Industrial Arts Brewing: The Art of Scaling Up a Hazy IPA

A young craft brewer in New York’s Hudson Valley was maxing out the capacity of its 25-hL brewhouse. A second, larger brewhouse from Krones Steinecker was highly customized to handle its hoppy brew.

Industrial Arts Brewing began operations in the summer of 2016—in a sprawling pre-Civil War complex along the Hudson River in Garnerville, N.Y. “We were aiming to be a New York City area supplier of really fresh, hoppy beer. We stumbled on a Hazy IPA as our flagship, and that’s sort of driven what we do,” says Jeff O’Neil, Industrial Arts founder and owner. The brewery’s Wrench IPA has had great success in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. “The fundamental difference between ours and a lot of the other ones that we’ve tried is ours is really dry and well fermented and has a decent amount of bitterness.”

The Garnerville plant operates with a 25-hL brewhouse from BrauKon and 100-barrel fermenters. Though happy with the operation of the brewhouse, they were quickly running out of capacity. “We do our best to fill those fermenters. We brew high-gravity wort and dilute it in the whirlpool—we do everything that we can to max out the capacity there,” O’Neil says. “We’ve grown relatively fast over our first five years, so we’ve always been trying to squeeze a little bit more out of all of our resources.”

By its fifth anniversary, it was time for Industrial Arts to move beyond the limitations of its original Garnerville facility. It expanded to a second facility in Beacon, N.Y., across the Hudson River, on the edge of town, where the brewer has turned an abandoned factory into a vibrant brewery campus.

Compared with its 25-hL brewhouse at its original facility, Industrial Arts’ new 100-hL brewhouse achieves more efficient extraction and hops utilization because of its bigger scale.Compared with its 25-hL brewhouse at its original facility, Industrial Arts’ new 100-hL brewhouse achieves more efficient extraction and hops utilization because of its bigger scale.Liam GoodmanInstead of a 25-hL brewhouse, the Beacon location has a 100-hL brewhouse—a CombiCube from Krones Steinecker. It is a fully automated brewhouse capable of eight to 10 brews per day, depending on the wort gravity. And it’s had an immediate impact on Industrial Arts’ ability to get the most out of its raw materials and supply the market with its Wrench IPA and other brews.

“We are seeing some increased efficiencies and some really wonderful yields out of the CombiCube,” says Mike McManus, director of brewing operations for Industrial Arts. “We built the CombiCube with Krones in order to cast out 100 hL with our flagship beer Wrench. But with every turn of Wrench, we’re getting a bit more than that. Yields have been excellent, and efficiencies have been as advertised or better.”

“At this bigger scale—100 hL vs. 25—we are getting much more efficient extraction from our malt, we are getting much more hop utilization from our bigger boil, and we’re getting better yields out of the conical sedimentation tank we have rather than the traditional whirlpool,” O’Neil says. “We’re squeezing significantly more extract out of every bit of barley, wheat, oats, and hops that we put into the system.”

The Industrial Arts hazy IPA

As a very hoppy, hazy IPA, the flagship Wrench presents some challenges in how the beer is made and thereby how the brewhouse is optimized. The CombiCube brewhouse from Krones Steinecker is designed for modularity, enabling brewers to put together a full system that works for its particular needs.

The high volume of hops used to make Industrial Arts’ hazy IPA required some innovative thinking to optimize brewing.The high volume of hops used to make Industrial Arts’ hazy IPA required some innovative thinking to optimize brewing.Liam GoodmanIn the case of Industrial Arts, the process begins at the wet mill, where the pilsner malt and wheat get milled. That fills the mash kettle from the bottom with warm mash. The barley and wheat are blended into the mill while the oats drop down into a hydrator and get mixed in later in the mash kettle. The mash temperature is then ramped up before it’s pumped over to the lauter tun. The lauter tun runs to a receiving tank, which is a buffer tank used while the kettle is tied up. Once the kettle is clear of the previous batch, the next brew starts to fill again from the receiving side.

“We boil for 75 to 90 minutes, depending on the wort. Then we have a heat exchanger between the wort kettle and the sedimentation tank which allows us to knock the temperature from 100°C down to 80°C. So we’re cooling that wort down a lot,” O’Neil explains. “And then we make that big hop addition that I talked about. We add almost no hops during the boil.”

