Lessons for the Start-Up Brewery

By: Tracey L. Kelley

Modern beer plant brewery , with brewing kettles, vessels, tubs and pipes made of stainless steel, monteiths beer factory, south island in New Zealand.

Three beverages are the most consumed in the world: water, tea…and beer.  Regional breweries, brewpubs, microbreweries, and contract brewing companies all experienced growth in 2018. In the United States, 219 breweries closed, but 1,049 opened last year. In Canada, there was a slight decline in domestic beer production last year—3.4%—and only a scant increase in sales—0.3%. Nevertheless, 178 breweries opened.

  Producers and consumers alike want the diverse selection, high quality and community connection craft brewing provides. This makes entering the industry an enticing option. So to answer some brewery start-up questions, we’ve compiled a few experts to share their acumen. They include:

•   Jeffrey Gunn, president and CEO of IDD Process & Packaging, based in Moorpark, California. IDD is a family-owned corporation that provides the consultation, design and manufacture of complete brewery and beverage plant systems.

•   Lindsay Johnson, operations manager, and Shawn Johnson, head brewer, Birds Fly South Ale Project (BFS) and tasting room in Greenville, South Carolina. Named one of 2019’s Top 10 Breweries by the U.S. Open Beer Championship, BFS specializes in Farmhouse and Saisons, along with sours, funky IPAs, barrel-aged brews, and range of wild and traditional styles. BFS is also on the 2019 Thrillist “Most Underrated Brewery in Every State” list.

•   Ben Parker, CEO, Scan American Corporation, located in Kansas City, Missouri; and Aubrey Dyer, business development manager, Flavourtech, represented by Scan American in North America. Flavourtech is a global technology manufacturer that specializes in aroma recovery, extraction and evaporation solutions for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

•   Christian Riemerschmid von der Heide, president and CEO of the Siebel Institute of Technology (SIT) in Chicago, along with John Hannafan, vice president and director of education. SIT is a for-profit vocational school for brewing education and brewing services. Founded in 1868, it’s oldest brewing school in the United States and home of the World Brewing Academy program, offering campus and web-based courses jointly developed with Doemens Academy of Munich.

  The three primary start-up takeaways they want you to remember:

1.   Take time to learn. Whether it’s refining your processes or understanding how to scale up, knowledge is power.

2.   Choose equipment wisely. Everyone makes different choices—research and compare to make the right decision for your business.

3.   Be patient, young Jedi. Slow, budgeted growth and the right partnerships make more sense for long-term sustainability and adaption to trends.

  These experts provided much more valued insight than print space allows, so we’ll highlight some of the top aspects.

Take Time to Learn

  The Johnsons were a Coast Guard family for more than 20 years, all the while gradually expanding their brewing and business knowledge. “We invested sweat equity first,” Johnson said. “We started home brewing while in Alaska. As we lived in different locations with the Coast Guard, Shawn was able to volunteer at several breweries, learning different aspects of business.”

  In 2016, Shawn officially retired from service, with a year or so of professional brewing experience as a contract brewer for Thomas Creek Brewery, also in Greenville. “This provided us an opportunity to test the idea and see how we wanted to proceed with a brewery buildout,” Johnson told Beverage Master Magazine. “This period of time made it simpler for us to find funding through investment, as we were an established brand and gained some national level recognition early on.” BFS has since received top medals in the Best of Craft Beer Awards, the Great American Beer Festival and the North American Beer Awards.

  Contract or nomadic brewing often reduces start-up risks. Some craft producers try the industry on for size, like the Johnsons. Others do it to gain gradual packaging and distribution knowledge and capital—a wise idea, since a full-scale packaging operation averages more than $300,000.

  Some brewers develop contract partnerships because their current facilities are out of capacity, but budget or geographical constraints prevent expansion. In rare circumstances, a contract partnership with a local brewery happens when someone only has interest in running a taproom.

  “We anticipated being small and niche and allowing the education and evolution of our products to happen slowly and organically,” Johnson said. “However, we quickly grew past all our projections and expectation models, and continually have to be extremely agile as our product line expands and as trends in the industry change. Our production model hasn’t found a ceiling yet.”

  Hannafan/von der Heide believe that every good brew begins with one key ingredient.

  “’First, you add knowledge’ is one of our favorite tag lines. A producer should begin their journey with education, and not after they run into issues,” Hannafan/von der Heide said. “Hopefully they come to us sooner than later to avoid many of the common pitfalls experienced by others. The same process applies brewing theory and understanding the ‘why’ of brewing. It’s not enough to open this valve or turn that pump on—there’s far more to brewing than the equipment side.”

  SIT creates viable paths for new producers through extensive courses on everything from the art and science of brewing to the nuts and bolts of business operations.

  “We share our knowledge by having assisted in numerous start-ups and real experience, not just theory. We offer a consulting arm which assists with recipe formulation all the way through to test batches and evaluating the product,” Hannafan/von der Heide said. “We assist with brewery start-ups and build-outs, supplier evaluation, business case review and staff training. We like to think that the art and science of brewing beer makes lifelong learners out of all in the brewing sector.”

  Hannafan/von der Heide said there are relatively short courses that can dramatically enhance your probability for success. These include the two-week “Siebel Concise” course, “Start Your Own Brewery” and “Executive Overview.”

  SIT also provides another valuable service: yeast banking. “Selecting the right yeast strain can be a key differentiator for better flavor profile, product innovation and brewery capacity utilization. Yeast banking, strain profiling, yeast propagation, fermentation optimization—you can never know enough about yeast,” Hannafan/von der Heide said.  

Choose Your Equipment Wisely

  Evolution in trends, products and other aspects of the brewing industry greatly influence how to source equipment. Spend time to evaluate options based on your ultimate goals and budget—not necessarily what everyone else does. 

  “For too many years, craft brewers grew up with the idea that the two-tank combi-brewhouse doing three–to–four brews in 24 hours was the only way to brew beer,” Gunn said. “As the industry grew, the systems expanded to four or five vessels, but were still stuck in the four–to–seven brews in 24 hours process, with low efficiencies in malt extract, water, energy, labor, effluent and so on.”

  IDD specializes in high-efficiency brewing systems, or HEBS. “HEBS mash filter brewhouses were an unknown entity to most and misunderstood by many that were aware of them. It continues to be an educational project, because it’s difficult for many to believe the efficiencies we publish and the misnomers perpetrated by conventional lauter tun brewhouse manufacturers,” Gunn said. “With HEBS capable of 95–to–98% extracts, up to 40% overall more efficiency and up to three times faster than a combi-brewhouse, there’s such a high ROI for a start-up or expanding craft brewer. Obviously, size has to be adjusted down from a conventional system because of the reduced turnaround time per brew. But 12–to–15 brews in 24 hours are the norm for HEBS.”

  If you’re planning a low-alcohol or non-alcoholic line, your equipment choice is even more specific. For example, Flavortech uses spinning cone column (SCC) technology to enhance flavor, efficiencies and budget. 

“The day-to-day operating expenses of the SCC are low, as it’s very energy efficient. The first two years of maintenance are also included, so these don’t need to be budgeted for until year three,” Dyer/Parker said. “The other main cost is dealing with the alcohol removed from the beer. Disposal can be expensive—however, it can be a valuable income stream if re-concentrated, or could potentially be used to fortify other products in the portfolio. It’s important to work through this part of the equation in advance to maximize the ROI of the system.”

  Scan American/Flavortech allows producers to test all its equipment. “We can teach the customer how the system works and showcase the different outcomes. A beer trial can be run with as little as 60 gallons of product,” Dyer/Parker said. “After each trial, we’ll complete a product tasting to see how it responds to the process. Typically, these trials are proof of concept.”

  Gunn noted an interesting trend that influences equipment choices. “Smaller, more efficient breweries and cans. HEBS, for example, have gone from 20–to–40 Hl brew capacity systems to 5 and 7.5 Hl brew capacity systems. This reflects on the matured craft brew market reverting back to brewpub/restaurant and taproom style operations: local market supply through their own establishment,” he said.

  BFS took a completely different approach to equipment. “Budgeting a brewery start-up is difficult. We’re so capital heavy,” Johnson said. “Don’t rush into purchases. A lot of times you see a deal, but it’ll come back. Some producers are better off sourcing used equipment when applicable.”

  Hannafan/von der Heide offered this important reminder. “If you don’t know about equipment or sizing or space planning, hire a seasoned, independent consultant. Don’t let your emotional side pick the equipment suppliers. There’s a lot of unsafe, poorly-designed equipment that will haunt your day-to-day operations and product consistency.”

Be Patient, Young Jedi

  Our experts offered numerous tips for new producers—here are just a few.

  “We always advise the producer to focus on employing a good industry experienced general contractor, experienced industry-related architect, an experienced industry equipment supplier and themselves doing their due diligence,” Gunn of IDD Process & Packaging told Beverage Master Magazine. “The four parties working together can achieve the best system, the right location and within budget.”  

