Energy and water are expensive, and so are hops: Hop growers are no longer able to meet the demand for alpha acid, despite good harvests. Breweries will have to remodel brewing processes to remain profitable in the future. GEA presents here some solutions for the most energy-intensive steps in the process – wort boiling and isomerization.

Intelligent Wort Management: energy recovery and lower energy consumption 

GEA’s JETSTAR® allows for highly efficient two-phase wort boiling for atmospheric wort kettles. Energy input is provided by an internal boiler; no additional pump energy is required for wort circulation. Thermal conversion and evaporation are separated from each other in the two-phase process. Significant energy saving is achieved by low total evaporation during wort boiling. 

Alpha acid from hops in the supply gap  

Hops are used in both the hot and cold process areas in the brewing process. While it is being isomerized in the brewhouse, hop oil, which brings additional flavor components to the beer, is extracted by dry hopping in the cold block. The isomerization of the hops is one of the most energy-intensive brewhouse operations, and therefore of special interest to GEA. 

92 percent alpha acid in the brewhouse 

With HOPSTAR® Iso, GEA has developed a patented process that provides thermal acceleration of hop isomerization, thus increasing the isomerization rate. The technology is based on the principle of reducing particle sizes to increase the reactive surface: Increasing the process temperature to 120–140 °C (248–284 °F) reduces the process time to 15–20 minutes.  

Dynamic dry hopping process increases raw material yield by 15 to 30 percent  

During the dry hopping process in the cold block, hops are added to round off the flavor profile of the beer with additional flavors from the hop oils. If conventional static dry hopping is used, hop cones or pellets are added to the maturation tank. 

Energy recovery and energy storage systems 

Energy storage systems have been used in breweries since 1988, in order, for example, to be able to reuse the energy from evaporation in the wort kettle or from the wort cooler in the process. With Energy Storage System 2.0, GEA has developed a concept that uses the vapor condenser and wort cooler to heat brewing water to 94 °C (201 °F) instead of energy storage water, which is thus directly available for the process. 

Water and waste management 

Breweries today implement wastewater treatment and reuse technologies in order to ensure responsible process wastewater management. This can result in a significant reduction in water consumption and wastewater volume of 20 to 60 percent. Suitable methods for this purpose include membrane processes, such as microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and reverse osmosis. In these systems, the membranes are used as purely mechanical fine screens. This can be done, for example, by reverse osmosis or ultrafiltration. The organic components of the wastewater can then be converted into methane, thus further reducing the primary energy requirement.

Dr. Mark Schneeberger
Head Application Development Beverages & Beer, GEA, Kitzingen

Isabel Osterroth
Manager Application Development Energy & Hops, GEA, Büchen