Australia is in a craft beer renaissance. The materials used in beer production has evolved over the years, and today, stainless steel is the material of choice and industry standard in modern brewing. Let’s look at some of the benefits.
Stainless steels are excellent combatants of corrosion. This resistance to attack is due to the naturally occurring chromium-rich oxide film formed on the surface of the steel, which self-repairs in the presence of oxygen.
With the correct selection of alloys and application of good design principles and proper fabrication practices, stainless steel equipment will perform successfully. 300-series stainless steels are commonly specified in brewing equipment, and passivation is a chemical surface treatment that is often performed to enhance the steel’s corrosion resistance. The process removes contaminants and promotes the formation of the steel’s passive film.
Beer ranges broadly in acidity and has live micro-organisms which can cause biofouling and biocorrosion in the tanks and fluid lines used in the brewing process. This can deliver a metallic taste in beer, even with tiny iron concentrations. Stainless steels’ corrosion resistance offers the best insurance against any unusual and unwanted flavours.
Easy to clean and maintain
Compared with other materials, stainless steel is a hygienic, low maintenance product that’s easy to clean and sanitise. Chemical cleaning is an effective method for maintaining stainless steel brewing equipment. Typically, both an alkaline wash (often sodium hydroxide based) is used to remove organic materials. It is followed by an acidic treatment with phosphoric acid (with a dash of oxidising nitric acid) or, increasingly in hard water areas, a peracetic acid formulation for mineral scale removal. Beerstone removal may require warm solutions.
It’s important to never use bleach on stainless steel! It can cause staining, pitting corrosion and permanently damage the steel’s surface and protective layer.
Durable and sustainable
Stainless steel delivers structural strength and integrity, and with a proper maintenance regime, stainless steel brewing equipment can deliver a lifetime of use. In addition, stainless steel is 100% recyclable and is actively repurposed without any significant loss of material quality.
Sleek good looks
Today, many breweries are opening their venues as a vibrant place to eat, drink and socialise. Its popularity has gained momentum in the Australian market with stainless steel brewery equipment and processes showcased as part of the patron experience, delivering style, substance, and aesthetics.
This article is featured in Australian Stainless Magazine issue 75, 2022.