From bottling to branding, fermenting to filling and milling to mashing, there are many vocational challenges to running a commercial craft brewery. Success starts with picking the right equipment and services for your brewhouse and packaging hall. Which canning line is ideal for your brewing business? What type of pipe will feed your glycol requirements? What types of coatings go best on brewery floors? How do you even go about planning all this craziness?
No need to panic. We understand you’re busy, and because we like and appreciate what you do so much, we decided to do all the legwork for you. We reached out to the top equipment manufacturers in the brewing industry (and a few of our marketing, software and label friends) to find the coolest and newest products that are turning heads and lifting eyebrows in the brewing industry. Industrial fans, liquid nitrogen dosers, brewery optimization software — we found 20-plus products that will change your brewery into both a beer and business leader. Always remember: We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.
Innovative, oil-free compressors
Contamination is the beer killer. Bacteria, wild yeasts, unsanitary equipment, tainted raw materials — contaminants will produce off-flavors, acids, undesirable aromas, hazy beers and weird films. Atlas Copco isn’t about to add to the challenges of keeping a brewhouse clean. In fact, the machine innovator has come up with a pretty cool clean solution. Meet the Atlas Copco SF Oil-Free Scroll Compressor. It’s an intelligently designed machine that allows for multiple configurations to fit within any brewing arrangement. While it’s energy efficient and quiet, its best feature may be that it is oil-free. No oil in your air stream means no risk or potential for contamination. No one likes wasted beer, and no one likes oil in their beer. Wanna go greener? With outlet pressures to 145 psi, the SF Oil-Free Scrolls are also great solutions to feed Atlas Copco NGP Nitrogen Generators. For more info: Visit this web site. Cost: Actual purchase pricing varies considerably based on brewery configuration or requirements and can range from $4,000 and up.
Use nitrogen to create quality and rigidity
NITRO! Are you confident enough to wield its power? We know that crazed look in your eyes. Yes, you’re clearly quite ready. Well, we bestow the power of nitro into your hands, but it’s probably not exactly what you’re thinking. This nitrogen is being used to control beer quality and add rigidity to beer containers. We believe this futuristic device is made by Chart Industries and goes by the name of the UltraDoser Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) Dosing System. The UltraDoser dispenses a precise dose of LN2 into every container every time just before the can or bottle is sealed. Because the LN2 displaces the oxygen from the headspace of the container, the beer maintains its integrity longer. The extended shelf life helps breweries distribute their beer over a wider geographical range. The dosed cans also become more rigid. They are able to be stacked and require less storage space in the brewery. Less storage space means more space designated for beer making. And (yep), UltraDoser can be used by brewers to offer a variety of beer styles, including those profit-producing Nitro beers, without having to use widgets or specialized cans. For more info: Visit www.chartdosers.com. Cost: Under $20,000.
A case packer that’s actually gentle
Craft brewers know the name Standard-Knapp for its high-tech packaging and processing equipment — case packers, case sealers, pick-and-place modules, bottle handlers and beyond. All fine products, but of late we’ve been crushing on its 939S Versatron Soft Catch Servo Case Packer. It’s an ideal solution for the delicate case packing in the craft beer industry (these bottles are your babies), especially with its excellent “soft catch” function. Standard-Knapp’s 939S Versatron features a two-axis servo system that allows the packer to gently catch the product as it descends into the case. With its convenient push-button height adjustment feature, the lift table moves the case to the up position and waits until the bottle grid is full. Once the grid is full, riding strips shift to the side to initiate the bottle descent. At the same time, the lift table moves the case downward on a velocity curve, ultimately reaching the same speed as the bottles at the time of contact. This “soft catch” feature ensures the gentle handling of bottles, reducing damage and breakage and therefore waste costs. For more info: Visit www.standard-knapp.com. Cost: Not available.
