New Brewery, Winery or Distillery Start Up

By: Kris Bohm: Distillery Now Consulting, LLC  

Starting up a new beverage alcohol business is hard. Whether making beer, wine, or spirits, the challenges are daunting and upfront costs are huge. No one takes the leap to start a new business knowing it will fail, but many of them will. Based on industry data, up to 40% of new beverage alcohol businesses fail. To create a successful business, there is a common question that arises during the planning phase of launching a new beverage alcohol business.

What is the difference between a successful business and one that fails?

  This massively important question should be answered early on for a new business. In doing so, key strategies will be defined for the business from the beginning as it ventures forward. In the following paragraphs, you will find not only the answer to this question, but also a further analysis of successful business practices.

Defining Success: Let’s take a moment to define and measure success in a beverage alcohol business. This definition applies whether in a brewery, winery, or a distillery. These measurements of success will allow us to look closer at the internal workings of the business. As you look closer you will find common traits among nearly every business that is successful. For the sake of this article we will narrowly define success using the specific individual metrics of profitability, sustainability and velocity.

Profitability: The first key metric and measurement of success is profitability. A business must either be profitable, or at a minimum near self-sustaining, with revenue covering the cost of operating the business. Achieving profitability is one of the biggest metrics that defines success. Reaching profitability is essential, as every successful business must be self-sustaining after a certain amount of time. If a business is not profitable for too long of time, it is almost certain to fail.

Sustainability: A successful business must be sustainable in the capacity to produce the products it intends to sell. To clarify, we do not mean sustainability from an environmental impact or energy usage standpoint. Sustainability in this model means the ability to sustain and meet demand for products through growth. For a business model to be sustainable the equipment must have the capacity to grow and meet new demand as the company grows. The reason this metric is so essential is that most businesses must grow to reach profitability. If your business cannot sustain growth it most likely can not grow to become profitable.

Velocity: A business needs to have regular sales to provide consistent revenue for the business. Velocity is a measurement of how quickly your business is turning raw materials into finished goods and selling those goods. High velocity of product means there will be more consistent cash flow for the business. As product velocity increases it is followed by increases in revenue and often economies of scale. Both of which help a business become successful.

Tripod Business Model: Most businesses achieve some of these measures of success, but not too many will achieve them all. Among those who do succeed in meeting all three, there is a common thread that these successful businesses share. They will usually have three separate divisions that perform distinct business activities. These three divisions are production, sales, and marketing. This concept we will refer to as the tripod business model. If the top of a tripod is a successful beverage alcohol business as measured by our success metrics, then there almost always exists these three divisions in the business that make up equally important legs that hold up the business. If you remove any of the three legs, it only leaves the business on two unstable legs, and in time the business will fall and is likely to fail. It is easy to take this observation and call it as incorrect, but if one was to look closely at established successful beverage alcohol businesses they would find truth in this observation.

  When a sizable amount of time and resources are heavily invested into sales and marketing, the business has a strong probability that it will flourish. Often the business will flourish so strongly that production will often feel constrained in the resources it needs to meet the demand of the business. This is the correct way to invest time, financial resources and manpower to grow. If too many resources are dedicated to production in most instances production will have far too much capacity and there will not be enough demand for product to keep production running near its capacity.

  Now that we have defined some measures of success and the business practices that support them, let’s look closer at the three practices that hold up a successful beverage alcohol business, through the lens of a distillery.

SALES: Sales is essential and paramount to the success of nearly any business that has a product they sell. It can be the easier path for a new distillery to focus on their production with a plan to only sell spirits through a tasting room or cocktail lounge that is part of the distillery. A business plan like this can work, but it has a low ceiling that will often restrict a distillery from growing to a successful level. Real sales of considerable volume come from a distillery selling products in the same market as its competitors. This means working to sell spirits in liquor stores, bars, restaurants and other venues. In this market there is immense competition. The only way to compete in the larger spirits market is by investing into sales. This means having people working for your business who are full time employees whose job is to pull your spirits through the market and drive sales.

MARKETING: Marketing is the driving force that directly links to the success of sales. Marketing can come in a multitude of forms, some obvious and some not so obvious. Public facing platforms, such as social media, websites, billboards, magazines, newspapers, and influencers are all forms of marketing in action. The more a consumer or target consumer encounters a brand, the higher the chance that the consumer will buy your brand. Without an active marketing plan in place, consumers will quickly lose sight of your brand. A strong marketing plan and the person or people to continually implement, monitor, and drive a marketing plan is paramount to achieving success. Marketing is the key difference that will take a brand to the next level and keep pulling it up from there. Although it can be easy to not put an emphasis on channeling resources to marketing, it would be a mistake to do so. Many businesses have launched with little to no resources committed to marketing. Often these launches feel successful, but by our measurements are in fact not truly successful. Oftentimes the business will get going and be selling some amounts of product but in most instances a lack of marketing will cause a business to plateau quickly.

