There’s a craft beer boom going on right now in the UK drinks market. There are an abundance of microbreweries opening across the UK, with each looking to champion their own unique flavours and brewing processes.
Whether you want tart ‘sours’ to ‘coffee porters’, or pretty much anything in between, the craft beer movement has seen sales hugely grow in recent years, so much so that they are estimated to make up 6.5% of all beer sales in the UK. With more than 2,000 microbreweries now in production, the craft beer scene is showing little sign of slowing down. But when it comes to creating quality over quantity, there’s no mistaking that running a microbrewery can be an incredibly energy-intensive process.
A main challenge that is faced by entrepreneurs who are hoping to launch their own artisan beer is their energy supply source and which is the cheapest for their business. Here, Flogas, who supply gas bottles, offer words of wisdom for those looking to kick-start their own successful brewery.
Equipment is crucial
It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about making your own beer, if you don’t turn over a profit then your dream could stay just that. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to choose an energy strategy that will reduce your usage and keep costs down. Microbreweries can be notoriously difficult to get off the ground financially, so by doing this, you can help boost your company’s profit margins.
However, first things first. Before you make any decisions on energy, you’ll first need the right equipment to get you started. One of the main components in the brewing process is the mash system, which is commonly made up of the following:
- Mash tank – Steeps barley into hot water and converts grain starches into fermentable sugars
- Lauter tun – Separates the wort (or liquid) from the solids of the mash (much like a sieve)
- Steam generator – Heats the kettle, which is then brought to a controlled temperature before the hops are added
- Malt mill – Crushes the grain in preparation for brewing
- Wort Pump – Re-circulates the mash for a higher efficiency, enhancing the clarity and quality of the brew
- Plate Heat Exchanger/Wort Chiller – Quickly cools the hot wort ready for fermentation
Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s it, though. This is just the mashing stage! Further to this, you’ll need a fermentation system (where yeast is added and sugar turns into alcohol), a cooling system (to prevent bacteria growth and where beer can be stored ready for sale), a filtering system (to get rid of sediment for a higher-quality product) and, of course, not forgetting the sterilisation equipment (to ensure that bacteria doesn’t spoil your next batch of beer).
The proof is in the hops
And it’s not a case of being successful just because you have the right equipment, either. The ingredients you choose will dramatically impact the flavour and consistency of your beer. With so many variations available, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating something truly unique. But not matter how distinctive the taste, you’ll find all craft beer is made up the following key components:
Water – It might sound like an obvious point as water makes up around 90 percent of any beer. The pH and mineral content of your chosen water, as well as if it’s hard or soft, can also affect the end result.
Barley – Barley plays a key role in the alcohol percentage of your beer and can dramatically affect the body, taste and aroma of your finished product.
Hops – Ever wondered where your favourite beer gets its distinctive flavour? Chances are it’s the hops. There are around 170 variations, meaning there’s plenty of choice when it comes to playing with flavour.
Yeast – An invisible but key ingredient to any good beer – yeast has been used in beer brewing for centuries. Essentially a fungus, yeast eats the sugars created in the malting process. By allowing it to ferment and feed off the sugars, alcohol is created as a byproduct.
Powering your Microbrewery
It’s not an easy task to launch your own microbrewery. Along with all the complications of the brewing process, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is extortionate energy prices, or an unreliable supply.
If you are currently using oil or solid fuels and are considering LPG, it’s worth knowing that LPG is in fact a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient type of fuel. This means that it could bring you major savings on your energy costs. With the lowest CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel, it’ll also mean a lower carbon footprint for your microbrewery.