Why Craft Breweries Should Get a Centrifuge For Brewing
As the world comes out of COVID hibernation, many craft and small breweries are realizing that off-premises sales and packaged beer are going to continue to be their bread and butter for the foreseeable future. As Jack Hendler (co-founder of Massachusetts-based Jack’s Abby brewery) recently told SevenFifty Daily: “We’re going to be extremely challenged for a long time on-premise. You’re going to see long-term shifts that draft sales will be converted to can sales.”
But shifting to more cans and bottles means increased exposure to quality, consistency, and shelf-life issues. A good centrifuge allows you to improve both product quality and yields without altering your brewing process in any fundamental way. Thankfully, brewery centrifuge technology has grown more affordable. Right now, even smaller microbreweries and craft brewers can see a relatively quick return on their centrifuge investment.
Why Your Brewery Needs a Centrifuge
Installing a good centrifuge increases production and quality without increasing the size of your entire operation. This is especially the case with consistency and shelf-life.
Centrifuge filtration generally allows you to bump up production by 30 to 50 percent overall. Part of that gain comes from extracting beer bound up in the sediment cone that collects in the bottom of conical fermentation tanks. Recovering that beer by itself increases a batch by 7 to 12 percent. A centrifuge will likewise help reduce the amount of beer lost during dry-hopping or transfer.
Centrifugal filtration technology also decreases total batch time during your fermentation process. This is because centrifugation is substantially faster than passive sedimentation and filtration methods like diatomaceous earth (DE). That means less waiting for yeast and other particulates to settle out before moving on to clarification and polishing. This time savings can be substantial. It’s not unusual to reduce a weeks-long “crash” time to just a few days. As soon as the brewer is happy with the beer and it’s reached transfer temperature, you can centrifuge it then move straight to the brite tank.
This gives you much more control over beer clarification and polishing. Better, more reliable yeast removal means fewer bad batches, more consistent quality, and better shelf life.
Brewery-Specific Centrifugal Technology
Until recently, you really couldn’t justify purchasing a beer centrifuge unless you were producing more than 5,000 barrels (BBLs) per year. Steady improvements in centrifuge technology have changed that. Today, even small breweries (producing under 1,000 BBLs annually) are embracing centrifuge systems.
That said, not all centrifuges are created equal. Any good industrial separator can help you squeeze more beer out of your sediment and remove more yeast more quickly. Craft brewers need separation technology with two specific qualities: It needs to protect their beer from oxygen and it needs to reduce labor in their brewery.
There are many strategies for preventing oxygen pickup at the centrifuge. The two most common are hydraulic seals or gas insertion. In both cases, you risk degrading your beer (lost flavors and carbonation), and still regularly see oxygen absorption above 80 parts per billion (ppb).
CentraSep DB centrifuges are purpose-built for craft brewers and small breweries. Instead of a hydraulic seal or gas, they rely on a mechanical hermetic design. This hermetic seal guarantees lowest dissolved oxygen pickup on the market (always less than 10 ppb, usually near zero ppb). It doesn’t require consumables (such as deoxygenated water or inert gas) or risk beer contamination. More importantly, hermetic seals reliably protect carbonation, aromas, and flavors.
Because we build it specifically for brewing, the CentraSep DB separator is also much easier to maintain than either a standard industrial centrifuge or a traditional media-based beer filtration system. DE filter beds require monitoring during operation and then need to be washed down and disinfected after each run. Unlike other filter and separation solutions, your CentraSep can be configured for near-zero monitoring. It has short washing times and, as a standard feature, includes self-cleaning CIP (“clean-in place”) technology. With CIP, you can be confident that shift production to accommodate increased consumer demand for canned beers won’t unnecessarily increase labor. A few challenges at a time are more than enough; you don’t need equipment that adds to the pile-on.
Interested in learning more? Let one of our specialists help you determine if a brewery centrifuge is the right investment for you right now.