PRODUCTION: This practice of manufacturing is easy to give too much focus in the business of distilling. Whether you are distilling whiskey from scratch or bottling sourced spirits, the production part of this business is extremely important. While production is absolutely paramount to the business, this does not mean that the bulk of resources the business has should be invested into the production of spirits, nor the labor or equipment to produce the spirits. If the bulk of resources go towards production thus starving sales and marketing, there will invariably be a lack of sales to cover the costs of production. Now the manufacturing of distilled spirits is in no way inexpensive. Considerable resources have to go to production for it to function. We are trying to urge you to consider all resources the business has and properly allocate them to all three practices.

The battle between the practices: If you ask most folks who work in this industry, whether they work in sales, marketing, or production, they will all likely tell you that their business function is the most important to the success of the business. To be fair, all these folks can probably make a reasonably sound argument to support that statement. It is normal that there is some friction between all three practices because they all have unique functions and priorities that often do not align with one another. For a business to be successful, production, sales, and marketing must work together to achieve the goals of the business. When common goals are shared it is much easier for each part of the business to work in harmony.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Cleaning Barrels

By: Cheryl Gray

Knowing precisely how to clean and sanitize a barrel means avoiding certain disasters, save time and protect the product.  Cutting corners means inviting contamination, a surefire way to destroy an otherwise saleable product. By contrast, proper cleaning and sanitizing ensure a pristine, bacteria-free barrel, which means the product inside is safe from unwanted microorganisms and undesirable flavors. At the same time, the barrel enjoys a longer life. Experts say that maintaining barrels through proper cleaning and sanitizing also contributes to avoiding leaks, another costly product loss.

  Since barrels are one of the most expensive beverage production costs, it pays to know companies that understand their unique cleaning and sanitizing requirements. Among them is California-based  STEAMERICAS, whose Optima Steamer™ was born out of a unique process of reimagining old technology. Company owner Yujin Anderson touts the multiple benefits of that innovation.

  “The Optima Steamer™ was born over 15 years ago when we saw the need for a machine that generated much less waste water runoff than a typical pressure washer. We saw the hot water pressure washer market audience who had trouble with wastewater runoff and identified that dry steam machines were mostly only available in the residential or professional size or performance level that can’t keep up with continuous all-day use.

  My father, who was a marine boiler engineer, basically altered a commercial/industrial-sized pressure washer and retrofitted it with a patented dry steam boiler to give customers who asked for hot water pressure washers that are compatible with winter usage. The Optima Steamer™ is a revolutionary machine that increases water temperature beyond the 212 degrees Fahrenheit boiling point to create saturated and super-heated steam with minimal preheating time. The result is a highly effective, sanitizing methodology that destroys harmful microorganisms and reduces water usage from an average of three to four gallons a minute to 0.08 gallons without introducing any chemicals.”

  Anderson explains that people oftentimes confuse cleaning a barrel with sanitizing it. However, there is, she says, a definite difference.

  “Sanitizing and cleaning are two different processes. While you can measure cleaning results with naked eyes, you can’t with sanitizing. Hence, you may easily skip the sanitizing process. This is a big mistake. Barrels, especially, have pores, and microorganisms unaddressed can spread beyond the surface level, which is very challenging to remove.

  For sanitizing, you can introduce a choice of chemicals (including chlorine, acid and ozone) that dissolve in water and have the liquid in contact with the barrel’s interior surface. However, the recent trend is to avoid chemical treatment to avoid altering the taste and quality of the product. 

  Dry steam is undoubtedly the most effective way to control microorganisms on most materials, especially barrel staves. Steam generators can reduce both water (steam uses only one to two gallons per barrel) and energy use, and they are helpful for general cleaning in addition to barrel cleaning. Dry steam is saturated steam, where over 97 percent of the water has been converted into a gas, rather than wet steam or boiling water like plant steam.”

  Anderson describes how dry steam goes beyond the surface interior of a barrel to destroy harmful bacteria that the naked eye can’t see.

  “Dry steam penetrates into the pores of barrels to kill pathogens, like Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces and other microorganisms, even those that can survive water heated to 160 degrees. For example, most brewers use sanitization of some sort, but some brewers aren’t taking advantage of implementing a dry-steam method. Instead, many use plant steam, which is unsaturated wet steam or technically a liquid. Plant steam doesn’t reach lethal temperatures to kill bacteria inside barrels. Dry steam penetrates a quarter-inch deep into wood pores. It penetrates deeper than hot water or chemicals and with better efficiency at removing sediments deposited in the pores.”    

  Anderson adds that the dry steam method deployed by the Optima Steamer™ also saves time and money.

  “Barrels can be in dry storage or wet storage. Both involve sulfur dioxide in the form of gas (dry) or diluted in water (wet). After storage, barrels should be rinsed, rehydrated (swelled), checked for leaks and drained before use. Using water, the rehydration process takes 60 gallons of water and 48-plus hours. Dry steam can shorten this process down to under 30 minutes and one to two gallons of water. Best of all, rehydration and sanitizing happen at the same time with dry steam.”

  Being in California means that STEAMERICAS is near wine country, where the company found its initial clients. Breweries and soft drink companies followed. Anderson says that dry

steam offers distinct solutions for each client.

  “The biggest selling point of dry steam may be different for each clientele. For example, for distillers and craft brewers, the main reason for dry steam is to rehydrate barrels, vats and foeders as quickly and efficiently as possible. For winemakers, controlling unwanted microorganisms, such as Brettanomyces, is the biggest reason they may introduce dry steam to their facility. For larger facilities, typically saving time while the food safety standards are met is the most important.”

