New Tank Beer Room at Joules

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NEW TANK BEER ROOM AT JOULES £25,000 Extension at Stone

Extracted from The Brewing Trade Review & Review & Bottling, April 1970

John Joule & Sons of Stone, in Staffordshire, recently opened a £25,000 extension to their brewery which is a tank room for the filling of road tankers for bulk beer delivery to their houses. The department contains 12 tanks with a capacity of 500 barrels. It has been made necessary by the steady increase in demand for tank beer, particularly in the free trade, and by the need for economies in the costs of handling and delivery.

The building itself is of steel framed and cladded construction and is internally insulated having a covered tanker loading bay on the main road frontage. Beer enters the room through a centrifuge because the yeast count tends to be a bit high. The Head Brewer at Joule’s Mr. Michael Sprake said: “The beer is exactly the same as the beer that would go into a cask. We condition it here for a couple of days, and we then cool it down to 52ø-54ø F. and that is the temperature at which it is sent to the trade in five barrel lots. We have five barrel tanks in our public house cellars.”

The tanks consist of vertical 100 barrel and horizontal 40 barrel refrigerated Porter Lancastrian tanks of Prodorite lined mild steel construction. All tanks are fitted with rouser impellers operating on automatic timer controls. There are three 100 barrel tanks, four 40 barrels, and several smaller ones giving a total capacity of approximately 500 barrels and the room is designed to take two lots each week.

At the public house end of the cycle, the tank cleaner goes ahead of the delivery vehicle, cleans out the tanks and puts in the finings. Then the tanks are filled from the tanker with the finings already in the vessel. Tank cleaning is carried out by transfer able C.P. model S sprayheads adapted to fit the manways of all tanks and circulated with a solution of detergent from a stock tank at 60 p.s.i.

The beer is drawn from the same fermenting vessels as the beer being racked into cask, through stainless steel beer mains by way of a Westfalia S.A.M.R. centrifuge. The amount of centrifuging carried out is determined by the yeast count of the beer being drawn, not all yeast being extracted in order to maintain the shelf life of the finished product. A four-line overhead 13 in. stainless steel gallery supplies and discharges the beer to and from the tanks.

The conditioning cycle entails a 48 hour conditioning period when the beer is roused frequently at a temperature of 58ø F. at time periods and pressure snifted off three hourly. This is followed by chilling to 50ø F. and holding at that temperature until delivery. The chilling duty of all tanks is two thirds of a degree per hour and there is provision for holding part full tanks on chill.

There is also provision for part-fining at this stage should it be decided to use this method, all tanks being fitted with stand pipes.

Transfer to the tanker delivery vehicles is by compressed air, filtered through Burnett & Lewis equipment and passing through 13 in. stainless steel mains to connection points outside the building in the loading bay. Two types of tanker are at present in use B.M.C. FJK 160 chassis carrying a 40 barrel. compartmented tank built by Mickleover Transport Ltd., and the other carrying six individual five barrel tanks. All tanks are insulated and delivery is made via a Mono pump and Neptune beer meter, enclosed in a weatherproof cabinet in which is mounted the dual hose reels, each five barrels taking around 12 minutes to deliver.

Both compartmented and individual transport tanks are cleaned by the use of transferable Oakite Spray-o-Mat sprayballs circulating detergent solution through a Beresford PV 100 portable pump unit, the same type of equipment being used for cellar tank cleaning.

In order to maintain the “draught” character of the beer, no form of filtration is used and beer is clarified by the use of finings in the cellar tank, the action taking about 48 hours. Shelf life is three to four weeks. Joules supply 35 large outlets with tank beer and this is now to be steadily increased to take advantage of the additional capacity provided by the new department.

Speaking of the development of the department, Mr. W. J. Lewington, production director, emphasised that Joule’s tank beer was naturally conditioned. It is not keg beer nor is it chilled or filtered. “It is conventional draught beer clarified by the use of finings and having a normal deposit on the cellar tanks,” he said. “Considerable care has been taken to ensure that the tank beer matches exactly the flavour of the traditional brew served normally from the barrel”. Mr. Lewington expounded the advantages of tank beer. It is conditioned under scientific control; there is temperature control during the conditioning, and every process is carried out under hygienic conditions. These are extended to the public house, or club cellar. These are all temperature controlled and the tanks are cleaned and sterilised, and their equipment checked before each delivery of beer. The beer is untouched by hand from the time it is brewed until it is served. The economies are mainly in handling but these are important, and the savings extend to the public house as well as in the brewery.

Before starting a tank beer department Mr. Lewington installed a five-barrel pilot plant at the brewery and used a five barrel transporter tank to simulate travelling conditions - the beer was actually taken from Stone to Uttoxeter and back to the brewery where actual bar conditions were established.

The experiment went on for six months and proved so successful that shortly afterwards the first tanks were installed at the Crown Hotel, Stone.

This in turn proved so successful that it was decided to go ahead with major extensions to the brewery to accommodate a tank beer department which has its own loading bay in Newcastle Street. Work started last May and the building was completed in November. In charge of the new tank beer department is Mr. Clifford Gaskin a former head cooper.

Joules took the opportunity to show the guests at the opening the rest of their brewery. The company is a very old established one and has 300 houses in the area. It now forms part of the Bass Charrington group which owns 51 per cent. of the shares but it operates as an independent entity. There is tremendous emphasis placed on hygiene throughout the brewery and this is the first impression for the visitor is that all is bright and shining. Joules are switching to metal casks at the moment these account for only 17 per cent. of the draught beer sold but wooden casks in need of repair are no longer being repaired or replaced. The brewery has a new fermenting block with all stainless steel vessels though some of the old ones are still used when production needs demand it. The length of a brew at Stone is 400 barrels and at full capacity the brewery is capable of two brews a day. The total fermenting capacity is about 4,000 barrels.

Only four beers are brewed at Stone but even so 8.5 per cent of all production according to Mr. Sprake is concentrated on the firm’s bitter which enjoys a wide reputation in the area and indeed has a splendid list of prizes to its credit.

At a luncheon for the guests in the Crown Hotel. Stone, after the opening the Chairman of Joules Mr. G. V. Churton, said that a brewery of this size was kept going only by the quality of its beer. He praised the design team which had installed the tank room which was composed of experts from the brewery and members of the Porter Lancastrian staff. “Although there may be teething troubles with tank beer,” he said, “the public have made it obvious that they want clear beer”. A board meeting at the brewery some years ago had discussed the future distribution of draught beer and the opening of the tank room was the visible evidence that this had been put into practice. Mr. Churton thought the time not too distant when all draught beer would go out of breweries by tanker it was an essential step if prices were to be kept reasonable.