12 March 2019
When U.K. brewers meet at BeerX in Liverpool (March 13-14, 2019), they will not only get an up-close and personal view of GEA Plug & Win separator skid at the GEA stand 141, but will also have the opportunity to speak to London-based craft brewers Gipsy Hill Brewing Company about working with this user-friendly centrifuge, where it has been in operation since 2018, delivering top performance.
GEA brewing experts will be on hand to provide information on both brewing and filling solutions for craft beers in the hot and cold process. Naturally, samples of the popular Gipsy Hill beers will also be available for tasting.
Centrifuges for ambitious brewers
Because consistent quality and resource efficiency are essential for craft brewers in today’s competitive marketplace, GEA has set itself the goal of finding technologically and economically viable solutions. “With the Plug & Win centrifuge, we are focusing on craft brewers who plan to raise their production to a professional level,” says Peter Swift, Head of Separation Sales at GEA in the U.K. “Customers in this segment want to brew more, but above all, better beer. We are convinced that our centrifuge will enable them to take this step.” GEA has geared its Plug & Win, which separates beer from unwanted solids such as yeast and trub, to directly address the practical needs of craft brewers: The centrifuge is extremely powerful, easy on space, out-of-the-box ready for operation and very easy to use.
“It has to be the best”
Gipsy Hill Brewing in South London was exactly in this situation. Their beer had become so popular that they had the opportunity to increase their brewing capacity. At the same time, they wanted to brew more efficiently while maintaining complete control over the production process, including consistency. An earlier investment in inexpensive, and completely unsuitable equipment, taught the young entrepreneurs to be demanding in their choice of technology. “We learned the hard way and are no longer willing to compromise,” recalls co-founder Sam McMeekin. “Our work ethic and mantra have always been about quality with regards to taste – and now this applies to our equipment as well.” For Gipsy Hill, it’s a clear choice: “If it comes in contact with our beer, affects quality and you use it every day, it has to be the best.”
Access to high-tech through leasing
Many craft brewers are having a similar experience to Gipsy Hill; demands are high, but finances limited, says Swift. “Investing in top technology can be quite a stretch for small breweries. And although many of them are not aware of it, GEA offers a leasing option.” Gipsy Hill took advantage of this offer, discussed their business plan in detail with GEA, and left with a GEA Plug & Win 50. “This allows us to address a very important need for breweries. Instead of tying up their capital with a purchase, the agreed lease rate enables them to keep costs under control during use.”
“We shaved four days off our production process per tank”
With a centrifuge, beer clarification and turbidity can be adjusted very precisely, and above all, reproduced. It accelerates the entire brewing process, because separated beer requires less time to clarify and mature in the storage tanks, allowing brewers to get the most out of their tank capacity. “If it had taken you 30 days to make beer, with a centrifuge it will probably take you only 25 days – or less,” reckons John Taylor, production manager at Gipsy Hill. “This centrifuge allowed us to shave four days off our production process per tank.” A separator operates very efficiently and extracts the residual beer from the yeast. Craft brewers are able to produce 20 to 30 percent faster using this method, and process even more batches in a row – with consistently high quality and taste.
Clarifying instead of filtering
When adjusted for the finest level of clarification, a separator can even replace filtration. Because many craft beers have a naturally higher malt and hop content compared to a pilsner or a lager, many of them are quite simply unfilterable. However, if the separator operates at a low flow rate, it significantly reduces the yeast content and can have a positive impact on protein content. Low molecular weight proteins, which flocculate in the beer during prolonged storage, remain, lending Indian pale ales the cloudiness that enthusiasts really crave.
“We needed intuitive equipment that allows us to keep the team small and to deliver a premium product without having to resort to shift brewing,” says McMeekin. The Plug & Win provides a host of advantages such as easy centrifuge handling and quick installation. “The separator is a real plug-and-play solution and was set up within a single day.” Gipsy Hill is very satisfied: “Not everyone here is an experienced brewer, so user-friendliness is that much more important. GEA was incredibly accommodating with the training. We picked everything up so quickly that we took the reins after just two days and the GEA engineers came back a few weeks later to work through any questions that had arisen.”