  Many companies that source barrels for clients also recommend dry steam as a preferred method of sanitizing their products. One of them is Northeast Barrel Company, located in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia. The barrel-sourcing company has a second showroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, serving its West Coast customers. Its product line includes previously used barrels and racks, bungs, foeders, tanks and even barrels used exclusively for decor.

  While most of its wine barrels are sourced from wineries throughout California, Northeast Barrel Company travels around the globe sourcing other craft beverage barrels previously containing whiskies, tequilas, bourbons, rums, mezcals and brandies from countries that include Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, Portugal and Jamaica, to name a few. Since the barrels have been previously used and have housed all sorts of beverages, the importance of properly cleaning and sanitizing them is tantamount to the company’s existing and prospective clients. Co-owner Pat Tramontano says that dry steam is the way to go.

  “We have a dry steam generator that we use on our barrels. The generator pressurizes the barrels with steam. This not only kills any present bacteria but allows us to check for leaks. It is an excellent tool, and I recommend it to anyone in the beverage industry with a large-scale barrel program.”

  Black Swan Cooperage is a family-owned barrel-making enterprise located in Northern

Minnesota and founded in 2009. The company creates hand-crafted barrels for distilleries, breweries and wineries across the United States. Black Swan Cooperage makes its custom barrels in a variety of sizes, ranging from five gallons to 53 gallons, with multiple charging and toasting levels. The cooperage also promotes its barrels as having staves that are the largest patented surface area of any staves currently available.

  Co-founder and owner Heidi Korb learned the business of crafting barrels from her father, Russ Karusch, a master cooper. Among those lessons is how to properly clean and sanitize barrels.

  “Ideally, if you can plan for your barrels to not ever sit empty, you will have fewer problems. However, this is likely not realistic for all. If you properly clean your barrel between uses, this will dramatically increase the life of your barrel. If a barrel is well kept, it can be used indefinitely. It will eventually no longer add flavor but will still be good to hold and age spirits. If a barrel is not properly stored and kept clean, it can go sour and start to grow mold. Once this happens, usually no amount of cleaning and sanitizing can save it.”

  In short, those who create, source, clean and sanitize barrels agree that shortcuts do not lead to a long life for one of the most expensive costs in craft beverage production. Rather, those shortcuts can destroy not only the barrel but the entire contents inside. Experts say that a clean and sanitized barrel is best achieved with dry steam, a growing industry standard used to ensure that barrels are absent from the destructive microorganisms that can escape any other cleaning and sanitizing method.

Trends in Beverage Packaging to Look Out For in 2022

By: Preston Geeting

Building healthy lives entails nourishing our bodies, both mentally and physically. As such, the beverage industry will continue to be an essential component in improving the health of societies across the globe for as long as we call it home. More presently, however, the products we choose to consume from brands in today’s world often reflect our own personal values.

  Packaging plays a huge role in how impactful a product is on its target audience. Much of the information regarding what is considered healthy or not is often presented on the packaging of consumable beverage products, so their packaging must clearly communicate how it reflects the values of individual consumers. This makes the packaging industry a crucial component of the beverage industry.

  According to MarketWatch, the beverage packaging industry, in particular, is expected to reach a value of $142.28 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 4.17%, a significant growth from $111.36 billion in 2017. This growth can be credited to the constant demand for groundbreaking, trendy beverage packaging across both industry sectors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

  Each sector serves as a quintessential example of the beverage industry’s permanent dependency on the packaging industry, fostering a crucial and long-lasting partnership between the two. Thus, companies must now shift their focus on the ever-changing trends within both industries, while simultaneously aligning with the demands of consumer markets to maintain a competitive edge.

  A product’s packaging often complements its brand image and desired messaging, empowering a brand to sell not merely a product, but a lifestyle to its target audience. In the era of 2022, with headlines abuzz with topics encompassing Web 3.0, the Metaverse, and other digital innovations, product packaging that may be deemed ‘Instagrammable’ or trend-worthy is far more appealing to consumers than those perceived as more “traditional” or mundane.

  In the beverage industry, packaged products often reflect what value the brand can add to a consumer’s life, and how that value complements or enhances their current lifestyle. What makes your product unique enough to stand out on the shelves, compared to hundreds of others, relies almost entirely on the impact of its packaging.

  Additionally, in the luxury beverage space — such as high-end alcohol brands — product packaging is the first element consumers interact with showcasing why the product is desirable. Nightclubs and bars are excellent examples of this. In these settings, the most sought-after alcohol purchased is typically the one that stands out the most and similarly emulates a high-class, sought-after, yet rarely-obtained lifestyle.

  In the case of non-alcoholic beverage packaging, the packaging must communicate why one brand is better than another. This is commonly seen with packaging for companies that sell water. Although water is rarely perceived as little more than a standard beverage, all the details of its product packaging — from visual designs and colors to its sourced location, packaging material, and more — can spell the difference between its sales stagnating or skyrocketing. Other factors listed on the product’s packaging, such as the brand’s sustainability efforts or even the sheer convenience of its packaging, likewise play a key role in targeting specific consumer markets.

