The use of a SURF not only eliminates the ongoing costs associated with cleaning, both from a material, energy and human resource perspective, it also significantly reduces the original capital outlay cost associated with fermentation equipment. This results in significant savings on capital layout. The rate limiting step for any brewer is the brewing as opposed to the fermentation step. The brewing equipment, i.e. mash tun, malt hoppers, boilers, heat exchangers, etc. can typically be used to produce up to two (2 No.) batches of fermentable wort per day. However, production of high quality beer necessitates an extended fermentation/conditioning period. This ranges from 2 weeks to several months depending on the beer type. So, while the brewing equipment is a considerable cost for a start-up microbrewery, the cost of fermentation and conditioning vessels is significantly higher in comparison to the brewing equipment as the brewer increases the number of batches produced.
Equipment cost is the primary factor from limiting the number of microbrewery start-ups and expansion of these microbreweries.
B. Environmentally Friendly:
While the phrase “Single Use” has become something of a bogey work in recent times due to the enormous damage done by poor waste management the fact of the matter is that single use containers can be far superior to reusable containers from an environmental perspective. This depends on a number of factors including quantity of plastic required for packaging, volume of solution stored, etc.. The benefits of single use technology have been well documented in the biotechnology industry where single use bioreactors are widely used instead of traditional stainless steel bioreactors for the manufacture of biological medicines which are injected into patients. The reason that single use is more environmentally friendly is because the system eliminates the need to clean the unit with large volumes of water and chemicals. It also saves the energy associated with heating the cleaning water and subsequently cooling the fermenter in preparation for the next batch. Typically fermenters are the bottle neck in beer production so they are turned around very quickly. Combining the SURF with in-line carbonation technology completely eliminates the requirement for any cleaning of stainless steel vessels. So even though the SURF is manufactured from a byproduct of the hydrocarbon industry and used only once, it is significantly better than a fixed/reusable vessel from an environmental perspective.
Scientists agree that when recycled or properly disposed of single use plastic is not an environmental issue. SURF Brew Tech would be amongst the first to adopt bioplastics if and when they are commercially developed. SURF Brew Tech adds an Environmental Disposal Charge (DPC) to each SURF Liner sold, brewers must provide proof of proper disposal or recycling so that charge is refunded on the next order.
C. Beer Quality:
Obviously the plastic which comes in contact with the wort and fermenting beer has long since been proven to be safe and meets the most stringent safety requirements as detailed in European and US standards. Exhaustive testing has been carried out on the risk of so called leachables and extractables which is a concern if the plastic is not compatible with the storage solution. While the use of a SURF does minimise the risk of beer contamination as the liner is delivered clean, we do not claim that the use of the SURF directly improves beer quality. However, by reducing the cost of the fermentation and conditioning containers brewers are not pressurised to move beer on quickly to free up the very expensive pressure rated vessels. Slow fermentation and longer conditioning gives a superior beer when compared to the fast fermentation and rapid conditioning alternative. Longer conditioning times also eliminates the need for expensive filtration systems as the beer clears up over time due to yeast sedimentation. So indirectly the SURF leads to improved beer quality.