  “Our initial vision was quite different, or I’d say 60-70% different,” said Johnson of Birds Fly South Ale Project. “We call ourselves an ale project because we’re constantly exploring new styles, techniques and flavors. Our process is unique in that we’re continually blending, and our beer has a chance to evolve through different fermentation processes.”

  “We knew from the beginning we wouldn’t have a ‘set’ product line,” Johnson continued. “This can cause some educational issues when first entering into a distribution partnership. Our brands slowly became a steady product line, but patience was key in our relationships with distributors and retailers. So be patience in all aspects, from hiring and budgeting finances to decision making. We like to say, ‘The beer takes two weeks or more to make—let’s give ourselves an extra hour before we make a decision.’”

  “My advice to someone coming to us with a new product idea would be for them to sit down with us and work through the processing details to make it a reality. The next step is to book some time in our pilot plant and produce some product,” Dyer/Parker with Scan American/Flavourtech said. “We have a great team of engineers with a real depth of knowledge and can assist with the practical realities of turning ideas in successful products.”

  Dyer/Parker also pointed out two exciting trends. “One is the move towards much higher-quality beers. I was in Brazil last month, and the local beer we were served was so good that we cancelled our wine order and continued to drink beer with our meal!” Dyer/Parker said. “Parallel to this trend is the development of the zero-alcohol segment. This fits really well with the SCC, as we enable zero-alcohol products to meet exact quality requirements.”

  The educators from the Sieble Institute of Technology offered two final thoughts. “Create a realistic business plan. Then, have others with industry knowledge challenge and build your plan,” Hannafan/von der Heide said. “The craft and brewing industry is an amazing place to be creative and excel in entrepreneurial activities. It is, however, a place for the long run, despite the hype—there are no quick sustainable wins. Product and process knowledge reigns.”

Boilers in the Distillery: Gentle Giants That Pack A Punch

By: Gerald Dlubala

Boilers are rarely glamorized in any distilling discussions. The end product is the star, whether swirled, stirred or shaken in the able hands of a local mixologist. However, any boiler manufacturer will tell you that a reliable boiler affects every facet of the distilling process, including the cost of production. During fermentation, the mash is heated with steam to transform the carbs to sugars. The wort gets removed and transferred to a fermentation vessel to cool and get ready for the introduction of yeast. Steam provided by a boiler generates a gentle, consistent heat, very conducive for vessel heating, temperature maintenance and successful fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the product is moved to the still, using steam heat to separate and remove the impurities.

Distillery Environment Matters

  “You always have to be aware of any unique requirements due to installation environment,” says Mike Bonjo, Sales Manager and Brewer for Columbia Boiler Company.  “Boilers are mandated to be a certain distance away for safety, but in general, it’s best to have them within eyeshot. Low-pressure boilers generally provide enough energy for craft distilling. However, if the boiler is situated a long distance from the other equipment, high pressure reduces heat loss during long runs in between distillery equipment.”

  In addition, when it comes to boilers, the type of building where the distillery is located makes a difference.  “The current trend of renovating historic buildings into rustic craft distilleries and breweries is aesthetically very cool, but these old buildings require custom installations because of building materials, floor strength and utility availability,” says Bonjo. “Professional consultation is needed to determine floor strength, layout viability and fire ratings. Also, you never want to situate a steam boiler directly on those old wooden floors. We have custom stands and risers for these situations.” 

  Columbia’s boilers are popular because of their performance and compact design. Their flagship units—the MPH boiler series, manufactured to fit through a standard thirty-six-inch door opening, provide up to eighty horsepower. Columbia also offers the CT line, a vertically-designed, tubeless boiler created for the dry-cleaning industry, now repurposed for artisan distillers.

  “Our boilers are easy to install, easy to use and a breeze to service,” says Bonjo. “They are operable right out of the box and come with everything needed to get up and running. Anyone with a basic mechanical aptitude can operate and maintain our boilers. We use standard industry controls rather than custom or proprietary controls. Parts are standard, so you don’t have to find a certain distributor in the area and hope that they have your part in stock. We also feature a copper coil inserted into the boiler to carry and heat city water—to be used as potable water—for cleaning or any other domestic water situations around the distillery. We fire up and thoroughly test our units before shipping to the customer for, what ends up being, a plug and play installation. If there are issues, we can relay our test settings and compare them with the customer’s running settings to make sure the boiler is in an optimal run state.”

  Maintenance on Columbia boilers is minimal. In addition to the mandatory annual state inspections, the boilers should be “blown down” at the end of the day, flushing out the silt and sediment that naturally forms at the bottom of the boiler. If that sediment isn’t regularly flushed out, it congregates and sticks to the steel, forming scale. Over time, scale causes the affected steel to fail due to improper heat retention and metallurgical issues. Blowing down takes 10 to 15 seconds, transferring the water to a blowdown separator to cool the liquid before disposal, nullifying any potential damage to drains and plumbing lines. Monthly water chemistry level checks should be performed to keep it compatible with the steel. For steel boilers, the pH should remain a constant 10 to 11.

  “If by chance, the proper maintenance has not been kept up with, the tubes on our boilers can be replaced independently, saving money on repairs and reducing downtime,” says Bonjo.

Safety Is Always The Priority

  “Your boiler is the one piece of equipment in your distillery that is more powerful than dynamite,” says Dave Baughman, President of Allied Boiler & Supply Inc. “It can relocate your whole business in an instant.”

  Let that sink in, and you’ll understand Baughman’s emphasis on boiler safety before selling you a boiler.

  “Boilers are truly the heart of the distillery, but there’s a critical need for training in daily boiler operation,” says Baughman. “When I ask potential customers if they’ve had any training on boiler operation, even if it’s just about keeping daily operational boiler log sheets, their answers reflect a need for training. We don’t expect boiler experts in these craft industries. They know the biological processes of distilling and rely on others for boiler recommendations, and frankly, the competence out there is lacking. The end-user is being thrown to the sales wolves.”

  This incompetence may even extend to the sales wolves themselves, who are often aware of the national codes but may not be as educated on those closer to home.

  “[Distillers] may need certain, critical support equipment with their boiler, depending on the environment and local code requirements. Do they need water treatment? What type and how much? What about chemical injection systems, blowdown separators, boiler feedwater systems with steam preheat, or condensate return systems? These can all be critical components that may or may not be necessary. Sales representatives may follow national code, but if they’re not aware of the local regulations, you’ll end up with a boiler that’s not code compliant,” says Baughman.

  Distilling is a cost-driven industry, but Baughman believes decisions should still be made based on technical specifications related to distillery needs. Some boilers are better at heating, some better at boiling. Older cast iron sectionals are great at heating but inadequate for production environments. Vertical boiler units were introduced for the dry cleaning industry, and when that industry dried up, manufacturers started pushing those high-pressure units into the next expanding market. That happened to be brewing and distilling, even if it wasn’t a perfect fit.

  “My best advice is to be diligent in research, and never buy based on cost alone,” says Baughman. “Instead, buy based on the technical needs of your situation. For smaller batch distillers, low steam boilers are sufficient. Larger production distillers with continuous columns need more steam, so high-pressure boilers with regulators that hold a constant temperature for longer periods are beneficial.”

  Purchasing the boiler is only the beginning. Baughman tells Beverage Master Magazine boiler training is an absolute necessity because manufacturers have a legal and moral responsibility to sell safe units to trained users. Allied Boiler & Supply offers a three-day, no-cost, on-site boiler training school and startup with every boiler they sell. Water chemistry, a significant contributor to boiler failure, takes up one of those days.

  “Everyone worries about the effects of scale, but most failures are attributed to improper oxygen levels,” says Baughman. “It becomes a very aggressive situation when heated and must be treated by the use of a deaerator or with chemical injection systems. Water softeners won’t treat the oxygen component. Underwater injection systems or sodium sulfite are used and should be administered by professionals, along with consistent tests for pH, conductivity and oxygen levels.”

  All Allied’s boilers come equipped with troubleshooting display modules and forced draft systems, which are more efficient and less prone to backdrafts.

  “These things add to the bottom line cost, but they are legitimate safety features,” Baughman says. “Our after-sale support is unmatched in the industry. Every sale comes with two emergency phone numbers, one being a service employee and the other being mine. We are serious about becoming a partner with your company and will never just sell you a boiler to make a sale. There is too much at stake personally and professionally for both of us.”

  Baughman runs his business on a motto that his father taught him.

“Consider service ahead of reward, and the reward will come because of the service.”

Boiler Choice Based On Technical Specifications and Business Goals

  Correct sizing without upselling is always the best for the customer, so before getting a recommendation for a boiler from Jack Coe, President of Rite Engineering & Manufacturing Corporation and manufacturer of Rite Boilers, there will be some technical fact-finding.

  Affordable Distillery Equipment is an OEM of stills and packages Coe’s Rite Boilers with their stills. Affordable Distillery’s CEO Paul Hall says, “We are sticklers for right-sizing because it can take four-to-five years to recoup the boiler cost, but if you get too large of a boiler, you can end up paying for that system for the next ten to fifteen years. Every boiler situation is unique and has different needs depending on the equipment used and the business goals.”

