Introducing Single Use Recyclable Fermenter (SURF)

The patent pending SURF is a fermentation/conditioning container manufactured from food grade hydrocarbons which in combination with a fixed frame and specialized adaptors holds the fermenting beer in the same way as a unitank. However, this container is used just once, when the fermentation/condition process is complete, the beer is transferred for carbonation & filling or to a bright beer serving tank and is sent for recycling. In effect the SURF is a liner which sits inside a rigid container which provides structural integrity and cooling functionality. The SURF Liner is supplied as a clean container and therefore does not require sanitisation prior to use. Specially engineered steel adaptors are connected to the SURF liner nozzles prior to filling with cooled wort and yeast. Good sanitary practice is required when making and breaking connections to the SURF, these connections are termed “briefly exposed”. The SURF is held in place by means of a rigid container called a SURF “Shell”, the shape of which depends on the SURF model.
The standard SURF is cylindroconical and is held in a SURF Shell which is similar to a unitank. The SURF Shell is fitted with a cooling coil on the main cylinder.
The primary structural difference between the stainless steel unitank and the SURF Shell is that the latter is not a pressure rated vessel. The SURF shell is an open top container which is only used for holding the SURF Liner in place and providing cooling functionality. Unlike the unitank the SURF Liner only has two nozzles, one top and one bottom, two specialized steel adaptors allow for dual functionality on both nozzles. A so called pipe-in-pipe adaptor is fitted to the bottom nozzle to facilitate addition of wort/yeast and subsequent removal of beer through one pipe and removal of cold break and yeast via another pipe. The top adaptor comprises a closed end thermowell into which a temperature sensor is fitted and a vent tube for CO2 venting during anaerobic fermentation. Dry hopping is performed by simply removing the top adaptor and using a sanitised funnel to add hops.
The biochemical and chemical processes occurring in the mash and boil steps are rapid but the biological process’ occurring during fermentation and conditioning are much slower. One of the major differences between large commercial breweries and microbreweries is that the latter dedicate much more time to the fermentation and conditioning process’. While the cell metabolism and biochemical process’ are not completely understood it is an undeniable fact that a superior beer is produced by yeasts which are not stressed in terms of high fermentation temperature. Fermentation executed at higher temperature results in a much faster fermentation but the resulting beer is typically much harsher and nowhere near as good as low temperature fermentation performed with the same yeast. This “slow beer” process has analogies with the slow coking process which produce amazing culinary effects. The drawback of slower, low temperature fermentation is that the expensive fermentation/conditioning vessels are occupied for a longer time, the beer production bottleneck becomes even tighter.
To facilitate ease of SURF Liner installation and removal the bottom element of the cone on the SURF shell is removable by means of adjustable toggle clamps.
As the beer does not contact the SURF shell there is no need for a high specification finish and sanitary design considerations. Additionally, a pressure relief valve is not required as the SURF is not pressure rated.
To absolutely minimize the cost of the SURF Shell the highly efficient insulation on the unit is not clad in steel. Steel cladding is useful when a rockwool type insulation is used which can shed particles and is easily damaged but for the robust insulation used on our SURF shells the expensive cladding has no benefit. Steel cladding does make the shiny vessels look good but the smooth finish black cladding on the SURF Shells is equally attractive and professional looking. The real beauty in any microbrewery is the brewhouse itself, mashtun and kettle which are sometimes clad in expensive copper to give that extra wow effect! In Microbreweries fermenters are often placed in cellars or a backroom so away with the steel cladding unless a brewer really wants it of course!
While the SURF Shell is a steel construction the simple design and reduced steel quantity means that the unit is significantly cheaper than a high specification sanitary design beer contacting unitank.