Cleaning In Place (CIP)

The (cleaning in place) CIP equipment sanitation process is vital to any brewery because not properly cleaning equipment can lead to uncontrollable flavors in the beer. The CIP can be portable or stationary, and can contain single, multi, and rCIP carte-use tanks.  The CIP process follows a general guideline when cleaning any piece of equipment which is pre-rinse, alkaline detergent wash, rinse, Acid wash, rinse, and sanitize. Some important variable when doing the CIP process is the concentration of cleaning solution, time of each step, and temperature at each step is critical. The items necessary for the CIP is a storage vessel for all the cleaning solutions, usually referred to as the CIP cart. Next item needed is a pump that is properly sized for your system to handle a certain volume of liquid. The last item needed for non-mechanical cleaning of vessels is the CIP spray ball that is usually mounted at the top of a cellar vessel. The importance of the CIP spray ball in larger systems is that if manually cleaned the scouring of the inside of the tanks make it easier for bacteria growth on the affected area. But the spray ball ensures that every surface inside the tank will get hit because of the 360 degree coverage of the sphere.

The First part in the clean in place process is the pre-rinse to remove any visible organic material without the introduction of chemicals. This takes approximately 15 – 30 minutes. The pre-rinse temperature of the water should be cold or room temperature water to ensure that organic material will not be baked onto the side of the vessel.

Second phase of the process is to fill the vessel with the alkaline based detergent that breaks down organic materials by hydrolyzing peptide bonds, and breaking down insoluble protein bonds into soluble material. Most popular alkaline based detergent is caustic soda or otherwise known as sodium hydroxide. It has strong penetrating abilities for proper saponification of fatty and protein like soils. The caustic is best used in a temperature range from 140 – 180 Fahrenheit or 60 – 82 Celsius. The vessel being cleaned will be filled with the caustic soda and looped through the system so that every surface the wort touched is being cleaned, from the plate heat exchanger to every piece of tuning in the brew house.

After the caustic loop has been completed it is time to do a hot rinse of the caustic on all ports the caustic has touched. Be sure to remove any valves, c clamps, and gauges for a soak in the caustic solution. A thorough rinse is required after the caustic loop, and some brewers save on the cost of alkaline based detergent by recovering used caustic and reusing it to clean other vessels.

The third phase of the cleaning process is the acid cycle, where a phosphoric acid, nitric, acid, or a combination of both will bpassivatione added to the vessel. This is an important step because it does three main things, first is that the acid neutralizes the caustic that may be left over from the previous cycle. Second the acid breaks down in-organic materials leftover from brewing like beer stone, hard water deposits, and mineral deposits. Lastly the acid wash repairs the stainless steel’s integrity, by passivating or removing the upper layer of iron that has deposited on the stainless steel by re-oxidizing the upper layer of chromium.

The final phase after the organic and inorganic material from the vessels have been removed the last part is to sanitize the vessels from any microbes. The sanitization of tanks can be achieved by chemical disinfectants that kill microorganisms. Some sanitizers are a no rinse needed solution like Iodophor that does not need to be rinsed out of the vessel. A drawback to using sanitizer is that the vessel must be completely dry before filling with sanitizer because sanitizer is an oxidizer you do not want residual sanitizer oxidizing the beer during fermentation.

To bring the CIP process into perspective each step in the process has a role on the big picture of equipment cleanliness. From the breaking down of organics by the caustic, then the acid breaks down inorganics, and the sanitizer disinfects from any microorganisms. The CIP removes human error from the equation by use of the spray ball; it also can utilize the reuse of chemicals to save cost, and limits the exposure of harmful chemicals to the person operating CIP. Some areas of concern when routinely cleaning your equipment is understand vacuum relief so that a vacuum isn’t created inside a vessel when cleaning. Next are some special areas to consider during CIP one is the plate heat exchanger, with very small cracks and crevices it is an area that needs to be scrutinized during CIP. Another area of concern is any peripheral elements of the vessel, for example sight glasses, sample valves, faucets, and carb stones. Third area of concern while cleaning is the gaskets between metal to metal contact points are build up areas. Lastly are the gas, CO2, and oxygen lines that are externally equipped can bring about concerns of unsterile environment.

Brew House Heating


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Brewer’s and the craft brewing community in general enjoys the amount of control they can have over their system to provide the best beer possible. Controlling the key variables in a brewery is what creates successful beer. Therefore controlling the source of heat is a substantial manipulation a brewer can have in the process. Each source of heat has its pros and cons, and can be weighed accordingly to each specific circumstance. The heat source for a brewing system can be direct fire, indirect fire, electrical heating elements, and steam jacketed heating. Not one single heat source is dominant and selection comes down to the preference and pre-requisites of the brewery whether it is home or production size.

