Crafting Great Beer and Spirits
Whether you’re pulling up a barstool at your favorite local pub for that customary pint with friends or whetting your palate with a more sophisticated brew at a world-famous microbrewery and distillery, a cold beer or your favorite liquor on the rocks always has a place at the table.
Since the dawn of human civilization, the same ingredients have come together to craft the flavorful, aromatic and unique beer styles we find throughout the world today. Grain, yeast and water have been used for centuries. The first records of brewing originate from ancient Mesopotamia, and date as far back at 6,000 B.C. in what is present-day Iraq and Egypt. Over thousands of years, the process of brewing has changed with the addition of hops and advancements in technology.
When it comes to crafting spirits, especially whisky, many of the same brewing processes are used in distillation. Whisky and beer may not seem similar in their final form, but the two are essentially comprised of the same ingredients — they just happen to be used in different ways: Fermentation of the wort to create beer, and distillation to create whisky.
Even though the art of brewing and distilling is ancient, improvements and creative ideas are still being made to further perfect the recipe. Industrial brewing is an energy-intensive process that requires both thermal and electrical energy to produce the ales, lagers, stouts and porters you see bottled on store shelves and poured into the glasses at your local pub.
The same methods of heating and cooling are also required for the manufacture of whisky and other spirits. The amount of energy expended varies greatly depending on the tools used, the efficiency of the brewing or distillation equipment, how the product is packaged and the size and age of the brewery or distillery.
For boiling, thermal energy is commonly expended through coal or natural gas, and is used primarily in the early process. However, electricity is often used in cooling, refrigeration, bottling and packaging. For breweries and distilleries, one of the primary equipment resources employed in both production and bottling are compressed air systems. It’s common to use compressed air for bottling both beer and spirits.
It takes a high amount of electrical horsepower to be converted into compressed air power. According to the average estimate, it takes between 7 and 8 HP of electrical power to produce just 1 HP of compressed air power.
Microbreweries simply don’t have the same profit margins as larger breweries, and that makes energy efficiency even more vital when creating a sustainable pint for their customers.
Implementing more efficient compressed air systems on the production line and in bottling plants can drastically reduce energy expenses when crafting microbrews or distilling malts and grains.
Throughout this guide, you will learn about beer’s origins, the general process of brewing and distilling and some important methods for improving energy efficiency at breweries, distilleries and bottling plants.
Energy savings for breweries can be easy to achieve with strategies that cost little — or are even free. Boilers, refrigeration systems, compressed air systems and packaging systems all vary in how much energy they utilize, but by turning equipment off when it’s not in use, optimizing the system for its proper application and conducting routine maintenance, brewers and distillers can significantly improve their savings.
By employing simple steps in both maintenance and plant practices, microbreweries and small distilleries can reduce their annual expenses while still maintaining standards high enough to deliver the best drink possible to their customers.