The UK brewing industry is a highly competitive environment. The last few years have seen considerable consolidation in brewing. Modern plants operate on slim margins with high output and efficiency. Plants operate around the clock, and outages or unexpected loss of treated water supply can be commercially catastrophic. Intensive production coupled with the high volume of water required to produce every pint of beer can lead to stressed local water supplies and increasing costs for discharge of effluent.
Over the last 30 years or so, the volume of water required to produce every pint of beer has decreased from around 12-14 pints to around 5-6 pints today in modern computer controlled brewing plant. However, more and more emphasis is being placed on water efficiency.
The requirements for purified water include brewing liquor (that used in the product itself), boiler feedwater, cooling and CIP (clean-in-place) of brewing equipment. These frequently require water of different specifications but are usually fed with the same quality of water to simplify distribution across the brewery site. This can result in high quality water being used for CIP applications where a lower grade may be suitable, resulting in increased costs for the brewery.
The water used in the product itself often carries a stringent brewing liquor specification and makes up a large proportion of the overall water use. This in itself can be quite different to an industrial treated water specification and carry additional requirements concerning taste, odour, bacteriological, potential toxins, carcinogens and oxidants even at very low or below parts per billion (ppb) level. This is in addition to the mineral requirements required by the different products.
Whilst many breweries abstract from their own boreholes, giving them a tremendous commercial advantage, this is subject to conditions and limits set by the Environment agency. Also, waste water is still often discharged as trade effluent and therefore subject to significant discharge costs. This can total in the region of 67% of the brewery’s water supplied.
In recent years, there has been a move away from ion exchange based systems to eliminate or reduce hazardous chemicals on site. This has often led to increased use of Reverse Osmosis which tends to place a greater demand on the water supply due the lower utilisation of the feed water and higher volumes sent to waste.
Watercare international Ltd has significant experience working in this environment and understands the needs of the brewing industry and what it is trying to achieve with regard to efficiency, consistency and security of its treated water.
Whether it’s new plant, modification, refurbishment, in-depth surveys or simply routine maintenance, you can be assured that our expertise in Water Treatment and long experience of working with the Brewing Industry will ensure you always get the very best advice, support and solutions to your water treatment needs.