It may not be on the top of your mind as you're sipping an ice cold beer, but temperature regulation is vitally important to the brewing process.
When the sun’s out and temperatures climb, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a cold beer. Brewers know this better than anyone and so their production correspondingly climbs in the hotter months. What some may miss is that keeping a brewery cool when temperatures spike can be extremely difficult. This is true in the winter as well. In fact, the only consistency in regulating brewery temperature is that the cooling load can and will rapidly fluctuate, a process with numerous variables that are hard to predict. Let’s review the development of the chiller system as it’s evolved into the all-in-one, safe, and cost-effective systems common today.
Over the past twenty years, the brewery chilling system has come into its own in three main generations. Each new stage of development brought major changes in efficiency, effectiveness, and manageability. Many breweries still rely on systems from each of these generations.
Generation 1: Improvisation and Invention
Like the breweries that first pieced them together, the initial generation of chilling systems was a hodge-podge assortment of components from any dozen sources. A professional was called in or, more often, an amateur put in some elbow grease to make things work. Even then, the basic components were standard: glycol pump, condensing unit, chiller evaporator, and chilled glycol storage tank. Though the basics were strong, the extremely inefficient heat exchange led to regular system failures when temperatures dropped.
Generation 2: New Solutions and New Problems
Brewers are pioneers in their own right, and they brought this attitude to bear when improving their chiller systems. While manufacturers hesitated to approve the application, brewers utilized a “shell and tube” evaporator at lower temperatures than it was designed for. This resolved the major heat exchange issue from the first generation, but opened a new can of worms. Glycol flow was hard-limited by these new evaporators that weren’t designed for a brewery always expanding. Furthermore, brewers had less control of refrigerant flow to the evaporator, so the fluctuating need for cooling could sometimes get out of the operator’s control. It was with this lack of control in mind that the latest generation came forward.
Generation 3: Cooling Systems Come into Their Own
What separated the third generation from its predecessors was one thing: the Two Pump Glycol Design. The first pump, the Circulation Pump, allowed for maximum evaporator efficiency without interruption. The Process Pump was designed for particular brewery loads and so the hard limits to flow were no longer an issue. Following the Two Pump Glycol came a flurry of additions like the center baffled storage tank, high efficiency evaporators, and more. All of it culminated in putting control into the hands of the operator.
Being able to accommodate and work around extreme spikes in temperature has allowed brewers to avoid countless stoppages and drops in efficiency. Though the situation is improving, there’s still plenty left to be done. Polygon offers advanced equipment to help mitigate the effects of damaging temperatures at either end of the spectrum. By focusing on safety, sustainability, and comfort, Polygon has played a part in pushing chiller systems forward. Their indirect fired heater, for example, can inject heat rapidly via an air stream that doesn’t move through the flame. That means a pure and safe heat is applied.
As temperature regulation technology moves forward, it’s valuable to look back at the problems that led to the solutions we have today. The past is a source of inspiration, like when brewers cobbled their systems together from five sources across town. The future is efficiency, control, and equipment that’s designed for use in a brewery. So there’s plenty to look forward to.
To learn more just visit: https://www.polygongroup.com/en-US/services/temporary-climate-solutions/heating/