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With everything that we have been through the past two years, saving costs in the brewery is on everyone’s mind. I’ve put together a list of ways to save money, which you can skim read, checking your own measures against our suggestions.

Sure, some of the cost saving opportunities for breweries will seem obvious, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have implemented them. In any case, if you find just one additional money-saving measure to take, you could be saving your brewing business significant sums. Even in less challenging times, that would surely be useful.

Just to say, a lot of these tips come from trial and error over the years on my part, and some of them will need a bit of trial and error from you. Every brewhouse and every operation varies, and it is a matter of finding out what works in your setting.

Measure, Measure, Measure

  • You need the facts at your fingertips. Get on top of the metrics.
  • Update your spreadsheet of monthly costs: raw materials, chemicals, packaging, energy, water, effluent, labour, rent, rates etc
  • If you haven’t already, create comprehensive spreadsheets for each beer: quantities of raw materials and consumables; temperatures throughout the process; mash, boil, transfer cooling, conditioning and packaging times; water usage, etc.
  • To get a picture of the true cost per barrel, don’t leave anything out.  Once you have everything, count it every month – and check the usage is in line with production.
  • Once you know your metrics, you can begin to play. Make minor adjustments, one element at a time, and you’ll begin to see where you can make those elusive savings.

Want a template spreadsheet? Email hello@crispmalt.com.

Malt and Mashing

Use good quality, well modified malt.

Good modification means it gives up its extract more easily and provides a better yield.

Use your hydrometer or refractometer to take your last running down to 1.5 to 2 degrees Brix / 1.006 to 1.008 SG. Careful not to go lower, or you’ll be getting those harsh, astringent flavours and poorer head retention.

Try replacing a small proportion of malted barley with malted wheat. It will save you money and increase head retention. 10% inclusion of malted wheat should give you a 20p per barrel saving. It all adds up. If you are already adding wheat, try torrefied barley. It offers greater savings, but be careful: it can be harsh at higher addition rates.

If you are cold stabilising beer using sterile filters before packaging, it’s always worth using beta-glucanase in the mash. It’s a cheap enzyme to use and you can expect to see longer filter runs and longer filter life. So, more beer and less money spent on expensive filters. Adding it could stop issues before you know you have any.

Cost Saving In Breweries - malt storage

 

Use Clear Choice Malt in your recipes. Why?

  • Lowering temperature is extremely energy intensive. Clear Choice allows you to get the same colloidal stability cold conditioning beer at +40C as you’d get at -10 This hugely reduces energy consumption. And it improves flavour stability, which helps prolong shelf life.
  • It also allows you to cut out expensive haze stabilisers. How? Unlike other barleys, Clear Choice barley has no proanthocyanidins, which are flavonoid polyphenols. These un-needed polyphenols are the ones that work with proteins to form chill haze. They create astringent flavours and reduce shelf life. Use Clear Choice, and hey presto, the benefits become transparent. You may not use PVPP, but your contract packers might do. Ask them to remove it from the product and the packaging cost. You may also see increased yields through better filtration.

By using Clear Choice, despite it costing a little more per tonne, you could save up to £0.60 per barrel. Even a low proportion, say, 50% of the base malt, delivers noticeable results.

Hops

Inspecting hopsCheck out alternatives for your most expensive aroma hops. There are fantastic new varieties being developed, many of them in the UK. Make some hop teas using samples to see what you think. Talk to Charles Faram – they’ll give you some great insights.

Pellets: try out Type 45. There is less plant material in them, and there’s a higher concentration of alpha acids, beta acids and aroma compounds. You need fewer of them to produce the same results as Type 90, and of course, you produce less trub for disposal. Again, the savings you make on this kind of thing will add up!

Use high alpha acid hops at the beginning of the boil This will reduce vegetable material and reduce trub & losses.

When buying hops, don’t just go on the weight of the plants. Buy according to the alpha acid per kilo. Alpha acids will vary each season, and you will need to know the quantity of hops required to achieve consistent bitterness levels in your beer from one year to the next.

Add dry hops in small batches two or three times during maturation, rather than putting them in all at once. This improves extraction.

If you don’t have one, buy a flow meter. It will ensure your measurements are accurate and optimal – which will save you wasting resources. And money. If the powers that be won’t fork out for a flow meter, you can calibrate the tank for volume.

From a set starting point, measure the distance to the beer. Fill 4 firkins and take a measurement again. The drop in height in mm is equivalent to a barrel of beer. It should be consistent until you hit a cone or dish – and you can use it to control hop or yeast additions. To measure water usage, you can install low-cost vane flow meters. These will help with optimisations.

Rinse / sparge whole hops with hot liquor as you push them through the system. This will maximise your yield from them.

Try high gravity brewing to increase capacity without the capital expenditure on new plant. You can get two different beers from one brew, or increase the volume on a single brew. But approach with caution: quality control can be an issue. High gravity brewing gives you more esters, and there’s a risk of oxidised flavours.

Ok, and the next one is definitely the maltster speaking, but I’m going to say it anyway. Brew more malt-forward beers. You can still achieve full and fabulous flavours, with an emphasis on balance and drinkability.

Rather than using hops for astringency, use roasted or black malts to give that lovely bite.

Yeast

For brews of less than 4.5% abv, a 10-barrel plant should be able to achieve the same fermentation performance and flavours using 250gm of yeast, rather than 500gm. This represents a 50% cost saving. That’s providing you seal the bag of remaining yeast properly; keep it in the fridge, and don’t leave it too long before using.

Re-use your yeast up to 5 times. If you’re on top of your hygiene, you can skim it off and collect it in a bucket for the next brew. Get rid of the dark trub as that contains dead yeast. And store in pristine conditions at the right temperature. Again, don’t save it for more than 7 days: preferably use it within 5 days. Re-pitching brings its risks.

I hope that you have found these tips useful and that they will help to save any costs in the brewhouse. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with our in-house brewers on 01328 829391 or email hello@crispmalt.com

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