  Rite Engineering offers multiple boiler lines that maintain their efficiency, provide one hundred percent access for inspection and cleaning to help avoid costly repairs, and remain field repairable.

  When deciding what boiler is best, Coe recommends looking to your existing equipment. “To determine if you need a low-pressure versus a high-pressure boiler, look at the equipment you already have or are planning to use and see what the highest duty application will be,” says Coe. “In the craft distillery, it’s usually the wort boil. Subsequent pieces of affected equipment should be labeled with a steam pressure recommendation. If they are all rated as 15 psi or less, you’re good to go with a low-pressure boiler. If pieces of equipment are rated to handle higher than 15 psi, then you can consider a faster, high-pressure boiler, but boilers can use large amounts of fuel, so be aware of that when choosing components.”

  Speaking of support components, Hall says, “You absolutely need a condensate return to bring the condensate back to the boiler, or else you’re constantly pumping fresh water into the system. Additionally, a blowdown system used at the end of the day or when you’re finished with the boiler session will hold the blowdown water until it cools down to 140 degrees or so. [This is the] temperature that municipal discharge systems feel is safe to allow down the drain lines into their sewers. If you’re not using a municipal system and just have your own discharge pool on the property, you don’t need this component. Each of these components can run an extra three to four thousand dollars on top of the boiler.”

  Hard water will no doubt shorten your boiler’s life span. If testing shows hard water in your system, Coe recommends a Zeolite salt exchange type, and steers customers away from a deionized or reverse osmosis systems, as they can lower water’s conductivity and pH to unsafe levels.

  “After that, boiler professionals need to be brought in for consistent cleaning, checks and inspections,” says Coe. “Some of these are mandated by codes and laws and are in place to prevent small issues from turning into big problems. These professionals can also [help with] monitoring water pH and treatment options.”

  Whatever boiler system you decide to work with, both Rite Engineering and Affordable Distillery Equipment recommend installing them in a separate boiler room when possible.

  “That way, the boiler fire is isolated and kept from any equipment, and you’ll have some type of vapor barrier,” says Hall. “By rule, distillery equipment is classified as a Class 1 Division 2 Hazardous Environment, meaning boiler placement must be at least six feet away from any still parts that are 18 inches or less off of the floor, and at minimum 24 inches away from any still parts above that 18-inch mark.”

The Best Canning Systems & Machines for Modern Breweries

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Eugene, OR, USA – July 17, 2014: Can and bottle filling machine on an assembly line at Oakshire Brewing.

Canning has become an increasingly popular way to package craft beer, and more breweries than ever before are either exclusively moving to cans or incorporating cans alongside their traditional bottle offerings. Many brewers prefer canning over bottling because of the increased protection from light and oxygen, cost, portability, recyclability and freshness. However, a brewery needs the right type of canning system in its space to make this form of production profitable and efficient.

  With the input of top industry experts at SKA Fabricating, XpressFill Systems and OneVision Corporation, here’s what breweries should know before investing in a new canning system for the first time or upgrading a current machine.

Canning Products Available to Breweries

  Smaller and newer craft breweries may start off with manual canning systems that have a two-head filler and that can fill about 10 cans per minute because of these systems’ affordability. An upgrade from this is a micro-automated canning system with a three-head filler and capacity for 25 cans per minute with multiple can size options. Meanwhile, automated canning systems may have up to 10 head fillers and be able to fill more than 70 cans per minute. To operate a canning line, a brewery may also need to purchase blank or printed cans, can ends and lids, PakTech can carriers, shrink sleeves and corrugated case trays.

  One canning machine company based in San Luis Obispo, California, XpressFill, manufacturers affordable table-top machines that are used by craft breweries to fill both cans and bottles. Rod Silver, the marketing coordinator at XpressFill, told Beverage Master Magazine that his company has experienced a significant increase in can fillers from its brewery customers this year.

  “Our counter pressure fillers fill the cans in a pressurized environment to maximize the CO2 in solution,” Silver said. “Our open fill units have become increasingly more popular due to the lower cost and faster fill rate. Controlling filling conditions are critical in achieving optimum fills using either system. Both units purge the can with CO2 prior to the fill cycle.”

  Another relevant company that breweries will want to learn about is Ska Fabricating, which is based in Durango, Colorado and has over 700 customers worldwide. Matt Vincent, a partner in Durango’s largest and most award-winning craft beer brewery, told Beverage Master about Ska’s primary and most popular product called the Can-i-Bus Can Depalletizer. It is paired with either a water twist rinser or ionized air rinse and is an industry-leading depalletizer and rinser combo that covers the speed range of 30 CPM up to 400+ CPM. 

  “It allows for the opportunity to grow as your production grows, due to the wide range of speeds that it can handle,” Vincent said. “It also is a necessary part of a canning line because it eliminates the need for hand-loading cans onto a filling line, allowing operators to focus on quality by eliminating menial tasks.”

  Vincent also said that Ska Fabricating offers an extensive line of conveyance solutions, date coders, handle applicators, can and bottle drying equipment and machinery integration to assist in the post-fill needs of the brewery.

  Meanwhile, Neil Morris of OneVision Corporation in Westerville, Ohio told Beverage Master Magazine how OneVision “manufactures and markets inspection systems that empower beverage canners and food canners produce quality double seams.” This company’s expertise includes double seam evaluations, inspection systems and training and support at system installation, as well as electronic and phone support after installation to prevent seam leaks and keep products fresh.

  Ben Anacker, who manages sales and services for OneVision in the western U.S. and Canada and who is an expert in can manufacturing, said that OneVision arguably provides the most cost-effective craft brew system and support to empower brewers to have confidence in their canned products.

  “Evaluating double seam overlap and tightness is imperative to comprehensive analysis of seam integrity,” Anacker said. “The OneVision SeamMate® Inspection System, in combination with the Mini Drive Seam Stripper System, is unparalleled in performing the destructive seam dissection to allow close examination of these attributes.”

Important Features of Canning Machines

  Overall, canning systems feature a complex set of machines that share some similarities but are also very different in many ways. These differences lie in their speed, efficiency, size and other capabilities, such as low DO pickup, 15-20 ppb, dual cam driven seamers, nitro with a widget or no widget and monitors. Considerations to keep in mind are oxygen and light penetration, seamers, reliability, the ability to upgrade later and integration with your current system.

  Silver of XpressFill said that the most important features to consider are “cost, fill consistency, oxygen uptake, user-friendly, reliability, ease of cleaning and sanitizing and support by the manufacturer (both pre-sale and after).”

  Vincent of Ska Fabricating said that first and foremost, the most important factors for making a canning machine decision are identifying the proper speed line that works well with your budget, batch size, labor pool and desired level of automation. He said that the second priority is to make sure you understand the differences in the fillers and what level of quality you can expect from them. 

  “In the end, you get what you pay for,” Vincent said. “Rotary fillers tend to provide a higher level of fill quality than inline fillers, but they are typically four to five times the cost. 

  “All businesses evaluate the cost-competitive options when procuring capital assets to support their business,” said Anacker of OneVision Corporation. “For the craft brewery industry, there are many options for these canning investments. Sustainability versus initial investment cost is widely overlooked and should be evaluated more closely.”

Questions to Ask Before Buying a New Canning System

  There are many questions to ask before buying a new canning machine, either for the first time as a new brewery or to upgrade existing equipment. Here are some initial questions to start with:

•    Is the machine the right size for your needs?

•    Will you use printed cans or labels?

•    Are pneumatic seamers your best option?

•    How easy is it to clean the machine?

•    What other accessories are needed to operate the machine?

•    What are the financing options?

  Silver of XpressFill said that while many craft breweries are shifting to cans instead of bottles because of customer demand, switching production from bottles to cans is a significant undertaking that should not be taken lightly.

  “Canning lines and mobile canning could be prohibitively expensive depending on the initial scope of your production,” Silver said. “Table top units, like the XpressFill fillers, can be a cost-effective initial effort to meet the initial demand. Questions should be asked regarding the production capacity of the equipment, ability to upgrade, sell-back policies and warranty information to ensure a prudent investment.”

  Vincent of Ska Fabricating said that the most important questions to ask are about the machine’s cost, level of support offered, how many people it takes to operate the line efficiently and what level of dissolved oxygen the filler can maintain while filling.

  Anacker of OneVision Corporation recommends looking into the track record of the supplier company as well as the actual system being considered. He said to ask about if the system can be upgraded to match future growth and to check references of actual users with at least three years of experience using the system. How a “micro-canning” system compares to larger commercial canning systems and whether the system has the same fundamental function and repeatability to have confidence in long-term production capability and integrity are other considerations that Anacker recommends.

Expert Advice About Canning Machines & Lines

  With all of this information in mind, you may decide that now is the right time to start looking at new canning machine options, or it may be best to hold off for a while until you have fully assessed your needs. However, it seems that canned craft beer is here to stay and will only continue to increase in popularity in the future.

  Vincent of Ska Fabricating recommends that breweries do their homework in researching canning line equipment and identify reputable vendors that will provide the levels of customer service and project management that your brewery needs.

