Cooling the Brew Starts During Fermentation

Jul 12, 2017 9:00 AM

Good Nature Brewing’s new facility incorporates COOL-FIT® Plus Pre-insulated thermoplastic piping system for secondary cooling — the prerequisite for any beer production

cool-the-brew-good-nature-signGood Nature’s new 15,000 square foot farm brewery was completed during New York’s cold January of 2017. Located on 5.25 acres in Hamilton, NewYork, the brewery houses over 160 feet of COOL-FIT Plus secondary cooling piping used in the production of 180 barrels of beer per day.

by Angela Sampaio, GF Piping Systems Market Segment Manager – Cooling (Eastern Region)

Cooling is the fundamental requirement for beer-making.  Without it, the fermentation process cannot take place.  Today’s new craft brewers are looking for, and indeed finding, more efficient  as well as aesthetically improved cooling and refrigeration systems to use in the beer production process.

Good Nature Brewing, an independently owned Microbrewery and Tap Room, as well as the first ‘farm brewery’ in New York state, completed construction of its brand new 15,000 square foot facility on 5.25 acres of land.  Brewing commenced in January 2017.  As a farm brewery, Good Nature sources fresh ingredients for its beers from NY state farmers, drawing from local sources as much as possible.

Owners Matt Whalen and Carrie Blackmore started Good Nature Brewing and tasting room in 2012.“We basically cobbled it together with mere pennies,” laughs Whalen.  “We self-funded the whole thing and did everything we could to get it up and running.”

Back then Good Nature was using pre-insulated PVC plastic piping for cooling, which was installed against the walls behind the tanks.  This proved ineffective as it did not provide enough cooling.  There was also always a concern that someone would bump into the pipe and break it, and there were frequent leaks.  

After being open for only a year Good Nature replaced the PVC pipe with copper piping, which was the least expensive option at the time.  With that came new problems.  “There were a lot of issues with the insulation sloughing off,” says Whalen.  “You have to be a real professional to make sure the insulation stays on properly and it doesn’t tear away from the pipe.”

Whalen and Blackmore had decided early on that being a farm brewery was part of their mission.  It was just pure good fortune that New York State assisted in this mission by deciding to reward companies that used local ingredients in their beers.  Beginning in 2013, farm breweries were allowed to open satellite locations and serve beer by the glass without having to get separate permitting.  Whalen and Blackmore took advantage of this and opened a new tap room in downtown Hamilton in 2013, closing their original tap room and keeping the brewing process going in the original location.

When Whalen and Blackmore decided to expand by building a completely new production facility, it would be in stark contrast to their first brewery of bare bones minimum.  “Our vow was to build top of the line with everything we could possibly afford,” says Whalen. Care was taken in every aspect of the design both outside, inside and in the production process.  We didn’t want to deal with headaches down the line – longevity in the decision-making process was always a consideration.”   

cool-the-brew-facilityGood Nature Brewing installed the COOL-FIT® Plus pre-insulated plastic piping system from GF Piping Systems for cooling their beer production process. The system conveys cold glycol at temperatures of 27°F in order to supply and maintain fermentation tank temperatures at 66-68°F.

Good Nature embarked on their expansion project in late 2013.  They purchased a 5.25 acre property located about two miles from the old location and less than two miles from the tap room downtown.  Drawing from their own experiences and experiences from other brewers, they came up with a list of ‘must- haves.’ 

“We wanted a cooling system that would last a long time plus we wanted to be able to easily add more lines later down the road,” explains Whalen.  “Because our plan called for a VIP room with a half-wall that would overlook the brewery, it was also important that the whole system would be really sharp looking.  We didn’t want people staring at ugly looking insulated things!”  Low maintenance without drips, mold or corrosion, and being able to keep the area clean were other important ‘must-haves’.

To meet the long list of cooling system requirements for the new brewery, Good Nature opted for installation of the COOL-FIT® ABS Plus thermoplastic piping system manufactured by GF Piping Systems, which they purchased from distributor F.W. Webb Company.  “Other brewers we knew didn’t have enough good things to say about this system and it seemed to fulfill every aspect of what we were looking for,” says Whalen.

COOL-FIT Plus is a pre-insulated plastic piping system that is corrosion free and has a lifespan of 25 years, making it maintenance-free.  The system’s core pipe is made of 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 completely diffusion and vapor tight, which minimizes energy loss along the lines and eliminates thermal bridges.

The main trunk line for the supply and return line of the COOL-FIT Plus system at the Good Nature installation  is 4” in diameter and about 160 feet in length conveying glycol at a temperature of 27°F.  The pipe drops run 10’ from the header to the top of each tank.  Another 100 foot pipe run handles the cold storage area.  The COOL-FIT Plus system supplies fermentation tanks with cold glycol so they can maintain temperatures at 66-68°F following fermentation. When the fermentation complete, Good Nature does a ‘cold crash’ – they ‘crash’ the same tanks down to about 34 degrees and hold it there for about a day until it’s transferred to the bright tanks. Then bright tanks ‘condition’ the beer after the fermentation process.  That typically starts at about 32-34°F.

cool-the-brew-good-natureAs a farm brewery, Good Nature sources fresh ingredients for its beers from New York’s resident farmers, drawing from local sources as much as possible.

The system can be power washed without any damage to the insulation or the external pipe jacket.  “It’s really nice to be able to spray everything down with hot water and not worry about stressing the pipe,” says Whalen.  “That was really a big deal for us.  Keeping it clean is big for us because we want to be able to showcase it - if you’re sitting in the VIP area you’re literally looking over all the tanks and piping in the brewery.”

GF conducted the installation training for Good Nature’s plumbing company Neivel Precision Plumbing, which installed the main trunk lines and some of the drop lines.  Good Nature staff was also trained and Whalen completed the remaining installation himself.  “GF trained us,” says Whalen.  “They went over all the parts and pieces and explained methods of cementing, how to clean up everything and make sure that you’re installing it correctly.  When you do everything properly and put it all together, you have a really nice, sharp-looking place and it’s definitely not going to leak!”

Good Nature’s installation was done differently than most breweries as per Whalen’s vision.

“Typically you run the cooling pipe (in this case GF pipe) down the sides or the backs of the fermentation tanks where it connects into the outlets coming out of the jackets,” says Whalen.  “Instead, we had our local tank manufacturer, Feldmeier Equipment, run the pipe up through the jackets so the inlets and outlets came out of the top.  This not only saved money from having to drop more pipe length down the sides, but was also provided an extra savings in space.  The design allowed the tanks to be placed much closer together because the pipes weren’t sticking off the back.  In this way we were able to save almost a tank’s worth of space.”

Starting in January 2017, Good Nature’s brand new facility is brewing up a lot of beer using the COOL-FIT system: they have two 40 barrel fermentation vessels, one 40 barrel bright beer tank, 100 barrel fermentation vessels and 100 barrel bright tanks and produce about 180 (to fill all fermentation) barrels of beer per day.  Plus there is room for four more tanks – those expansion ports are currently capped off with a valve.

For more information visit:

Good Nature Brewing

GF Piping Systems

F.W. Webb

Neivel Precision Plumbing
East Syracuse, NY (315) 437-3400

Fieldmeier Equipment

As seen in Process Cooling's July Issue: Process Cooling