"Off-centered ales, for off-centered people" -- that's how Dogfish Head Craft Brewery describes its beer. The company sells 28 styles of beer in more than 25 states, and a half-dozen different hand-crafted spirits. But there's nothing off-centered about the company's beer manufacturing process.
Dogfish Head brews, bottles and kegs most of its beer in its Milton, Del., brewery, where quality and cleanliness are paramount. From its humble beginnings as a small brewpub in 1995, Dogfish Head has grown rapidly. When the company first moved its entire production brewery into the 100,000 ft2converted cannery in Milton in 2002, there weren't many options for refrigerant piping. The plant originally opted for schedule 40 PVC in its main refrigerant lines, but the PVC couldn't handle the 26°F (-3°C) glycol refrigerant without cracking and breaking.
"We were constantly repairing the pipe, and we had to worry about catastrophic system failures," noted brewmaster Andrew Tveekrem.
"The threaded steel piping leaked, and the welded steel was heavy and expensive to install. We also experienced condensation problems with both types of steel piping," Tveekrem explained. "Any time you have condensation on pipes, you tend to get slime growing on them, and that isn't good for our environment."
In 2006, the Dogfish Head was getting ready to expand again through a retrofit of one of its systems. The company heard about a new type of piping called Cool-Fit ABS Plus, supplied by Georg Fischer Piping Systems, Tustin, Calif.
"We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to evaluate this new piping," Tveekrem said.
The company specified the preinsulated version of the piping and used its own in-house maintenance crew to install the new system. Georg Fischer Piping Systems provided the training that was required to ensure accurate fittings.
"I was amazed at how quickly the piping was installed," said Tveekrem. "We didn't need guys going up to the ceiling for welding with an insulator following along. We saved quite a bit of labor on installation, and we were able to start up the new line quickly."
After startup, the brewery immediately noticed several other benefits.
Most importantly, the new piping eliminated condensation problems. "The ABS piping doesn't drip or have any condensation coming out of it. This is important for the cleanliness factor, and it also indicates really good thermal efficiency. This piping is the most thermally efficient piping we've seen," Tveekrem said.
Dogfish Head has since completed one additional expansion using the Cool-Fit ABS Plus piping, and it currently is working on a third project.
"There's no question in my mind that the ABS piping is the way to go for cold-temperature applications," Tveekrem said.