  “Budget for the suppliers to do the installations and training for their machinery,” Vincent said. “Many mistakes are made and inefficiencies are created without proper installation and training on the machinery. We have seen many customers that try to do the installations on their own and it ends up creating more problems in the long run, resulting in down time and/or machinery that doesn’t operate as well as intended.” 

  In terms of advice for craft breweries, Anacker of OneVision Corporation said,” Contract or employ resources with canning experience to help make procurement choices, develop production layout, oversee the production to get this business phase started well and develop other resources for sustainability.”

  Silver of XpressFill recommends finding other breweries that have worked with the particular machine and manufacturer that you are considering and asking them about the machine’s reliability and overall satisfaction with the canning equipment.

  “Also, search online for reviews of the equipment,” Silver said. “Real world experience is the best insight into what can be expected with purchasing and operating a new canning system.” 

Connected Closures: Meet the New Technology

By: Robin Dorhn-Simpson

Do you remember when microwaves came on the market? Or when computers replaced typewriters? How about the huge mobile cellphones the size of a shoebox? Technology is constantly changing. Just when we think we have it figured out, it changes. It can add much stress to our lives, or it can make it more enjoyable. Once you embrace it and see how relatively easy it is, the fun begins.

  Millennials have been raised around technology, making it very comfortable to them. They don’t have the fear that baby boomers sometimes experience when learning new technology. Since many businesses are focusing their marketing dollars on the millennial audience, technology in marketing is a natural progression. Many marketing studies on millennials state that, amongst other things, they want experiences. As a producer, are you satisfying their desire for something fresh, new and authentic? Are you connecting with them on their terms via mobile devices? Near Field Communication Technology can help producers do just that.

Near Field Communication

  Quizelet.com defines NFC as a short-range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they are touched together or brought within a few centimeters of each other. Many consumers may already be familiar with this technology through their use of Google and Apple pay.

  Similar to Bluetooth technology, NFC communication is faster and sends information over radio waves. It takes less than one-tenth of a second to establish a connection between two devices.

  Smartphones are the most common form of NFC devices. Most Android smartphones and newer iPhones have the technology included. For older mobile phones, apps can be downloaded to allow these devices to read a variety of NFCs.

  NFC requires at least one transmitting device, and another to receive the signal. A range of devices can use the NFC standard and will be considered either passive or active. Active devices can send and receive data as well as communicate with one another. Passive devices often take the form of a tag or chip, sending information to active devices without needing a power source of their own.

What does all this mean for you?

  In August, Guala Closures, a company that has traditionally employed advanced technologies and connected closures, used NFC technology to add communication content into the cap of a Malibu rum bottle. The chip inside the enabled “smart cap” is so small it’s practically invisible. Each cap then has a 4-letter code, which acts as the proof of purchase inside the lid. 

  Tapping on this cap allows both the consumer and the brand to know more about one another. The producer will know where and when it was purchased. In return, the consumer has access to recipes, contests, and different communications offered by the brand. This will allow the relationship between producer and consumer to reach a new level.

  Many people today are concerned about companies accessing their personal information. Simon Yudelevich, General Manager for Guala Closures North America told Beverage Master Magazine about the concepts of connected closures.

  “When you tap your phone and connect, you give consent to the brand to gather information on when and where. When the consumer goes online to look at what this is all about, there is an explicit consent which requires the consumer to opt-in, in compliance with all applicable regulations,” said Yudelevich

  By committing to developing connected solutions in cooperation with its clients, Guala Closures help them learn more about their consumer habits and loyalty to their brands. In this framework, the company also deposited a patent of the solution that combines the NFC technology with aluminum closures.

Marketer’s Delight

  Since brand owners control the marketing of their product, they have an abundance of creative options with this new platform. The possibilities are endless.

  “By tapping the cap, you get access to great marketing content, which not only further strengthens the relationship between consumers and the brands they like, but also allows them to build a brand community of consumers via access to social media such as Facebook, etc.,” Yudelevich said. “Since the brand owner’s goal is also to engage the consumer, they can create recipes-of-the-month, which can be changed every day if wanted. They can create contests or ask the consumer to join their club. They can even ask the consumer to send a message to their friends about what they just purchased. Marketers can change the messages as often as they want. They can add, delete or amend the content. Since everything happens on the cloud, the changes are simple. They can tap, create video content whereby when the cap is tapped, a video uploads and the consumer can see how to use the product.”

  “Marketers want data from the consumer, including how much they paid to pay for the product. Businesses want the ability to track and trace where the product was purchased, as well as monitor anti-counterfeiting. This is already changing the face of marketing,” Yudelevich said.

  Malibu Rum has recently signed on with Guala Closures with limited-edition connected bottles currently circulating in Ohio and Texas. Marketers plan on including drink recipes and sweepstakes. Soon, consumers will be able to win prizes through a mobile game called Sunshine Slide.

  “Everyone’s excited with this new rollout for Malibu to develop these smart connected closures that enable the brand to get close to its consumers, Yudelevich said. “Once other companies see this new technology and its benefits, these closures for spirits and wine are going to be the leaders in direct-to-consumer marketing.”

Kilchoman Distillery Company Case Study

  In early 2018, Thinfilm Electronics of San Jose, California joined forces with Kilchoman Distillery Company, a producer of single malt Scotch on the island of Islay. Kilchoman distributes its whisky to 13 countries and wanted an effective way to interact with the end consumer. While they didn’t put their technology in the caps of bottles, they used NFC powered, interactive neck-tags for their Machir Bay and Sanaig Whiskey. Fully integrated with Thinfilm’s CNECT Cloud Platform, the tags were the digital touchpoint that consumers could tap to have an individual marketing channel.

  In a case study published at www.thinfilm.com, Thinfilm Electronics created a mobile-optimized product system where the CNECT Cloud Platform stored and managed all of the unique tag IDS. The tags allowed Kilchoman to track the time from “ship-to-shelf” across 13 countries as well as analyze item-level intelligence and consumer interaction data in real-time. Thinfilm produced a branded NFC scanner app called “Discover Kilchoman” available in Apple’s App Store.

  The results concluded that the end-to-end NFC mobile marketing solution was highly encouraging, with a 6.5% engagement rate. This rate is several times more effective than traditional digital marketing activities and created a way for Kilchoman to connect directly with consumers and build customer loyalty. It also mitigated the need for additional promotional support or omnichannel activities. 

  Compared to traditional digital marketing, the NFC display was 70 times more effective than email, search engines and social media. They concluded that there was a 35% virality rate (each bottle tapped by 1.35 consumers on average) and a 22% iOS engagement via the custom Kilchoman branded app. Finally, they were able to identify that it was an average of seven weeks “ship-to-shelf” time.

  Thanks to intelligent technology and the desire to connect with the end consumer, companies are now able to have a one-on-one relationship with those who love and use their products. Each brand has a unique story. Now they can make sure their customers know it.

  So, set yourself apart from the competition. While millennials are brand loyal, someone has to be the one they support. To gain loyalty and foster the next generation of consumers, have originality, offer a great experience, be authentic, have value, and keep the digital conversation going.

A HIGH-TEMPERATURE WASHDOWN STATION TO MEET YOUR HIGH-EFFICENCY PRODUCTION NEEDS

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thermo-logo-reg-1.png

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Warminster, PA USA) In food processing, dairy, beverage, chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical facilities, maintaining a clean environment is critical to consistent product quality. To keep production running on time, high temperature washdown stations are used to quickly and efficiently clean and sanitize equipment in place. For facilities with a hot and cold water supply, the HCX Water/Water Washdown Station is an excellent solution.

The washdown station utilizes two individual globe valves to mix hot and cold water to a user adjusted temperature. Output temperature is clearly displayed on the integrated temperature display gauge for operational simplicity.

To prevent accidental scalding, the unit is offered with our unique SmartFlow feature. “This is an in-line, over-temperature safety valve whose only purpose is to keep your employees safe,” Nick Tallos, ThermOmegaTech®’s VP of Engineering commented. “It automatically stops flow if the unit’s output exceeds a specified temperature – 125°F, 135°F or 145°F depending on the model selected.”

The unit functions completely mechanically and requires no outside source of electricity to operate. Compact, reliable, and cost-effective, the HCX Washdown Station is a beneficial addition to any facility.

About ThermOmegaTech®:

For over 35 years, ThermOmegaTech® has been a leader in the design and manufacture of self-actuated thermostatic technology. Founded in 1983, ThermOmegaTech® is a privately held organization with 40,000 square feet of manufacturing and office facility located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company provides innovative solutions for a wide range of applications including freeze & scald protection, mixing & diverting, steam traps, thermal bypass, tepid water delivery, washdown, balancing, drain tempering, and many other applications where temperature control is critical. Key industries it serves include railroad, commercial plumbing, aerospace & defense and industrial. Over 95% of its products are manufactured, calibrated, and tested in-house. R&D, prototype development, and integrated solutions are managed on site. ThermOmegaTech® has been ISO 9001 certified for over a decade and its products are distributed and used worldwide.

For more information, please email ThermOmegaTech® at valves@thermomegatech.com.

