Friday, 8 April 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the Cooperage Shops and Refrigerating Plant

It’s taken a while, this series, but the end is in sight. Almost.

We’ve already visited the most interesting bits of the brewery. Well, the bits most are interested in. Me, I have a fascination for the auxiliary bits of a brewery. Like the cooperage shop. And the cooling system.

Breweries of any size repaired – and often made – all their own wooden casks. It made sense, as casks were one of the biggest capital expenditures a brewery made. A brewery like Bass or Guinness owned millions of casks, which needed to be kept in good order and, when necessary, replaced. Landlords weren’t always as careful with casks as they should have been, resulting in damaged or filthy casks.

Making and repairing casks was a labour-intensive business and the cooperage department was often one of the largest in terms of numbers employed.

“The Cooperage Shops.—The cooperage shops are located adjacent to the cask cleansing shed, the machinery and equipment being of more or less standard type. The shops are laid out to cope with all repairs and new casks required for the Park Royal trade.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 286.

There’s plenty that needs cooling in a brewery. Some of it obvious, like cooling the wort after boiling and before pitching yeast.

“The Refrigerating Plant.—In common with all breweries the demand for cooling facilities at Park Royal is heavy, the maximum demand in summer being of the order of 5,000,000 B.T.U. per hour, occasioned principally by wort and beer cooling.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 288.

I’ve no idea what 5,000,000 B.T.U. means, but it sounds like a lot. Just cooling the 3,000 barrels of wort produced every day must have taken a fair bit of energy.

They had two different types of cold water, at different temperatures.

“There are two sections of the refrigerating plant, one being the chilled water services at 45° F. for wort and beer cooling, and the other a brine service at 25° F. for yeast and gyle cooling. The machines are CO2 compressors of the high-speed single acting vertical totally-enclosed type. The choice of a CO2 system was made on the grounds that in the event of a leakage it would be less harmful than in an ammonia system, although it was appreciated that its higher vapour-pressure characteristic would require a considerably higher operating pressure—1,300 p.s.i.g., in fact; and also that it would be slightly less efficient from the thermo-dynamic point of view than ammonia.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 288.

Brine was used in the wort refrigerators or attemperators. Though if you remember, unusually, Guinness’s fermenters weren’t fitted with attemperators.

“The plant for the chilled water services comprises five machines, two of which are capable of eliminating 2,000,000 B.T.U. per hour each when cooling water from 65 to 45° F. with condensing water at 70° F. which is the summer temperature of the direct water. The remaining three machines are capable of eliminating 1,000,000 B.T.U. each under similar conditions. The condensers are of the submerged type, while the evaporators are of the enclosed type, both of steel casings. There is one condenser and three evaporators to each unit. The compressors are direct-coupled to variable-speed motors, those for the large machines being of 200 h.p. and the small machines 100 h.p.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 288.

I make that a total capacity of 7,000,000 B.T.U., well more than the peak demand of 5,000,000 B.T.U.

Finally, the brine machines.

“The brine machines are similar to the chilled water plant excepting that there are three machines each of 250,000 B.T.U. per hour capacity, direct-coupled to 50 h.p. motors. Each machine, however, has one condenser and one evaporator. Three brine pumps are provided for the circulation of brine to various sections of the brewery. For charging the installation with CO2 gas, a charging station has been erected outside the main engine room which enables six flasks of CO2 to be charged into the plant at the same time. The charging lines are so inter-connected throughout the plant that gas can be drawn from another machine to assist in the charging of another if necessary, so that during overhaul work it is not necessary to lose any gas as it can easily be transferred to one of the other machines.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, pages 288 - 289.

They’ve lost me there. Why do you need to charge the installation with CO2? I really don’t understand that.

There’s not much left. And pretty obscure stuff at that. Anyone interested in pipes and valves?


Zig said...

My guess is that the condensed CO2 is able to be stored - so cooling can be provided to the same or another system even while a compressor is offline.

Dan Klingman said...

During maintenance, you could store the CO2 in a tank or another part of the system, and return the CO2 when it was ready to go back online. Similarly if you installed new equipment. It's like they do with freon now in modern AC systems.

Ron Pattinson said...

Here's a comment from Barm that wasn't posted for technical reasons:

The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

rick d'antonio said...

Where did they get the wood from? Was it all imported by his point?

Stephen Nolan said...

...and 5,000,000 BTU's is about 1500 kwh. That's enough to brew 135,000 cups of coffee; iron 16,500 shirts; blow dry your hair 4,500 times; surf the internet for 7,500 times; or run a large window AC unit for 1,000 hours - or, of course, the equivalent of running 1,000 large window AC units per hour. That's quite a lot of cooling.

Barm said...

Even today casks and kegs are a major expense for a new brewery, just because you need so many. It’s no wonder that some choose those awful disposable things, as they are cheaper in the short term. I can’t imagine the expense involved when they all had to be hand-made from wood and repaired regularly. Happily though, some British brewers who are guided more by sentiment and flavour than common sense, like Saltaire and Cheshire Brewhouse, are now choosing to do beer in the wood again. I honestly thought for a while that the Americans were going to do that before anyone in Britain did.