Make robots do the keg handling
Don’t let Terminator technology intimidate you. Embrace the future. Call in the robots to do your bidding — like Intelligrated’s Alvey robotic keg handling solutions — which automate manual palletizing and depalletizing of any size keg. Sorry humans, but these robots just ship product out the door more efficiently. Alvey uses robotic arms to gently handle kegs and to prevent damage and reduce operating costs. Single- and multi-arm options with varying levels of supporting automated systems can deliver increased throughput, efficiency and scalability for a wide range of budgets, operation sizes and throughput requirements. An ergonomic alternative to the back-breaking task of manual keg palletizing and depalletizing, this equipment frees employees for reassignment to more value-added tasks to maximize utility from labor resources. With integrated ID technology to track full and empty kegs, customers are able to monitor supply chain efficiency and locate non-conforming product before it hits the market. Intelligrated also can integrate vision systems and RFID tracking hardware to provide superior tracking capabilities to manual or barcode systems. For more info: Visit www.intelligrated.com. Cost: This is a custom solution, and price depends on the system.
The portable clean machine
Quality control can be a difficult learning curve for small brewhouses. In fact, it can make or break a brand, which is why keeping your processes and equipment clean is imperative. Luckily, the engineers at Sani-Matic are here to help. These guys and gals are experts at sanitary process cleaning systems and components for beverage, food and pharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide. Take a gander at its Sani-Matic portable COP/CIP System — it’s an awesome, economical option for smaller breweries seeking a safe and sanitary process. The COP/CIP System serves as both a clean-out-of-place (COP) immersion parts washer, intended to clean parts removed from process equipment and as a portable clean-in-place (CIP) system ideal for the periodic cleaning of lines, tanks, fermenters and lauter tuns. The washer’s dual compartments provide both a CIP wash and CIP rinse supply reservoir that allows for once-through use or recirculation. For more info: Visit www.sanimatic.com. Cost: Depending on the configuration, the average price range is from $25,000 to $55,000.
A complete mash preparation system
The MILLSTAR is more than just a mill. I mean, it’s ALL CAPS. That’s how badass it is. GEA‘s MILLSTAR is a complete mash preparation system based on steeping conditioned milling technology that — when compared to conventional dry milling systems — “crushes” the competition. The MILLSTAR enables higher lauter tun loading while maintaining the uppermost extract yields. Brewers see faster run-off times with improved wort quality, increased flavor stability by eliminating oxygen uptake and a significantly reduced brewery footprint (we love the size). The package includes a malt hopper sized for a complete brew, brew water temperature and flow control equipment, a conditioning chute to increase humidity, the mill itself (with heavy-duty crushing rollers) and the hopper which collects the resultant ready-mash. The pump, which gently transfers the mash to the brewhouse, is also built in. The entire system is skillfully assembled in a single, self-supported, vertical arrangement. A semi-automatic MILLSTAR comes with a pre-assembled process panel and a stand-alone control system, which means simpler maintenance, easy tie-ins and faster installation and commissioning. For more info: Visit www.gea.com. Cost: The entry system for malt charges up to 2,700 lbs and runs at about $135,000.
Label us fans of pressure-sensitive
Two questions: 1) What story are you trying to tell? And 2) when that beer sits on the shelf next to exactly one zillion other brands, how will your story stand out? Picking the perfect labels for your packaged beer is a solid start to telling a successful story, and to help we’ve found a label maker that’s great at making beer stories seem big. The label mavericks at Avery Dennison offer what’s called pressure-sensitive labels, the foundation of its Craft Beer Label Material Collection. When compared to glue-applied labels, pressure-sensitive materials offer some big advantages — for starters, greater design and production flexibility with fewer limits on label shape and size. No other decorating technology offers the same combination of brilliant graphics, intricate die cuts and virtually invisible edge lines — important elements that will enhance your label designs, attract attention and help move your product. While they might cost a little more up front, they’ll pay for themselves with easy changeovers and none of that nasty glue to clean up. For more info: Visit www.label.averydennison.com/craftbeer. Cost: Pricing is dependent on the type of label materials ordered.