ThermOmegaTech®, Inc.

353 Ivyland Road

Warminster, PA 18974

Phone: 877-379-8258

Website: www.ThermOmegaTech.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/thermomegatech Twitter: @thermomegatech  

Pumping Success Into Your Brewery or Distillery

By: Gerald Dlubala

For breweries and distilleries, the beer and spirits that flow within drive business, but the pumps used to move that product can easily be considered the heart of production. If a pump fails, product flow stops and downtime eats away at production and delivery schedules. Having a quality pump lessens the chances of failure, so reliability and quality are key.

  Taking the time and effort to research the best pumps for the money and making a quality investment will make all the difference. “With the risk of sounding glib, you really do get what you pay for,” said Ross Battersby, Sales & Design contact for Carlsen & Associates. “There is usually a bit of a conflict between what the business accountant says is affordable and what the winemaker, distiller or brewmaster really wants and needs. The accountant almost always wins, but there is an inherent danger in selecting a pump on the basis of cost alone. Cheaper pumps may look fine on the outside, but they’re usually outfitted with cheaply made, low-quality blades and impellers, leading to a lot of internal shear that damages the product as it passes through the pump.”

  Carlsen & Associates started as a portable pump manufacturer for the wine industry, but now manufactures pumps for breweries, distilleries, meaderies, kombucha, soy sauce manufacturers, honey producers and various cannabis-related businesses. Their many years creating and tweaking pumps for multiple industries makes them uniquely qualified in recommending the right pump for a business’s needs.

  “We recommend a double diaphragm air pump with grounding tag for distilleries,” said Battersby. “With distilleries and high proof alcohol, you first and foremost need explosion-proof pumps. Compressed air powered pumps easily deliver the necessary amount of power for distilleries, and they’re perfectly fine for fluids, but if the distiller uses any botanicals, the pumps need to be screened off. You can safely use electrical-based pumps too, but they have to be rated explosion-proof, which sometimes makes them quite costly for what is really needed.”

  “With breweries, you’re talking about moving wort and heavier fluids with temperatures up to 210 degrees, so you’ll likely be looking at positive displacement pumps. Ours are Waukesha pumps, using winged rotors resembling ice cream scoops that spin around, scoop the optimal amount of product, and move it along without causing any crush or damage. They have capabilities of pumping as little as 30 gallons per minute up to 130 gallons a minute using one to three-inch lines.”

  Brewery systems and structures are more rigid and fixed, so the pumps tend to reflect that and perform better as a fixed system as well. Battersby told Beverage Master Magazine many brewers favor smaller centrifuge pumps that fit into these systems. In contrast, wineries will make better use of portable pumps that are on carts so they can move them around the different areas of the winery where needed.

  As far as new technology on the forefront, Battersby said hybrid pumps made by combining air and impeller pumps are currently being manufactured, but he doesn’t feel they will significantly change the industry. The real trend, according to Battersby, is what he calls “right-sizing.”

  “You can’t really get away from the tried and true technology,” says Battersby. “Business owners tend to go with whatever will give them the least amount of downtime. Many newer brewers don’t possess the type of physics background that allows them to know the best ways of moving liquids. They tend to think that more horsepower is always better, but that’s not true. It’s better to match your specific needs. So the new trend, as far as we are concerned, is right-sizing. We match the equipment up to whatever it is that you need to move.

  We educate brewers and distillers in the physics behind what they are trying to do, and why one piece of equipment is preferred over another, even if it’s not the most powerful. Additionally, we stress that the pumps are only as good as the hoses, clamps and fittings that connect to them. Right-sizing incorporates a quality pump with appropriate matching parts that are easily serviceable and repairable in the least amount of time.”

Matching Pumps To Product

  Paul Hail, CEO of Affordable Distillery Equipment, knows what reliability means in the brewing and distilling industry, so only offers quality equipment made to last a lifetime. Although based in the rural hills of the Missouri Ozarks, Affordable Distillery’s pumps are used in nearly 20% of craft spirit distilleries across the U.S. Hail recommends a few options for spirits production.

  “If you try to use a centrifugal pump with corn mash, the lifespan of that pump is probably going to be less than a year,” said Hail. “When moving corn mash, you have better options available. A double diaphragm air pump will work, but it will take a lot of air and a minimum of 1 ½  diameter connecting hoses. The pump is cheap, but the big expense—sometimes an additional $2,000-$3,000—comes with the need for a larger air compressor. A flex impeller type of pump is a great, moderately priced choice, but the impeller is a normal wear part, and depending on what type of material it’s manufactured from and the amount and type of use it receives, it could last months or only weeks. The loads it’s put through determines the wear and replacement needs. Your best choice would be a rotary load pump, but they are incredibly expensive so generally not an option for every smaller or startup distillery.”

  Hail, like Battersby, mentions the importance of safety when using a pump in the distillery. “You must remember, though, when moving high proof alcohol, you’ll need a grounding terminal on the pump to make it explosion-proof,” said Hail. “It’s not a likely scenario, but there is a minute chance that the rushing of a product while being pumped will manufacture enough static to potentially release a tiny spark. Couple that with high proof alcohol and we all know where that leads.”

  As Hail continues to run an industry-leading pump manufacturer, he told Beverage Master Magazine that it’s hard to come up with new ideas when pump technology has barely changed in generations.

  “You’ll hear about new things being tried around the industry, but when properly researched, those bright new ideas were usually already attempted by those before us. The reason that they’re not being done today is that they just didn’t work or weren’t economically feasible. Any new technology or methods would likely be groundbreaking if valid, and that’s what we are working on here at Affordable Distilling. Hopefully more about that in the future,” said Hail.

Improving On Current Equipment

  Based on their successful history with marine and industrial applications, AmpCo Pump Company in Glendale, Wisconsin, began manufacturing pumps specifically for the brewing, distilling and wine industries (https://www.ampcopumps.com).

  One chronic issue with pumps has been a tendency for the seals to leak eventually. Tony Krebs, Marketing Manager for AmpCo Pumps, said they have successfully addressed that issue in one of their most popular pumps, the CB+ Craft Brew Pump, specially designed for hot wort transfer.

  “Over time, the material being moved through the pump typically crystalizes, and that buildup will eventually cause traditional seals to leak,” said Krebs. “AmpCo’s CB+ Craft Brew Pump possesses an internal, submersed seal to promote cooling. Because it’s internally seated, any pressure increase caused by heat or flow creates an increased closing force on the seals to minimize any potential buildup. Additionally, the pump has an internal spring that acts as an agitator to reduce the solids buildup, thereby reducing crystallization on the seals. It’s an excellent choice for all sizes of breweries, but it’s an especially great match for the smaller brewpubs because on a cart, mobile and multi-functional. It can be used as a transfer pump in many areas around the facility, but it performs equally well as a clean-in-place pump. It’s not the cheapest pump you’re going to find, but when choosing a pump, it’s extremely important to be able to find certified, readily available parts and quality people to install those parts and repair your equipment. Downtime costs money, and when pumps are down, so is your brewing or distilling process.”

  AmpCo also makes pumps for the wine industry, offering their L series centrifugal pumps with the same exceptional quality, efficiency and durability as their counterparts designed for the craft breweries and distilleries.

  Krebs told Beverage Master Magazine that AmpCo is always at the forefront of pump technology, and regularly on the leading edge of trends in the craft brewing, spirits and wine industries. Krebs has recently noticed the need and increased demand for their portable hop induction units. This machine simultaneously induces dry hop pellets directly into the beer stream while recirculating the fermenter. It features AmpCo’s SBI Shear Pump and provides the brewmaster everything necessary to dry hop beer efficiently and safely within a single unit.

  “You can’t ignore the creative side of distillers, winemakers and brewmasters. They like to continuously mix flavor and ingredient profiles and provide experimental flavor combinations for signature blends, special tastings or customer trials,” says Krebs. “Blending pumps provide a better and more efficient way to get this done.”

Brewery Air Compression Systems: Why Quality Matters

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Compressed air systems are often misunderstood in the brewing industry and undervalued as a long-term investment; however, compressed air is an essential part of the brewing process, and an efficient system is integral. Choosing the best pneumatic system for brewery operations requires understanding the uses of compressed air in a brewery, the types of compressors available, and the size, focus and other needs of the brewery.

Brewery Uses for Compressed Air

  Although every brewery operates differently, there are a few common uses for air compressors that are very important to the brewing process. Compressed air is used as a means to get yeast cultures enough oxygen during fermentation. Brewers also use compressors to aerate wort and water, and to transport solids, such as spent grains, whole malt, and sugar.

  During bottling, compressed air can move beer from the conditioning tank to the bottle, as well as keep lines clean and free of water. It is used during canning and clarifying to remove solids and create a cleaner product, and controls valves and actuators in automated packaging and labeling processes. Some maintenance and sanitation also require compressed air, powering air tools and pressure washers.

Types of Air Compressors for Breweries

  There are two primary types of air compressors used by modern breweries. The first is the pressure-lubricated reciprocating or piston air compressor. These compressors use a piston and cylinder driven by a crankshaft to compress air and feature either a single-stage or double-stage operation. Single-stage piston air compressors bring air in with a single-piston stroke that’s about 120 PSI.

