Summer is beer season — people want to take beer to the beach, to concerts, on camping trips, and up mountains, so your canning line will be working hard to keep up with demand. But we also know how heat affects beer, speeding up the fermentation and oxidation process and leading to the dreaded “skunking” effect. Here’s how to keep your canning line running strong even as the temperature rises.
How Hot Can Beer Get?
We’ve all seen ads from certain manufacturers talking about how their beer is brewed, canned, and shipped cold, but refrigerating an entire warehouse isn’t a good option for most brewers. So how hot is too hot?
It depends on the recipe specifically. Fermentation typically starts between 55 and 70 degrees, though some lagers are brewed at temperatures as low as the 40s. Above 75 degrees, yeast can start to create some unpleasant-tasting byproducts, and above 100 degrees, much of the yeast in your brew will start to die.
Keep in mind that beer produces heat by itself. During the fermentation process, your beer can increase in temperature by up to 20 degrees thanks to the exothermic reaction from the fermentation itself. Keeping your beer under 75 degrees is important for consistent flavor, but how do you do that?
Keeping Your Warehouse Cool
If air conditioning your space and insulating or refrigerating your tuns and kettles isn’t feasible, there are other ways to keep the temperature down in your warehouse:
Insulation: Metal warehouse walls can get incredibly hot in the sun, so keeping that heat out of the interior space is crucial. Insulate the walls and ceiling of your warehouse to keep the sun from baking the interior.
- Fans: High-volume/low-speed (HVLS) fans can cool up to 20,000 square feet of warehouse, keeping the air inside from getting hotter than the ambient temperature.
- Truck Shelters: If people are coming and going from your warehouse a lot, consider installing the thick plastic flaps known as truck shelters in doorways to keep air from moving around.
- Timing: In dry climates like here in Colorado, the nights tend to be cool even when the day is blazing hot. By opening windows, running fans, and even running your canning line at night, you can take advantage of cool temperatures to manage the heat.
Cooling Your Equipment
Most brewers opt to flush their lines out to cool down the metal parts of the canning equipment before canning. While you can use tap water to perform this flush, you’ll need to hook up your water lines to your equipment to do so and you run the risk of contaminating the lines.
Instead, most brewers use beer to perform the flush. You’ll lose some beer in the process (though you can fill kegs first, since they’re less sensitive to temperature than cans), but it will bring the canning lines down to a more reasonable temperature before the product runs through them.
Some brewers also use heat exchangers. Heat exchangers are pieces of equipment that attach to the canning lines and circulate water around the outside of the metal pipes, bringing everything that runs through them to the same consistent temperature. These heat exchangers require their own power source, but they can ensure that temperatures remain steady regardless of the summer heat.
One of the advantages of a Twin Monkeys canning line is the space savings afforded by our small-footprint equipment. From tabletop units to compact mobile equipment capable of filling 20 cans per minute, you can run an efficient canning operation in a space of only a few hundred square feet, which is much easier to keep cool than a large warehouse. If you’re ready to start canning this summer, talk to Twin Monkeys today!