Brewery Operations in a COVID-19 World

Posted by Bob Scott


As many of you are aware, the COVID-19 shutdown has impacted the craft brewing industry hard. With the states’ stay-at-home orders, many craft breweries have had to shut down for a period of time. With their restaurants and taprooms closed, the demand for beer in kegs has been slow to return. Curbside pick-up at the brewery and retail sales are what they have depended on to survive. As such, breweries have had to shift to bottles and cans to gain traction and stay in business.  

Turning to canning and bottling as a solution presented another issue for them. The industry had a shortage on cans. Some smaller breweries were not able to buy cans as the larger breweries were getting the majority of the inventory with their buying power. One might say it’s just business, but still tough on the smaller brewery who has another hurdle to get beyond in what are already tough times.

Yet another shortage in the industry is with CO2.   However, the CO2 shortage is one in which your sanitation supplier might be able to assist you, thus limiting the effect the shortage would have on your brewery operations.

Your sanitation supplier can make a difference in the Cellars by assisting the brewery with Cleaning Under Pressure (CUP), or Single-Phase Cleaning as some call it, in the Fermenters and the Brite beer tanks. By Cleaning Under Pressure, if the Brite beer tanks are not blown down of CO2, the brewery can save CO2 and time. Without a blow down, the brewery would benefit from chemical and water savings as some steps from the conventional cleaning procedure would be eliminated.

Without a blow down, safety would be improved. A higher risk of dissolved oxygen in subsequent batches would also be avoided by the elimination of draining down the CO2 to accommodate the caustic wash.   In addition, there would be energy savings if a low temperature acid was used, such as Rochester Midland’s HDA-6600. This is a Methanesulfonic acid used as the main cleaner in a single-phase cleaning cycle.

A Methanesulfonic acid can accommodate surfactants when other acids cannot. This acid type will keep solids in suspension, allowing for the proper cleaning of unfiltered product in Fermenters, and Brite beer tanks with high solids, just using an acid. By not having to wash tanks with caustic, there would also be chemical savings. If you wash a tank with HDA-6600 @ .5%-1% solution, and at times lower, followed by a sanitizing step with an acid-based sanitizer like PAA, then purge and pressurize, you are good to go.

The ability to save CO2, time, chemicals, water, and energy, in addition to allowing you to flip tanks quicker, get more product packaged and into the customers’ hands, are huge cost improvement benefits. Cost improvements are always needed, but are especially needed during difficult times.



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