a scuba dive instructor. Our labeling and choice in graphics are a playful nod to those experiences.”

  Packaging for distilleries must meet food and beverage industry standards to ensure consumer safety. At the same time, packaging must also be attractive enough to draw consumers to the product. This careful balance requires the expertise of companies that know how to design packaging with consumer appeal in mind, meet industry and safety standards and, ultimately, allow distilleries to swiftly move inventory from shipping to shelf to the shopping carts of customers.  

Innovation Helps Modernize Brewing Equipment

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

At Beverage Master Magazine, we’re always looking to keep up with craft brewing trends, which more often than not relates to pieces of innovative equipment and new technologies. Certain types of new equipment are slowly but steadily being introduced to breweries, as are new technologies, tools, mechanisms and improvements to processes relied upon in the past.

  These things factor into how efficiently breweries can operate during challenging times and how memorable their beers are when they reach consumers. To learn more about the role of new equipment in the modern brewery setting, we looked into what’s being used in breweries lately and what industry leaders who work in this space are saying.

Types of Equipment & New Changes

  There are a few essential equipment types that breweries use today. Examples include the malt mill, mash tun, filtration system, heat exchanger and brite tank. Breweries also regularly use pumps, valves, kegs, hydrometers and equipment for dispensing and packaging.

  While experienced brewers are already familiar with all of these things, they might be interested in new equipment options and types of technology to potentially save time, money or labor. Certain machinery may preserve hops better, improve quality control or keep processes more consistent for a better result. Meanwhile, new technology might facilitate multi-purpose machines in a small space or accommodate a shift to using more cans as the business grows. As the industry continues to trend toward aluminum cans, canning equipment is in demand and being considered by brewers who have traditionally stuck to glass bottles.

Equipment and Technology Worth Learning About

  These days, there are fully automated, multi-vessel systems to serve breweries’ needs and specialized wort aeration and oxygenation equipment to

improve brewing processes. Developments have been made to pneumatic conveyors that remove spent grains and tank systems that save water and conserve energy by using compressed air instead of CO2 and have recyclable inner bags. Meanwhile, sustainable design and build practices have been gaining traction for environmental stewardship, future economic vitality and customers’ social enrichment.

  We’ve been following specific advancements, including BrewSavor’s kink-resistant hoses, Thielmann’s multi-purpose aseptic containers, and Twin Monkeys’ low-key and affordable automatic canning line. IntelligentX software compares supply chain and production constraints with beer drinkers’ preferences, and FliteBrite created a “smart flight” serving system to assist menu development at establishments serving craft beer.

  Other machinery and technology-related updates include fully automated, stainless steel crossflow filters for better beer filtration and automated brewing systems with touch screens and mobile technology graphics. These brewing systems are equipped with artificial intelligence features that give feedback on beer produced while integrating customer feedback with manufacturing data. Some professional brewers are not particularly interested in all these “bells and whistles” and believe they are not worth the money and extra staff training to do what they already do best. However, new breweries and current establishments undergoing transition may be curious to adopt a few practical, high-tech features to create a more automated, organized or modern operation.

  Even some seemingly simple pieces of equipment, such as kegs, have been updated to make them more suitable for the current brewing environment. Now you can find stainless steel barrels with automated control systems for better precision and slim diameter kegs to store beer in limited spaces.

  Justin Willenbrink, Blefa Kegs’ sales director for North America, told Beverage Master Magazine that while not much has changed over the years concerning stainless steel kegs, the innovation comes from the barrels’ safety and quality.

  “Each keg from Blefa comes with an integrated pressure relief valve to reduce the risk to producers and on-premise staff by creating a safe failure,” Willenbrink said. “Quality has been the cornerstone of our company for more than 100 years. Durability can only be guaranteed by high-quality material, reliable operating production equipment, highly qualified staff and high-precision manufacturing according to your specifications. These high-quality standards allow us to be the only manufacturer of stainless steel kegs in the world to offer a guarantee of 30 years – a promise to all our customers that they have purchased a reliable and extremely durable asset.”

