It’s fair to say that the UK craft beer industry is thriving at the moment. In fact, it’s now estimated to make up 6.5% of all beer sales in the UK.
From tart ‘sours’ to ‘coffee porters’ and everything in between, the craft beer movement is definitely on the rise – but is it something that could be considered as a business enterprise?
With more than 2,000 microbreweries now in production, the craft beer scene isn’t showing little sign of slowing down. But when it comes to creating quality over quantity, there’s no mistaking that running a microbrewery can be an incredibly energy-intensive process.
One of the main challenges entrepreneurs face when looking to launch their own artisan beer is what energy supply to use (particularly if they’re off the mains gas grid), and how to keep costs to a minimum. Thankfully, the energy experts at Flogas have some words of wisdom for those looking to kick-start their own successful brewery.
Equipment Check List
No matter how passionate you may be about brewing your own beer, if you’re not making a profit, you may find that your dream job is over before you know it.
One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to choose an energy strategy that will reduce your usage and keep costs down. Microbreweries can be notoriously difficult to get off the ground financially, so by doing this, you can help boost your company’s profit margins.
But before you make any decisions on energy, you’ll first need the right equipment to get you started. One of the main components in the brewing process is the mash system, which is commonly made up of the following:
- Mash tank – Steeps barley into hot water and converts grain starches into fermentable sugars
- Lauter tun – Separates the wort (or liquid) from the solids of the mash (much like a sieve)
- Steam generator – Heats the kettle, which is then brought to a controlled temperature before the hops are added
- Malt mill – Crushes the grain in preparation for brewing
- Wort Pump – Re-circulates the mash for a higher efficiency, enhancing the clarity and quality of the brew
- Plate Heat Exchanger/Wort Chiller – Quickly cools the hot wort ready for fermentation
And this is just the mashing stage. Further to this, you’ll need a fermentation system (where yeast is added and sugar turns into alcohol), a cooling system (to prevent bacteria growth and where beer can be stored ready for sale), a filtering system (to get rid of sediment for a higher-quality product) and, of course, not forgetting the sterilisation equipment (to ensure that bacteria doesn’t spoil your next batch of beer).
What energy will you need for your microbrewery?
Launching your own microbrewery is no easy feat. Along with all the complications of the brewing process, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is extortionate energy prices, or an unreliable supply.
Whether you’re connected to the grid, or you’re operating rurally and need a dependable LPG supply, make sure you choose wisely.
It’s worth noting that LPG (bottle, cylinder, LPG gas tank) is a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient fuel– one that could bring major savings on your energy costs. With the lowest CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel, it’ll also mean a lower carbon footprint for your microbrewery.
Having the right hops is crucial!
It’s not just about having the right equipment, the ingredients you choose will dramatically impact the flavour and consistency of your beer. With so many variations available, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating something truly unique. But not matter how distinctive the taste, you’ll find all craft beer is made up the following key components:
Water – It may sound obvious, but water makes up around 90 percent of any beer.
The pH and mineral content of your chosen water, as well as if it’s hard or soft, can also affect the end result.
Barley – Barley plays a key role in the alcohol percentage of your beer and can dramatically affect the body, taste and aroma of your finished product.
Hops – Ever wondered where your favourite beer gets its distinctive flavour? Chances are it’s the hops. There are around 170 variations, meaning there’s plenty of choice when it comes to playing with flavour.
Yeast – An invisible but key ingredient to any good beer – yeast has been used in beer brewing for centuries. Essentially a fungus, yeast eats the sugars created in the malting process. By allowing it to ferment and feed off the sugars, alcohol is created as a byproduct.