  Meanwhile, double-stage compressors compress air up to about 175 PSI with an additional compression step through a second piston. These compressors are often used for low-pressure tasks, such as washing kegs.

  The second type of brewery air compressor is a lubricated rotary screw compressor. The rotary screws in these compressors utilize a positive displacement system and a hydraulic seal to transfer energy between rotors. The screw design and rotation forces air to move through the compressor. These types of compressors are better suited for high-pressure tanks and are useful for bottling and other brewery tasks.

  When shopping for compressors, brewers can choose between oil-lubricated compressors and oil-free air compressors, depending on their needs. Lubricated compressors are typically equipped with filtering systems to ensure that contaminants stay out of beer.

  As an alternative to the piston compressor for brewery applications, some brewers use oil-free scroll air compressors for continuous clean air and quiet operation. These machines can be installed anywhere due to the low noise levels and no pressure drop-offs.

Brewery Size Matters

  Michael Camber, Marketing Services Manager for Kaeser Compressors, Inc., told Beverage Master Magazine that the full range of craft breweries’ production levels would affect their pneumatic equipment needs.

  “Larger brewers tend to have a broader variety of pneumatic devices, as well as more of them,” Camber said. “Our craft brewers typically purchase rotary screw compressors from 5-50 hp, though most craft brewers are in the 5-25 hp range. These are most often bought as part of a system that includes tanks, drains, dryers, and filters. These are vital to cleaning up the air to protect brewers’ expensive equipment. Many choose AIRTOWERs and AIRCENTERs, which are complete compressed air stations with storage tanks and air treatment components built into a space and time-saving package.”

  In addition to the high-quality air they provide, Camber said that these compressors are extremely reliable and energy-efficient.

“These machines are designed for demanding manufacturing and processing applications and can run 24/7 if needed,” he said. “A bonus is that the packages are quiet, which is especially important if people will be working near the compressor or the brewery has a public taproom on-premises.”

Compressors Used by Breweries

  Due to their varying needs, no two breweries use their air compression systems the same. The market also provides brewers with plenty of manufacturers so that they can find their perfect pneumatic fit.

  Offering year-round, seasonal, and unique one-off beers, D9 Brewing Company has been on the local craft beer scene in Cornelius, North Carolina since 2014. Andrew Durstewitz, CEO and founder of D9 Brewing, told Beverage Master Magazine, “We use an Ingersoll Rand compressor for all pneumatic controls in the brewhouse, packaging, and aeration of wort.” (Photo on Right)

  Peter Licht, brewmaster for Hermitage Brewing Company in San Jose, California, said he uses rotary screw compressors with integrated dryer for all of his brewery’s compressed air needs. Hermitage Brewing Company is a big part of the growing craft beer scene in San Jose and offers a pubic tasting room, growler fills, keg orders, and brewery tours.

  Meanwhile, Drew Yeager, Director of Brewery Operations for Fat Bottom Brewing in Nashville, Tennessee said his brewery uses an Atlas Copco SF22+ FF Oil-free air compressor.

  “This is used to provide oil-free, dry air to our production equipment including the chain-vey conveyor system, centrifuge, keg washer, canning line, PakTech applicator, CIP system, and central foaming system for floor cleaning,” Yeager said.

  Established in 2012 as East Nashville’s first brewery, Fat Bottom Brewing brews a wide variety of beers inspired by styles all around the world.

Brewery Compressor Considerations

  For brewers in the market for an air compressor, many questions should be raised internally and with manufacturers. One important consideration is to understand the size of air compressor the brewery needs to not burn out and put operations at a stand-still. Brewers should also take into account where to physically place the compressor in the brewery to reduce noise and potential damage to brewing equipment. 

  Some brewers have made the switch from oil-based air compressors to oil-free versions. Oil-free air tends to be better for brewing because oil can kill yeast, flatten a frothy head, present safety hazards, and reduce purity.

  Camber of Kaeser Compressors defined and described what he considers the six most important factors a brewery should consider when purchasing an air compression system.

1.   Reliability – If the operation has mission-critical equipment with pneumatics, you want something well-built so you don’t have downtime.

2.   Energy efficiency – Depending on local utility rates, size of machine (hp), and the running hours, energy can be a significant cost. Efficiency varies widely between compressors.

3.   Operating temperature – This impacts how easy or hard it will be to remove moisture from the compressed air. The lower the operating temperature, the easier it will be to prevent moisture from affecting equipment and product.

4.   High oil carryover – the carryover rate also impacts air quality and can be a real problem with some compressors. The lower it is, the better for both product quality and equipment reliability.

5.   Low vibration – over time, vibration will loosen internal piping and electrical connections, causing downtime. Look for compressors that run smoothly and have good vibration isolators.

6.   Noise – if people will be working near the compressor, low noise is important for morale, health, and safety.

  Durstewitz of D9 Brewing said the most important considerations for his brewery concerning air compressors are reliability and sanitation. Licht of Heritage Brewing said air quality, reliability, and sound are the top things they keep in mind when looking at air compressors.

  At Fat Bottom Brewing, Yeager said oil-free and dry air are the most important considerations for his brewery’s air compressor decisions. Other factors he said are “planning for SCF required day one and with a growth plan for sizing,” as well as the “noise level for employee comfort and OSHA compliance.”

Choosing the Right Brewery Air Compressor

  There is no one-size-fits-all solution for brewery air compressors because every brewery’s compressed air needs are unique. To get started, talk to experts at air compressor companies that serve breweries as a primary market, as well as other craft brewers about what systems work well for them.

  Durstewitz of D9 Brewing recommends not winging it when choosing the size of your air compressor. “Make sure to accurately calculate your CFMs and pressure requirements. If you run a compressor too hard it’ll just burn out,” he said.

  Heritage Brewing Company’s Licht said breweries should “plan for future air needs, make sure the air quality is appropriate for the use, and do not install a noisy compressor in work areas.” 

  Fat Bottom Brewery’s Yeager stands behind oil-free. “Bite the bullet and purchase the right oil-free, dry air compressor. You will save the difference in money with less maintenance on brewery equipment and less downtime in production.”

  Finally, Camber of Kaeser Compressors warns about going too big. “Determine what size and type you need based on actual air demand, duty cycle, and how mission-critical air is to your brewery,” he said. “You want a reliable supply at a stable pressure, but you don’t want to oversize compressors. Oversizing increases your purchase costs, your energy costs, and your maintenance costs.”

Nitrogen Use In The Brewery: The Pour Says It All

By: Gerald Dlubala

You only have to look at the rotating list of available craft beer flavor profiles and styles at your local brew pub to know that Brewmasters are always looking for ways to please their patrons. Adding the use of nitrogen within the craft brewing industry is one of those ways that breweries look to produce a better final product for both their loyal consumers and for the distributors as well.

Nitrogen use is gaining popularity in craft breweries because it can be used as a safeguard against harmful oxygenation of their product that can affect taste, aroma and quality, all the things craft beer enthusiasts really care about. But nitrogen is also used to pressurize the containers and extend the shelf life of packaged beer. When used in conjunction with widgets or nitrogen dosing machinery before capping, it’s also responsible for that unique, cascading pour and velvety mouthfeel that signifies a nitro beer.

“Since the eighties, our liquid nitrogen dosing equipment line has expanded and improved to meet certain needs amongst the brewing industry,” says Jackie Whitney, Technical Support and Application Engineer for Vacuum Barrier Corporation in Woburn, MA, a manufacturer of nitrogen dosing equipment for use in craft breweries. “Nitrogen is used to purge the oxygen of the empty container before filling, but also to purge the oxygen from the headspace of filled containers. Nitrogen is used to pressurize cans of lower carbonated products, helping with packaging stability. And of course, it’s used for nitrogenating beers.”

“Nitrogen can be used before filling or after filling and before capping and seaming. We have our Linerter doser, used to purge empty containers before filling. It doses in a larger quantity to ensure that enough liquid nitrogen is put into the container to completely purge the oxygen out from it, similar to how it’s done for wine bottles. Our other styles of dosers are more precise, limited by line speed and size, and able to dose in smaller and more precise liquid nitrogen drops into filled containers, reducing oxygen in the headspace while pressurizing the container.”

“For small scale breweries,” says Whitney, “Liquid nitrogen is accessible in rented portable Dewars that are generally available locally from gas distributors. For the larger scale breweries requiring greater amounts, it’s generally recommended that the liquid nitrogen be stored in a refillable bulk tank located outside. Depending on the magnitude of the brewery, liquid nitrogen can be efficiently transferred from the supply tank to the doser using a vacuum insulated piping system.”

Whitney says there are no other alternatives to nitrogen. “It is the most economically feasible, inert, cryogenic gas available. It helps extend shelf life while preserving flavor and pressurizing the containers, allowing them to more easily be stacked during packaging and transportation.”

But no use of nitrogen may be more noticeable to the dedicated craft beer drinker than the characteristics it brings to that silky-smooth end product coming out of that tapper.