  Blefa and American Keg partnered in early 2020 to serve the North American market with a domestic manufacturer. Since then, the companies have been working together to upgrade their equipment and support U.S. customer needs, ensuring that efficiency gains in production align with the quality standards of both companies.

  “As a world’s leader in stainless steel packaging, Blefa and American Keg can provide various sizes from 10 liters to 59.62 liters. The U.S. 1/2 bbl, slim 1/4 bbl and 1/6 bbl are the most popular for both on- and off-premise needs. All kegs from our stock are equipped with drop-in D-Type spears from Micro Matic,” Willenbrink said. 

Buy New, Used or Lease?

  When brewers think about updating their equipment, dollar signs often flash before their eyes as new equipment costs start adding up. However, there are options available for breweries on tight budgets, such as leasing new or buying used equipment still in great condition.

  Canning lines are among the most common systems that breweries debate about buying or leasing. Leasing involves entering into a legal agreement for a specified time and works somewhat like a loan. At the end of the lease period, the effectiveness of the equipment may be significantly diminished and therefore not an attractive purchase for another brewing operation. However, you may be able to purchase your current machine for a discounted price. As long as it is still in good working condition, this is an ideal option since staff would already be familiar with it, and you would not encounter any delay in production.

  Capital leases are common, especially when a brewery is only looking to update a single piece of equipment rather than start from scratch or do a total equipment overhaul. It may be beneficial to have a lawyer look over any lease agreement before signing to check the interest rates, accounting implications and terms of the lease in case of equipment malfunctions and who is responsible for repairs. Other considerations include any plans for expansion, durability and logistics of getting equipment into and out of the facility.

What’s Next for Brewing Equipment and Technology?

  There’s a lot to look forward to for brewers who keep an eye out for the next great invention. Many manufacturers and suppliers have a finger on the pulse of the industry and can anticipate the needs of brewers in the years ahead. These companies’ successes depend on how well they change and adapt to the shifts and evolutions of the industry, especially during pandemic times.

  When asked how brewing equipment can best adapt to the changing needs of the modern brewery, Willenbrink said stainless steel kegs are the most well-equipped for providing a quality product because they protect the beverage from harmful UV light and oxidation while ensuring that quality isn’t compromised. 

  “Not only is it the most profitable package, but it is also the most sustainable with stainless steel kegs being 100% recyclable,” he said. “When it comes to the packaging of beer, wine or soft drinks, kegs made of stainless steel offer the best protection. In their reliability, economic efficiency and sustainability, our kegs provide first-class results.”

Willenbrink’s advice to breweries looking at new equipment is to never compromise on quality and make investments in assets that offer maximum safety and reliability for your needs.

  “By choosing a quality supplier, you are making a decision to work with a company that has invested in automation and quality control systems that ensure the highest level of precision and process,” he said. “Comprehensive support from first contact through delivery and continuing with service capabilities from highly qualified technical staff ensure experience and commitment to each investment made.”

  With more automation, there should be greater consistency from one brewer to the next, something vital during staffing changes and high service industry turnover rates. Yet, these machines and technologies don’t remove brewers from their craft; they simply eliminate tedious processes so that beverage producers can have more time to be creative and take their passion for great beer to the next level.

Precision in Canning and Bottling Craft Beer

By: Cheryl Gray

The can or bottle of craft beer consumers select from store shelves is more than attractive packaging. The elements that go into fabricating, filling and sealing those containers can make the difference between a flat beer, leaking containers, or worse yet, a contaminated product.   

  To avoid these pitfalls, craft brewers turn to companies whose specialties are to help the brewing industry protect its most important asset—the beer it makes. There is expertise to address virtually every need that brewers, large and small, can rely upon to meet their production needs.

  American Canning is one of those experts. The company, headquartered in Austin, Texas, launched in 2013 making equipment, supplies and mobile canning services accessible to craft brewers regardless of their budgets. Clients navigate the company’s user-friendly e-commerce site to order as many or as few supplies as needed. Most items are shipped on the same day. Melody Meyer is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for American Canning.  

  “As a mobile canning company, supply distributor, and machine manufacturer, American Canning is uniquely positioned to help brewers understand and evaluate all facets of a value-driven canning operation. It specializes in the craft beverage space and is equipped to address customer needs from planning, to supply procurement and production execution.”   

