GEA Brewery Systems is one of the biggest and best turnkey brewing vessel manufacturers in the world. You might know the company from its old name — Huppmann — a leading supplier of complete brewhouses, bought by GEA back in 2006. Today, GEA products are used by some of the best craft breweries in America. Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s new 60-barrel (bbl) brewhouse is a GEA-engineered system. Bell’s Brewery Inc.’s ongoing $52 million expansion includes a 200-bbl brewing system engineered and designed by GEA Brewing Systems. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has just ordered its third GEA brewhouse.
Question: Does that mean you have to be a top-tier craft brewery to afford a GEA system? Not anymore. Enter the CRAFT-STAR, which complements the company’s COMPACT-STAR. Both are GEA’s ultimate solutions for medium- and small-sized craft breweries. The importance of up-and-coming specialty breweries is growing steadily and thus also their technical and technological demands on production equipment. Numerous U.S. microbreweries have left their start-up phase behind and are now looking for more efficient and versatile brew systems able to keep up with their business success, so GEA is hoping to be a perfect fit with two innovative products.
Simplified and off the shelf
The idea behind the CRAFT-STAR was to provide a cost-efficient alternative to standard brewing systems, without cutting back on quality-related technological features. The result is an efficient, high-quality brewing system offering everything you need — true to the motto: No frills, just great brews.
The CRAFT-STAR is a skid-mounted 30-bbl system available in one standard size, with two or three vessels for capacities up to 50,000 bbl per year. The two-vessel configuration with mash/lauter tun and whirlpool/wort kettle is designed for up to three brews per day. With the three-vessel configuration (mash tun, lauter tun and whirlpool/wort kettle), it is possible to produce five brews per day. These brew frequencies even allow for a convenient one-shift operation.
The CRAFT-STAR is designed as an off-the-shelf system to ensure the lowest possible engineering costs for customers, but with the same expertise as GEA’s traditional brewhouses for larger breweries. The ready-to-install system with its basic automation is pre-piped, pre-wired and tested in the GEA workshops prior to shipping. This guarantees the shortest possible installation periods, as well as minimized commissioning times and related costs on site.
The COMPACT-STAR program includes fully automated brewhouses with cast-out quantities from 40- to 100-bbl and capacities up to 300,000 bbl per year. Depending on the equipment and vessel configuration, up to 12 brews per day are possible. The available combinations allow for a wide range of annual production capacities and thus meets the requirements of specialty and medium-sized breweries.
The basic configuration of the COMPACT-STAR with mash tun kettle, lauter tun and whirlpool/wort kettle is already designed for up to five brews per day. With the wort pre-run tank as buffer tank for the lauter wort, it is possible to produce up to seven brews per day. If a wort kettle and a separate whirlpool are used instead of the combined vessel of the basic configuration, up to nine brews per day are possible.
With conventional brewhouse concepts, the cast-out frequency cannot be increased further at this stage due to technological bottlenecks in the lauter tun. With the MILLSTAR for steeping conditioned milling, GEA Brewery Systems, however, provides a unique solution ensuring the conservation of the husk, which is so important for the lautering process. With this milling system, the specific false bottom load in the lauter tun is increased and the occupation time is reduced significantly. Thus, up to 12 brews per day are possible.
Since the system is manufactured in a modular design, pre-piped and pre-wired, the installation periods are minimized and costs on site are reduced. The vessel modules can be arranged individually.
The configuration options of both systems allow the brewer to select the equipment individually for his brewery in order to have the optimal system right from the start — either with basic or with high-degree automation. Breweries with one-shift operation receive the ability to produce several brews during such a short period, thanks to a well-designed system reducing occupation times during the brew day.
Besides the brew system itself, GEA offers a wide range of equipment to complete the brewhouse, e.g. with wort treatment, CIP station, water supplies, steam and condensate handling etc.
The CRAFT-STAR will be launched at the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Washington, D.C., March 26-29. Make sure to stop by the GEA booth #8059 and have a chat with their brewing engineers.