How Compressed Air Is Used in the Brewing Industry

Compressed air is an essential part of practically all commercial manufacturing, including the brewing industry. In fact, compressed air is used at almost every point in the brewing process from aerating yeast during fermentation to transferring beer to bottles ready for transport and discarding the spent grain for further use in farming.

The Role of Compressed Air in Brewing

Compressed air is one of the primary energy sources used in modern breweries. Whether you operate a small craft brewert or a mega brewery, compressors are an integral piece of equipment for creating beer. And, as the compressed air is in many cases in contact with the ingredients and end product a 100% oil-free compressed air system is usually required.

Milling and Mashing
Before the grain can becomes beer, it needs to be milled using high-powered pneumatic crushers which are powered by compressed air. The crushed grain, called grist, is then sent to the mash tun. Here, compressed air is used to power a mixer that combines the grist with hot water and other starchy grains such as corn or wheat to extract the natural sugars in the malt.

The mash is drained into a separate tank by compressed air-powered valves so it can be separated into solids and a sweet liquor called wort. The wort is boiled and goes through a second separation process, this time in a whirlpool, before being left to cool.

Beer is made when yeast converts the sugars in the wort to alcohol. The by-product of this reaction is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is ejected from the tank by air-powered valves.

Pneumatic Regulation
Clean, dry compressed air is directed by integrated software to manage the numerous valves involved with transferring wort, hot water, and beer to various tanks throughout the facility. Reliable, continuous compressed air is vital, as the valves need to open and close instantaneously; even minor interruptions can cost breweries revenue in lost productivity.

When beer is fermented, it develops a cloudy appearance due to the remaining yeast and proteins in the brew. To achieve beer’s characteristic clarity, it needs to be filtered before effervescence is added to the final product.

To clarify the beer, it is put through a pressurized centrifuge that is powered by compressed air. The high-speed spinning separates the particulate matter from the liquid that is later siphoned into a conditioning tank while the waste is discarded.

After the beer has reached the final brewing stages, it is sent to a conditioning tank to be carbonated. During fermentation, the CO2 produced as the yeast consumes the sugar in the grains is released, allowing brewers to control the carbonation levels in the beer.

Canning and Bottling
Compressed air is used to move carbonated beer from the conditioning tank to the packaging line to be bottled or canned. Using dry compressed air allows breweries to avoid having water, which could dilute the flavor of the beer, in the lines.

A topper is often integrated into the filler equipment to add caps to bottles immediately after they are filled. This is typically achieved by a short, powerful jet of air that propels the cap onto the bottle to be sealed.

Hygiene and Maintenance
An important aspect of any manufacturing process is keeping equipment clean by removing deposits from brew tanks that could contaminate the next batch.

Most major breweries use compressed air powered high-pressure liquid propulsion to power their Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems. The compressed air sprays a cleaning solution from dispersal devices, located throughout brew tanks and transfer lines, to reach every part of the interior surface.

For large breweries that pack their beer into kegs, keg washing is a critical stage in the sanitation process. Washed kegs can be reused, reducing the environmental impact of the brewing industry. A continuous flow of compressed air is required to power keg washing equipment and remove any residual cleaning products.


Choose the Right Air Compressor for Your Brewery

Compressed air can facilitate the brewing process, but you need to choose the right air compressor for your brewery to ensure that it is safe, efficient, and compatible with your equipment and machinery. Here are some features to look for when choosing an air compressor for your facility.

Oil-Free Operation
Many industries continue to use oil-lubricated compressors, including the food and beverage industry despite the risk of product contamination due to dangerous hydrocarbons.
This contamination can render the final product unsafe for consumption.

The Tamturbo oil-free air VSD turbo compressor uses a Touch-Free mechanism between all moving parts in the air compressor, eliminating the need for lubricants. Our air compressors are food-safe and comply with 0% tolerance laws in the Food and Beverage Industry, making it perfect for use at all stages of the brewing process.

Because our air compressors are oil-free, there are no harmful oil or PTFE compounds used to lubricate or protect the moving parts and no disposable oil filters that require frequent replacement. This makes Tamturbo oil-free compressors the eco-friendly choice for your brewery.

Energy Efficient
Air compressors, along with heating, cooling, and production processes, are the largest energy consumers in the Food and Beverage Industry.

Tamturbo technology uses an enhanced energy recovery system so that up to 90% of the energy input from the compressor can be reused in the manufacturing process, making for a more energy-efficient and cost-effective power source. The outgoing hot water from the compressor can be as high as 90 °C, which makes it directly usable in the brewing and washing processes.

The Bottom Line

No brewery is complete without a reliable source of compressed air to power the beer manufacturing process. Tamturbo’s oil-free compressed air is an energy-efficient, cost-saving power source that minimizes the risk of contamination to give you a cleaner, better tasting product. Read how our customer saves both money and the environment by using Tamturbo compressors.

Tamturbo is at the cutting edge of compressed air technology. Our oil-free, Touch-Free magnetic moving parts won’t wear out so there are no maintenance costs.

To find out more about the range of low, medium, and high-pressure air compressors we supply, please contact us. We’re excited to help you find the right air compressor for your brewing business.