The first type of heating option is direct firing of the brew kettle or hot liquor tank. This means that a direct flame would be heating the vessel, and is more customary to home brewers. But they are as well found in systems up to 10 barrels where the direct flame would be heating the exterior of the tank. The findings are similar between the home brewer and the larger system in terms of benefits, which are a more vigorous boil, quicker time reaching boil, has the lowest startup costs, and most brewers have previous knowledge working with gas fired kettles. As far as the disadvantages go for direct firing caramelization of the brew kettle tends to happen more because of a single contact point of heat. So cleaning the caramelized wort is extensive, but some brewers prefer the caramelization in terms of flavor and recipes. Also the single contact point can bring up issues of scorching the wort as well.  Another drawback of this heating option is that the cheaper upfront startup cost is balanced by the long term cost of inefficiency in terms of energy transfer from the direct flame to the actual liquid is 25 – 50%. This in term means more propane or natural gas to compensate for the loss of energy. This is the reason direct fire is not found in sizes above 10 barrels due to inefficiency.

The second heating method that also utilizes fire is the indirect use of fire to heat the brew kettle by either means of a heated jacket that covers the tank or by way of directing the heat from the open flame to a diffuser plate that heats a secondary unit that heats the tank. The advantages are comparable to the direct fire with low startup costs, quick boil times, and boil vigor. But the drawbacks are similar to the direct fire mainly being energy efficiency is low in this heating system and has a long term cost associated with it. The fire heating both direct and indirect remain consistent in that they are only relevant up to the 10 barrel size due to the fact that they are not efficient and brewing large batches means efficiency needs to be at an all-time high to drive down cost.

The third heating option for the brew house and hot liquor tank is electrical heating elements that are mounted on the inside of the tank where the elements are in direct contact with the liquid. Electrical heating is energy efficient because 100% of the energy being created by the heating elements is being transferred to the liquid. The advantages of an electric heating element is the control of temperature is much more precise, energy utilization is high, and no concerns about explosive or flammable gases. Some problems with the electric heating is cost of operation is higher than gas, needs a sufficient/safe source of power (not a typical household outlet or breaker), and heating elements must also be cleaned to ensure they are not giving off bad flavors. This style of heating is preferred on the 2 – 10 barrel size because beyond those sizes the electrical heating will take longer to heat up and be ready to maintain a boil, which means a longer brew day and precious time wasted.

The last option for consideration when heating a brew kettle or hot liquor tank is the use of steam that is created by an external device called a boiler. Steam from the boiler is then pumped into an insulated jacketed area of the tank to heat it. The advantages to a steam heated system are the rate of heat transfer is high, energy utilization is more predictable than gas, and cleaning is much easier compared to the other methods. Some of the disadvantages is the upfront cost of the external boiler unit, boiler inspection costs by state or municipal inspectors, boiler maintenance costs, and is not cost effective at small scale. Around the 12 barrel mark is when steam heating becomes the only option because other heating options are not viable in terms of getting a vigorous boil and maintaining it with such a large volume of liquid.


UL and CSA stand for Underwriter Laboratory and Canadian Standards Association respectively. These are third party companies that specialize in product testing and certification services. UL and CSA are private companies not specific to any brand or industry and gives them independence or unbiased view on standardizing. Unlike Europe the North American continent does not have a harmonized set of standards that must be followed by anyone wanting to sell a product in that country. So importers of products are free to follow the standards of any country, so long as they are deemed safe by the importer. Sometimes these standards fall short of the North American bar that is set by UL/CSA, and serve as a risk if not properly certified. UL/CSA is there to guarantee that a product is certified safe and functional under pre-defined circumstances. Using UL/CSA standards then protects both the product manufacturer and the customer, ensuring both parties are satisfied with the standards of their product.

China is the largest exporter to the US, and often than not they fall short of UL/CSA standards. The difference between Chinese electronic standards and UL/CSA standards is that underwriter laboratories was created in 1894 and have since grown to understand the industries it serves. Comparable to the Chinese electronic standard otherwise known as Chinese compulsory certification (CCC) was implemented on May 1, 2002. The Chinese standards in terms of viability and length to which they have been operating are trumped by the North American standards that UL/CSA has been upholding for many more years than CCC. So in turn Chinese electronic standards are tailored for a low cost and high production market. Knowledge and experience that UL/CSA provides trumps that of the CCC by number of years operating. Chinese standards before then were handled by a government agency which proved to be a problem.