I like machines. I like construction equipment. I like diesel engines. I like robots. I also very much like brewing equipment. I geek out over mills and mash tuns, eductors or accumulation tables and boilers and basically entire brewhouses. I also handle the Equipment & Systems department here at CBB, and these are my favorite equipment features that peppered our brewing site over the last 12 months.
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? 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.
The craft beer revolution has taken the world by storm, but as craft breweries multiply and gain more market share, new challenges arise. Here’s one: seaming cans reliably and consistently. Modern cans have remained largely unchanged for more than a century, with their origins dating all the way back in the 19th century, and this has remained one of the most popular means to store and transport food and beverages ever since.Why cans? Why aluminum? The freshness factor is the biggest benefit of aluminum. Cans protect their contents against light and oxygen and can keep the beer tasting as fresh at the customers’ home as it does at the brewery.
There is a lot to appreciate about Flathead Lake Brewing Co.’s newest brewery and pub house in Bigfork, Mont. There is the award-winning beer, which can be enjoyed while gazing out over the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. There is the facility, a rustic yet welcoming spot, borne from the ruins of an old bowling alley. Finally, there are the many sustainability strategies used in the construction and functionality of the brewery. Most notable among these is the unprecedented use of clean effluent from a nearby water and sewer treatment plant to indirectly provide heating and cooling for the building and brewing processes. The keyword is indirectly. The effluent is completely contained within a separate closed loop.
The science of commercial beer goes beyond the chemistry of brewing. The process of packaging is an equally impressive engineering feat, requiring bottling, canning, kegging, labeling, sorting, accumulating, boxing, palletizing, shipping and so much more in between. Visit a packaging and distribution center at a brewery like New Belgium Brewing Co. and the automation of the packaging process can look a little like an ultra-complex Rube Goldberg Machine. When it comes to automating that packaging process, few companies do it as well as Intelligrated, a material handling automation and software engineering company based in Mason, Ohio. Below are three impressive products that the company makes.
Grain, hops, yeast and water. Four elementary components that, when combined with a little time and magic, are transformed into something revolutionary. As with any endeavor, you get out what you put in. The same holds true for brewing; ingredient quality has tremendous impact on the finished product. For example, consider the water from Asheville, N.C. The fresh mountain runoff offers a unique, clean flavor vastly superior to that found in typical municipal sources. Breweries large and small are flocking to the area in hopes of accessing the coveted water to elevate and refine their beer, because pure ingredients yield a pure product.
The ZIEMANN name carries a lot of history and brand equity (maybe that’s why it’s all capped like that). In 1852, August A. Ziemann established a coppersmith workshop, and eight years later his first brewhouse was delivered to China. The company’s been building brewing equipment and exporting it for more than 150 years. Since 1947, HOLVRIEKA has been a pioneer in the manufacture and installation of stainless steel tanks. Today, the combination of ZIEMANN HOLVRIEKA (both owned by CIMC Enric) can provide some of the most advanced and high-quality turnkey brewing operations and systems in the world. Plus, they’re just cool to hang with. Just read this article…
In 2014, the members of Together We’re Bitter Co-operative Brewing (TWB) had an idea to bring a quirky craft brewery to the heart of Kitchener, Ontario. There were a lot of considerations, like financing, location and equipment. The team knew they needed to buy an entire brewing system to get this project off the ground. The mystery was, “Where would they find a workable system on their budget?” It’s a mystery that would be solved in a very surprising way. First the funding. Money came from co-op team member investments and an encouraging Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $16,000. Then the search for the right space shifted into high gear, but location quickly became a challenge.
Kinnek, an online marketplace for craft brewers, is a great place for craft brewers to buy anything from new pint glasses to new fermenters and at the exact specs and price point needed. In this role, it is also able to glean some unique insights into the purchasing trends of the craft beer industry from this robust transaction data base. Since they are our pals, every now and then they comb that data to provide a snapshot of what’s hot in the industry today. Craft brewing continues to grow its market share relative to big brewers and mass craft brewers. A study by the Brewer’s Association focusing on craft brewers (minus larger outfits like Boston Beer) revealed a ~10 percent increase in sales y/y.
If you sought out barrel-aged beer 10 years ago, your options were usually limited. You could commonly find an imperial stout or barleywine aged in bourbon barrels, but much beyond that was rare. Today, as the demand for barrel-aged beer grows nearly as fast as the craft beer movement itself, a variety of beer styles aged in increasingly exotic barrel types are quickly capturing the attention of beer enthusiasts. Now we’re seeing everything from IPAs and wheat beers to Belgians and pumpkin ales all aged in a bevy of unique spirituous oak. However, the cost associated with barrel aging still makes experimenting risky. Exotic barrels are expensive, and if the beer style you chose doesn’t mesh with the barrel you used, that’s time and money down the drain.
Practical gifts might have a little less pizzazz, but only when those pragmatic presents are not used to make beer. Heavy-duty caustic cleaners sound boring, right? Well, not when used to sterilize your vessels to produce quality-minded Christmas ale (might we suggest a nice nitric/phosphoric acid cleaner or a heavy-duty CIP cleanser from Zep Superior Solutions?).
We’ve always found shopping to be easier and more reliable when we get insights from experts. So instead of doing the job ourselves, we asked some of our favorite brewing buds around the industry to pick some of their favorite brands and equipment — tools that are helping streamline their operations.