Lakefront president Russ Klisch
One of the biggest challenges craft brewers face is having the capacity to keep up with rapidly increasing demand. And that applies not only to brew house equipment and fermenting tanks, but to packaging and filling machinery as well.
With the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America about to land in Denver April 8-11, Beverage World presents a look at some recent and current expansion projects among brewers in the segment, from high-speed filling systems, to full-on turnkey brew houses.
Lakefront Brewery Enlists KHS
Lakefront Brewery, based in that classic beer town of beer towns, Milwaukee, Wis., has continued to confront ever-growing demand for its products in the 35 states in which they’re distributed. Lakefront, whose offerings include Fixed Gear American Red Ale, Organic E.S.B., Cream City Pale, Eastside Dark and many others, invested in the KHS Innofill Glass Micro filler. “We ordered the world’s second machine because we knew that KHS is a leader for high-capacity fillers and offers excellent filling technology—and that KHS fully exploits its expertise in high-performance equipment to develop the Innofill Glass Micro for the lower capacity sector,” says Lakefront president Russ Klisch, who co-founded the brewery with his brother, Jim, in 1987. “We’re extremely pleased with our decision.”
The KHS system gives Lakefront a filling capacity of up to 17,000 bottles per hour. It fills 12 and 22-ounce bomber bottles and can manage bottles holding between 0.1 and 3 liters of product.
The system is monoblocked with a single-channel rinser and crowner. Product, gas, and CIP media are fed in through aseptic seals, membranes and expansion joints that prevent the formation of any deposits or biofilm. The computer-controlled, single-chamber DPG-ZMS filling system is incorporated into the machinery, proven in practical operation many times over. When beer is bottled, the pressurizing process with inert gas is preceded by triple pre-evacuation and double CO2 purging. The filling process begins as soon as the pressure is equalized between the ring bowl and the bottle. The product then is directed down the inside walls of the bottle. The filling phase is completed when the beverage rising in the bottle closes the return gas tube, after which the valve seat is immediately pneumatically closed.
“Our aim is to supply all 50 US.. states with Lakefront beer and at the same time boost activities in our export sector,” says Klisch. “We haven’t been able to do this to date as we kept growing in our regular markets and didn’t have the filling capacities to meet greater demand. With the Innofill Glass Micro we’ve taken a major step towards extending our capacity.”
Karbach Partners with Ziemann
Karbach Brewing Co. is considerably newer to the scene than Lakefront. Founded in 2011, the brewery has grown very rapidly, reaching barrelage of 18,000 and expecting to hit 35,000 this year. But its current brew house has an annual capacity of only 40,000, which it will surpass in 2015. That means it’s expansion time.
To facilitate its next phase of growth, Karbach teamed up with Ludwigsburg, Germany-based Ziemann, which is supplying a new brewhouse and tank farm for the rapidly expanding craft brewery. “Since 2003 Ziemann has been successfully supplying tanks to craft breweries in the U.S.A.,” says Karbach’s Eric Warner. “The high quality and reliability in combination with the great know-how of the process—from malt handling to bottling—makes Ziemann the ideal partner for us.”
The new brew house will feature the following Ziemann components: “Colibri” mash mixer, “Lotus” lauter tun and “Shark” wort boiler. The tank farm consists of six units with a capacity of 600 barrels each, boosting annual production capacity to 100,000 barrels.
The Bruery Taps GEA
Southern California’s The Bruery was another fast-growing craft operation that has very quickly found itself in need of significantly more capacity. The Bruery, which derives its name from the founding Rue family, decided on the GEA Craft-Star, a 30-barrel automated brewhouse built with the craft brewer in mind.
The Craft-Star comes in two configurations: a two-vessel system with a mash/lauter tun and a whirlpool/wort kettle or a three-vessel system with a separate mash kettle, dedicated lauter tun and whirlpool/wort kettle. Other key features include: built-in grist hydrator, differential-pressure lautering to ensure a fast filtration process, external wort heater with a circulation loop for homogeneous wort treatment, automatic mash and sparge water tempering, lauter wort sampling station and full CIP capability.
The Bruery will be installing the system this year.