Brewery floors need to be tough. They need to withstand heavy equipment, heavy traffic and exposure to chemicals, beer and lots of beard hair. When it comes to brewhouse floors, Westcoat‘s Temper-Crete Urethane Cement is ideal for a brew facility, due to its durability, heat resistance and chemical resistance. This unique cement application also works well in the bottling and kegging spaces due to its impact resistance. Plus, it can handle the forklifts, pallet jacks and kegs that come with your brewhouse. This Temper-Crete system helps protect the concrete substrate from the harsh exposure to water and chemicals too. It’s heavy-duty, heat-resistant urethane cement for brewing, bottling and canning area floors. For more info: Visit www.westcoat.com. Cost: Pricing could run from $8 to $16 per square foot for material and labor based on about 1,000 square foot pricing, but it will vary based on the size of the job, condition of substrate and prep, access to the area, local labor rates, desired thickness and choice of finish.
Industry-leading filling and labeling
Before buying a product, always be sure to investigate the manufacturer’s résumé. For more than 20 years, Meheen Mfg. has been delivering industry-leading carbonating and filling machine technologies to craft brewers. Today, it’s one of the best known manufacturers of craft brewing bottle filling and labeling equipment around the world. Why is this important? Bottling your beverage gets your product into the hands of more customers and is the ultimate step in growing your business. Meheen filling and labeling technologies are engineered to make premium beverage bottling possible and profitable. Meheen’s industry-leading expertise in bottling and labeling ensures the quality and consistency of each batch you create from tank to bottle. The product’s unique features include touch screen controls for easy operation, pneumatic power for long-term reliability, space-saving size (5 feet x 10 feet — mobile) with big productivity (up to 2,300-plus bpm), and no motors, gears or bearings to maintain. For more info: Visit www.meheen.com. Cost: Depending on configuration, prices can range from $55,000 to $85,000.
A mill for all seasons/all grains
Sometimes you just want to mill raw barley, and that’s not easy — unless you use a cracking mill like the T-Rex from Ziemann Holvrieka. With the awesomely named T-Rex, craft brewers have a very attractive alternative for milling diverse raw materials. With the T-Rex, various raw materials can be processed with different milling methods and capacities, without changing the basic construction of the mill. For the lauter tun, the T-Rex is available as a steep conditioning mill with simultaneous mashing. The single-stage dry milling is the process of choice for the mash filter. Two of these cracking mills can also be positioned on top of each other. This configuration is required especially for raw barley, which is much harder than malt. Various raw materials can also be successively ground with the same T-Rex. By means of recipe specifications, the mill parameters (such as the milling gap or the rotational speed) can be adapted automatically by the control system to the respective raw material. Compared with conventional mills, the cracking mill T-Rex reduces maintenance costs by up to 70 percent. Plus, it has a compact design, gentle milling, simple maintenance and low investment costs. For more info: Visit www.ziemann-holvrieka.com. Cost: The T-Rex steep conditioning mill for 10 t/h costs approximately $125,000 to $160,000.
Pipe dreams can come true
Breweries transport lots of unique liquids besides beer. Glycol, for instance, can be used to chill jackets on a fermenter or lines in commercial keg operations. What pipe doesn’t react to the chill of glycol? Aquatherm Blue Pipe, which is a polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping system specifically designed for hydronics (including glycol), chilled water, condensing water and industrial applications. Sized from ½ to 24 inches, Blue Pipe can handle operating temperatures up to 180°F at 100 psi, is rust-proof and scale-resistant and comes with a 10-year multimillion-dollar warranty. Also cool, Aquatherm systems are connected via heat fusion, which bonds pipes and fittings at the molecular level, quickly creating long-lasting connections without using toxic materials, glues and resins and open flames. In addition to glycol, Blue Pipe can be used for heating and cooling distribution and compressed air, while Aquatherm Green Pipe can be used on potable and even food-grade applications. For more info: Visit www.aquatherm.com/get-local-support. Cost: Aquatherm typically costs less than copper and more than CPVC.