  For example, plastic water bottles that have a twist-off top may be less desirable to consumers in comparison to those boasting a sports-bottle style cap. Furthermore, sustainably-packaged water, or reusable metal water bottles, might be more appealing to eco-conscious consumers.

  The trends witnessed within both the beverage and packaging industry are constantly evolving alongside a growing consumer market. These industries must continue to work harmoniously to understand what makes consumers tick. Competition is always intense in the beverage industry, and companies spend immense periods researching competitors, as well as the needs and wants of consumers, to ensure that standards are met through superior packaging.

  Packaging must serve a purpose other than simply protecting products in retail stores or back-of-house storage to be memorable and appealing. The little details are essential regarding a beverage’s packaging, and these seemingly small details can have a significant impact on sales.  With all of this in mind, here are the top ten trends in beverage packaging to look out for in 2022.

1. Biodegradable Packaging:  Biodegradable packaging comprises of biopolymers, which are often found in the cellulose of plants. Since this form of packaging comes from plants, they easily decompose naturally over time in comparison to plastic packaging. Traditional plastic packaging, unfortunately, never decomposes. Instead, it slowly breaks down into microplastics which often wind up in our oceans or, even worse, our food.

  Recently, it was found that microplastics were detected in human bloodstreams. While this hasn’t been directly tied to plastic packaging, single-use plastics — such as those frequently utilized in beverage packaging — have been a significant cause of ocean-dwelling microplastics.

  To combat this, companies like Boxed Water Is Better are taking an active stance in ensuring that their product packaging is decomposable to fight the ever-growing single-use plastic issue; an issue which has also been recognized across various consumer markets. Throughout 2022, expect more beverage companies to release (or, at least, announce) their products being packaged in a similar, more sustainable manner.

2. Internet of Packaging or Smart Packaging:  Internet of packaging, or innovative packaging, comprises the integration of QR codes, smart labels, RFID, and AR/VR into packaging technology. The industry will begin to see the next evolution of packaging personalization through technology, especially QR codes, as adoption rates have soared since the pandemic in 2020.

  An example of this is 19 Crimes, a famous Australian wine company that has become a global phenomenon that works with celebrities like Snoop Dogg to craft fine wines, with each one telling a new story. The bottles of wine are brought to life via AR integration with a mobile app. Once labels are scanned via the app, it tells consumers the tales of notorious criminals through a pop-up video. Several coffee suppliers in the Australian market have begun implementing this method to provide consumers with a story element behind the type of coffee they purchase. This informs consumers who advocate for ethical and sustainable farming practices that the product they purchased aligns with their personal values.

  For another example of this trend, imagine purchasing a bottle of wine as a gift. If the bottle has a scannable QR code, the sender can write a message, and the recipient can see the message enclosed in the app. This eliminates the need to send additional paper cards and advances the gifting process.

  From a design perspective, we will quickly begin to see more minimalistic styles as a direct result of QR codes; if brands design packaging to have a QR code containing all the written content, it eradicates the overwhelming amount of information consumers currently see on packaging. And because product information is often small, making readability an issue, QR codes could also add an element of accessibility.

3. Recyclable Packaging:  Recyclable packaging is similar to sustainable and biodegradable packaging; it helps the environment and appeals to more environmentally-conscious consumers. However, biodegradable packaging merely degrades, whereas recyclable packaging can be reused, making it more sustainable in the long run.

  One new interesting element of recyclable packaging not seen typically is referred to as circular packaging. Circular packaging is forecasted to become an industry trend, as it utilizes a single layer for the packaging, rather than multiple layers, significantly reducing waste in the process. Along with this reduction in waste, circular packaging encourages companies to optimize the materials used in their packaging, maximize and amplify supply, and protect brands while inspiring them to make a significant impact against high-waste packaging.

4. Edible Packaging:  In 2019, London marathon runners made headlines worldwide after news broke that they were provided with seaweed pouches filled with energy drinks, rather than plastic water bottles. This enabled them to consume their water and leave zero waste. While edible packaging may not yet be very common, this example highlights how such a trend can genuinely help niche industries advance and make a difference — both for the environment and consumers.

5. Custom Packaging:  Beverage brands looking to differentiate themselves from competitors are increasingly utilizing custom packaging platforms to meet their needs. These platforms eliminate the physical component of fully-stocked warehouses, offering beverage manufacturers, brand owners, and suppliers with streamlined tools that both align with their marketing initiatives, and efficiently and effectively deliver eye-catching packaging for their products. This simplified process is quickly gaining traction across the beverage industry, providing companies with a one-stop-shop for their custom packaging solutions.

6. Active Packaging:  Active packaging consists of new technological techniques that extend the shelf-life of products, especially in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Active packaging works by interacting directly with the packaged product and is designed to eradicate residual oxygen, bringing the product to a level where there is zero-permeation. This trend could lead to increasing the shelf life for beverage products that may otherwise spoil on retail shelves or in warehouses, thus mitigating costs for companies.