The idea is to retain more of the aroma compounds from the flower. “It volatizes fewer of the aroma compounds, and it just creates a different perception than a traditional hotter whirlpool addition,” O’Neil says. “It definitely helps us to create a different character than every other brewer. There’s a lot of similarities between hazy IPAs. We use a lot of the same varieties of hops, a lot of the same sort of ratios, but we’re able to create some different layers and some different characteristics with this control in the brewhouse.”

After knocking the temperature down and making the hops addition, the mixture rests in a sedimentation tank. After that, the wort is taken through a bed of whole hops flowers in a hop strainer, also known as a hop back, in order to maximize surface contact between the hot wort and the hops. The hop back was subcontracted out to Rolec.

The hop strainer, O’Neil explains, works much like a tea bag, with hop flowers placed inside a perforated wall. “Then the wort flows through them from above—kind of showers down through a bed of flowers and hydrates those dry flowers and flows through the flower to get some more hop character,” he says. This gives the beer more of a floral character, he explains, and also a bit of a mouthfeel. And at the lower temperature provided by the heat exchanger, Industrial Arts is able to treat those hops a little more gently than most brewhouses are able to accomplish.

System optimization

Throughout the brewhouse, Industrial Arts had special specifications that it needed along the way. The CombiCube’s modularity played into the ability to refine everything for the hazy IPA. “There are challenges that present in lauterability, which is to say how fast the wort can flow through the lauter tun—because there’s such a high fraction of wheat and oats relative to traditional beers,” O’Neil says. “For instance, it’s a lot easier to make with a wider lauter tun.”

Industrial Arts was able to have its CombiCube brewhouse customized to optimize brewing of its flagship Wrench IPA.Industrial Arts was able to have its CombiCube brewhouse customized to optimize brewing of its flagship Wrench IPA.The brewhouse was specifically engineered for the barley malt and wheat to go through a wet mill, while the oats bypass the wet mill, joining the rest of the mash later in the mash kettle. “We’re very conscious of how those grist percentages affect flowability through the process,” O’Neil explains. “Thusly, the lauter tun is engineered specifically for our flagship beer, Wrench.”

When a brewer has a flagship beer, it’s important to understand how to make that flagship in the most efficient way possible. When Industrial Arts began working with BrauKon six or seven years ago, the plan then was that the flagship beer would be a really drinkable pale ale, O’Neil says. “And we designed that brewhouse to make that wort over and over and over again.”

But things didn’t turn out as planned, and it ended up being the Wrench IPA that really took off and became the company’s flagship. So in the Garnerville facility, the team has had to make some adjustments to the lauter tun along the way to get it to flow better and to optimize the fermentation space. “So this time, in the second brewhouse, we knew for sure what we wanted to make. And the team at Krones and Steinecker were able to engineer to our specifications for color and gravity and bitterness and volume cast,” O’Neil says. “It was a much more known target what we wanted to accomplish. We were able to pair the cast volume from this brewhouse with our fermentation tanks. And with our new centrifuge and canning line, it’s all easier to imagine how these separate departments fit together when you know exactly what you’re making.”

There were some questions along the way about whether Industrial Arts would be pushing up against the limits of how much wort could fit into the kettle. “This is a 100-hL CombiCube, which I think at the time was the biggest size that they offered in this category,” O’Neil says. “They were worried about whether we could fit enough wort into the kettle to offset how much would be absorbed by our relatively very large whirlpool hop additions.”

Conical sedimentation

One of the innovations of the Steinecker brewhouse ultimately installed in the Beacon facility was replacing the traditional whirlpool with a conical sedimentation tank. “I think when the German team saw our hop usage rates, their eyes kind of popped out of their heads, and they realized that we couldn’t yield 100 hL with this loading,” O’Neil recalls. “So they approached it from a different angle to use this conical sedimentation tank rather than a whirlpool.”

Virtually every brewhouse includes a whirlpool—a simple, wide, round tank with a flat bottom, where the wort from the boil kettle is pumped into a tangential path. This creates a whirlpool effect, forcing the solids into a pile at the center of the tank. Then the clear wort is decanted from the side of the tank.

The conical tank, instead, is more like a brewery fermenter, O’Neil explains, with the conical bottom forcing the solids to the bottom. “So in this brewhouse that we have, the system dumps the solids rather than decanting the liquid,” he says, adding that, with this system, Industrial Arts is able to lose less of the wort.

