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How much room do you need for a pasteurizer?

You want to make your beer safe for distribution, so you have decided your brewery needs a pasteurizer, but how do you choose one? We all know the saying “Time is money” and while that does apply to pasteurizers, we know that space in your brewery can be as valuable as time is.

What is pasteurization?

First off, let’s give a quick definition of what pasteurizing is. Pasteurizing is the process of heating your beer to kill pathogens, which will make the beverages safe for drinking and extend the shelf life of your beverages. 

The process of pasteurizing changes depending on which type of pasteurizer you are using. 

Why pasteurize your beer?

Pasteurizing your beer isn’t just important because it destroys microorganisms that could be dangerous for human consumption. It’s also important for these reasons:

  • Distribution – If you want to send it without ruining the integrity/character of the beer, you need to pasteurize it. 
  • Safety – If you’re experimenting with sugars/fruity flavors, you need to pasteurize it otherwise you risk your cans exploding. 
  • Shelf life – Extend the life of your beer. Pasteurized beer can last up to 120 days or more, while unpasteurized is typically only good for 45-60 days. 

The 2 types of pasteurizers

There are two main types of pasteurizers: Flash Pasteurizers and Tunnel Pasteurizers

Flash pasteurizers use the process known as High Temperature Short Time (HTST). This process heats beer, prior to filling, to a defined temperature (typically 162°), which is then held at that temperature for a specified amount of time (Normally 15-20 seconds). The beer is then quickly cooled. This means that the beer will be rapidly heated and then rapidly cooled, this helps the beer receive the same pasteurization unit (PU) with only a limited amount of time at elevated temperatures. 

Tunnel pasteurizers typically operate at 140°, but it can take as long as 90 minutes to complete the process. This process is normally used for beer which will be packaged in cans or bottles and the pasteurization occurs after bottling. The beer is bottled or canned and then before any labeling is added to the packaging, it is run through the tunnel. The tunnels typically consist of three to 12 spray zones, which spray hot water to pasteurize the beer and the packaging. 

Size comparison of flash pasteurizer and tunnel pasteurizer

The main difference between a flash pasteurizer and a tunnel pasteurizer is their size. Tunnel pasteurizers are known for their sheer size, some stretching to around 100 feet long. Most breweries or microbreweries would have a hard time allocating 100 feet to a new machine on their floor, so what is an alternative? Flash pasteurizers can help your brewery pasteurize beer in less time and while taking up much less space. A small flash pasteurizer system that  processes 10 BBLs per hour – the skid is only 96” X 48”.  A larger one that can process 80 BBLs/hr has a skid that is only slightly larger – 122” X 60”. This means that if you are looking to maximize the space of your brewery, a flash pasteurizer is the way to go since they can be configured to fit in smaller spaces and take up less room than a tunnel pasteurizer. 

Which pasteurizer is right for your brewery?

Can you see where we are going here? Would you rather have a tunnel pasteurizer that takes up 100 feet of your precious space, and takes 90 minutes to complete its process, or a flash pasteurizer that is a fraction of the size and can complete a process in 15-20 seconds? With flash pasteurizers, the process is continuous, so this means that bottling can begin as soon as the pasteurization begins. If you are looking to maximize the space of your brewery, a flash pasteurizer is the way to go since they can be configured to fit in smaller spaces and take up less room than a tunnel pasteurizer. Need one that is more vertical? That can happen with a flash pasteurizer, but not a tunnel one. Each flash pasteurizer can have custom dimensions and design to fit in unique or unusual spaces in your brewery. 

Savings with a flash pasteurizer

  • Conserves heat – to reduce operating costs
  • Low water usage – not as much steam is needed 
  • Shorter amount of time – less time in operation than tunnel pasteurizers 
  • Automatic hot water temp control from PU entry – let the system optimize the process by controlling the hot water temperature based on the PU entry
  • Optimal results with small footprint – less space taken up in your brewery 
  • High efficiency with heat recovery – high heat recovery of up to 90%+ with flash pasteurizers
  • Less electricity – there isn’t as much electricity required to run a flash pasteurizer 
  • Use less coolant – the coolant required is lower for flash pasteurizers than tunnel ones
  • Cheaper maintenance – more parts in tunnel pasteurizers means a higher chance that a part will malfunction and need repair or replacement
  • Full insulated – help conserve with full insulation

Making the correct choice

If you are looking to extend the shelf life of beer, make it safe for distribution or you are packaging a fruity or sugary beer, you will need a pasteurizer. There is a lot to consider when deciding which pasteurizer to choose and how much space will be allocated to the machine. If space is limited in your brewery, the clear answer is that you need a flash pasteurized.

Between the customizability and energy efficiency, flash pasteurizers are able to fit into breweries or microbreweries that a tunnel pasteurizer wouldn’t be able to. Time is money for your brewery and with a substantially shorter run time, flash pasteurizers will save you time, so that begs the question, what could you do with the extra 29 minutes you would save by using a flash pasteurizer as opposed to a tunnel pasteurized?

To learn more about Shelf Life Systems’ solutions, please take a look at the pasteurization page on our website.