Three Lessons Breweries Can Learn from Hospitals

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We all have that friend who won’t drink his beer straight out of the fridge or cooler because it’s not at the ideal tasting temperature. And as annoying as that can be, he’s technically right. Most beers aren’t meant to be enjoyed ice cold (despite the commercials that zoom in on frosted beers). In fact, too low a temperature can ruin the taste of certain varieties of beer.

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Most breweries have temperature control under control … when the beer’s coming from the tap. But how about for the bottles or cans that are meant to be consumed immediately? Beer refrigeration is almost as important as the brewing process itself. When beer is not stored at the correct temperature, it can appear cloudy, smell funny or taste sour.

So, what’s a brewer (or brewery manager to do)? Take a few refrigeration lessons from an unlikely source: hospitals. They know a thing or two about the importance of refrigerator temperatures and accessibility. Whether hospital refrigerators are used for storing vaccines, breast milk or medications, maintaining precise temperatures within the cabinet is a non-negotiable. Here are three reasons why breweries may want to think about refrigeration like hospitals do.

      1. Product temperature matters.
        Traditional refrigerator temperatures may fluctuate as much as 5° C, creating wide temperature swings that can ruin vaccines, breast milk and medications. Traditional beer fridges are no different. This is due to the nature of how compressor-based refrigerators are designed to work. When the cabinet interior warms up to a set temperature, the compressor kicks on to generate air colder than the desired temperature. Once the cabinet reaches the target low temperature, the compressor turns off and waits for the interior to warm up and the cycle begins again. In other words, you could be in danger of serving your pilsners too warm and your stouts too cold, depending on the phase of the refrigerator’s duty cycle.
      2. Use the entire fridge.
        Temperature stability is just one of the issues with compressor-based refrigerators. Another common problem is poor uniformity throughout the chamber. Uneven cooling and frequent door openings result in warm and cold spots. For hospitals that are still using compressor-based refrigeration, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) even suggests placing water bottles on the top shelf, refrigerator floor and in the door racks to prevent vaccines from being stored in areas where there is a greater risk of temperature excursions. On a busy Saturday night, does your bartender have time to figure out where in the fridge he’s supposed to (or not supposed to) put the beer? Or have time to restock repeatedly, given that half of the fridge capacity is taken up by water bottles?
      3.  Accessibility is essential and bar space is at a premium.
        Speaking of your bartenders, the accessibility of refrigerated products is just as important for them as it is for busy hospital employees or patients who need their medications or breast milk. Compact refrigeration units placed on top of a bar can allow bartenders to grab and serve or even enable self-service by customers. Plus, the visibility keeps your beers front and center for customers, even encouraging them to purchase some bottles or cans to-go.

These three reasons (among others) have been driving hospitals and healthcare facilities to make the switch from compressor-based to solid-state refrigeration. By replacing bulky, noisy compressors with a slim, silent semiconductor heat pump, solid-state refrigerators deliver up to 40% more capacity and unmatched temperature stability. And that means you can store more beers with less restocking and place them wherever you want – or even feature more than one on the bar, so you can store your light lagers at 37° F and your Belgian-style beers at 50° F.

As a brewery, your customers visit because they either enjoy your beer or trust the recommendation of someone else who does. By serving your brews at the optimal temperature, you can ensure that your customers have a great experience and leave your establishment bigger fans than they were when they walked in.

Want to find out more about solid-state refrigeration for beer storage? Get in touch with our Food and Beverage team.