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Solar brewing: extra-responsible drinking for the festive season

So we’re approaching the end of the year, and for what we expect will be our last post until 2012, we thought we’d share a story about solar powered brewing. Of course we only ever drink responsibly: extra-responsibly, when we can get hold of solar brewed beer!

Hale's Ales logo
Hale's Ales logo

There’s many ways to utilise direct solar heat in industry, such as using a concentrator (like the Scheffler Dish) to provide industrial steam. CSIRO installed a beer pasteurisation system at the Southwark Brewery, Adelaide, in 1978 “comprising a 178 sq m array with 52 cu m storage”.

There are micro-breweries in Victoria using solar heat for their brewing, such as Buckley’s at Healesville (who also frequently deliver by pedal power!) and Mountain Goat in Richmond. If you know of others, please tell us about them in the comments section below!

I should note that of course, we make no official endorsement of any specific product here – but we do endorse the use of renewable energy!

The story below is from GeekWire.

How a Seattle brewery is using solar technology to make beer

John Cook, December 17, 2011

To make beer, you need water. A lot of hot water.

Historically, brewers have used natural gas, electricity or other methods to boil water in their massive brewing tanks.

But at Hale’s Ales in Fremont, founder Mike Hale is taking a different approach. The maker of Troll Porter and Mongoose IPA just installed a new solar thermal tube system from Seattle’s Net Zero Impact.

The system uses solar thermal tubes to transform direct and diffuse sunlight into heat, with Net Zero Impact noting that the technology is more efficient than photovoltaic cells at capturing the sun’s energy.

Mike Hale and Net Zero's Barry Andersen at Hale's Brewery.

The 480 tubes, developed by Kingspan Solar, collect solar radiation and then transfer it to an insulated manifold that’s used to heat the water.

On Friday, Hale’s lowered a 14-foot tall, 1,200-pound tank through a hole in the roof, with the entire system designed to deliver 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of solar-heated water each day.

Hale’s estimates that the new solar thermal system will save the company about $15,000 annually over its traditional gas powered boiler, with Mike Hale saying it is part of an ongoing effort to create an environmentally-friendly brewery.

This isn’t the first solar thermal system that Net Zero has installed at a Seattle area beer maker. Earlier this year, Big Al’s in Seattle’s White Center started making beer with solar-heated water.

The system at Hale’s is the largest installation yet for Net Zero Impact.

2 thoughts on “Solar brewing: extra-responsible drinking for the festive season

  1. Ken Readwin at Beaufort, 3373 AU of the ‘Elixir of Youth Brewery’ brews a range of Ales, Lagers, Stout and strong dark ales. The brewery uses Solar PV and Solar HW for electricity and hot water, no problem. He and his friends drink responsibly when they can, not easy, as it is a sin to waste brew.

  2. Thanks Ken,
    will definitely look up ‘Elixir of Youth’ next time I’m heading through town.

    Its probably a bit too far to travel for most of us, but theres also the wonderful (worker owned) New Belgium Brewery in Colorado.

    Apart from a 200 kW photovoltaic array on top of their Packaging Hall and a 292kW combined heat and power (CHP or co-gen) engine on site, they purchase wind energy to make up the short fall of energy use.


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