“Once they got over the initial shock of the sheer volume of hops that we use, they started down this path,” O’Neil says. “And I’m here to tell you that it works. Where the contract was for 100 hL of cast wort in spec, we are routinely getting 106 or 108 out of this flagship beer.” Instead of the roughly 170 hL (about 150 barrels) of finished beer expected after fermentation, Industrial Arts is yielding 200 hL. “Which is really beyond any expectation that we ever had.”

Recovering vapor for energy and cleaning

Some other special systems included in the Industrial Arts brewhouse are an energy recovery vapor condenser and an automated clean-in-place (CIP) system.

A mezzanine view of the 100-hL CombiCube brewhouse shows the included energy recovery system, which recovers steam energy from the boiling wort and gives it back as hot water to use for cleaning or the next batch of beer.A mezzanine view of the 100-hL CombiCube brewhouse shows the included energy recovery system, which recovers steam energy from the boiling wort and gives it back as hot water to use for cleaning or the next batch of beer.Liam Goodman“Everybody’s got a boil kettle, but not everyone has an energy recovery vapor condenser,” O’Neil says. “Almost all the steam energy that we are using to boil the wort, we get almost all of that back in the form of hot water. Then we use that hot water for cleaning or for the next batch of beer—it just goes back to a big, warm water holding tank.”

That’s something that Industrial Arts has at its original Garnerville brewhouse as well. “From the beginning, we’ve been really, really efficient with our usage of water and energy,” O’Neil adds.

The automated CIP system, however, is a new feature for Industrial Arts. “That’s an investment in efficiencies that we didn’t make in our first plant that has paid off in less chemical usage and less downtime for cleaning,” O’Neil says. Though it is difficult to quantify at this early stage, he points in particular to the time spent handling chemicals. “That’s a difference between a very small brewery that just has to do this stuff manually. And then at this scale, it’s just not practical or safe to handle the quantity of caustic detergents that we need to keep something like this clean.” The system is almost four times more efficient from a labor standpoint, he adds.

Process control and batching automation

Automation also comes in the form of the Botec F1 process control system. Though Industrial Arts could have gone with a more universal control system, a colleague had recently installed a Krones brewhouse and was happy with the proprietary Botec software, O’Neil notes.

The smaller brewhouse in Garnerville is automated to a lesser degree with BrauKon’s proprietary control system. “Botec is a pretty big step up as far as automation is concerned,” McManus says. “We have a lot of granular control over process and throughput, and the trending and batch protocol are really fabulous. And we can use historical data to inform our process decisions when we’re working out a new recipe or a new process.”

The level of automation enables the operator to spend less time turning valves, focusing efforts more on monitoring the process more closely. “With an automated system, you have the ability to drill in and really dial in pHs and temperatures—the small things that make a big impact over the long term with flavor and beer stability,” McManus says. “Also, it provides a level of repeatability that is the hallmark of what you’re trying to do in brewing—get it right, and then do it over and over.”

CombiCube flexibility

The Industrial Arts brewhouse is already pretty loaded, O’Neil says, so he doesn’t think there’s much they might still add. But the modularity of the CombiCube nonetheless provides some key flexibility. “The way it’s engineered, where there’s access to everything, if you wanted to do something wild like add a second kettle or some other piece of equipment like that, they would be able to splice that in,” he says.

O’Neil was impressed with the flexibility of the Krones Steinecker team as well. “Maybe it’s just that philosophy of being modular, but it’s really helpful that it’s not a rigid approach,” he says. “This was a very cooperative project, and they really wanted to make our wort. They did not try to tell us what our wort should be like, but they did tell us that some of our engineering ideas were insufficient.” O’Neil also adds, “They found solutions for the things that were really important to us that they weren’t necessarily offering if we didn’t ask.”

A key factor giving Steinecker the edge for a brewery like Industrial Arts is that it understands the operations of large-scale facilities and is applying those same principles for craft brewers, shrinking the technology down as needed, O’Neil notes. “I think that gives them an edge vs. some of the smaller, more craft-oriented suppliers who are trying to scale up,” he says. Twenty years ago, the kinds of technologies that Steinecker offers were only available on the biggest systems. “That’s one of the things that has set our brewery apart is that we’ve been a small brewery operating more like a bigger one, using technology, using control, inventory tracking software—all the tools that we could find to make us better, more efficient at what we’re doing…hopefully with the result of delivering the freshest, most flavorful and hoppiest beer to the market.”

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