In the U.S., there are over 9,200 commercial breweries, from local craft breweries to behemoth international brands. Combine those with over 11,000 wineries, and you have a tremendous production of fermented beverages.
What is the one thing in common these businesses need? A way to cool and control fermentation. Fermentation is a natural and essential process in beer and wine production. To have consistent results, brewers and winemakers must maintain temperatures throughout the brewing and fermentation processes. Glycol chillers and tank piping systems are the answer.
This post will cover the best practices for designing brewery glycol piping systems and other cooling considerations for your brewery or winery operation.
Why Use Glycol in Brewing?
There are two types of Glycol-based coolants, ethylene glycol, and propylene glycol.
Glycol mixed with water is a heat transfer fluid, which is particularly important in brewing. The mixture circulates through piping to and from fermentation chillers to cool fermentation tanks and mash tuns.
Glycol lowers the freezing point of water, allowing the liquid to flow below freezing temperatures. Different glycol concentrations result in different freezing point temperatures. The lower temperature required means a higher glycol-to-water ratio.
There are several processes in which it is critical to lower or maintain the temperature. For example, cooling the wort after the initial boiling process, maintaining a steady temperature during fermentation, and cooling the beer after fermentation.
Glycol Piping Design in Breweries and Wineries
Fermentation is a natural part of the beer and winemaking process that creates heat. Commercial breweries and wineries need a glycol piping layout design to control the temperature and remove excess heat. For example, breweries need to cool the mash tun and lauter tun. Wineries must cool inside the fermentation tanks to provide optimal environments for the yeast to thrive and flavors to develop.
Avoiding Extreme Temperatures
High temperatures will affect the fermentation rate and the resulting flavor of the product. Glycol piping design ensures that temperatures are consistent and within the manufacturer’s recommendations throughout the process. Glycol cooling control leads to a more consistent product from brew to brew.
Here is a table of the ideal fermentation temperatures of most beer and wine.
|Product||Ideal Fermentation Temperature|
|Red Wine||70°F to 85°F (20° to 30°C)|
|White Wine||45°F to 60°F (7° to16°C)|
|Ales||55°F to 70°F (13° to 21°C)|
|Beer||40°F to 54°F (4 to 12°C)|
For additional information, check out our blog, “Types of Fermentation.”
Using glycol to cool the different vessels is more efficient and cost-effective than cooling with water alone. It’s a preferred method because the water temperature of the facility’s water source may vary. A glycol system can cool a greater volume of liquid in a shorter time.
By pumping glycol through coils or pipes in fermentation tanks, the excess heat from the tank transfers into the glycol from the vessel’s contents. The control of temperatures allows for natural yeast fermentation at the correct temperature for that product.
Breweries and wineries need a glycol piping design specific to their industry. Understanding the process and how the glycol will work within the system is essential before designing the most efficient and effective glycol cooling system.
How to Size the Glycol Piping for Your Brewery or Winery
There are two considerations when sizing brewery glycol piping or for a cooling system.
- The maximum glycol flow rate does not exceed the maximum rated capacity of the pump.
- The pipe size should provide the least amount of pressure.
The exact application will determine the specifics of sizing.
The first step in sizing your glycol piping is determining the cooled surfaces’ total heat load. During the brewing or fermentation process, the equipment will have hot spots that require cooling.
To identify the amount of heat in your brewery or winery, you can use the following calculation:
Q = μ × A × ΔT,
Where Q = total heat load in BTU/hr
μ = the coefficient of thermal transfer for the material
A = the surface area where the fluid is in contact
ΔT = the difference between the fluid’s temperature and the surrounding environment’s temperature.
Once you’ve calculated the total heat load, you can determine how much glycol is required. You can use the following equation:
G = Q × C × H × F × ΔT
Where G = amount of glycol needed in gallons
Q = total heat load in BTU/hr.
C = the heat capacity of the liquid glycol in BTU/gal
H = the difference between the maximum and minimum temperature
F = the flow rate of the glycol in gallons/hr.
ΔT = difference between the maximum and minimum temperature.
To make it simpler, here is a Glycol calculator.
Types of Brewery Equipment that Require Glycol Cooling
There are five stages of commercial beer brewing that require cooling.
- Cold water tank – Used to store cold water used to cool other vessels quickly.
- Wort Cooling – Cools the liquid in the Mash tun and brew kettles.
- Fermentation or Bright tank – This is where most fermentation occurs.
- Condition Tank – Pressurized tanks are used to add carbonation to the beer.
- Packaging processing line – Keeps the finished beer at a low temperature for bottling.
Glycol cooling systems allow for greater temperature control.
Factors To Consider When Designing a Glycol System
The glycol system design must consider the tank size, the flow rate, and heat exchangers.
When selecting the flow rate, you must consider the total volume of glycol needed for the mash and lauter tuns and the tanks. When choosing heat exchangers, you must consider the type of glycol and the temperatures required for the facility. For instance, if you’re cooling the fermentation tanks with a glycol and water mixture, that mixture should be around 60°F.
Installation Tips for a Successful Glycol Piping System
If you are installing a glycol cooling system for the first time, here are a few pro tips to help you:
- Use stainless steel or copper piping
- Prior to installing the piping system, clean the pipes to remove any debris
- Make sure the lines are dry
- Always check that the glycol system has the correct amount of glycol
- Use a temperature gauge to monitor the glycol’s temperature
- Keep glycol lines separate from other piping in the system to prevent glycol contamination and reduce noise
- Insulate all pipes to minimize heat loss and maximize energy savings
- Place the glycol inlets and outlets 45 degrees off of the back. It’s a good use of the space between the tanks or a wall
Before you commit to any system, hire an experienced consultant who can walk you through the entire process to avoid costly mistakes.
Guidelines for Designing Glycol Piping Systems for Breweries and Wineries
There are two elements for facilities using multiple tanks to ensure proper flow to each vessel. Installing the correct sized glycol chiller and planning for a glycol piping system.
A properly sized chiller ensures your facility stays at peak production. A well-designed system begins with a glycol piping diagram to evenly distribute the cooling from your chiller to the tanks. The best way to ensure the tanks closer to the chiller don’t receive more glycol cooling than others is to design a reverse return piping system.
A reverse return piping system extends the return leg using the same length of piping (supply + return) to all loads. Directing the flow in one circular pattern results in an even pressure drop between the loads. This glycol loop design equalizes the glycol flow and cooling to each tank.
Minimizing the number of bends and fittings in the glycol piping system will reduce pressure drop and increase the life of the piping. It’s best to keep the pressure drop low so there is less stress on the rest of the system. High-pressure drops can increase the noise and reduce the life of the system.
When choosing the proper glycol refrigerant, either propylene or ethylene, the choice will depend on your local building code and regional, state, or federal requirements. Having a dedicated glycol tank keeps the system charged. Glycol tanks or glycol reservoir tanks typically handle 125 to 250PSI pressures.
Before commissioning the glycol piping system, you’ll want to run water through it to reveal leaks, remove trapped air, and avoid wasting costly glycol.
Don’t forget to design accessibility into the system. Make access easy for maintenance and repairs.
Good Piping Design Means Consistent Products
Microbreweries are making a comeback, creating more demand for glycol piping and design.
The brewing and winemaking process is complex and requires specific temperatures for fermentation. When designing glycol piping, you must consider the volume of water you’re trying to cool and how many pieces of equipment need cooling, then calculate the total amount of heat your system must handle. Lastly, you must determine how much glycol is required for each piece of equipment. For specific questions, contact the glycol chilling experts at North Slope Chillers.