7. Packaging Automation:  Packaging automation for the manufacturing of products has witnessed a significant boost through AI. When combined with platforms that can serve as a one-stop-shop for custom and stock package purchasing options, this trend shows how robotics in the packaging industry can turn companies into genuine industry titans like Amazon, which continues to lead in terms of warehouse robotics and automation. Packaging automation enables the e-commerce giant to stay ahead of the game and on top of the retail charts. The same tactics could easily apply to companies in the beverage industry.

8. NFT Integration and Utility:  Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are one of the fastest-growing trends in 2022, and the beverage industry is leading the way. Penfolds, Glenfiddich, Hennessy, and other luxury brands are now selling NFTs that corresponded to a limited edition physical bottle; the NFT acts as a digital receipt that validates the authenticity of the wine bottles. Many start-up beverage companies, however, are finding ways to leverage this technology with their physical packaging as a marketing tool. From startup Perfy’s customized NFT soda cans, to The Bored Breakfast Club including the famous Bored Apes collection on their packaging materials, NFTs are proving to be a unique way for beverage companies to help promote their brand and acquire a larger portion of consumer markets. 

9. 3D Printing:  3D printing has become cheaper for companies to prototype their packaging designs, materials, and even manufacturing machines. 3D printing boosts packaging designs by removing the typical challenges packaging designers face. Some of these challenges tend to include the need for multiple prototypes (which generate additional waste), fewer resources and materials to source prototypes, as well as reduced costs during the packaging design stage. This evolving trend streamlines the design process, and can enable beverage manufacturers and suppliers to conduct more in-house prototyping with their packaging without the presence of a middle man.

10. Nanotechnology:  Regarding the beverage industry, nanotechnology in the form of nanocoating or nanosensors is most commonly used. Nanotechnology-enhanced packaging reduces microbial bacteria and can help improve the quality of the product, especially in water.

  Overall, each of these trends holds the potential for companies within the beverage industry to successfully outgrow their competitors, and each is deserving of careful consideration when designing packaging solutions throughout the remainder of 2022. In a market that is as ever-changing as it is necessary, it is imperative that brands stay one step ahead, understand the true importance of these trends, and implement them accordingly.

  Preston Geeting is a Co-founder of Packform. Along with Philip Weinman and Peter Williams, he recognized the opportunity to transform the antiquated packaging industry with innovative technology, creating new service levels, better customer experience, and more significant opportunities for all involved. As of 2020, Packform officially became the fastest-growing packaging company and won the gold International Stevie Business Awards for Technology Startup of the Year.

Exploring the Nuances of Distilling Bourbon

By: Becky Garrison

Jason Parker, co-founder of Copperworks Distilling Company in Seattle, Washington and a native of Kentucky, may distill American Single Malt whiskey. Still, his collection of 600 bourbon bottles speaks to his love of this particular whiskey. “Whiskey made from corn produces a lighter and oiler texture than other whiskeys such as Scotch, Irish, Canadian or Japanese rye.”

  Tom Jones, Global Brand Ambassador for Kentucky Owl, offers this succinct history of bourbon. “Immigrant farmers discovered ways to turn wheat, rye and corn into dollars, which flowed all the way down the Mississippi, fueling celebration on the streets of New Orleans.”

  While some claim bourbon was named after Bourbon Street, others like Jay Erisman, co-founder of New Riff Distilling in Newport, Kentucky, believe the name came from Kentucky’s Bourbon County, where this spirit emerged.

  In summarizing the history of bourbon, Parker reminisces how modern expressions of whiskey have someone named Beam as their master distiller or on their board of directors. This points to the brotherhood and family network of individuals who have distilled Kentucky Bourbon since the 1700s.

  For example, Buffalo Trace Distillery, an award-winning distillery based in Frankfort, Kentucky, has a rich tradition dating back to 1775. According to Kristie Wooldridge, Buffalo Trace’s PR associate manager, Kentucky has many unique natural features that make it the ideal location for producing bourbon. “We experience all four seasons, which plays a big role in the aging process, and our water is naturally limestone-filtered. Early settlers found Kentucky’s ground to be quite fertile for growing corn, an essential ingredient for bourbon, and put down roots here. The rest is history.”

  Jones cites Kentucky’s natural resources as contributing to the quality of Kentucky Owl’s bourbon, which it’s been distilling since Charles Mortimer founded the distillery in 1879. “The blue limestone-filtered water provides us with a good supply of clean, fresh and filtered water unlike anywhere else.”

  In addition to using water to produce bourbon, the water also feeds the growth of raw materials. Also, in Jones’ estimation, the hot summers and cold winters provide the perfect conditions for bourbon to expand and contract, passing in and out of the oak barrels. “This gives us color, mouthfeel, and flavor,” he said.

Defining Bourbon

  For a U.S. spirit to be labeled “bourbon whiskey” by the TTB, it must not exceed 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof) from a fermented mash of not less than 51% corn and stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof) in charred new oak containers. New American wood imbues bourbon with a full-bodied flavor profile quite different than barrels from Europe and Scotland. Due to the difficulty in sourcing new American oak, bourbon is produced primarily in the United States.

