Week 5: Beer Packaging
March 11, 2011
This week of class has been entirely focused on all of the issues related to packaging beer. From bottling and canning machines to packaging materials to industrial process controls, it’s been a very dry week. The whole thing has reinforced the obvious fact that the whole course has been geared for the really large breweries for a long time.
So far, 95% of the packaging topics have been related to uber output levels (think 60,000 bottles per hour and higher). Granted, all the theory behind it is great to know for all levels, but it would be nice to take a day and just go over how various small breweries deal with the issues that come with their output levels. That being said, I do understand that the institute has been focused on the large breweries for a very long time, as they have dominated the market and have had the bulk of the need for formal education. The school has likely had to balance the large breweries’ needs with the fact that more and more inexperienced small brewers (and wannabe craft brewers like me) are demanding their services.
Either way, we’ve seen some impressive systems this week. Gary showed us a bunch of videos during the week of really high output systems in action. The Warsteiner bottling operation can only be described as epic. The bottles were flying through the system, from empty and dirty to full and capped, at about 2 meters per second without stopping. On top of that, I finally got to see the canning process in action. I had never actually looked into how cans are filled and sealed, and now I understand just what high level of precision is required in the seaming rollers. Craziness!
So… now we all gear up for tomorrow’s quiz before a weekend that involves heavy St Patrick’s Day drinking in downtown Chicago. I have a feeling this is going to transcend the word epic. We shall see…