Alfa Laval - A quick guide to beer production

A quick guide to beer production

Beer is considered one of the most complex fermented beverages due to its taste, colour, variety and mouthfeel. Besides, beer uses a wide variety of ingredients which is why it makes it so complex.

DATE 2021-12-02

Whatever you want to brew, our proven brewing solutions for commercial and craft breweries, along with our expertise and know-how, will help you to improve and increase your production. Alfa Laval's brewing solutions will ensure you can provide high-quality products to your customers while at the same time increasing your yield and diversifying your product portfolio. We can supply you with all the necessary equipment for your brewing process.

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Table of Content

1. The brewing process step by step

1.1 Brewhouse (Wort preparation, Whirpooling, Wort cooling)

1.2 Cold block design (Yeast management and fermentation and dry hopping)

1.3 Beer filtration and treatment (Beer filtration, Gas Blending, Alcohol adjustments and additives, Mixing in bright beer tanks, Pasteurization, Sterile Filtration)

1.4   Cleaning-in-place

 

2. Optimize your beer production

2.1 Design a world-class fermentation cellar for your brewery

2.2 Decrease your beer production time and increase yield

2.3 Reduce beer waste

2.4 Diversify your product line with non-alcoholic beer

 

3. Meet your sustainability targets

3.1 Reduce your water and energy consumption with Cleaning-in-Place 

3.2 Reduce the carbon footprint of your beer distribution network

                              

1. The brewing process step by step

The brewing process consists of germinating barley by soaking it in water, then drying and milling it. Water is added and heated to release the sugars. This liquor, called "wort," is then separated from the spent grain and moved into fermentation tanks where yeast converts the sugars in the wort into alcohol. After fermentation, the beer is conditioned and filtered.

1.1 Brewhouse

Wort preparation

Wort is extracted from grain and used for beer fermentation. It is created by mashing and then separating grain husk through the lautering process. Subsequently, the wort is then collected and boiled with hops. When the yeast is added to the cooled wort, fermentation transforms the hopped wort into beer.

Some of the most common wort preparation and fermentation issues include slow wort production, high use of energy and water, ingredient loss, and spoilage.

Whirlpooling

There are three main benefits of whirlpooling:

Quicker wort chilling: Since the wort is circulating, this promotes quicker chilling

Clearer wort: Whirlpooling promotes clearer wort by collecting the cold break solids in the centre; this way, the chilled wort can be siphoned to avoid transfer

Improved flavour and aroma: Boiling the wort may give an unpleasant, cooked-corn taste. Whirlpooling cools wort quickly, which provides a better flavour and aroma without adding too much bitterness.

Wort cooling

After boiling the wort, it is important to cool it down as fast as possible to begin the fermentation process and avoid potential bacteria. However, cooling the wort too quickly can stop the decomposition process. Read more

Brewhouse equipment

 

1.2 cold block design

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Yeast management and fermentation

Yeast management and fermentation are essential parts of the cold block. It is essential to have the right equipment to prevent contamination, guarantee high yeast feasibility, and ensure an effective fermentation process.

Dry hopping

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to the fermentation to add more aroma to the beer. Traditionally, dry hopping is done in beer styles such as pale ales and IPAs but is being utilized in the brewing of other beer styles as well.

Norwegian craft beer producer, Lervig, decided to scale their brewery's dry-hopping processes and reduce hop retention time from days to hours, while also reducing beer loss by 40%. They expect to recover their investment after using each tank 30 times. Read more

Cold block equipment

 

1.3 Beer filtration and treatment

Beer filtration

Kieselguhr or cross-flow filtration are common filtration processes to remove almost all yeast and other unwanted substances that can spoil your beer.

Gas blending, alcohol adjustment, additives

Carbon dioxide is natural to the brewing process and it is important to ensure its concentration at optimal level for perfect beer texture and taste.

Mixing in bright beer tanks

Mixing in bright beer tanks (BBT) is required for batch dosing and homogenization or when you want to create products such as Shandy or Radler.

Pasteurization

Pasteurization (ie high temperature) is the classic method to destroy micro-organisms in the final step before beer packaging.

