COOL-FIT Piping Systems Meets Condensation-Free Requirement for Lakewood Brewing

Mar 7, 2018 9:00 AM

LBC_GFPics6 small sizeLakewood Brewing installed COOL-FIT® Plus pre-insulated plastic piping and fittings from GF Piping Systems for cooling their beer production process in 2012. The system was later expanded to meet their exponential growth. Today the system conveys cold glycol at temperatures of 26°F to supply and maintain fermentationand bright tanks temperatures at about 34°F.

In its first year of business in 2012, Lakewood Brewing Company produced just less than 3,000 barrels of craft beer.  Now, only five years later and with rapid building and production expansion behind them, Lakewood is brewing over 10,000 barrels per year. Management at this Texas brewery attributes their fast growth to their ‘do-it-right the first time’ philosophy combined with beers that offer a unique flavor.

Born in Belgium, Lakewood Brewing’s President and Founder Wim Bens graduated from the Southern Methodist University and the American Brewer’s Guild.  Soon after, he decided to open a family-owned craft brewery where he could create his own distinctive blends.  After a year and a half of planning, building, and installing equipment, he opened Lakewood Brewing in a growing community in east Dallas.

One important decision for the new brewery in the planning stages was to choose a cooling system for controlling the fermentation tank temperature and other parts of the process.   “At that time, we looked around to see what everybody else was doing,” explains Billy Bettencourt, Lakewood Brewing’s Facilities Manager, who has been on board since the beginning.  “Our primary goal for choosing a system was one that didn’t condensate.  We also wanted it to be easy to install.  From talking to people in the industry about their experiences, we quickly learned what we did, and didn’t, want to use.  When someone was displeased with a product they had, we knew right off the bat we didn’t want to go that route!”

From their research, Lakewood found that some of the established breweries had installed the COOL-FIT® ABS Plus system from GF Piping Systems.  COOL-FIT is a corrosion free pre-insulated plastic piping system that can handle water-based coolants from -58°F to +104°F (-50°C to +40°C) at an operating pressure of up to 10 bar within diameters of ¾” to 12” (d25 to d315). The system’s core pipe is made of COOL-FIT ABS, which is insulated with high density closed cell polyurethane foam and protected with a water-tight, UV resistant black polyethylene jacket.  The entire system is vapor tight and shows no thermal bridges, which minimize energy loss along the lines.  Because of properties, the piping system is ideal for beer production as well as food and beverage production environments.

LBC Taproom

The COOL-FIT system at the original Lakewood brewery was installed primarily by Bettencourt and other Lakewood personnel following training from GF Piping Systems’ Doug Winkler, Area Sales Manager.  “It was very easy to learn,” recalls Bettencourt". The training covered the proper way of pipe cementing, cutting out for add-ons.”  The system was set up to convey chilled glycol through approximately 350 feet of 75 mm pipe with a dead-end type circle flow design.

A larger brewery facility was built 2-1/2 years later and the COOL-FIT system was also expanded.  The flow design is a ‘first in, last out’ concept with a bypass from the end of the supply to the return.

“With this design we’re able to chill every tank down to exactly where we need it as quickly as it can be done and from what I understand, no one else has had a better system design that what we have now.  Since then, a lot of breweries are mimicking what we’re doing and how we’re operating,” says Bettencourt.

LBC_GFPics5 small sizeFrom the main 6” pipe coming from the chiller, the COOL-FIT pipe drops to smaller 3” lines. The cooling system conveys food-grade glycol at 26° F to the fermenting vessels, bright tanks and cold water tank.

The expanded COOL FIT system in Lakewood’s new buildings includes about 1,000 feet of pipe.  This consists of 170 feet of 6” pipe for the main line that comes out from the chiller.  From there, it runs through the middle of the building, teeing off and stepping down periodically to five 150 foot 3” lines that run down to the actuators.   Each turn goes to the end of the building and comes back to the main header, keeping the first in, last out design concept.  Once past the actuators, the system transfers to a 1” flexible pipe that connects to each tank.

The COOL-FIT system conveys food-grade glycol at 26°F, used on the fermenting vessels and the bright tanks where the beer is produced, as well as at the cold water tank. Lakewood currently has 25 tanks, ten of which are 180 BBL tanks.  Most of the remaining are 90 BBL tanks.

Low Maintenance

Bettencourt says that all that is needed for maintaining the COOL-FIT system is a quick monthly check.  “There’s a lot of vibration going on in the buildings, so we do go through the tanks to make sure the threaded connections to the tanks keep snug and tight,” he explains.  “There is some maintenance, but very little.”

LBC_GFPics1 - small sizeLakewood Brewing Company’s President and Founder Wim Bens (left), and Facilities Manager Bill Bettencourt (right), attribute Lakewood’s success to their ‘do-it-right the first time’ way of thinking.

Tips for Success

Because Lakewood Brewing is one of the largest independently owned brewery in Dallas Texas, start-ups turn to them for ideas.  Bettencourt has some specific advice for them, most of which fall under the advice of ‘do it right the first time.’

    "Rather than skimping here and there to save immediate expenses, 
    do it right the first time even if it requires a larger outlay initially.
    That type of thinking pays off in the long run. Typically when you  
    buy a pipe cooling product, you have to pay to have it wrapped.
    By buying cheaper pipe, but then paying to have it wrapped, you end up
    paying more. It’s more cost-effective in the long run to go with the
    COOL-FIT pre-insulated pipe.

    -    With proper installation, COOL-FIT maintains itself 

PintglassLakewood Brewing Company's temperature controlled brew production results in a variety of perfectly brewed Belgian-inspired craft beer flavors. Its taproom showcases year-round favorites, seasonals, limited release offerings and bottled selections.

    -    Plan for the future – The COOL-FIT system already has valves
        installed that we’re not currently using.  As we grow, we don’t have to
        drain the system or shut anything down – we simply connect, open a
        valve and keep going.

    -   If you need a part, buy two, that way you’ll always have one in


‘Do-it-right the first time’ philosophy credited

for Texas brewery’s exponential growth


With Lakewood’s expansion, the property now encompasses four different buildings.  The original brewery is attached to the new buildings and still houses canning, bottling, kegging, the brew house and the original tap room.  The newer part of the property includes a taproom that accommodates 300 people and a beer garden complete with stage and picnic tables that seats 160 people.

Because Lakewood Brewing has almost doubled every year since they’ve been in business, they are now taking a step back to re-evaluate the rapid growth before deciding on any more giant leaps.  Their evaluation will include questions like:  What can we do to become more efficient?  What can we do to make our employees’ jobs easier? What can we do to make even better beer for consumers? Again, doing it right the first time will undoubtedly pay off for this smart-thinking craft brewery.



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