Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. is one of Portland’s many outstanding craft breweries. It’s also one of the city’s most forward-thinking. Capitalizing on two breweries and four brew pubs, the craft beer brand creates and serves a long lineup of unique beer titles, from the Blue Dog Pale Ale to its Black Lab Stout. Integral to making that beer is the brewery’s solar thermal water heating system.
If the sun was out the previous day, Lucky Lab can capture the sun’s energy and use it to heat the brewery water. In the first brewing step: The brewer mixes hot water with milled barley in the first tank, the mash tun, bringing it up to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. While the mash steeps for an hour and a half, the starches present in the barley are converted into fermentable sugars. From there, brew crews transfer the wort to the kettle and boil it for another hour and a half, adding hops along the way. According to Lucky Lab’s blog post Friday:
We need a lot of 180 degree hot water to brew our craft beer. In order to keep prepped for each brew, we keep 900 gal of water heated in a tank ready to go. The brewers need a large amount of hot water for each batch, so in the morning a timer will go off and fill a hot liquor back around four in the morning. If the water isn’t hot enough, a boiler will kick in to bring it the rest of the way up.
We brought in a solar-power hot water contractor to build a new solar hot water system using Heliodyne solar collector panels. The neat thing about Heliodyne solar systems is how few steps there are between a ray of sun and a pint of beer. Glycol runs through each solar panel, soaking up the energy of the sun and circulates it down below to a heat exchanger, handing over that energy to our water supply. So we can transfer heat from the sun to our water in just two steps — no electricity needed.
Our solar conversion helps us keep our costs down, and that means handing over fewer pennies for your favorite Lucky Lab brew. Why not save some energy and a nickel at the same time? Just this morning while the sun was out our 900 gallon solar water reservoir went from about 43 degrees to 120 degrees … and it is February 15th! … and it is only 51 degrees outside! During the summer our water gets up to 180 degrees almost every day.
We thank co-founder and brewer Alex Stiles for letting us re-post. Follow the Lucky Lab blog here.