Sterile filtration

Many breweries now choose sterile filtration as an alternative to pasteurization, because this makes it possible to remove undesirable microorganisms before the beer is filled into bottles or kegs. Read more

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Beer filtration and treatment equipment

 

1.4 Cleaning-in-place

After dry hopping, the tanks and the downstream processes can get filled or clogged with spent hops. Sediments inevitably end up in the tanks, the lines – and just about everywhere. Cleaning this out takes a considerable amount of time, which means it takes longer to make each batch of beer, further reducing the overall utilization rate of the brewing equipment. However, by integrating cleaning-in-place equipment into your process you can save a lot of time.

What is Cleaning-in-Place and why is it used in a brewery?  

Cleaning-in-place (CIP) is the process of cleaning equipment at its original location, without disassembling it. This process has become the industry's standard method for cleaning due to its extreme efficiency. Read more

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Advantages of Cleaning-in-place

  • More efficient:  Alfa Laval's cleaning-in-place equipment optimizes wetting intensity, pattern mesh width and cleaning jet velocity – the three critical parameters to cleaning a vessel. It also has minimal requirements to drain water during the pre-rinse phase. With this technology, the Alfa Laval equipment ensures minimal contamination of the detergent tank due to the removal of all of the yeast and residues during the pre-rinse.
  • Saves time and money: Using a CIP system saves time, chemicals (since you can reuse a batch of chemicals several times) and water. All these things save you money in the long run.
  • Reduced Exposure to Harmful Chemicals:  Modern CIP systems are self-contained and automated, limiting human exposure to harmful cleaning chemicals. Read more

Cleaning equipment

 

2. Optimize your beer production

2.1 Design a world-class fermentation cellar for your brewery

Aging beer is an integral part of the brewing process. The amount of cellar time required for a fresh brew of beer varies depending on beer style. For example, most ales, require very little (if any) cellar time to finish, while lager beers need a longer time to age.

Lager beers are cold-aged in a cellar from two to five weeks (or longer), depending on the yeast strain and the ABV of the finished product, among other factors. The cold-aging of lagers creates the crisp, clean finish that is associated with the style.

Our experts share nine tips on how to keep energy and water costs down, as well as how to extend it when capacity increases.

  1. Optimize the space usage of your fermenting cellar
  2. Group the fermentation tanks
  3. Build process flexibility into your fermentation tank layout
  4. Plan unobstructed piping routes to reach nearly every destination
  5. Choose slab-mounted tanks over leg-mounted tanks 
  6. Design state-of-the-art valve clusters
  7. Weld a sampling valve directly on your sampling line
  8. Automate density control in your fermentation tanks
  9. Use fermentation cellar construction sets Read more

 Brewery solutions

 

2.2 Decrease your beer production time and increase yield

Creating great beer comes down to having great ingredients. Unfortunately, a lot of filtering and clarification alternatives will strip out the volatile aroma and flavours you need to capture in your beer. Beer filters are relatively affordable, but they are slow and subject to considerable product losses, since they can't filter what is at the bottom of the fermenter tanks without clogging up.

Separators are the smartest way to remove the solids you want out of your beer, while preserving the value of your unique ingredients. Besides, centrifuges are considered the best equipment for increasing yield. With the same number of tanks you can increase your production capacity between 15-20%. Every pint that is sold, helps to pay back the investment of the machine.

Besides a centrifuge makes it possible to achieve a desired product consistency within just a few hours whereas settling and filtering will need several days for the same process.

How does this work? Freshly fermented beer enters the centrifuge, where it meets a number of rapidly spinning plates. Solids (yeast, hop solids & brewing proteins) spin out to the edges and are ejected; while the clarified beer remains and leaves through the top, which means that tank turnaround is much faster.  Read more

Centrifuges for brewery

 

2.3 Reduce beer waste

Each stage of this process produces waste. For every 1,000 tonnes of beer produced, 137 to 173 tonnes of solid waste may be created in the form of spent grain, "trub" (an unwanted material generated during wort production), waste yeast and "kieselguhr," a substance used to filter the beer.

