I attended BrewExpo America in Philadelphia this spring. I learned a little about brewery floors and drains, and I’d like to share the experience.
Stainless Drains Were Out in Force
Stainless drains were all the rage at the Expo. Typically, they were 6” wide with a V-shaped interior. The channels sloped to an outlet or to a catch basin. Grates tended to be heavy duty stainless bar across the board.
I didn’t see a single drain from another material. Overall, the mood surround alternates was dismissive. But if you’re at an Expo, naturally you’d want to show premium products first, right?
Contrary to what some suppliers would have you think, stainless is not the only option for breweries. Breweries do use polymer concrete drains – just check out Weyerbacher if you want a leading example.
The process of picking a polymer concrete brewery drain gets more technical. The drain is available in standard and high temperature varieties, and the best one for you depends on effluent heat as it hits the drain:
- Are you dumping directly into the drain or running across the floor. Water loses heat rapidly when exposed to open air and concrete.
- Have you measured for anticipated or actual temperatures? Most of the heat worries circle around the brewhouse cleaning cycle. It is notable that more heat is not always better where cleaners are concerned. In the case of acid-based cleaners, more heat can do more damage to the brewing equipment than it does clean them.
Tile Floors vs. Coated Floors
A good floor is literally the foundation of your brewery, and any flaw could mean a debilitating problem for the brewery down the line. So, necessarily, flooring itself was also a topic, though not one as flashy as dancing robots who sing Toby Keith songs.
There is only a small installation difference between installing trench drains in tile flooring versus coated concrete.
For tiled floors
First, leave ¾” of drain above the concrete pour (this may be more, depending on your tile thickness). Place your tiles, leaving a 3/4” gap between the drain’s edge and the final tile. Seal the gap with a urethane caulk to give the drain some cushion to expand and contract.
Tile flooring is impact resistant and dense enough that no liquid absorbs into the porcelain.
For coated floors
First, contractors notch a control joint parallel to and abutting the trench drain. Then they coat the floor with a urethane sealant. The groove prevents the sealant from overflowing into the trench channel and also gives the drain room for thermal expansion.
Urethane coatings usually have an eight year lifespan.
Don’t Rule Out Slot Drains
Of all the companies showcasing stainless brewery drains, only one stood out to me.
Slot Drain Systems designed a hefty system for breweries and other sanitary applications. Normally, my biggest gripe with slot drains is that they’re difficult to clean.
But, this drain comes with a hose connection on the shallow end to help flush the system. Slot Drain Systems also designed cleaning brushes that scrape and scrub the interior. Anything that builds up gets whisked to an end basin with a debris trap.
The company is also designing a modular stainless trench drain just for brewery applications. And that is something I can get behind.