How Weighing Scales Can Help Breweries and Distilleries
Distillery and brewery scales are crucial to many different parts of the beer brewing process - from weighing out ingredients to measuring the weight of casks and barrels. According to the Drinks Business, the UK brewing scene has reached an all-time high with a record number of over 2000 independent craft brewers being registered for the first time in over 90 years. Between 2012 and 2016, the UK saw a 64% increase in the number of new craft breweries up to 1994, with a further 18% rise documented from 2017 to 2018 (Source: UHY Hacker Young courtesy of Thedrinksbusiness.com - visit the full article here). With this in mind, brewers need to ensure that they are fully complying with guidelines set out for the brewing, selling and licensing of alcohol.
This post will provide a brief overview of brewing and distilling, and how owning the proper weighing equipment is an essential part of any brewing business.
An introduction to brewing and distilling
'A keg of beer can last up to 8 weeks before it starts to lose its taste if refrigerated within a CO2 kegerator. At the right temperatures, pasteurised beer may even last up to 6 months'.– Kegerator.com
What is the difference between a microbrewery, nanobrewery and distillery?
The recent surge in brewing popularity has led to a wide range of deviations from the standard breweries of previous decades; therefore, we have included a short list of the some of the most common types of breweries and distilleries you may come across and how they differ from each other:
A brewery is a producer of beer, ale, larger and cider that typically have low alcohol content levels. These are often large, well-established companies that produce batches on a continuous process.
A distillery is a producer of strong liquors and spirits such as whisky, gin and vodka. Distilleries deal with spirits of a higher alcohol content / proof compared with standard breweries. These are often large, well-established companies that produce batches on a continuous process.
A micro-distillery is a small-operation distillery used to produce spirits in relatively small quantities. Spirits are often produced in single batches compared with standard distilleries that operate on a continuous distilling process.
In the same way that a micro-distillery deals with smaller quantities of spirits, a micro-brewery produces craft beers, ales and other low-proof beverages in single batches. In the US a microbrewery can make no more than 15,000 barrels of beer annually.
A nano-brewery is considered to be a scaled-down version of a micro-brewery that is run by a single operator. These often home-operated breweries produce very small batches of beer and other low alcohol content beverages for sale. One definition suggests that a nanobrewery is 'a brewery that produces no more than 3 barrels of beer in one batch', although in the US, it is typically understood as a brewery that produces less than 2000 barrels annually.
How a weighing scale can help breweries and distillers
'In the UK, a standard barrel of beer contains 36 imperial gallons or 164 litres, whilst in the US a beer barrel works out to 31 US gallons (approx. 26 imperial gallons or 117 litres)'.– Wikivisually.com
Weighing scales are used in many areas of the distilling and brewing process. Large distillery and brewing companies that mass produce alcohol for sale to smaller pubs by the barrel require each barrel to weigh the same; in order to do this, barrels are placed onto scales with checkweighing and check counting functions to weigh multiple barrels at once before they are distributed. Approved checkweighing scales are used for sample batch checking, whilst stainless steel scales such as Adam's Gladiator are often used for weighing bags of hops. Lab balances can also be used for weighing out ingredients mix to get the desired level of flavour balance of hops, barley and yeast.
How weighing scales are used in microbreweries
Weighing scales with percentage weighing functionality can be used to accurately measure ingredients when creating new alcohol blends. The desired total weight value can be set as 100%, allowing the user to add and weigh individual ingredients as part of a percentage reaching up to the maximum 100% level.
Our previous post on using weighing scales for cosmetics provides a short example of how the percentage weighing feature works when creating perfumes.
Note: It is crucial that microbreweries creating their own beers and spirits to sell on supermarket shelves ensure that each filled bottle weighs the amount stated on the bottle's label. Failure to meet this requirement can lead to fines and may also impact your business reputation.
Do I need trade approved weighing scales?
Trade approved weighing scales are a legal requirement for any business looking to sell products by weight; some distillers and brewers may buy beer and other alcoholic beverages by the barrel at wholesale prices whilst, independent craft breweries may look to sell their home-brewed brand in bottles on supermarket shelves.
Best weighing scales for breweries and distilleries
Weighing scales for microbreweries
Microbreweries tend to use a range of digital weighing scales including precision scales, bench scales and platform scales. Precision scales with percentage weighing functions or bench scales with formulation and mixing are often relied upon in microbreweries for their high-level of accuracy and intricate blending capabilities. Trade approved scales are also required by microbreweries selling bottled spirits and other alcohol by weight commercially.
Weighing scales for distilleries
Distilleries often require pallet scales and bench scales for accurately weighing barrels and kegs. Pallet scales are specially designed for weighing palleted goods and are particularly useful for weighing large amounts of stock prior to distribution.
Whilst distilleries have plenty of regulations in place in regarding the safe consumption and proofing of alcohol, companies selling crafted spirits such as gin in bottles commercially require the use of trade approved scales. In the UK, trade approved scales are required to meet EC regulations.
Weighing scales for large brewing factories
Large scale brewing operations require fast and effective inventory control scales in order to manage, store and distribute large amounts of stock in a short space of time. Whilst counting scales can be used to accurately count bottles to be packed into boxes; large platform scales with checkweighing and counting functions allow multiple pallets of goods to be weighed at once without the need for manual counting. Pallet truck scales can be used to simultaneously weigh and transport pallets of goods across a warehouse or factory floor for fast and efficient stock checking.