However, breweries can reduce the waste problem by transforming some by-products of the brewing process (yeast and grains) into valuable products. For example, a substantial amount of beer can be recovered in the main wort and beer lines, reducing huge volumes of waste.

Alfa Laval's range of BREW centrifugal separators and BRUX beer recovery separators used with M39 membrane beer recovery filtration modules can recover beer that would otherwise be lost. The surplus yeast can be collected in a tank and further processed in the membrane system where the beer is separated from the yeast by filtration. The filtered beer of good quality is recovered and waste yeast is concentrated. With this method between 30 and 50 percent of the yeast volume is reduced and a similar amount of beer can be recovered. Read more

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2.4 Diversify your product line with non-alcoholic beer

Increasingly, consumers are choosing 0.0% alcohol-free beverages; this trend is especially true among health-conscious millennials. The global non-alcoholic beer market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1%, reaching US$35.6 billion by 2030, according to forecasts.

Removing alcohol from beer

Brewing zero-alcohol beer requires wort mashing and boiling to hops blending and fermentation, which produces ethanol. The best way to remove the alcohol produced from this process it to use an appropriate stripping or filtration technology. The result is an alcohol concentrate, although its strength will vary.

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1. Diluting and draining

You can reuse seal water from vacuum pump seals to dilute a condensate with approximately 18-35% alcohol by volume, depending on the original beer alcohol content. Diluting the ethanol this way ensures that the fluid will always be below the flashpoint and, as a result, not require any ATEX zone. The diluted ethanol can then be drained or collected.

2. Increasing the alcohol percentage of existing products

Produce new high-value beer by adding a clear food-grade neutral alcohol condensate (18-35% ABV) as an ingredient to your existing beers. By topping up the alcohol strength of your existing product range adds value and opens new revenue streams while enhancing the beer flavour.

3. Diversifying your product portfolio

Use the neutral, food-grade alcohol condensate as an ingredient for new products such as ready-to-drink cocktails, flavoured beer-based drinks, or even new hybrid products such as beer cocktails using barley-based alcohol products. The added alcohol enhances the flavour, a perk much appreciated by beer lovers. Read more

Dealcoholisation equipment

 

3. Meet your sustainability targets

3.1 Reduce your water and energy consumption with Cleaning-in-Place 

A typical beverage system offers many opportunities for sustainability improvements. Alfa Laval targets improved efficiency through pump and agitator optimization and by reducing water and wastewater during the CIP process.

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Studies show that 90% of all installed pumps are incorrectly sized. Many of these can be optimized to save up to 30% of their power consumption. Because the purchase price of a pump is a minor cost compared to the running costs – the payback time for required modifications often is less than a year.

Optimizing your pump's energy use starts with fitting a correctly sized impeller or installing a variable speed drive (VSD). Choose a pump that operates as closely as possible to the best efficiency point and use pumps with VSD to regulate flow rather than control valves.

Tank cleaning can result in high water consumption, especially in a beverage processing system where the nature of product demands frequent, thorough tank cleaning. Fortunately, using Alfa Laval rotary jet heads leads to 70% in cost savings from reduced use of water and cleaning media and up to 60% savings in time, which translates into more production time. Read more

Cleaning-in-place equipment

 

3.2 Reduce the carbon footprint of your beer distribution network

Would you like to produce great-tasting beer while shrinking your brewery's carbon footprint and cutting costs?  This is possible with a beer concentration system. But what is it exactly? It is a high-pressure, low-temperature reverse osmosis system that removes water from beer and beverages yet retains the original flavour profile upon rehydration. In fact, the sensory panel tests show minimal to no measurable differences between the fresh beer and the rehydrated beer.

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Besides, this technology delivers substantial savings for bulk transport and draft dispense applications. For instance, on the bulk transport side, transporting beer concentrate instead of standard high-gravity beer reduces the number of tanker journeys by about 65% It also lowers the associated carbon emissions as well as labour and fuel costs.

On the draft dispense side, bars can save more than $20 per hl on keg transport. Beer distributed as a concentrate in kegs, and mixed with filtered carbonated water at the bar, offers benefits for everyone. Read more

Beer concentration systems