Five reasons to get a centrifuge for your brewery

Centrifuges have been a privilege of larger industrial breweries for many decades, whilst a majority of microbrewers have needed to rely entirely on natural settling tile and various affordable filters. things are changing now as more and more craft brewers are turning their eyes towards the separation technology. We asked our experts who explain why this is happening.

DATE 2023-11-27

Increased yield

Beer filters have several advantages for craft brewers besides that they are relatively affordable. But they are slow and subject to considerable product losses, since they can’t filter what is at the bottom of the fermenter tanks without clogging up. With a centrifuge you are getting more beer out of every tank.

“The separator is the best tool ever made for increasing yield, - explains Fernando Jimenez, Global sales manager for brewery market at Alfa Laval. – With the same number of tanks you can increase your production capacity between 15-20%. Every pint that you can sell is money at the end of the day. That helps to pay back the investment of the machine.”

“If you are a small brewery, every bit of saving is helpful, your beer is a liquid gold to you. Every extra gallon or barrel that you save is going to help provide more beer to your customers, - Fernando adds.

Shorter tank turns

A centrifuge makes it possible to achieve a desired product consistency within just a few hours whereas only settling and filtering will need several days for the same duty. How does this work? The process within a separator looks like this: freshly fermented beer enters the centrifuge, where it meets a number of rapidly spinning (several thousand rpm) plates. Solids (eg. yeast, hop solids & brewing proteins) spin out to the edges and are ejected; clarified beer remains in the center and leaves through the top, and all of it happens without exposure to oxygen. And, moreover, you don’t need to wait for the solids to completely settle before entering the unclarified beer into the centrifuge.

“That means that tank turnaround is much faster with a separator since you won’t have beer sitting in the fermentation vessels as long as you normally would, - says Joakim Gustafsson, Global sales manager for craft brewery market at Alfa Laval. 

Longer shelf life

Oxygen pick-up – is among the major concerns for all breweries but especially for craft brewers producing hoppy oxygen sensitive IPAs, negatively affecting the product’s shelf life stability. But this is not something that a brewer has to worry about when running their beer through an air tight hermetic centrifuge like, for instance, Alfa Laval’s smallest beer centrifuge for craft brewers, the Brew 20.

“Anytime you add a new piece of equipment to your process, dissolved oxygen pickup is a concern. Alfa Laval is known for our innovative technology, and we understand how important low D.O. levels are, – says Vince Polino, market sales manager at Alfa Laval, USA. 

Alfa Laval has pioneered the Axial Hermetic Seal, which is an improvement on hydro hermetic seals. Available in our Brew 20 and Brew 80 models, it does not require CO2 or deaerated water to achieve near zero ppb pick up levels of dissolved oxygen, - he adds.

Alfa Laval has gone even further in its innovations with the fully hermetic, centre-to-centre, bottom-fed designed centrifuges, like our Brew 250 and larger models for breweries. These offer the gentlest treatment, zero dissolved oxygen pickup, lower shear stress and lower temperature pickup than other top fed centrifuges. All of which is very important for craft brewing and helps to extend beer’s shelf life considerably.

Better aromas and flavours

Creating great beer all comes down to having great ingredients. Unfortunately, a lot of filtering and clarification alternatives will strip out the volatile aroma and flavours you need to capture in your beer. Separators are the smartest way to remove the solids you want out of your beer, while preserving the value of your unique ingredients.

“Separators or centrifuges, compared to other filtration technologies, better retain the volatile aromas and flavour character of your beer. It pulls out only larger particles, while types of downstream filtering technologies also pull out finer materials, - maintains Vince Polino.  

“Even if you’re brewing hazy beers or stouts, a separator makes sure that you can get rid of core solids and preserve volatile oils and aromatics. For a stout that’s already dark, you’ll be getting better quality in your beer and improving shelf life stability - explains Joakim Gustafsson.

More profitable batches

Investing in a separator is the smartest way to get more out of your fermentation time without buying additional tanks. You can greatly increase yield, saving more of the beer you already brew, as well as boost your capacity with faster tank turnover. At the end of the day, that means more pints in customer hands – and more profit for you.

“When it comes to the financial benefits of having a separator, depending on your current processes and the styles of beer that you make, a lot of our customers see a return on their investment within two or three years, some - in less than a year. It really depends on your situation, and that’s something we can help you work on as part of the process, - Vince Polino suggests.

Thus, installing a centrifuge in your brewery is truly an investment in long-term profitability. Between boosting your yield and producing a high-quality, premium beer that your customers will love, by having a separator you will make sure that you see a fast return on your investment that pays dividends for years to come.