Microbreweries across the UK are intent on championing their own beer flavours and brewing processes as the drinks market continues to experience a craft beer boom.
Whether tart ‘sours’, ‘coffee porters’ or anything in between is your tipple of choice, the craft beer movement has experienced great growth in terms of sales recently – it is now estimated to make up 6.5% of all beer sales in the UK.
There are now more than 2,000 microbreweries in production, and the craft beer scene isn’t showing any sign of slowing down just yet. But when it comes to creating quality over quantity, there’s no mistaking that running a microbrewery can be an incredibly energy-intensive process.
A major challenge that many entrepreneurs face when they are looking to launch their own artisan beer is what energy supply they should use. Here, gas cylinder suppliers, Flogas, have some words of wisdom for those looking to kick-start their own successful brewery.
Equipment is key
It’s certain that if you’re not a business that is making a profit, you aren’t likely to last long no matter how passionate you may be. 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.
Before any major energy decisions are made, you must first get the right equipment in place. 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
Believe it or not, this is only for 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).
The proof is in the hops
Once you have the right equipment, you’ll also have to choose your ingredients carefully. This can 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:
Barley – This plays a big role in the alcohol percentage of your beer. It can dramatically affect the body, taste and aroma of your finished product.
Water – Perhaps surprisingly, water is 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.
Hops – Have you ever stopped and thought about how 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 – This invisible ingredient is key 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.
Powering your Microbrewery
It’s very hard to successfully launching your own microbrewery. 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.
If you are deciding whether to use LPG, oil or solid fuels, it’s worth bearing in mind the fact that LPG is a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient fuel. This can help you make 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.