Clean brewery floors can make or break a craft beer producer. The same holds true for craft distilleries and wineries as well. These local micro operators hope to cash in on the farm-to-table movement, or farm-to-glass in this case, by providing small batches of quality beverages to consumers thirsty for interesting new favors. But nothing hurts a small producer like losing a batch of beer, wine or spirits contaminated by improperly cleaned facilities and equipment.
Knowing how to clean brewery, distillery and winery floors can keep quality high and profit margins intact. Here's how.
The Market Overfloweth
The craft beverage market is hot. Don't believe it? Check out these numbers.
- The Brewers Association reports that there were 6266 craft breweries in the US in 2017, up 15.5% from the year before.
- The American Craft Spirits Association found 1300 craft distilleries in operation in 2016--an enormous jump from 2010 when there were only 200.
- Vinepair reports that while most of America's 9009 wineries are large there are many small operations and that number is growing.
Sales in craft beer reached $22.3 billion in 2015. That number is expected to rise.
What Can Go Wrong
Numbers like that can seem enticing to a small business person looking for a new venture. But remember, small brewers, distillers and winemakers are creating a foodstuff that directly reflects their environment. Lots can go wrong before your product gets to the bottle, can or glass if your facility isn't clean.
'Adherence to high cleanliness standards pays dividends in the perceived and actual quality of your beer,' writes Larry Chase in and article reprinted by the Brewers Association. He continues, noting that thorough cleaning saves money by avoiding sending off-flavored beer 'down the sewer. Had we focused better on the front end of cleaning we would have saved a lot of cash.' Chase also notes that a good cleaning protocol saves money on equipment by alerting brewers to problems early and extending its life.
Moisture is the biggest issue in keeping your brewery clean. The consistently wet and humid environment encourages the growth of microbes and the formation of biofilms, particularly on the floors. If this happens under the bases of the brew tanks it can lead to cross-contamination of your product.
Floors also take a beating from heavy kegs, forklifts and caustic chemicals. As a result, brewers often choose epoxy coated floors. 'Without an appropriate floor coating, [a concrete floor] will stain, degrade and in some cases fail. A chemical-resistant coating is a must for a craft brewery,' says Paul Kaury, president of Westcoat Specialty Coating Systems in Craft Brewing Business.
Cleaning Brewery Floors the Wrong Way
Even with the right coating, brewery floors require care. Using the wrong cleaning chemicals can damage expensive epoxy coatings. Citrus and vinegar-based cleaners will strip the shine. Plain soap can leave streak marks that make the floor slippery when wet.
Many brewers use a hose, deck brush and squeegee to clean their brewery floors. But be warned, applying too much force to the deck brush may scratch and dull the epoxy coating. This method also requires an in-floor drain that must also be maintained.
Some brewers may try an old-fashioned bucket and mop—a bad idea for multiple reasons. Mopping is difficult, time consuming and ineffective. A cotton string mop will leave floors streaky but even a more advanced foam or microfiber model cannot fully remove dirt, grime and dangerous microbes and biofilms. Mopping will also leave floors wet, leading to faster microbe growth and creating a dangerous slip-and-fall hazard throughout your brewery.
Clean tasting room floors are just as important as clean brewery floors. Sticky surfaces from spilled product are great places for bacteria and yeast to grow, creating smells that will impact the taste of your beer. Mopping will not fully remove the offenders but it will spread them around, compounding the problem. Mopping also leaves floors wet, encouraging more bacteria growth, more bad smells and a better chance of slipping.
Raise a Toast to Kaivac
Clean brewery floors better with Kaivac's OmniFlex™ Dispense-and-Vac. The system is easy to learn, simple to use and works quickly leaving floors clean, safe and dry. The state-of-the-art technology is pretty cool too.
The OmniFlex™ Dispense-and-Vac works by applying fresh cleaning solution to a floor. The solution is spread and brushed as needed. All liquids are then vacuumed up along with offending soils and contaminants. The floor is left clean, bone dry and ready to use. The equipment's small size makes it perfect to maneuver around bulky brewery vats and equipment.
But don't stop at the brewery floor. The OmniFlex™ Dispense-and-Vac works great in other parts of your operation too. Tasting room floors will look clean, smell fresh and stay safe and dry. The technology also speeds up restroom cleaning. In fact, customers report that cleaning time is cut by 25% and results are dramatically better after switching to the Dispense-and-Vac.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.