WABA Panel: Evolution of the Modern Brewhouse July 2022

As the brewing industry continues to evolve, requirements for the brewhouse changes as well. However, designing a modern brewhouse to keep up with these constantly changing requirements can be challenging, especially when it comes to costs and planning.

The evolution of the modern brewhouse was a topic discussed at the WA Brewers Association’s Beer & Brewing conference in Perth. The presentation was hosted by Justin Fox, experienced brewer, founder of The Grain Keeper and flow master at Bespoke Brewing Solutions.

Fox first described the nature of brewing today as “nostalgic” and is based on traditional methods, rather than solely focusing on innovation.

“You can look at it [brewing] as a beautiful, nostalgic tradition in the fact that we follow these same mechanisms that have always been available and have always been done in the past,” he said.

“Whereas, a lot of other industries have probably flown past traditional methods of creating beverages and liquids and adopted new techniques.

“But there’s definitely a heraldry with brewing that we’d like to respect and is part of our story as an industry.”

Despite this, the industry has adapted, with many breweries moving towards more sustainable practices as seen with Helios Brewing Co., Big Shed Brewing, and Rocky Ridge Brewing Co.

“It’s pretty safe to say now that every brewery has a good sustainability mindset,” he said.

“We’re all very conscious of our water. We’re very conscious of energy and some energy recovery systems.

He noted this evolution is heading towards carbon neutrality, as many breweries have already shown.

“The goal is really clear here,” Fox said. “It’s carbon neutral and we’re seeing the first two, three, four breweries across the country actually take that goal and reach that point.”

Listen below to the related Becoming Carbon Neutral panel from the WA Beer & Brewing Conference, brought to you by Bintani Australia.

Changing landscape

While the brewing industry is driven by traditional practices, Fox noted the future of the brewhouse is led by the evolution of beer styles, especially in relation to alcohol volumes.

“Australia has seen just a general acceleration of what we’re doing in beer in terms of the limits we’re pushing beer to,” he said.

“Five years ago, you’d go to the States, and you couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a beer under six percent because you’d be like, ‘we just don’t drink six and a half, seven percent beer in Australia.’

“But pretty much now, every brewery we go into, there’d be at least two, maybe three beers up above six percent. It’s not unusual to have seven and a half, eights and nines on top now in Australia.”

The needs of different equipment reflect various styles and with the surge of newer trends like seltzers and no-alcohol, Fox said it’s a change brewers need to get on board with.

“We’ve actually got to get out of our heads that we’re [just] making beer,” he said.

“Some of these drinks we’re making, are they beers? Well, we’re calling them beers because they’re being made from a brewhouse in this process.

“But that last unlocking door is only one, two, three years ahead of that definition of ‘that beverage is more a fermented beverage’, and we actually can lose the label ‘beer’ a little bit.

“As long as we’re creating something that people enjoy in that space. And it could have barley, it could have other things.

“We’re blending lines between grain and grape. So we’re mixing wine and beer together.

“Now what label any of those things get, it doesn’t matter. But we’ve got to be ready to make those out of the equipment we have available in the brewhouse.”

It’s through this evolution of styles that new brewery equipment standards emerge. Fox mentioned heat exchangers, tube-in-tube heat exchangers, CO2 feeds, flow meters and dual hop strainers as some examples.

When it comes to prioritising equipment, accepting newer technology is also an important factor.

“I know we’re talking about the evolution of the brewhouse but essentially, it’s the entire brewing process that’s really starting to jump ahead and the centrifuge here is the best example,” Fox explained.

“Most breweries now have it in their original plan. We’re doing 15 hL brewery designs, and there’s a centrifuge going in there on day one.

“If we take that philosophy, and we’ve seen how quickly that’s changed to some of these other things, you can understand where we’re going to get to, in terms of our acceptance of technology in these smaller craft breweries.”

The presentation also discussed flexible brew lengths, evolving tank configurations and more.

Listen below to the full presentation from the WA Beer & Brewing Conference, which is proudly brought to you by Bintani Australia.

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