Whitney says that many brewers are using nitrogen infused beer to create an alternate taste for beer lovers, and because this is a relatively new craft brewing method, they are experimenting with all different kinds of nitrogen-infused beer.

“By dosing with nitrogen, breweries transform their beer into nitro beer, meaning one that has and retains a smooth, creamy head after pouring, either with or without the widget. This benefit would seem to translate across all beer styles should the brewer want to do that. The receiver of a nitro beer will notice a taste and aroma that is much fresher than that of their normal, standard carbonated beer. Nitrogenated beers have an appealing, more attractive cascade upon pouring compared to standard or regular beers, and the nitro style beers will possess a creamier texture and a more evenly distributed flavor, while the normal carbonated beer is less delicate and has a stronger aroma.”

The Nitrogen Movement

“More than just a trend, nitrogen use in the craft brewery is really a movement that’s been continually building and now really coming into its own.”

These are the words of Tyler Jones, Production Manager of Dosing Systems at Chart Industries Inc, headquartered in Ball Ground, GA. He says there are two predominant reasons for this movement.

“One use is to push oxygen out of containers during the brewing process. By containers, we are talking mainly cans for now. There are certain amounts of dissolved oxygen (DO) that we just can’t do anything about,” says Jones. “But we can reduce the total package oxygen (TPO), specifically the headspace oxygen (HO) that is sitting above the beer and trying to get into the product during packaging. If you’re not dosing nitrogen, then your actual parts per billion (ppb) of DO is higher than you initially measured, and that means that you as the brewer, aren’t getting your product out to market in the taste profile that you initially intended.”

“The second reason is nitrogenation of the beer. Many brewers do it in the keg itself. You prefill the keg with gaseous nitrogen, and over time, the beer inside the keg transforms to nitro brew, which is then also pushed through the keg to tap process using only nitrogen. Carbon dioxide is a natural product but slows the nitrogenation process, so most breweries want to pull the carbon dioxide out. Nitrogen filled kegs keep the nitrogen in the beer where it belongs.”

Guinness is, of course, the name most synonymous with nitro brews, and has a patent on their cans featuring that familiar rattling ball. Other cans have a widget installed, which Jones says is about the size of a quarter in diameter and the width of a thumb. The widget contains an orifice with an exit valve and a slit for the in-valve. The brewer puts the beer in, the can is inverted so the liquid just covers the top orifice. As the nitrogen expands, it forces itself into the widget so that when the can is inverted again, the nitrogen is encased within the widget. When the beer is opened, it gets a slight shake or hard pour, charging the system. Nitrogen escapes, invigorating the beer and producing that great cascading pour that accompanies all nitro brews.

But because these cans were expensive and only available if ordered in standard, minimum order quantities, the smaller craft breweries simply couldn’t afford them. That’s when Jones and Chart started their Ditch The Widget program and website, allowing smaller and startup brewers the ability to give their beer a heavy nitrogen dose right on the filling line, immediately before seaming.

“Without giving away too much, it’s all about a pressure situation in the can or bottle. After a short time, the beer is completely nitrogenated, complete with the great taste, the great cascading pour, and the familiar long-lasting, tight head. Just everything. The whole deal,” says Jones. “And better yet, the best results have come when the beer is initially brewed completely flat, without the use of carbon dioxide or nitrogen.”

Dose size will vary due to the beer type as well as the size of can or bottle. One drop of liquid nitrogen expands seven hundred times its volume when going from liquid to gas. That expansion evacuates the oxygen and carbon dioxide that is present while adding pressurization.

Partnering with Left Hand Brewing in Colorado, Chart and Jones have been able to perform intensive nitro testing and help cultivate the nitro industry.

“The Brewmasters help us with testing because they know exactly what they are looking for in the way of head retention, pour and taste. Nitrogen is generally thought to be used with the darker beers, and although that is true, anything can be nitrogen dosed, including IPAs. The main thing is that nitrogen is smaller and less soluble than carbon dioxide, so it creates a creamier mouthfeel for those beers that are already more pleasant than some IPA or hop forward beers. If the beer is actually meant to have a bite to its final taste, then nitro dosing would defeat that purpose.”

Brew Pubs Are Perfect For Sampling

Left Hand Brewing is just one craft brewery that has become a proponent for nitrogen use in the craft beer industry. They continue to offer both nitro and non-nitro options in their milk stouts, allowing a side by side comparison of just how nitrogen dosed beers differ in aroma, taste and appearance. They’ve also been successful with bottling nitro beer. Their bottled Nitro Milk Stout met with wild enthusiasm and great reviews, paving the way for a series of nitro brews that included their Sawtooth Nitro and Wake Up Dead Nitro. By increasing the availability of nitro beers as a to-go product, Left Hand Brewing increases the availability and versatility of craft beer options, while also allowing nitro beer aficionados to be able to take their preferred beer with them away from the pub.

James Cain, co-owner of Vault Brewing Company in Yardley, PA is quick to sing the praises of using nitrogen within his brewery. Vault was the first to package their nitro beers in widgetless cans, opting for inline nitrogenation instead. But Cain also uses nitrogen with some of his traditionally carbonated beers as well.

“Capping our cans using nitrogen is very helpful in removing oxygen from the headspace because of the capacity the nitrogen displaces when transforming from a liquid to gaseous state. It promotes extended shelf life and because of that large amount of displacement, the walls of a beer canned using nitrogen will be noticeably more firm and rigid than their CO2 counterparts. This supports the idea of higher strength cans with better performance and more stacking power. But you have to be mindful that the extra strength is due to increased pressure, so there also is the possibility for more damage. It’s a six-of-one, half a dozen of the other kind of thing.”

“Not many are packaging with nitrogen,” Cain says, “But we feel that it’s a great way for those beer drinkers to be able to take our nitro beers with them for later enjoyment in their homes. They’ve asked if we could do it with our growlers, but it just wouldn’t work, so being able to can the nitro beer is a way to satisfy that customer demand.”

Within his brewpub, Cain says that there are always nitro brew beers on tap, with the choices usually being seasonal and/or session beers. These beers are pushed from keg to tap using a nitrogen system that allows a mixture of seventy-five percent nitrogen to twenty-five percent oxygen ratio.

“It ultimately comes down to personal preference,” says Cain. “Overall, using nitrogen gives a superior, cask-style pour, emphasizing the taste and flavor of the beer. It’s a way to provide a smoother mouthfeel without the fizziness of high carbonation. It takes away the carbonic acid and bite at the end of your drink of beer.”

The Proof Is In The Pour

Nitro beer drinkers notice immediate differences in initial mouthfeel, which plays a huge part in the overall perception of the beer from that point forward. That smoother, creamier, almost dessert-like foam head is all due to the nitrogen immediately forming a glassful of tiny, insoluble bubbles upon pouring.

And that pour is important. With agitation produced from either a mild shake or a fully inverted hard pour, nitrogen is released and those tiny, endless bubbles descend with the signature cascading action that signifies a nitro brew. By the time the container is emptied, those nitrogen bubbles reverse their flow and rise towards the top in a thick, heavy foam head with superior retention, providing the velvety mouthfeel of a luscious whipped dessert. The darker, more intensely flavored stout types of beer tend to better match with the creamier, velvety consistency of nitro brewing, and actually have their flavors amplified when introduced to nitrogen.

The Essence of FILTRATION

By: Tracey L. Kelley

In the classic John Wayne film “The Quiet Man”, Irish lass Mary Kate Danaher asks the town’s local matchmaker, Michaeleen Óge Flynn, if he’d like a little water in his whiskey. “When I drink whiskey,” Flynn puffed out his chest, “I drink whiskey. When I drink water, I drink water.” Yet a wee drop or two of water to a dram of almost any finely-crafted spirit, especially whiskey, will enhance the flavor profile.

Rewinding now, from glass to finishing, finishing to production and raw ingredients awaiting the boiler or still—water flows through every stage. For the majority of distillers, its quality can’t be controlled at the absolute source. Water also has a tendency to, well, grow things. These spoiler organisms often adhere to other ingredients in the batch. Without proper filtration, they cause a host of problems through each stage of product development. 

  Beverage Master Magazine asked James “Jimmy” Fagen, East Coast sales manager for Craft Brew Water, Inc. what distillers need to remember about this essential ingredient.

“Rain, well and surface water is constantly changing throughout the year, and should be looked at by the ‘ranges’ of its make-up,” Fagen said. “These changes affect the look and taste of a distiller’s product and the maintenance of their equipment.” Craft Brew Water, based in Thousand Oaks, California, manufactures customized water filtration systems for distillers and brewers, as well as filtering sets and media.

Fagen suggested that since water consistency minimizes surprises in the final product, determine water quality at a baseline level. “For mineral content, measurement of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels should always be the same when you start. This can be achieved with the use of Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment, a blending valve—used for brandy—and real time TDS measurement.”

