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The Cold Store Conundrum

April 15, 2019 | Posted in News
Portable cold stores: An opportunity for brewers

There's no point in creating a great beer if cold storage, or rather the lack of it, will prove detrimental to your product. For those where reliable cellaring is a challenge along the supply chain, their site doesn't allow it, or can't justify large upfront financial investment, portable cold storage may be the solution, explains Lisa Rowbotham, Head of UK Sales at Blue Cube Portable Cold Stores (PCS).

It is widely reported that the enemies of beer are time, oxygen, light, and heat. Numerous solutions and precautions are in place to ensure time optimisation, oxygen prevention, and light protection, but consistent heat regulation can often be overlooked.

To keep beer as close to brewery fresh as possible, heat needs to be controlled throughout the cold chain until it reaches the consumer. Studies have found that beer which is kept at a consistent cold temperature has significantly less degradation than those kept at higher temperatures, or those which fluctuate from warm back to a cold temperature.

Most beer deteriorates from the moment it leaves the brewery; heat accelerates chemical reactions causing beers to have the unsatisfactory ‘cardboard’ like taste. Many statistics are quoted, but in general a beer stored at 37oC for one week tastes as old as a beer stored at 21oC for two months, or as old as a beer stored at 4oC for one year.

Finding a suitable solution for your business is key. Traditional cellaring can be difficult to regulate, and isn’t always a possibility on every brewery site. Brewing has seen a huge influx of new productions, which is fantastic, but finding suitable sites can be a challenge, but one option could be portable cold stores. Despite being called ‘cold stores’ they are able to provide regulated temperature control from -26oC to +26oC, and allow greater flexibility to businesses.

It may seem simple, but finding the right solution for your business should always be top priority. Every business and every site is slightly different. Whether you’re looking for a small, space saving option to fit into a confined site, or a large temperature regulated storage facility, options will be available to you.

Units are available as small as 10 accessible pallets, or linked units to allow hundreds of pallet units. We’re also able to offer tailor-made designs, which for some businesses is vital, in order to link to current facilities, for use internal or external.

The rental option

Building your own cold storage facility, or increasing your current size, can often take significant upfront financial inputs, as well as the implications of planning permission. However, investigating renting can often provide a flexible solution. There is no minimum hire term, contracts can be as flexible as you need them to be.

Both our standard sizes and tailor-made builds are available on rental terms, so can provide bespoke solutions without the large financial inputs. “Rental also ensures a high quality product, along with the security of knowing that all service and breakdowns are covered. We offer 24 hour, 365 day support which many of our customers find the most reassuring element of their decision making.

Within the cold storage industry different options are available from portable and non-portable cold stores to containers. Make sure you consider the cost of temperature control per pallet of goods, as those offering cheaper deals may not provide the best value for money.

You also need to consider the energy efficiency of units, as your energy consumption will be impacted. It’s important to find a company that will consider all the different ways it will impact your business to find the best solution for you.

It’s important to find suppliers who will support your business needs now, but also think about where you’re heading and provide you with options that will facilitate your plans for growth. Making your beer is a passion, so its key to find a supplier who supports your passion by giving you the best knowledge and support available.

Don't take cold storage for granted

Just like any well brewed beer, cold storage units need care and consideration. Just like your fridge at home, the doors need to be left open as little as possible; to help reduce heat loss, all good suppliers will supply air curtains. Make sure the unit isn’t loaded above the load line. Check for debris blocking airflow such as shrink wrap or packaging labels.

Ice can build up on the evaporators which can have huge efficiency impacts, so once any ice is visible on the evaporators then run a defrost cycle, defrosts need to be run no less than once a day.

Making the most efficient use of your units is key to improving efficiency, which is why we provide training on delivery for all users.

Regulation changes

Many refrigerants and air-conditioning (RAC) systems used in the food and drink manufacturing sector use HFC refrigerants. The most common of these are R-404A, R-134a, and R-410A, which all have a high global warming potential (GWP).

Regulations have been implemented in 2014, 2016, and 2018 to reduce the use of these gases, which has had a significant impact on the food and drink industry. The industry is now working towards January 2020 where there will be a ban on using virgin HFCs to service refrigeration equipment that uses a refrigerant with a GWP about 2500. We’re lucky in that we have always had a programme of reinvestments and are highly conscious of our environmental impact so have kept ahead of regulation changes in our new highly efficient units, but it could catch some out and should be a significant consideration for business owners.

Overall, for those where reliable cellaring is a challenge along the supply chain, their site doesn’t allow for it, or can’t justify large upfront financial investment, portable cold storage may be the solution to ensuing highest possible quality for your beer. With you working so hard to create a fantastic product, this may provide a great solution to ensure your hard work isn’t lost.

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