V-Brew Help Automate Filtration

romfil x flow beer filtration equipment

The Great Yorkshire Brewery (GYB), originally Crompton Brewery, was a craft brewer before the name existed. A cask ale pioneer and still brewing their own beers, they are also a trusted contract brewer and packer, and they have a new toy, a crossflow filter.

In 1984, five years before the now revoked beer orders – which was designed to break the monopoly of the big breweries and landlords – Phil Lee, at Crompton Brewery, started to brew cask beer in the cellar of the New Inn in North Yorkshire.

Brewing Equipment Used By Great Yorkshire Brewery

His original brewhouse was 5 BBL and its first beer was a cask ale called “Two Pints”. They upgraded to a 10 BBL and eventually to a 2 vessel brewhouse, infusion type 30 BBL brewhouse. The 10 BBL stable now houses kegging and bottling equipment. The 30 BBL brewing and fermentation equipment has a purpose made building.

Head brewer Alex Noblett takes charge of brewing Great Yorkshire’s core beers, as well as scheduling in and producing contract brews for UK craft artisans, who are either at capacity or cuckoo brewing without kit of their own. Alex has a good vantage point and sees the craft brewing industry trends meandering, particularly towards low and no alcohol beers – which has been taking up more and more of their contract brewing capacity and accounts for a majority of their new enquiries.

Nathan, packaging manager, gets beer into bottles, casks and kegs and more recently cans, through variable filtration parameters. He used to do so with an 80 plate sheet filter from V- Brew, which replaced an earth filter that was sold in 2014 after the brewing team had decided that it was messy, expensive and difficult to train new operatives to use.

The plate filter served GYB well for 5 years, its output was good and it was easy to train new staff to use, but the cost of consumables and labour, especially with the brewery’s burgeoning output, meant that an investment in a crossflow filter became inevitable.

A Word On Crossflow Filtration From Great Yorkshire Brewery

Great Yorkshire have a Beer X Flow this year, which has revolutionised filtration. As Alex says: “The auto discharge on the X Flow allows us to match the performance of the plate filter in HL/hr but the semi automation (so we can run over night & during the day) massively decreases the labour intensity of the filtering and means there are no consumables, i.e. filter sheets. Set up and clean down times are improved also.”

Crossflow filtration works like a bypass, with beer being gently recirculated through the porous membranes and back to the pump inlet. The “clean” filtrate passes the membrane, due to a pressure difference, and the beer in the system gets more and more turbid.

For wineries, it’s common to programme a “discharge” cycle. This empties the system of the wine whilst accumulating turbidity and starts filtration with fresh wine – the discharged wine is sent to a small process tank for filtration later. This increases the performance of the filter.

With beer filtration, to perform a “discharge”, a complicated gas management system is usually needed to process beer under pressure. But in the UK , it’s more common to process beer under atmospheric pressure and V-Brew were able to run with discharge and without the gas management system. A cheaper endeavour! Golden ales and lagers run at 30HL per hour plus, and less for dry hopped beers.

A lees filter, designed to recover expensive wine from yeast slurry, is currently being tested in the recovery of IPA from hop slurry. An automated sieve manifold is also available to cope with very heavily hopped beers.

It’s an odd quirk of crossflow filtration that the smaller the pore (typically .2 micron), often the more efficient the filtration. This is because the product moves tangentially, and the larger pores present a rougher surface and become blocked quicker than the smooth surface of smaller pores. The beer crossflow has been developed to work with larger pores (0.6 micron nominal) and this is to maintain the levels of foam positive proteins in the beer.

0.6 Micron is not regarded as sterile and if a sterile product is required, an absolute “police” filter cartridge should be fitted prior to the packing line. This police filter will have a very long life and will possibly be smaller than normal, because when tested under the microscope. it was not possible to detect any yeast cells in beer post crossflow.

Interested in learning more about automated filtration? Contact our team.

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