Filtering Differs By Source and Product

Adam Cox is the general manager and head distiller of Iowa Distilling Company in Cumming. During production, he said, some problems can be remedied. Others need proper filtration. “The high-temperature fermentation process can essentially cook off a lot of water impurities and chemicals,” Cox said. “But it’s more difficult to control water minerals or changes in minerals. Knowledge of this determines what type of filtering you need for both the front end and the finishing end.” The distillery’s corn-based product line includes Straight Bourbon, Zone Vodka, Steel Drum Rum and Madikwe, a natural cane spirit.

For every bourbon or whiskey enhanced by trickling water through limestone or a British gin shipped to Iceland for filtering through volcanic rock springs, different producers may have sand and other sediment leeching into their sources when they don’t want them. These are natural interferences. The man-made ones require more filtering diligence.

“City water suppliers, using federal water standards, will add chemicals,” said Fagen. “Producers can achieve chemical removal through carbon filtration systems. Granule-activated carbon will remove such chemicals. Make sure when you select carbon, don’t do it by price: do it by the quality as described by the manufacturer.”

Fagen cautioned that if your water supplier is using chloramines—chlorine and ammonia—for disinfectant, you’ll need catalytic carbon to remove this combination. Penn State Extension service describes catalytic carbon as a more concentrated form of activated carbon that works similarly to an oxidizing filer, absorbing chloramines, hydrogen sulfide, iron, and magnesium in greater quantities.

Carbon filtering is probably one of the most popular natural choices for distilleries. Jayson Barker in the manager of Mile Hi Distilling in Wheatridge, Colorado. The company offers an extensive selection of distillery equipment and supplies, as well as copper and stainless steel moonshine stills. Barker recommended porous activated carbon for a variety of spirits.

“Carbon filtering is similar to the way a carbon water filter works for drinking water: it removes impurities to make drinking water more desirable. Using a back purge steam system can re-activate carbon so it can be used over and over again,” he said. “When making some spirits like vodka, activated carbon filtering is used after the distillation process to create a high purity neutral spirit. Some distilleries also use a small amount of carbon filtering to help make non-neutral spirits more smooth.” Conversely, Barker said, too much carbon filtering in grain- or fruit-based spirits removes the flavor.

Generally, each spirt benefits from particular filtering methods. Here are a few often discussed:

  • Gin: the purity of the ethanol base is hotly contested depending on whether it should be filtered for absolute neutrality, or left with a bit of essence to marry to the botanicals.
  • Liqueurs: here’s when colloidal sediment removal is tricky, as the “goop” simply can’t pass through some filters. Some producers consider mechanical push filtration to be the best option.
  • Moonshine: activated carbon works well to remove toxins, organic materials, and odors. But, as Barker mentioned, too much filtration for this spirit also alters the profile.
  • Sake: after the rice starch converts to sugar, solids have to be removed. This mash isn’t filtered but actually pressed or squeezed through a mesh filter. Then, the liquid passes through a filtration process that includes a fine charcoal powder, which further removes impurities and enhances flavor and color.
  • Scotch whisky: an additional filtering method for removing haze in scotch below 46 percent ABV is chill filtration to stabilize fatty acids, esters and proteins. Isn’t it easier to raise the ABV and avoid chilling altogether so flavor won’t be compromised? Both approaches spark much debate.
  • Tequila: most producers agree that distillation alone can’t meet the impurity removal regulations for this spirit, so carbon filtering is a necessary step.
  • Vodka: as referenced, carbon filter heightens all aspects of this product, but different categories of this spirit are filtered at different speeds depending on the desired result.
  • Whiskey: some producers believe you can use one whiskey sample and create distinctly different profiles simply by altering the filter material, its density, the use or non-use of charcoal and other factors.

Regardless of product, Fagen said, nothing affects it more than the finishing process, or cutting. “Cutting refines the alcohol levels, look and taste of the product. This is where the rubber meets the road. Existing gravity-fed filtration systems limit the type of carbon used for a product and the number of times that product is filtered.”

Barker detailed the cutting process: “First, a producer collects the foreshots and heads and discards them. These first cuts have undesirable compounds that boil off at a lower temperature than alcohol.” He continued. “The next collection is the hearts—the premium spirit cut and the most desired part of the run. Then the tails, which brings over more fusel oils and undesirables. Some of the tails are what helps give spirits character, but too much can give off other flavors and make clear spirits cloudy.”

When Technology Can Help

The process of filtering spirits has come a long way from the days of silt, grass, and animal skins. But the quest to capture the most miniscule of particulate continues, and online forum talk often features distillers comparing microns—that elusive unit of measurement where smaller is better. For example, 50 microns is the width of a human hair. We can’t see anything with the naked eye below 40 microns. A filtering of 30 microns seems acceptable by most producers, but some often tell tales of 10 or less. Since bacteria is approximately two microns, it easy to understand why there’s such a fuss.

“Changes in design and the types of media that we can produce—from string to felt and from high-efficiency media to absolute membranes—means that the end use can capture more, hold more and experience a much more consistent and refined result,” said Robert J. LeConche Jr., president of Shelco Filters.  This nearly 50-year-old company in Middletown, Connecticut specializes in manufacturing filters and cartridges used in a multitude of industries.

Keep in mind that a filter’s micron rating isn’t the only factor to evaluate: be sure to also ask about its nominal or absolute rating, contaminant capacity and efficiency rating percentage. Then, it’s a matter of evaluating your processes and ultimate liquid to consider filter options such as:

  • Bag
  • Cartridge
  • Crossflow
  • Pre-coat, with additives such as diatomaceous earth, cellulose or perlite
  • Sheet or stacked disc cartridges
  • A combination of any of the above

Now, finishing methods are a completely different subject—some producers don’t always consider this stage filtering as much as refining. The rise in RO, which is what Iowa Distilling Company uses for its Zone Vodka, combined with precise filtering makes a difference. “I think many more distilleries are using this,” Cox said. “Depending on your goals for aromas and tastes, you might be changing out filters more often—which you should do anyway—but RO allows for better quality when modifying the finish.” Some distilleries also pass water from the RO system through a deionization (DI) system to improve purity and achieve a pH level of 7.0.

Fagen at Craft Brew Water believes that filtration has and is continuing to evolve the most in its efficient use of water. In turn, he said, this improves a producer’s productivity at acceptable cost levels. He listed many options. “RO system efficiency has greatly reduced the ‘concentrate’ water that contains removed mineral content. Cold RO membranes improve the RO process for cold water regions,” he said. “Anti-scalant systems add longevity to the RO membrane and equipment. UV light treatment kills bacteria very effectively. Programmable carbon filtration systems allow backwashing on your timetable without manual attendance. Scheduled, consistent backwashing minimizes water usage.”

Both Fagen and LeConche stress the importance of asking vendors for customized solutions. It’s hard to spitball capacity needs and specific spirit processes then match them with off-the-shelf machinery. For instance, if the output of a microdistillery averages 50,000 proof gallons a year, plate filter or lenticular filters systems using cartridges might be a cost-effective choice. Housings can be modified as well with expansion. Whereas a larger distillery might require the efficiencies found in filter sheet technology, which often includes sheets built to precise width specifications, and feature multiple grades, low extractable ions or even layered with activated carbon.

Also consider working together on new advances. Craft Brew Water is developing an automated end product filtration system using all types of carbon media, inter-changeable, with multiple filtration cycles and testing stations for quality control, Fagen said. “We’re in the proto-type development stage, and have a Patent Pending status. We anticipate the onsite testing process to begin within the next 30–45 days.”

Just as water plays a key role in each stage of creation, your filtering vendor can as well. “My advice is to make sure you pick a partner who has the experience to work with your system from start-to-finish with a defined end result in mind,” LeConche told Beverage Master Magazine. “Some people consider filtration products to be part of a parody industry, but nothing replaces thorough knowledge when setting up a system.”

Nelson-Jameson and 3M™: Driving the Fight Against Food Allergens

By: Nelson-Jameson

With industry demand calling for new innovations in allergen testing, Nelson-Jameson is proud to offer 3M Allergen Protein Rapid Test Kits.

These kits are a qualitative immunochromatographic assay for rapid in-plant monitoring of specific food allergens, and are designed for accurate detection of processed and unprocessed allergen proteins. With results available in 10 to 12 minutes, these fast, easy tests can be used for clean-in-place (CIP) final rinse water, environmental swab samples, raw ingredients and finished food products. We currently have the following test kits available: Almond, Bovine Total Milk, Cashew, Coconut, Egg White, Fish, Gluten, Hazelnut, Peanut, Pecan, Pistachio, Soy, and Walnut. All test kits include 25 tests per kit.

Nelson-Jameson also offers 3M’s line of Allergen Protein ELISA Test Kits for both processed and unprocessed target allergen proteins. For additional information visit nelsonjameson.com or call us at: 800-826-8302.

Nelson-Jameson has been an integrated supplier for the dairy and food industry since 1947. Product lines include safety & personnel, production & material handling, sanitation & janitorial, processing & flow control, laboratory & QA/QC, and bulk packaging & ingredients. The company is headquartered in Marshfield, Wisconsin, with other locations in Turlock, California; Twin Falls, Idaho; York, Pennsylvania; Amarillo, Texas; and a sales branch in Chicago, Illinois.