At drinktec 2017 GEA is also formulating their understanding of today's state-of-the-art technology under the title “Brewery Advanced”. The concept utilizes GEA's sophisticated technology and a process design, creating significant advantages in terms of customer capacity and energy consumption. GEA is thus able to increase the number of brews in the lauter tun from 12 to 14 a day, while the evaporation rate has been reduced to a mere one percent.

“Brewery Advanced” demonstrates innovative process design for breweries

“Breweries nowadays face a highly competitive environment with enormous challenges, which are all subservient to a single task: They have to ensure their ability to deliver,” explains Dr. Rudolf Michel, head of the development department for alcoholic beverages at GEA. “However, the two-to-three-week brewing process is subject to a few uncertainties, as we still have to rely on Mother Nature despite all the technology. After all, we work with yeast – a living organism – and its capacity and flocculation reaction is not completely predictable. However, beer taking 16 days instead of 13 days to brew can throw off the entire production schedule.” In order to avoid this situation and improve the predictability of their customers' beer production, GEA engineers have made sophisticated changes to technical components and process planning:

Item 1: Lauter tun can perform 14 brews a day

The lauter tun is where the clear wort and the spent grains are separated from one another and can now perform 12 brews a day using the classic batch procedure. GEA was able to increase the number up to 14. Even with same brew batch capacity, the peak load is thus reduced by 15 percent meaning smaller lauter tuns are sufficient and less investment is needed in the boiler house. 

Item 2: Wort stripper and external hop isomerization save energy

The hops are now added to the liquid wort in the wort kettle. GEA uses two methods to improve the hop yield, aromatics and energy balance. “First, we use our wort stripper to change the standard wort boiling process,” says Dr. Rudolf Michel. “Instead of boiling for the standard 60 minutes with an evaporation rate of four percent, we perform a highly effective counterflow steam wash to remove the volatiles.” The evaporation is thus transferred from the wort kettle to a so-called stripper. 

The second component of the process is hop isomerization, for which GEA has already patented an innovation: Thanks to the HOPSTAR™ Iso technology, this process is performed in parallel to the wort boiling and much faster as the hops can be mechanically pre-treated and heated to a higher temperature. The closed system helps retain hop oils. In the end, the improved process design and the higher temperatures increase hop yields 15 up to 30 percent. The technology also reduces the required overall evaporation in the wort kettle and in turn primary energy consumption in the brewhouse: In conjunction with counterflow stripping, the overall evaporation can be reduced from the current standard of four percent to less than one percent. “The sustainability goals of our customers as well as those of GEA, which moved us to make this paradigm shift. GEA is thus making a contribution to lower energy consumption,” says Dr. Rudolf Michel.

Item 3: Lower processing time in cold block

GEA has developed ECO-FERM™ for the cold process area, a homogenization procedure for fermentation tank contents, which improves the turn-around time for fermentation and thus improves production planning. For this purpose, GEA uses a jet pump in the cone inlet, which mixes both more effectively, while also consuming less energy than other mixing concepts thanks to its design. Fermentation, maturation and cooling take less time. In general, several hours can be saved in many cases and sometimes even a whole day of tank occupancy time. Tank capacity is thus greater. “Thanks to the GEA jet mixing, we support the natural mixing process in the tanks, parallel to the circulation, which is created through the generated carbon dioxide,” says Dr. Rudolf Michel of the principle, which ensures gentle yeast treatment and even increases their vitality because less sediment forms in the tank cone. “This way, we can make the yeast a bit less unpredictable.”

The GEA ECO-MATRIX™ cellar piping concept presented at drinktec stands for process reliability and hygiene. The system is based on a compact branching of the tank outlet. The short vertical pipe beneath the tank in connection with the ECO-MATRIX™ double seat valves improves the foam stability and taste of the beer, is easy to clean and minimizes product loss. 

Item 4: Filtering beer – without waste

Clear beer types receive a final filtration after cold storage, in order to remove the remaining yeast particles. The GEA clearamic BeerFiltration used for this purpose is the result of a joint development project of GEA experts for brewing technology in Kitzingen and for separation technology in Oelde, and a sustainable cross filtration solution for beer production free from diatomaceous earth and waste. Using ceramic membranes GEA guarantees low costs of your operations, with consistently high product quality and process reliability. Clearamic membranes utilize an inert material thus ensuring a pure beer taste. A pre-assembled module allows for short installation and start-up times and the highly flexible plant concept permits upgrade at any time.

Item 5: Energy management consumes less hot water

GEA engineers developed and ran practical tests of the open energy storage system 2.0, which supports customers in the sustainable water and energy management. GEA provides two hot water tanks as no-load energy storage vessels with two temperature levels (e.g. 96 °C and 80 °C). This is the key: The brewing water heated to 95 °C or 96 °C by the large wort cooler is then cooled to about 80 °C in a second step – in the wort heater or in the mash vessel – and is only then available for the brewing process. Thanks to the open system, the hot water excess in a brewhouse can be influenced within the boundaries of physics. At customer Compañía Cervecera de Nicaragua, GEA was thus able to reduce the energy consumption in the brewhouse by almost a quarter and about nine percent of the total energy needs for the brewery.

The concept is also suitable for use with a vapor condenser and especially at brewery locations, where the cold water temperature is high or fluctuates with the seasons. Dr. Rudolf Michel goes a step further: “We were even able to reduce excess hot water in facilities brewing top fermented and bottom fermented beer to almost zero thanks to clever production planning, when we use the different pitching temperatures.”

The GEA stand will also have display of their efficient evaporation technology, the waste-free GEA clearamic BeerFiltration, as well as the ECO-MATRIX™ piping concept and ECO-FERM™, a technology for homogenizing fermentation tank contents.