The craft brewing industry has exploded over the past several years. According to the Brewers Association, in 2012 there were 2,420 regional craft breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs in the U.S. By 2017 that number had nearly tripled to 6,266. The abundance of craft brewers has led to increased competition for market share among consumers, distributors and bars – leaving little to no room for error in the brewing process.
The Science of Brewing
Whether it’s a small, local microbrewery or a large national brewery, temperature control plays an important role in the manufacturing process. While traditional chillers can provide adequate cooling for breweries, keeping them at a consistent temperature can be costly.
Craft Beer USA, states that beer stored at 100°F for one week tastes as old as beer stored at 70°F for two months or as old as beer stored at 40°F for one year. The taste of beer changes dramatically at higher temperatures because of the chemical reactions taking place – primarily oxidation. Fortunately, there are alternative chiller solutions that provide advanced cooling technologies to increase energy savings and lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
A Closer Look at Free-Cooling Technology
Free-cooling is the process of using low-temperature ambient air to chill the liquid in process or comfort cooling systems.
Free-cooling for chillers has been around for decades, with systems limited to providing cooling (and energy savings) during colder conditions. Additionally, chillers were historically limited to relatively low chilled liquid temperatures (55 °F and below).
Free-cooling can significantly reduce operating costs for facilities such as breweries that have year-round cooling requirements. However, not all free-cooling systems deliver the same savings. It is important to understand how recent advancements in free-cooling technology can deliver greater efficiency in savings all year long.
Advancements in Free-Cooling Technology
New regulations for energy standards to improve conservation efforts have generated incentives to utilize higher-chilled liquid temperatures. Innovations have been made to increase chiller efficiency and expand economizer hours using higher liquid temperature control. With chilled beams and larger coils, comfort cooling also favors the use of high chilled water temperatures. Likewise, industrial process cooling can frequently use higher liquid temperatures, depending on the application.
Proven solutions for reducing operating costs of facilities with year-round cooling requirements include field-erected systems consisting of a chiller plus a separate dry cooler, waterside economizers packaged on chillers and evaporative coolers used in combination with chillers. Free-cooling chiller technology integrates a waterside economizer with the condenser heat exchangers, allowing easy service access to all mechanical components and optimizing the footprint, when compared to systems with separate economizers. Some chillers feature a single temperature setpoint that permits easy adjustment as brewery capacity expands.
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