  Meyer cautions that assessing a brewery’s packaging requirements involves more than just machinery. As canning needs and goals are addressed along with space, labor and financial considerations, Meyer says that there are two more essential questions for a brewery to keep in mind.   

  “What is the total volume and type of can-packaged product that needs to be canned? And how will it be packaged?”

  Meyer adds that once these questions are addressed, American Canning readies its clients for next steps in the ever-changing packaging environment of the craft brewing industry. 

  “Considerations must be made from all available options, including manual vs automatic, atmospheric vs counterpressure, in-line vs rotary, and intermittent vs continuous motion with regard to each’s capacity, quality, consistency, repeatability, ease-of-use. Small batch packaging of one beverage type for on-premise service may best be accomplished with a compact and cost-effective, countertop filler/seamer whereas larger-scale distribution of numerous products in multiple can styles would require a more robust, flexible, and higher speed counterpressure, rotary line.

    While I can’t speak for every manufacturer, American Canning is focused on engineering products with the highest quality process controls, at an approachable price point, for compact craft spaces, all while being incredibly easy-to-use with minimum operators and little to no product waste. It’s a tall task, but our two filler/seamer machines have already achieved these goals. We simply believe we can expand upon our foundation into a variety of machines with different speeds and filling capabilities, not to mention the ancillary machines that are needed to surround a filler seamer, such as infeed tables and can handle applicators.” 

  SKA Fabricating in Durango, Colorado is another manufacturer with its eye on the future packaging needs of craft breweries, providing its customers with a wide range of depalletizers, conveyors, and packaging line equipment. The company was founded in 2012 by craft brewer Matt Vincent, whose award-winning Ska Brewing is touted as the

largest in Durango. While Ska Fabricating was born out of necessity to address the brewing, packaging and distribution of Ska Brewing, its innovations help breweries around the globe. With more than 1,000 clients across the United States and abroad, Marketing Director Elise Mackay says that the company is well-positioned to handle virtually any packaging need. 

  “Ska Fabricating provides total packaging lines from beverage to non-beverage industries across the globe. They range from canned or bottled beer, cannabis, kombucha and coffee to aerosol or paint cans and spice jars. We are well-rounded and diverse enough to handle just about anything. Our systems can range from a 20’ x 20’ square at 20 containers a minute to a 60’ x 60’ square running 250CPM and above! We do everything we can to accommodate the space and speeds of a prospect’s needs.” 

  Mackay explains how the company has adapted to the changing demands of the craft brewing industry and how it works with clients to create the most cost-effective solutions. One major decision is whether to opt for automated or manual systems. 

  “Automation is key when it comes to running an economic line and has a number of upsides compared to manual systems. Our manual systems are available for half-height use which is ideal for a low-budget startup but requires more personnel. When the time is right, we have several solutions to help in the next steps of automation. 

  We are constantly striving to make our products better and have adapted over the years through various market changes and requests for specific additions. Anything from safety, line controls, and using our date coding system to hit the bottom of the can instead of the flange are being implemented.” 

  California-based XpressFill Systems LLC manufactures a wide range of can and bottle filling systems designed with ease of use and longevity as top priorities. The company, headquartered in San Luis Obispo, was founded in 2007 and serves multiple industries, including craft brewing. Technology is a primary focus. The company offers several models that capture volumetric, level fill and carbonated beverage technology.  Rod Silver, who spearheads Marketing and Sales for XpressFill Systems, describes features of some of the firm’s products, which he says are affordable, compact and easy to use. 

  “The volumetric filler controls the amount of fill with the use of a very precise timer. The filler is calibrated to your specifications and is capable of very accurate fills, regardless of inconsistencies that might exist in the bottle glass. …The level filler controls the amount of fill with the use of a level sensor. When the liquid reaches the sensor, the filler automatically stops the fill. The liquid level is set by adjusting the height of the shelf, which can be adjusted to approximately 1/16 increments. Both the volumetric (XF260/XF460) and the level filler (XF2100/XF4100) have a self-contained, self-priming pump that draws the liquid from any barrel or carboy. There is no reservoir, the liquid flows directly from the bulk container, through the filler into the bottle.” 