  Straight bourbon whiskey has been stored in charred, new oak containers for two years or more, and may include mixtures of two or more straight bourbons, provided all are produced in the same state. Blended bourbon whiskey is the classification for bourbon produced in the U.S. containing not less than 51% of straight bourbon. The TTB does not specify the requirements for the remaining 49% ingredients, thus allowing for considerable creativity among distillers.

  Distillation processes typical to the Kentucky whiskey-making regimen differ from the Celtic traditions. Erisman told Beverage Master Magazine, “We distill ‘on the grain,’ meaning that the still is fed with both liquids and the ground grains from the mash. This extracts more flavor from the grains than in other distilling traditions.”

  While Kentucky may be considered the home of bourbon, one can find distilleries throughout the U.S. producing this spirit. Molly Troupe, Master Distiller at Freeland Spirits in Portland, Oregon, speaks to the regional differences inherent in bourbon distilled outside of Kentucky. “Each of those ingredients has their own nuances, particular to the region that they are grown, that makes them special.”

  Following are some examples of bourbons distilled in different regions of the United States.

  30A Distilling Company (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida) – Like many small-batch producers, 30A Distilling founder Brian Rabon sources his bourbon. He describes 30A’s process for making bourbon as “distilled in Indiana, rested at Sugarfield Spirits in Louisiana, and then finished at 30A Distilling Company.” Like its other spirits, its Blue Mountain Beach Bourbon (81.4 proof) is named for one of the local Florida beaches. The mashbill is very rye forward at 36%, which gives this bourbon some spicy and peppery notes. Also, Rabon produces a lower-proof version that allows for sweeter corn notes.

  The Aimsir Distilling Company (Portland, Oregon) According to co-owners Christine and Steve Hopkins, the Pacific Northwest’s cooler, drier environment affects how the bourbon extracts from the barrel. Steve, head of production, told Beverage Master Magazine, “Even though we’re using new oak barrels, our bourbon does tend to extract a little bit slower from the wood. So you get more of the mashbill flavor and less of the barrel flavor.”

  Aimsir uses 51% corn and 45% wheat for its mashbill, resulting in a high-wheated bourbon with a smooth flavor, bottled at 94.5 proof. The bourbon ages between four and four and a half years, with distillers testing the barrel periodically after the fourth year until it gets to that sweet spot. “If you age it too long, you start to get too much barrel notes,” Steve Hopkins said.

  Alchemy Distillery (Arcata, California) – When they first started their distillery, co-owner and head distiller Amy Bohner said they made batches of 100% single grains to get to know each grain’s flavor profile. “Being able to choose which corn, rye and wheat makes each batch unique. And every batch for us is a single barrel, so the options for our mash bills are vast.”

  Alchemy chose to work with local farmers and keep the grain in whole form until milling the day of the cook. According to Bohner, this ensures optimal freshness, similar to grinding beans just before making a cup of coffee.

  Brother’s Bond Bourbon (Fort Smith, Arkansas) Co-founder Paul Wesley describes Brother’s Bond Bourbon as hand-selected, four-grain, high rye, straight bourbon with the grain flavors optimized. It is distilled in a copper column and copper pot-doubler, aged four years in virgin American Oak, staves charred #4 and heads charred #2, and chill-filtered once at a distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Then the bourbon is bottled at 80 proof, 135 barrels at a time, and distributed at Brother’s Bond’s facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

  Ian Somerhalder, co-founder, highlights their commitment to sustainability. “We partner with organizations that use sustainable and regenerative practices to combat climate change. Also, we aim to use our platform to help reverse climate change by giving back a portion of proceeds to support regenerative farming practices.”

  Freeland Spirits (Portland, Oregon) – According to Molly Troupe, Freeland Spirits’ bourbon is a sourced whiskey, which means that only the aging and blending take place at the distillery. Distillers finish the bourbon in Pinot Noir barrels, where it sits for about six months. Then, they select barrels for blending, adding water to bring the bourbon to bottle-proof.

  In Troupe’s estimation, one of the best parts of living in the Pacific Northwest is its proximity to makers of all kinds. For example, through their relationship with Elk Cove Winery, they get barrels delivered to them the day they are dumped.

  Hood River Distillers (Hood River, Oregon)  – Hood River distillers purchase bourbon in barrels from a source in Kentucky. Then, they experiment and manipulate the bourbon through those barrel finishes, which Master Distiller Joe O’Sullivan finds best define the region and complement the flavor of the base spirit itself. He told Beverage Master Magazine, “By finishing the same spirit in various, unique regional casks, we focus entirely on the Northwest and its culinary strength.

  Maverick Whiskey (San Antonio, Texas) – Maverick Whiskey pays homage to founder Kenneth Maverick’s storied Texas roots and the family patriarch Sam Maverick (1803-1870). Its Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey mash, which consists of locally sourced corn and rye, is distilled in a hybrid pot still, a combination of a pot still and a column still. As the bourbon ages, it gets proofed to 88, using reverse osmosis filtered water and then non-chill filtered, thus ensuring a bold flavor. In Head Distiller Kevin Graham’s assessment, the Texas grains –corn, in particular – are sweeter with a bigger flavor than grains grown elsewhere in the county. Also, the Texas Hill Country is home to artesian wells that produce hard water with a high carbonate, ideal for distilling spirits and making beer.

