The XFlow filtration systems installed by the brewery are the first of their kind in the UK, and are designed to filter out even the tiniest haze particles from beer to make the finished product clearer and more stable.
Designed by Dutch-based Pentair Systems, the XFlow units make use of special membranes to filter out the haze particles left after the fermentation process. Beer is fed through the unit at speeds upwards of 1.2 metres per second and then forced through holes in the membranes just 0.5 of a micron in diameter.
The system is more traditionally used in water purification and is well established within the wine industry. The brewing industry has been slower to pick up on the technology due to the delicate nature of beer and the specific requirements of beer filtration.
However, the system is now being considered as a replacement to the more traditional ‘Kieselguhr’ systems, which make use of filter powders based on fossilised fish bones to clear haze from beer.
St Austell also hopes the new investment will increase the efficiency of its brewing process by reducing beer losses and cutting energy usage.
Speaking about the investment, St Austell brewing director Roger Ryman said: “This isn’t new technology but it is certainly new to brewing. The Kieselguhr system uses primitive resources that are limited and hard to dispose of, so while the XFlow has already been adopted by one or two of the largest breweries around the world, a lot of eyes are on us as an early adopter of the system.”
Britain has been 'over-pubbed'
“While investment in new technology always carries a risk, this is a proven system that will replace one that really doesn’t belong in the modern, more environmentally friendly world, and I predict that in 10 years’ time all beer will be made using the Xflow Filtration System.”
Last month, Ryman told The Morning Advertiser Britain has been “over-pubbed” and not all pubs have the right to survive in a challenging marketplace.
“I don't think it [the decline in pubs] is irreversible but equally, looking at market forces and demand, maybe the country has been 'over-pubbed' in the past, and it shouldn't necessarily be a written law that all pubs must survive,” he said.