  Silver adds that XpressFill Systems offers a pair of fillers for bottling and/or canning carbonated beverages.  

  “The XF4500C is a counter pressure system capable of filling 200 12 oz cans per hour. The XF4500/XF2500 is a counter pressure filler for bottles. We also offer an open fill system, the XF2200 (2 spout) and XF4400 (4 spout) capable of filling 300 / 600 cans per hour. All systems have a pre-fill CO2 purge cycle. The counter pressure system requires a minimal air compressor to operate the pneumatic actuators. Open can fillers have a moveable shelf that is easily adjustable for various can sizes. The maximum can diameter is 4 inches. The counter pressure filler has a stopper that must fit snugly into the can or bottle opening to seal and pressurize the container. Our standard opening for cans is a 202-lid size but custom stoppers can be made.” 

  For craft breweries that opt for cans, seam protection is an important consideration. OneVision® Corporation, founded in 1994, shares its innovations with the craft brewing industry throughout North America and Europe. The Ohio-based company, located in suburban Columbus, offers can seam inspection equipment that helps breweries monitor double seam quality for their beer products. Regularly inspecting and tracking internal double seam dimensions helps to prevent leaking seams and beer from going flat. Marketing Manager Amy McKee describes the features of the company’s signature product. 

   “OneVision® has developed the SeamMate® Craft Beverage System that includes all the necessary equipment and software craft brewers need to properly inspect and track the quality of can double seams. We conveniently offer system bundles ranging in price and equipment dependent on a brewery’s canning operation. All system bundles can be upgraded as a brewery’s canning operation grows.   

  SeamMate® System software now includes a proprietary measurement that estimates double seam tightness by analyzing the double seam cross-section. This new measurement is especially effective at detecting too-tight seams on beverage cans. This measurement provides inspectors and quality managers with assurance that the visual cover hook inspection was accurate, or it can serve as an alternative to manual cover hook removal.” 

  Innovation is perpetual at OneVision®, says McKee, pointing to the latest feature available with the SeamMate® System. 

  “SeamMate® System includes the optional AutoAlertTM that automatically analyzes measured data and alerts users to potential double seam quality issues. This unique function helps predict and prevent seam leaks.”   

  Whether bottling or canning beer products, experts say craft breweries should plan for growth, which includes the decision on whether to go either automated or manual–or somewhere in between.  It comes down to when to invest for expansion.  XpressFill Systems’ Rod Silver explains it this way.    

  “The primary factors in evaluating the benefits of each are (the) cost of equipment, rate of production, cost of maintenance, cost of labor and equipment lifetime.”

Exploring the Variety of Spirit-Based Canned Cocktails

By: Becky Garrison

Over Memorial Day 2014, Bronya Shillo launched the Fishers Island Lemonade, a signature cocktail that originated at her family’s bar, The Pequot Inn, on Fishers Island, New York.  She refined their decades-old recipe and canned the premium distilled vodka, whiskey, lemon and honey cocktail. The drink is one of the first craft cocktails in a can, making Shillo and her brand a leader in the ready-to-drink market. Fast forward to 2021, and she’s expanded her portfolio to a full family of vodka and whiskey lemonade canned cocktails, as well as a fun and innovative frozen Fishers Island Lemonade spirit popsicle.

  Convenience remains the most touted selling point in the growing RTD market. According to Nielsen IQ, in 2019, annual sales in this segment were up 574%, and malt-based cocktails now account for $4.7 million in annual sales. Spirit and wine-based RTD cocktails are generally available in smaller packages; they’re also more established and generate larger sales—$62 million and $83 million in annual sales, respectively, according to the May 21, 2019, Nielsen IQ. One factor that may be influencing some of these sales from growing even higher is that in con-trol states such as Oregon, spirit-based cocktails can only be found in liquor stores instead of grocery stores in non-control states.

  In 2020, consumers in lockdown sought ways to savor their favorite spirit-based cocktails once enjoyed at a bar or restaurant. Establishments responded to this demand by offering cocktails-to-go. Depending upon state laws, these to-go packages contain all the ingredients needed to make a given establishment’s signature drinks or all the items sans the alcohol.

