A good brew comes from a quality brewhouse. Even if you have an incredible recipe and the best ingredients, you will have nothing if your brewery is an accident-prone mess because you don’t maintain your equipment. But a well-run brewhouse only gets that way through careful planning, hard work, and by following these brewhouse maintenance and safety tips.
Scheduling Is Key
The idea that performing maintenance, including cleaning and equipment inspections, should be on a schedule isn’t foreign to most brewhouses. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re always scheduling as effectively as you could be. To establish effective maintenance scheduling, identify all maintenance needs in a facility. Afterward, prioritize scheduling needs according to each job, taking into consideration the skill level of workers available.
The physical layout of a brewery directly affects how easy or difficult it is to maintain. For example, placing equipment too close together will make cleaning the machinery and the surrounding area more difficult. This can impact not only the sanitation of the finished product but also the safety of employees. In some instances, because of the design of the building, you won’t be able to avoid tight spaces or areas that are difficult to maneuver. It helps to perform a hazard assessment of a brewhouse to identify all these areas. From there, you can plan for how employees can safely operate in those spaces.
As essential as managerial planning is, one cannot downplay the role of employees in a maintenance and safety plan’s implementation. An employee’s ability to correctly carry out this plan begins with effective training from their first day on your payroll. Employees should receive training in maintenance best practices for every individual machine, as well as in where to find the proper maintenance supplies, how to read MSDS sheets, and what PPE is necessary at every stage of the maintenance process.
For some beer processing equipment, it can be difficult to tell when something is going wrong until it is already wrong. To catch wear and tear before it becomes a serious problem, schedule regular inspections of key parts of the equipment, such as valves, hoses, and pumps, every few weeks. These regular checks will also help you to identify places in your brewhouse where the process slows down or causes issues for workers so that you can continue to improve your systems.
Along with formal inspections, incorporating informal visual inspections into your employees’ daily tasks can also be beneficial. Because they are the ones who work with the equipment regularly, they will be the ones most in tune with how the machinery should work—and what it sounds and looks like when it isn’t working. Opening this line of communication will help your brewery identify smaller issues before they become larger ones.
Cleaning and Sanitizing: Know the Difference
When it comes to brewhouse maintenance and safety, hygiene comes first. But there is often confusion about the terminology associated with brewhouse hygiene, specifically the terms cleaning and sanitizing. Both are necessary to maintain brewhouse equipment and keep taste-altering microorganisms out of your brew. To clean equipment is to remove dirt, dust, and residue from equipment. This process removes the source of potential microorganisms. Sanitizing, on the other hand, reduces the number of microorganisms to a safe level. Another term that many people misuse is sterilization, which means removing them completely, but this isn’t necessary for brewing equipment.
Don’t Neglect the Exterior
As important as keeping the parts of brewing equipment that your beer comes into direct contact with clean—areas such as the inside of tanks, hoses, and stoppers—that doesn’t mean you can neglect the rest of the equipment. While you typically clean the interior of tanks in between brewing cycles, you should also clean the exterior of tanks at least weekly. Many brewery professionals recommend performing an acid wash for this purpose to prevent the build-up of residues.
The bigger your brewhouse grows, the more effort it will take to keep it going. If your brewery gets to the point of needing forklifts to improve your operations, you will have a new collection of safety hazards to account for. In any situation when you have vehicles and pedestrians sharing a space, visibility is crucial. Pedestrians need to be visible so that forklift operators can avoid them. Forklift operators need to be visible so that pedestrians know when a forklift is about to start moving. Reflective vests are usually the go-to option for this. Reflective tape should also designate where forklifts are to drive and where pedestrians are to walk.
Because brewing beer involves liquids more than other food processing industries, there is an even greater possibility of standing water accumulating in different areas of the floor. Standing water poses a potential slipping hazard to workers both on foot and operating forklifts. Along with this, stagnant water can become a source of bacteria and mold growth, as well as a place where heavy metals can accumulate. That’s why sloped flooring leading to draining systems is essential to brewhouse design. Workers should also keep an eye out for pooling water that can indicate something wrong with these systems.
Don’t Neglect Keg Maintenance
Kegs are essential for making sure your beer gets to customers who may be visiting an onsite taproom or those drinking your beer in other places. Maintaining them well is key. Be sure to inspect kegs regularly for damaged valves, necks, lugs, or any cracks in the body of the keg. As with the rest of brewing equipment, you’ll need to clean, sanitize, and soak them in an acid solution weekly to prevent the build-up of harmful materials.
A beer is only as good as the brewhouse that made it, and here at Cedarstone Industry, we want your brewery to be the best it can be. We have a selection of durable stainless steel brewing equipment that’s easy to maintain and will make incredible brews.