Compressors are an important part of the brewing process; it’s an essential piece of equipment for the processes of canning, bottling, and kegging. Traditionally, breweries have used oil-lubricated compressors for those processes, but that process can have negative impacts on the beer’s flavour and quality. If air picks up oil particles through the manufacturing process, then the oil can come into contact with the beer being manufactured. This oiled air then attacks the yeast in the beer and results in the flattening of the beer. The frothy head that is such an important part of the beer drinking experience can be gone just like that, for simply using an oil-based compressor.
We rarely think about it, but air interacts with the manufacturing process for beer over and over again. There are five key points where air is deliberately utilised in the manufacturing process, showing just how critical it is from start to finish.
At the start of each manufacturing instance, air compressors pull air into the system, which is then used to increase the pressure to the point where the beer itself can be brewed. From there the liquid-in-production can be pushed through piping, while maintaining exactly the right conditions for beer manufacturing along the way.
Air filters are required to keep the air dry, oil-free, and without other contaminants that would otherwise spoil the beer. These filters get a real workout when the air compressors are oil-based, as using an oil-filtered air compressor introduces many contaminants into the air.
It’s important that the air in the system is dry and no additional moisture is added in through the manufacturing process. Dryers help to moderate this process and maintain the critical pH levels as the beer is manufactured.
Cooler systems are required before the fermentation process, as they allow for the freshly boiled beer to cool quickly and therefore be completed in a more time efficient manner. Because these systems use water from outside, they also feature air from the outside, and while the coolant system doesn’t directly interact with the beer liquid, it does participate in the overall system, and therefore needs to be contaminant-free itself.
Air compressors are also used in the process of filling the beer bottles, cans, and kegs once the beer has been completed. It is still possible for beer to be contaminated at this late stage in the production process, if, again, contaminated air particles are allowed into the compressors. Increasingly, as food standards become more strict, oil compressors are compromising the ability for beer brewers to even do their jobs. Purity standards exist in Australia that mandate the absence of contaminants that could constitute a food safety hazard. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t take much oil in the air to ruin a beer; trace amounts of oil can still have a significant adverse affect on the quality of a beer, and beyond the regulation, the reputational damage in serving up a customer with a poor quality beer is just not worth the risk.
There’s no reason to continue to use an air compressor that uses oil as part of its operation. There are oil-free compressed air systems on the market that can guarantee a far lower risk of contaminants entering the production system. These systems meet the stringent requirements set on beer brewers by the International Organisation for Standardisation - or ISO - which is one of the most important regulatory bodies for anyone involved in food or beverage production to adhere to. What you want is an oil-free compressor that has been ranked as ISO Class 0. This means that a compressor is going to introduce 0 parts per million of oil into the compressed air used through the manufacturing process, when used under normal operating conditions.
By choosing the right air compressor for your business; one that is oil-free and rated as such, you introduce a fifth ingredient into your beer making process, and one that will give you a significant competitive advantage come taste testing time. The four physical ingredients in beer manufacture are grain, hops, yeast and water. But don’t ignore that fifth, intangible ingredient - air. Unless your beer makes use of fresh and uncontaminated air, your beers will never rate as your customer’s favourite. Modern beer manufacturers benefit greatly from the relative ease in production of ISO Class 0 air compressors. The price of these machines is reasonable, and the additional benefits of having oil-free compressors, beyond the reduced risk of contamination, make them the superior economic choice for a brewer of any size. So, whether you’ve got a microbrewery startup, or running one of Australia’s mass produced brewers, contact us today to see how we can help keep the quality and standard of your beers at the absolute top of the market.
Our oil-free air compressors are made to the highest standard and are certified Class 0 – 100% oil-free. With our oil-free air compressor you are not compromising your processes. Learn more!
Learn about the underlying principles of compressed air and how is it produced.