The craft brewing industry continued to grow in 2019, but as in 2018, this increase in the number of breweries and products has resulted in a more competitive market. The trade organization representing craft brewers, the Brewers Association (BA), released a 2019 mid-year survey in December that measured 4 percent year-over-year production growth for small independent brewers (defined like this) in 2019, down slightly from 5% in 2018. Although the final 2019 figures are still not public, the BA has assumed that there were more than 8,000 US breweries in operation in 2019, and in the same time, around 300 breweries closed last year.
In such a fierce market, how can your craft beer operations stand out from the growing crowd of producers? A clean production and a pure product for beginners. Take the example of air compressors. Every brewery needs a dry compressed air system. When making fermented drinks, compressed air is used for such purposes as:
- Push fluids through pipes and tanks
- Energy for pneumatic transport and control
- Aeration of must, yeast or water
- Modulating valves
- Gas purge to move solutions into tanks during cleaning process
- And the keg washing process
The specific use of “oil-free” compressors is essential for this type of operation. If the oil comes in contact with the beer, it damages the drink by killing the yeast and flattening the frothy head, creating bad brewskis. It is also a safety hazard. Because food and beverage production is so sensitive, strict standards for quality and purity are in place, and rightly so.
While chatting with a craft brewery, we learned that there are many more uses of compressed air than we thought. Many breweries use compressed air for cleaning and canning applications. It is used for purging drums after sterilization. Compressed air is also used in the canning process. It helps actuate air controls in the assembly line, forcing cleaning agents into cans, as well as securing can lids and general transportation throughout the canning process.
You can see how easily these processes can be contaminated by a compressor flooded with oil. Many breweries find the Sullair The SRL series of oil-free air compressors (example above) from 10 to 15 hp (7.5 to 11 kW) are ideal for their production. Breweries appreciate the silence of these types of machines. The SRL series offers noise levels as low as 48 dBA, making compressors suitable for indoor applications without a separate soundproof room.
When air purity is critical, such as in breweries and craft breweries, oil-free air is essential. Oil particles in compressed air can contaminate downstream processes and production. With many breweries producing thousands of barrels or cases per year, no one can afford to take that kind of risk. Craft brewing company will tackle this problem further with the help of compressor experts at Sullair, so stay tuned.
Amy Offord is the Air Systems Specialist at Sullair LLC.