Craft brewer in Arkansas installs centrifuge technology

US craft brewer Ozark Beer Company has added a centrifuge to improve a less-efficient filtering system and upgraded its canning line in a move designed to keep up with demand for canned beers.

The centrifuge installed at the brewery in Rogers, Arkansas, was made in Germany and is used to filter the beer, removing any remnant organic matter, while improving the beer’s consistency of taste and clarity. It replaces conventional filters that were less effective, said marketing director Marty Shutter, marketing director, when talking to local publication Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

According to the Brewers Association, which represents small, independent brewers in the US, the installation of a centrifuge is unusual for small a brewery because of the high cost involved. However, it will eventually pay for itself with production savings and quality improvements.

The brewery’s canning line was upgraded earlier this year to double capacity. This involved the installation of new software and sensors were upgraded to improve beer consistency, while speed was raised by about 40 per cent to 45 cans a minute. Equipment for applying plastic toppers for handling six-can multipacks was also installed.

The company also added a new 80-barrel tank to help in the brewing of larger batches of pale ale and lager, freeing up space for more speciality beer production.

Ozark Beer first began production in 2013, moving to its current location which serves as a production facility and taproom in downtown Rogers in 2017. The company is owned by Laci Bray and her husband Andy Coates as well as Jefferson Baldwin.

Craft brewers in Arkansas produced nearly 37,500 barrels (1.16 million gallons) of beer in 2018, up less than 1 per cent from a year earlier, with the state’s top five craft brewers accounting for 27,686 barrels, or 73 per cent of the state’s total beer production. According to the Arkansas Brewers Guild, there are currently 40 active breweries in the state with four set to start up this year.

Across the US, brewers produced 194.2m barrels in 2018, down less than 1 per cent on the previous year. Of that, craft brewers accounted for 25.6m barrels, a 4 per cent increase over the previous year, said the Brewers Association. US sales for all beer in 2018 was US$114.2 billion, with craft beer sales at $27.6bn, a 7 per cent gain on 2017.