  Mile High Spirits (Denver, Colorado)Wyn Ferrell, co-founder of Mile High Spirits, distinguishes his distillery not by the spirits but by the people. “We have an amazing vibrant staff that produces our products with passion, heart and soul, but also has a lot of fun with music pumping and people dancing.”

  Ferrell sources unique grain profiles from around the world for Mile High’s mashbill, which is distilled in a pot column hybrid from Germany-based Arnold Holstein Stills. As part of its commitment to regenerative agriculture, Mile High sends all its spent grain to a local rancher.

  Port Chilkoot Distillery (Haines, Alaska)Heather Shade, Port Chilkoot’s founder and co-owner, sources the distillery’s organic, certified non-GMO corn and Kentucky barrels from a barge that floats up the famed Inside Passage from Seattle to Haines once a week. Distillers cook, ferment and double-distill the bourbon mash on-site using a traditional method of open-fermentation, distill on-the-grain and a batch double distillation process. The bourbon is proofed down to barrel strength after distillation using water from their glacier-fed mountains and aged in a climate-controlled barrel house. According to Shade, “The unique water source and the stormy weather patterns/large barometric pressure swings here give their maturation a different character, more similar to the Scotch whiskies made in Scotland.”

  Side Hustle Brews & Spirits (Slippery Rock, PA) Chad McGehee, Founder, Balmaghie Beverage Group (dba Side Hustle Brews & Spirits, Side Hustle Hops Farm, Balmaghie Artisanal Spirits), sees his core business objective to build a farm so they can produce their own artisanal spirits from farm to glass. Starting in May, they moved from sourcing their bourbon to producing their first runs of produced recipes. They will purchase their Western Pennsylvania historic grains from a neighboring farmer. In particular, the Jimmy Red Corn used historically by Western Pennsylvania moonshiners produces a higher sugar content than normal corn that results in a sweeter Straight Bourbon Whiskey with an ABV of 50%. Their mashbill, which is high in rye and aged for seven years, is mixed either in their single pot or in space they rent from other distillers as need be. Also, they use American White Oak, which has been cured in the rain, snow, heat, and cold for a full eight seasons before they are transformed by coppers into barrels. 

Bottling & Canning Innovation

Companies Deliver Premium Technology, Raising the Stakes in Productivity!

By: Cheryl Gray

When it comes to bottling machinery for craft breweries and distilleries, technology is king.  The work that goes into fabricating, filling and sealing bottles and cans begins with the expertise of companies that understand what craft brewers and distillers need most—a cost-efficient way to boost output while also protecting the integrity of their products.  

  One of those companies is Pneumatic Scale Angelus, part of BW Packaging Systems. The Ohio-based firm is a global industry leader in designing and manufacturing beverage canning lines and filling technology for the craft beverage industry. The company’s numbers are impressive, starting with its years in business—more than 130. It has seven manufacturing locations and more than 700 members on its worldwide team. 

  Pneumatic Scale Angelus has installed more than 16,000 canning operations across 132 countries with applications that include liquid and dry filling, capping, can seaming and labeling. Global Marketing Director Gigi Lorence said that as an expert in beverage canning lines and filling technology, the company has built a reputation for knowing how to leverage the innovation of its high-speed beverage lines, scaling them down to the slower production speeds and lower volumes required for craft beverages. Lorence broke down the specifications for the company’s inline volumetric canning lines.

  “Our fully-integrated filler and seamer machines allow brewers to take control of their can filling operations. Running at speeds from 15 to 100 CPM, our inline canning machines are suited to small batch production and frequent changeover,” she said. “Our CB50F and CB100F open-air systems use our proprietary flowmeter technology to ensure a perfect fill at speeds to 100 CPM, with a gas flush system that keeps oxygen levels under control. The high-speed seamer design, scaled for single- or dual-head operation, delivers the only repeatable hermetic double seam in the industry. 

  “Our CB50C system leverages the CB50F design but uses counter-pressure filling technology to meet the demand for high-carbonation beverages, including hard seltzers, sparkling wines and high-carb beers. The CB50C uses true isobarometric filling technology, with the fill tank above the fill heads, allowing the product to be gravity-fed, as opposed to pumped upward. This minimizes product agitation for a quiet fill and lower CO2 loss.” 

  For brewers ready for the higher speeds of a rotary canning system, Lorence described PSA’s options for rotary volumetric canning lines. “These systems run from 100 CPM to up to 400 CPM, depending on configuration, which means brewers can expand their overall production without drastically increasing their overall footprint,” said Lorence. “Our larger CB244/324/404 rotary open-air systems serve brewers ready for higher speeds. These systems have 24, 32, or 40 electro-mechanically controlled filling heads that ensure fill level accuracy to within plus or minus 0.5 grams of the target volume and four seaming heads that offer the same industry-leading seal as our slower-speed machines.”

  There is a brand-new addition to PSA’s craft beverage canning lines. Lorence described the CB100C, launched this May at The Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis.

