Firestone Walker Brewing Co. christened its “Keg Shed,” firing up a dual state-of-the-art keg line that nearly triples the brewery’s per-hour keg output.
“We are always looking for any incremental edge in quality and efficiency, and the Keg Shed is our latest investment in this mission,” said Co-proprietor Adam Firestone.
The Keg Shed is a new kegging-dedicated building adjacent to the brewing facility. The shed’s new keg line is made by leading beer packaging company KHS based in Dortmund, Germany. It features two lanes with nine positions that transition the kegs from cleaning to sterilizing to filling, keeping a total 18 kegs in simultaneous and synchronized motion.
The new keg line is already running at nearly three times the speed of the brewery’s previous line.
The previous keg line located within the brewery cellar is being removed, freeing up cellar space that will now be filled by Firestone Walker’s patented Firestone Union oak barrel fermentation system.
The Keg Shed houses Firestone Walker’s fourth keg line since the brewery was founded in 1996. The first was a single-head, fully manual model that, according to Firestone, “was purchased used and non-functioning.” When it wasn’t breaking down, it could manage up to “several” kegs per hour, “each one lovingly lifted by longtime employee Miguel Ibarra.”
This was followed by a small Mini King line that was still largely manual. Approximately eight years ago, the brewery invested in a KHS line that served the brewery through last month.
The new KHS line improves upon the previous one with the latest internal cleaning and filling technologies, as well as added features such as a touchscreen control panel and automated external cleaning.
“This line was developed in Germany for Hefeweizen kegs, because they’re the heaviest in residual yeast and deposits,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “So it’s doing the most thorough cleaning possible. We’re getting incredibly good fills in terms of low dissolved oxygen and gentle transfer of beer, so we’re already really excited about how it’s performing.”