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Top tips for an energy efficient brewery

The British brewing industry has changed considerably over the last few years. Ever since the nation rediscovered its taste for real ale and began to shun foreign lagers in favour of more local brews, smaller operations have blossomed up and down the country. With more breweries though, comes more competition. You only need to go to your local beer festival to see how many different ales are now competing for the beer drinker’s attention. Staying competitive requires getting a handle on costs. Brewery owners and managers need to get to grips with energy consumption, especially as it is one of the big monthly outgoings. Commercial brewing can be very energy intensive. All of the mashing and boiling and fermenting needs a number of energy-hungry machines. When the unit price of energy is low (as it is now) this isn’t too much of a problem, but it’s always better to fix a roof while the sun shines. Below is a collection of top tips which can help save you energy and money.

Install a heat recovery system

Boiling is probably the most energy-intensive element of your brewing process. Depending on the type of boiler you are using you may be able to recover some of the heat which is wasted during the process. A heat capture system, normally fitted close to a steam outlet, can be used to recover some of the escaping heat. This heat can then be reused for different purposes such as cleaning or heating.


Insulation is one of the cheapest but most effective ways of reducing waste. It is one of the efficiency savings with the shortest repayment time, meaning that the initial costs are recouped in just a few short years. You should seek to insulate your factory, particularly in areas where lots of heat is escaping, for example underneath doors and in the roof. You should also insulate any ‘hot’ lines. This includes condensate return lines, hot water lines and steam lines. If these lines are too hot to touch, then they should be insulated with pipe lagging.

Automation efficiencies

The biggest difference between commercial and hobbyist brewing is probably the degree of automation involved. When making beer in big volumes it is crucial to have some element of factory automation; it’s simply not viable to be lugging barrels around and hand-bottling all your precious brew. One of the biggest steps you will take is installing a pump system to move liquids around various stages of the brewing process. Make sure you have a suitably powerful and energy efficient pump and consider installing VFD or other motion controls to regulate flow more efficiently. The same goes for things like bottling equipment. Fitting a motion control to this type of machine will help you reduce speed during down periods and moderate energy consumption.

Alternative wort boiling technology

There have been several investigations conducted into the use of energy efficient technology in brewing. One such investigation from the Carbon Trust identified different wort boiling methods as an efficiency possibility. A wort stripping column is a relatively new piece of equipment which has large energy saving potential and apparently can improve the final quality of the beer as well. In the brewing process, the stripping tower would come between the wort cooler and the settling tank where it would remove any ‘volatiles’ from the wort. With a maximum evaporation rate of two percent, the energy usage is markedly reduced, especially for breweries which operate at a higher ‘boil-off’ point.

Get help from an expert

These are good first steps which, if implemented correctly, can help you make significant energy savings. To further ease some of the pressure on your bottom line and help ensure the future health of your business, talk to an expert today. Utility Helpline offer a number of different consultancy services suitable for all types of business. For a free energy bill health check contact a member of the team today on 0800 043 0423.      

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )