Thursday, 26 September 2013

Bottling at Eldridge Pope in 1934 - the equipment

I hope this jumping around the decaedes isn't confusing you. 1914 then 1934, then back to 1914 again. I know where I am, then again, I don't write these posts in the order you read them. I'm not jumping about the way you are.

Equipment, that's what we're looking at today. Starting with the conditioning tanks. If you remember, these are where the beer went between the end of primaary fermentation and being filled into bottles.

"The Conditioning Tanks
There are twenty-eight of these, all in one room. Here, again, common sense has prevailed, for you find all the pressure gauges and indicators at the most convenient height from the ground for reading. Mr. Pope has insisted on an average height for these indicators of some 4 ft. 6 in. from the floor-level, so that the foreman can take his correct readings without craning his neck or folding himself up in an uncomfortable attitude.

Three of these vessels have a capacity of 100 barrels each and are only 10 ft. high, as the room is on the low side. In consequence, the diameter of each is 9 ft. 6 in. These must be the largest of this shape in the country.

One other interesting point — all the pulley wheels, shafting, guards, and anything mechanically operated is coloured vivid red, and it is curious how one quickly, especially the visitor, reacts automatically to this instinctive warning. The pipes conducting the town water are coloured green — employees being specially warned against any waste from these pipes. Other cold water pipes are painted blue.
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 6 - 7.

That's quite a lot of conditioning capacity: 2,800 barrels. True, Eldridge Pope was one of the largest breweries in the Southwest, but it was nothing like the size of a large London or Burton brewery. I've not seen any of their brewing records from the 1930's, but have seen ones from 1911 and 1964. On both the brew length was between 200 and 300 barrels. Meaning the tanks had the capacity of between 10 and 15 brews, so probably around two weeks' production. If the tanks weren't used for draught beer, that implies that a good percentage of their trade was in bottled beer.

You know what those tanks remind me of? The ones in Allsopp's Lager brewery, installed 30 years or so earlier. They, too, were glass-lined.

The next bit has me confused - why does the author start discussing cask racking machinery in a piece about bottled beer?

"The Cold Room
As can be seen by the illustration, this room is quite in keeping with the remainder of the installation.

It cannot be seen in the photograph, but an ingenious racker, designed by the brewery, is installed for filling casks under pressure. The whole secret of filling any vessel with beer under pressure is to keep an accurate and constant counter-pressure.

In the present racker the cask is filled with compressed air at a pressure lower than the top pressure on the beer by about 5 lb., or an amount to be determined by experiment, which may vary from tank to tank according to the condition of the beer. The beer entering the cask of course displaces an equal volume of air, which escapes through the snift valve, maintaining the difference in the counter-pressure. A 1-gal. sight glass is fitted, so that the beer shall not fountain out through the snift valve, which it is very inclined to do if it is at all frothy—i.e., if the counter-pressure is too small.

Any number of casks can be racked in parallel. "Golden Gate" valves are used in this instance.

It is not noticeable in the photograph, but all the brine coils on the side of this room are not rigidly fastened to the wall; they just lean against it. It was found that there was considerable loss of cooling when these coils were fixed by metal brackets, as they conducted, or, rather, attracted, heat from the wall. This may be considered only a small point, but it just goes to show how everything possible has been considered and put into effect to make this store as efficient as humanly possible."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 7 and 9.

Golden Gate valves. I've heard of those. I remember them coming up in an article from the Journal of the Institute of Brewing about the USA. I've been meaning to loot the article for anythinmg usable, but have been too busy messing around with bottling to make time. I don't want to get ahead of myself by raiding that article now, but its a sort of valve used to prevent fobbing when filling barrels with highly-carbonated beer.

More equipment still to come.

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