For microbreweries, business is all about creating a quality product that its customers enjoy. In its early stages, a very small microbrewery may not have to worry about maintaining the exact same taste of the beer from season to season since it produces smaller amounts, and new customers do not expect consistency every time. When those microbreweries grow, this responsibility to consistency changes and it becomes difficult or impossible to monitor and maintain the level of quality in the beer using traditional monitoring technology. This is a time when automation is needed.
Automation: A Crucial Factor for Consistency
In the brewing process, there are many factors which can benefit from automation. As a brewery expands, these factors can be difficult to control, resulting in inconsistent batches. Automating the process can improve the following:
- Temperature – Controlling the temperature of the brewing process is the key to consistency. Temperature can greatly affect the taste of your finished product, and maintaining proper temperatures allows you to replicate the taste of the beer between batches.
- Level Measurement – Level measurement of kettles, lauter tun and fermenters are needed to ensure quality and to maximize productivity. Hydrostatic pressure sensors are commonly used for these applications.
- Yeast Dosing – Magnetic flow meters are ideal for measuring and controlling the amount of yeast in your brewing process. Combined with optical turbidity sensors, breweries will be able to monitor cell concentration in the yeast, ensuring that the same amount of yeast is used in each batch. Coriolis meters can also be used for re-pitching
- Wort Aeration – Oxygen supply levels can be controlled through automation, ensuring that fermentation occurs at the optimum rates to produce alcohol. This will allow the wort in the brewing process to be aerated at the same levels time and time again.
- Dissolved oxygen – prior to bottling, the oxygen content must be checked, too high amount will cause beer to spoil quickly. In-line DO sensors help keep satisfied customers.
- Flow metering – Having the right amount of foundation water, keeping track of beer losses during transfers and for taxation purposes, magnetic flow meters are one of the first measurements applied in any brewery.
All of the above processes and more are capable of automation for brewing processes. Allowing for this automation will help make sure the brew will be consistent across many batches, and continue to give customers the taste that they enjoy.