Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome, Tank 28!

Tomorrow, we'll be filling our newest fermenter, "Tank 28" for the first time. 
Tank 28 is the last tank in a third expansion of our fermentation cellar.  This most recent expansion cannibalized warehouse space to install a total of four 200 barrel fermenters and one 200 barrel bright tank.

Previous expansions took place in 2008/2009 (three 200 barrel fermenters) and again in 2010 (two 200 barrel fermenters and a 200 barrel bright beer tank).

The Craft Beer industry is growing by leaps and bounds. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer production volumes grew by 13% industry-wide in 2011.  Contextually, 2011 Smuttynose production volumes increased by a staggering 28.6%.  In short, we need more places to put beer.  But with ground breaking on our new home at Towle Farm on the verge of being scheduled, we’re not sure that this will be the end of expansions at Heritage Avenue.

Tank 28 traveled 3,183 miles from Canby, Oregon to Portsmouth, NH. It was built by JV Northwest with whom Smuttynose Founder and President Peter Egelston has worked with since they built the brewing system for The Northampton Brewery in 1986.  The fabricators opened in 1981 and they build equipment for food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies.  

Here's a clip of the tank being removed from between two stacks of hottubs and rotated in mid-air:


New Hampshire's own WMUR-TV shared this nice photo montage, as well as a short video piece, which we weren't able to track down. 

Seacoast newspapers Foster's Daily Democrat and The Portsmouth Herald each ran articles as well.  We thank all three of them for their support.

Tank 28 Stat Box:

Height: 22.5’
Diameter: 9’ 10”
Weight: 7,200 pounds
Total volume: 8024 US gallons or 259 US barrels.
Working volume: ~200 US barrels of beer, or four batches of Smuttynose beer

If our working volume is 200 barrels and the cycle through the tank takes three weeks, then our new tank will produce about 3,500 barrels (108,500 gallons) of beer in a year. 

The difference in these two volume measurements is a necessary part of fermenter design.  Fermentation is a very turbulent process that causes large amounts of carbon dioxide to be produced and then released through the volume of beer. This violent gas production causes the beer to foam, kind of like what happens when you shake a bottle of beer before your friend opens it.  The extra head space allows that foam to form, while minimizing or preventing foam-overs, which are messy and cause beer loss.

We’ve had to make significant modifications to our building for each expansion.  For this most recent expansion, we had to lease off-site warehousing to make space for the tanks, as well as extend the roof height and install a portal, through which the tanks were inserted and will later be removed when we move to our new home.

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