  This to-go trend looks to continue as the world opens up post-COVID, with customers looking for convenient ways to consume their favorite cocktails while on the go. Molly Troupe, Master Distiller for Portland-based Freeland Spirits, speaks to the appeal of canned cocktails. “Canned cocktails are great for those who like convenience and don’t want to make their own cocktails at home. Cans can go much easier than a bottle to the lake, on a hike or wherever adventure may take you.”

Carbonated Canned Cocktails

  The majority of spirit-based cocktails appear to be carbonated and designed for easy sipping with a low ABV. Ali Joseph, co-owner of Portland, Oregon’s Wild Roots, commented about their 2021 foray into the RTD market. “We always recommend simple two-ingredient cocktails to our fans and wanted to take that idea one step further. There’s nothing easier than cracking open a can.”

  According to Tuan Lee and Hope Ewing, co-founders of Los Angeles-based Vernet, they launched their line of sparkling craft cocktails when they observed the market was dominated by bulk spirits made with flavoring agents. Ewing said, “We really wanted to make something high-quality that we would drink ourselves. Tuan’s dream was to share his love for LA’s immigrant cultures through food and drink, and ready-to-drink cocktails felt like a great vehicle for this. We wanted to package in cans for convenience—being pool-friendly, beach-friendly and lightweight —and because aluminum is the most recyclable packaging around.” She added that their goals in producing these products were twofold. “We wanted to showcase the awesomeness of LA’s immigrant food cultures by using ingredients we loved from local farms and markets and to make something as complex and high-quality as I was used to making in craft cocktail bars.”

  Canned vodka cocktails like those produced by Wild Roots differentiate themselves by using natural ingredients instead of “natural” flavorings often found in canned vodka products. Wild Roots’ canned cocktails are made using their top-selling raspberry, blackberry/marionberry and peach spirits. They also added lemon to the lineup because they often use citrus in their Wild Roots cocktails. Spiritfruit is a ready-to-drink canned vodka soda made using all-natural ingredients, a splash of real fruit and five-times distilled corn-based vodka.

Gin & Tonic Canned Cocktails

  In the spirit-based RTD market, taste and innovation are already proving to be key market differentiators. Take, for example, the different ways three distillers produced a canned classic gin & tonic.

  Melissa and Lee Katrincic, co-founders and co-owners of Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, launched their Conniption canned cocktails in 2018 and were among the first distilleries in the U.S. to add them.

  “We saw the increasing popularity of malt-based seltzers and with them mimicking cocktail flavors and/or names. We wanted to bring authentic, delicious spirits based cocktails in the convenience of a can,” Melissa Katrincic said. They chose rosé spritz, cucumber & vodka and gin & tonic because they found that these seasonable flavors are perfect for the warmer months in the southeast United States. Their gin & tonic emerged as the fan favorite.

  Durham’s canned cocktails must be prepared in large batches of approximately 5,000 cocktails. This process involves ensuring that the precise amount of ingredients are measured and pumped into their 450-gallon tanks, then mixed and carbonated. They have an automated canning line for getting the product into containers, whereas their spirits are hand bottled. The canning line is made of hundreds of working parts that are finely tuned but can sometimes be problematic if out of adjustment. Carbonated products can also be prone to “misbehaving,” leading to the final product being foamy or difficult to get into the cans at the right volume.

  Freeland Spirits added canned cocktails to their lineup following the success of the kegged ver-sion of their Gin and Rose Tonic, which they offered in their tasting room. They launched their canned version in 2019, followed in 2020 with the French 75. The latter is a collaboration made using women winemakers and distillers and features Freeland Gin, Chehalem Chardonnay, lemon and simple syrup.

  According to Troupe: “While canned cocktails add an additional step to spirits production, play-ing with carbonation levels and different cocktail ingredients is a lot of fun.” Also, stability is a more significant issue because these canned cocktails are lower-proof than their bottled spirits.

