When the US Brewers’ Association hosts the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) in Nashville, Tennessee, GEA will also present its brewing and bottling solutions (April 30 through May 3, 2018, stand 552). The stand’s main attractions will be a craft brew house and a wet mill, which will go into operation at Lawson's Finest Liquids – one of Vermont's most prestigious craft brewers – soon after the event.
“We are very much looking forward to Nashville”, says Gregg Norris, GEA Sales Manager in the North American craft market. “Music City provides the perfect backdrop for the world's largest industry gathering. The famed Nashville Sound has so much to do with the city's image: Country-music stands for sincerity, love of the art and regional pride, all traits which are pillars of the craft brewing movement.”
An industry has matured
The craft brewers’ market has matured in recent years: Instead of the initial rush to enter the market, the industry now favors carefully considered business plans and customized strategies that are based mainly on regional marketing. “Our aim is to provide the spontaneity and joy of improvisation with a technologically and economically sensible framework”, says Oliver Jakob, Product Manager for craft and specialty breweries at GEA. “Because quality, consistency and efficiency in the use of resources are now vital for craft brewers in the highly competitive market. That's exactly why we have developed special systems and components that can be expanded on a modular basis and applied flexibly.”
Brewing technology for Lawson's Finest Liquids
For the award-winning brewer of Lawson's Finest Liquids, these arguments were key to trusting GEA and their world-renowned brewing technologies. The heart of their new production will be on display at the CBC: The CRAFT-STAR™ brew house is composed of a mash tun kettle, a lauter tun and a combined whirlpool/ wort kettle with an output of 40 hectoliters (35 US barrels). With an extraction yield of up to 98 percent, the lauter tun provides top value in terms of extract efficiency and raw material utilization. In addition, the Vermont brewer decided in favor of a MILLSTAR™ for simultaneous milling and mashing, which ensures improved filtration in the lauter tun, low oxygen uptake and thus consistently high wort qualities. GEA will be exhibiting this wet milling technology that has a capacity of 2.5 metric tons per hour at the CBC.
Five processes in one separator
Another highlight at the stand is the GEA separator skid “HB 05 Plug & Win” for craft brewers, which reduces production time by 30 percent and increases yields by up to ten percent. These compact systems are multi-functional and designed for production volumes of 1,000 to 100,000 hectoliters (875 to 87,500 barrels) per year. Brewers can carry out five processes with just one machine – an added advantage in terms of business and operating efficiency. In addition, the “Plug & Win” can be set flexibly for beer clarification without filter aid in the cold area and wort clarification in the hot area.
Brewing and filling from GEA
“Moving forward, we will now be able to offer our customers flexible and efficient filling solutions for glass/ PET bottles and cans from GEA VIPOLL”, says Norris. At the beginning of 2018, GEA acquired the Slovenian filling specialist VIPOLL. The lines with low and medium processing speeds are ideal for the needs of craft brewers. In 2017, 18 percent of craft beer production in the US was already sold in cans, and this figure is set to increase in the future.  Traditionally, demand for glass bottles continues to be highest there. “In both cases, we can now supply our customers with the entire production process, from brewing through the finished package.” At the stand, GEA will present its ALL IN ONE super-flexible monoblock filling and sealing heads, which can be interchanged for bottle, can or PET filling.
The stage is set for the pump portfolio
In preparation for market entry in the US – which GEA plans for its pump portfolio in 2018 – the technology group also is highlighting its specialty pumps in the GEA Varipump line and to its standardized pumps in the Smartpump line, which brewers from all over the world have been relying on for years. For example, the GEA Hilge HYGIA premium-range hygienic pump, has always stood for optimal cleanability, high stability and quality. The sophisticated Adapta motor connection design allows customers to utilize motors using their customary national design – such as NEMA. In the medium term, GEA will also establish a production site in the USA in order to optimize delivery times for this new market and ensure even faster local service.
 Watson, Bart: “Cans and Bottles: Craft Beer Packaging Trends in 2017”, by Brewers Association