  “This rotary counter-pressure system builds upon the capabilities of the CB50C but leverages a 12-head rotary filling turret design, coupled with a dual-station seamer, to allow brewers to increase their throughput to more than 100 CPM. Using a motorized, recipe-driven turret design allows for automatic turret height adjustment,” she said. “Like the CB50C, the CB100C uses a true isobarometric filling, with an onboard product supply tank rated to 60 psi. The addition of the 12-head rotary filling turret enables the system to move more cans smoothly through the line, filling faster without creating an increase in product agitation as speeds increase. This gentle fill virtually eliminates the unwanted reductions in carbonation levels seen with other filling methods.

  “The CB100C also employs magnetic flowmeter technology to help you get a perfect fill with little waste and an under-cover gas flush system to keep dissolved oxygen levels low. In addition, our industry-leading Angelus double-seam technology keeps cans sealed tight, extending critical shelf life. The system is optimized for sleek and standard can bodies and designed with quick-change adjustments for easy changeovers accommodating various can heights and body diameters with no valve change required. A compact footprint and an intuitive HMI for individual fill-head volume adjustments simplify operation.”

  Another expert in bottling and canning operations for the craft beverage industry is XpressFill, a California-based company in operation since 2007. XpressFill offers a broad range of can and bottle filling systems for brewers and distillers, all of which promote ease of use, longevity and post-sale service as a top priority. It manufactures bottle fillers to accommodate volumetric, level fill and carbonated beverage technology, providing for nearly every bottling need. Rod Silver is head of the company’s marketing and sales.

  “XpressFill prides itself on its ability to respond to the needs of its customers. Our support of our products is unmatched,” said Silver. 

  XpressFill specifically targets smaller breweries that need guidance on the best equipment choices for their operations. “All XpressFill products are designed with the smaller, craft artisan in mind. We have been able to build affordable yet efficient and effective filling machines for this market,” Silver said. “The most popular filler for distillers is the XF460HP, specifically designed for spirits, using materials that are more resilient to ethanol. Our proprietary technology allows for filling well within TTB tolerances.” 

  Silver explained how the volumetric filler controls the amount of fill using a precision timer. The filler is calibrated to specifications and capable of accurate fills, regardless of inconsistencies in the bottle glass. The volumetric filler is also suitable for bottling various sizes, even down to 50 ml bottles.

Silver said XpressFill’s most popular products for craft brewers accommodate both cans and bottles. “The most popular fillers for brewers are the XF4500C (cans) and XF4500 (bottles). Both fillers use counter-pressure to minimize oxygen pick up during the fill.”

  Silver told Beverage Master Magazine that all XpressFill systems have a pre-fill CO2 purge cycle. The company’s counter-pressure systems require a minimal air compressor to operate the pneumatic actuators. Open can fillers have a moveable shelf that is easily adjustable for various sizes, with a maximum can diameter of four inches. 

  The counter pressure filler has a stopper that fits tightly into the can or bottle opening to seal and pressurize the container. Filling a container, Silver said, is an exact science. XpressFill’s level fillers control the rate of fill using a level sensor. As 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 about one-sixteenth inch increments. The level filler can be used for all products, including wine and distilled spirits. Silver said that the level filler is perfect if the sightline in the bottleneck is a concern for shelf presentation due to glass variations.

  Although Colorado-based Ska Fabricating was born out of the need to address the brewing, packaging and distribution of Ska Brewing, its innovations have helped breweries worldwide.  

  Marketing Director Elise Mackay described the company’s most popular depalletizers. “Our most popular can depalletizer is the Can-i-Bus. It is our original depalletizer, obviously updated and

improved upon many times since its creation, and a full-height automatic depalletizer that is capable of speeds up to 250 CPM. It comes with three different trim levels that come with a variety of different features. It’s perfect for mid-sized operations and a great option to grow into for smaller operations,” said Mackay. “Our Nimbus is like our Can-i-Bus Jr. It features the same robust construction and pallet sweep mechanism that the Can-i-Bus does but uses a rotary table discharge that allows for additional accumulation with the added benefit of being able to fold down to save space when it isn’t in use. The Nimbus is also portable. You can use a pallet jack to move it from your production floor once you’re finished with your packaging day, so it’s perfect for smaller-scale operations looking to grow.” 

  Mackay said that innovation is always at the forefront at Ska Fabricating. “The newest addition, the Microbus, is our smallest footprint, most flexible, most affordable depalletizer yet. It’s rated up to 30 CPM and is an ideal product for operations that are just getting started in canning. Low speeds, manual pallet lifting, and ultimate portability make the Microbus special. It features the same foldable rotary table discharge that I mentioned with the Nimbus, but it also has a foldable dead plate, so when it’s completely dismantled, the footprint is minuscule.”  

  Mackay points out why her company is considered in the industry as, in her words, the “likable expert.”

  “We have an incredible team of engineers that create robust and reliable machines and then work with every single customer to create custom layouts to suit their exact needs; a personable and reliable sales team with tons of brewery and packaging experience; an installation crew that will travel to the ends of the earth to set our customers up for success; and a top-notch customer support team that is available 24/7 to assist with any issues that arise.”

  Industry experience, innovative products and after-sale customer service are common threads among these companies. These experts say that this combination is what breweries and distilleries should look for when choosing a company for bottling and canning products.

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.

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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.


  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. 


  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.


  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.


  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.”