  As the makers of Aria Portland Dry Gin, Martin Ryan Distilling Company in Portland, Oregon, is known as a gin house. So rather than develop another product in a different spirit category, a G&T seemed like a natural extension of the Aria Portland Dry gin brand. Ryan Csansky used his background in the bar and restaurant industry to create an in-house tonic using a proprietary blend of lime, bergamot and lemongrass, hints of allspice, orris and star anise, a flavorful tonic that complements the classic London Dry style of Aria Gin. The result is a G&T canned cocktail made using all ingredients with chemicals or artificial sweeteners and one of the lowest sugar counts of any tonic on the market. Since a canning line is an expensive system to purchase, they work with a mobile canning company that brings their system and operating crew to them as needed.

Other Non-Carbonated Bartender Inspired Cocktails

  Drnxmyth, a collective of drink makers with a shared interest in bringing fresh craft cocktails to people everywhere, invented an ingenious bottling technology that, in their estimation, unlocks the freshest cocktails ever produced. Each drink created is a collaboration between them and a bartender, drink maker or drinksmith, who shares in the sales profits for this particular drink.

  The TTB licensed Drnxmyth’s factory to handle bulk spirits and fresh cold press juicing, batch-ing and filling. A patent-pending bottle separates the spirits from the fresh ingredients, since al-cohol alters the sensorial nature of juice and freshness over time. Then the drinks are pressurized at 85,000 psi, which brings the microbial count in the juice close to zero. After that process, the beverage will remain fresh for five months while refrigerated and unopened.

  Through his work in the music festival industry, Neal Cohen, co-founder of Atlanta-based Tip-Top Proper, saw demand growing for quality cocktails, though in his assessment, the category had yet to deliver the quality and convenience for classic, spirit-forward, non-carbonated cock-tails in high volumes. “We fantasized about creating a world-class cocktail in an easy-to-serve vessel, thinking maybe we could help solve a problem for venues, events, restaurants, bars, air-planes and regular folks at home on the couch. Eventually, we stopped fantasizing and started actually doing it,” Cohen said.

With that mindset, Tip Top Proper was founded in 2018, focusing first on the trifecta of bitters-forward, stirred, high-proof cocktails—Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Negroni. Next, they gravi-tated toward a “Shaken Line”—Margarita, Daiquiri and Bee’s Knees—all cocktails that allow for warm weather, outdoor consumption. Their products come in 100ml sizes, which Cohen said is the appropriate single-serve size for a cocktail.

  In 2016, The Perfect Cocktail began offering classic cocktails—Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Negroni—packaged in mini bags. Their “made in Italy” production process and functional and sustainable packaging are patented to ensure the best mix of convenience and flexibility.

  Alley 6 Craft Distilling in Healdsburg, California, first came out with their canned Old Fash-ioned in 2019 in response to consumer demand for a portable version of the drink made in their tasting room using rye whiskey or apple brandy and candy cap (mushroom) bitters. A bottle didn’t seem to fit their purposes when compared to a canned cocktail that could be enjoyed while on the go, traveling or adventuring.

  Oregon-based 503 Distilling offers their canned Mt. Hood Old Fashioned, a blend of their rye whiskey, hazelnut bitters and maple syrup. This canned cocktail follows their first release, the Wicked Mule, along with other offerings—Blood Orange Greyhound, La Vida Mocha, Five-O-Tea and Huckleberry Lemonade.

  For a Brazilian twist on the Old Fashioned, Novo Fogo is launching a Brazilian Old Fashioned Highball hybrid that features tropical flavors of orange and vanilla. Their initial foray into the canned cocktail market was their Sparkling Caipirinha, a canned version of Brazil’s national cocktail available in three flavors found across the Brazilian food and drink spectrum—lime, passion fruit and mango.

  Finally, for consumers looking to savor a hot, after-dinner hard coffee that’s easy to make, Cask and Kettle produces small-batch hard coffees in flavors such as Irish, Mint Patty, Hot Blonde or Mexican Coffee, and a Spiked Cider in a k-pod. The k-pods, packaged and distilled by Temper-ance Distilling in Temperance, Michigan, contain liquid distilled spirits, concentrated coffee and flavorings, and can be placed into any pod home brewing system or poured into hot or iced water.