If the heart of a brewery is compared to a brewery, then glycol can be likened to blood.
Here’s what keeps your precious beer alive.
Many brewers who are just starting out know how important this is – but there are many more things you need to get right.
It’s not just about choosing the right brewery equipment. You also need to consider what percentage of the system will be required, how much will be needed, the type of plumbing that will be used – and of course, the layout.
Here are some factors to consider when making these decisions.
Size your mash room cooling equipment
For your brewery equipment, ensuring that you have the correct size glycol cooler is crucial – not only for your initial wine cellar, but also for the future.
It’s best to size your chiller for future growth because not only will purchasing new chillers in the future be costly, but your utility may not be able to handle the electrical load.
Some customers will buy an initial chiller and plan to add another one to help handle the load, as well as a safety measure in case something goes wrong.
When it comes to chillers, we have encountered a wide variety of good ones. When making a choice, we advise clients to consider the following:
– Indoor chiller or outdoor chiller?
– Onboard fluid reservoir or dedicated glycol tank?
– Will my electrical load be able to handle it?
The above decisions will also determine where breweries will place these noisy and heat-generating equipment.
Ethylene glycol pipeline
Once you have sized and prepared your cooler, it is important to start thinking about how your glycol will circulate around the brewery.
You should make your main line larger than your jacket. We recommend installing more ball valves than you actually need.
Each tank should have a valve next to the main circuit – for supply and return – and then a valve before the jacket inlet to help reduce flow when the jacket freezes.
Remember that the fluid will always follow the path of least resistance. So the first vessel your glycol loop reaches will receive the most flow, while the last one will receive the least.
This is where the valve comes in. You can reduce the flow to the first vessel and continue adjusting it until you reach the last one, which will most likely be fully open.
We have started providing glycol ports for tanks with glycol bypasses, which are assembled prior to shipment – including components. This saves time and money as it is a very plug-and-play process. You just insulate, connect to the main circuit, and you’re good to go!
Ethylene Glycol Pipe Materials
Stainless steel will provide the best appearance – especially if you have an installer who can keep the pipes straight. The aesthetics of straight pipes around the brewery will give it a premium look, even if the insulation and cladding obscure it.
We all know that the aesthetics of a brewery are important, especially for more upscale beer bars.
You can also choose PVC or PPR pipes that work fine, but if they are not well supported, they will sag over time.
We also have customers who use flexible hoses, which are the most economical option, but may not appear as high-quality.
After the plumbing is done, you need to insulate everything. This will save you money as there will be less heat escaping – and your glycol cooler will appreciate it!
If you really want everything to stand out, you can clad the pipes in aluminum or stainless steel. This helps match the stainless steel of the vessels – it will look amazing!
After you have now insulated pipes – possibly clad – you will end up with a larger diameter than the original. So you should consider the spacing as the pipes weave around the brewery.
Connect with your beer equipment
Neither the location of the glycol connections nor the connection type are standardized. Therefore, make sure to specify to the manufacturer what works best for you.
We typically use NPT connections in the US market and BSP elsewhere. We also use tri-clamp connections, but most plumbers are not familiar with them, so adapters are required.
You can position the glycol inlet and outlet at a 45-degree angle to the rear. This will allow you to utilize the empty space between tanks and position them directly against the wall or another row of containers. You can also run glycol piping within insulation and terminate it at the top of the vessel.
When commissioning a glycol system, first run it without glycol for a few hours at around 10°C. This allows you to check for leaks and patch them if necessary. (Do not set the chiller temperature too low during this time, as the water will freeze.)
Ethylene glycol is expensive! So you don’t want to waste money on leaks at your brewery before even getting started.
When you initially start running water through the pipes, the goal is to fill the jacket and expel all the air from the system.
Air pockets sometimes form, and if a vessel is not being cooled, it may be due to air pockets causing uneven glycol flow.