Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 6820 BREWING & BEVERAGE INDUSTRIES BUSINESS News CONTAINERS Having used one-way and pre-washed steel kegs from specialist rental companies, many brewers are now looking to owning their own keg population and taking responsibility for the sterilizing of the kegs and future maintenance. What are the first steps? Choice of spear The Sankey is usually first choice as with two strong springs and a gas valve protected by a steel plate it tends to require less maintenance than the A and G flat top spears. The safety clip on all spears is vitally important, as without it the spear can be unscrewed and with the internal pressure not having been vented has the potential to inflict serious injury or worse. Size of container and handling With health and safety concerns regarding weight and the desire to drink fresh beer, the 30-litre is becoming the craft keg of choice. The 50-litre is still popular but it’s important with such a big investment to future proof your business. The stackable keg is a recent innovation improving stability for a small extra cost, the stackable versions can be found on steel kegs or the PU coated PLUS kegs. The PU coated will also reduce noise by 70% during handling. Branding and security Once you have made your investment, consider how best to safeguard your asset with rising stainless steel prices increasing the risk of theft, while at the same time making your keg your brand ambassador. The painting of colour bands was for a generation a guide to the ownership, but with over 800 members in SIBA alone, the different colour combinations require newer breweries to have at least three colour bands. The chime embossing on steel kegs is also no longer a permanent sign of ownership as the name can be covered up by a plate or pressed out. The use of silk screening is another option but like painted bands will chip off in time and can be removed by pickling. The other option is to choose kegs with a lower scrap value to start off with, such as the polyurethane clad PLUS KEG. Permanent colour branding and produced in mixed material make them unattractive to metal thieves. You should be looking for twenty years’ service from your kegs which is not un realistic if they remain in your ownership. Washing and sterility of kegs It is important when looking at washing kegs that 100 % sterility is the ultimate ambition: not just a clean keg and spear but a surgically sterile keg killing all micro-organisms in the beer prior to leaving your brewery. Choosing the piece of equipment to ensure the above will not usually be the cheapest option, but with a good maintenance regime can give the brewer 25 to 30 years of service, or allow you to sell on and upgrade to a larger machine. Most craft brewers start with a semi- automatic machine, this means the keg is transferred from the washing to the filling head by an operator, with the process of washing and filling being automated usually at a rate of between 30 to 60 kegs per hour. Designed to wash and fill the keg upside down (inverted) the correctly specified machine will, after blowing out ullage left in the keg, use water at below 60°C for the first wash, then a caustic wash at 75° to 85°C at 2 to 2.5 concentration, with a final clean water wash at above 80°C. An acid wash can also be added to the cycle - this is usually standard on larger machine with more process heads available. Saturated steam at a 130°C is by far the best sterilizing agent, requiring less holding time while removing all air out of the keg, giving you guaranteed sterility and peace-of-mind. It’s also important that your services such as sterile air, CO2 are filtered to 0.2 micron, as well as the steam, which needs to be culinary steam, again at 0.2 microns. Prior to filling, any steam condensate used or air must be removed and replaced with gas CO2 Nitrogen or a mix, then pressurized to give a back pressure in the keg for a quiet fill to avoid excessive fob. A beer meter will ensure you don’t give away beer as most kegs are produced over size by .2 of a litre. Carrying out the above will ensure your beer always leaves the brewery in optimum condition ready for the consumer. Mike Hickman Entering the keg market The ability to serve well hopped robust tasting keg beers at 6 degrees in the glass, combined with the bite given by CO2, can improve the drinking experience over traditional cask ales at 12 degrees. Combined with a long overdue growth in producing craft lager has helped to develop keg products, despite the additional costs of production and a higher price to the consumer than cask. Mike Hickman is an authority on keg filling, having worked for GKN Sankey, the originators of the keg and inverted filling systems, for 14 years, latterly as Sales Director. Subsequently worked in similar roles for Comet, Schäfer and UEC, as keg systems were installed globally. Following on from developing the glycol cooling systems now found in most pub cellars , Mike returned to Schäfer three years ago. 20_Layout 1 30/10/2016 13:25 Page 1