Understanding Brewery Valves

Having a reliable brewery valve to control the flow of your beer during the brewing process is a must. These valves serve as on and off mechanisms for your brewery whether you are operating a brewhouse or a home brewery. An accurate beer flow regulator in the storage tanks in the whole brewing process guarantees the production of a high-quality beer.

Understanding the various types of valves used in this process helps you choose the appropriate ones depending on the flow type. This ensures that the beer produced is free from contamination and brings out the desired flavor that will be enjoyed by your customers.

Comparison of Brewery Valves According to the Method of Control and Contact

Automatic Control vs Manual Control

The mechanism of controlling a valve can either be automatic or manual. This depends on how sophisticated the brewery process and the brewery system are. Manual control valves are usually used in craft brewing and in home-made brewery set-ups. While automatic control valves are used in brew houses.

Manual control valves are controlled through the rotation of a lever or a knob. To open the valve, the lever must be parallel with the pipe. Contrastingly, the valve must be positioned perpendicular to the pipe to close it. 

Moreover, you can use a locking mechanism to keep the manual valve locked in your desired position. These locking mechanisms have varying designs. But the most common ones are position handles, pull handles and locking slides when a nut is used.

Automatic valves, on the other hand, are controlled using an electrical or pneumatic actuator. Giving the brewers full control and automation of the brewing process in the brewhouse from a centralized location. Check this link for the comparison between electrical and pneumatic actuators.

Direct Contact Valves vs Utility Valves

Food and beverage processing industries have classified valves into two: direct contact valves and service utility valves.

Direct contact valves, as the name implies, have direct contact with the beer during the brewing process. Racking arms are examples of these. A utility service valve, on the other hand, is the opposite of direct contact valves. It doesn’t need to be directly in contact with the beer. Such examples are the gas valves used in burners.

6 Major Brewery Valve Types

The brewing process comprises of varying types of liquid and gases which come and go in and out of the tanks. And the valves used to safely regulate the fluid flow depends on the current stage of the process and the brewery equipment designs.

Generally, you will find seven various types of valves and industrial strainer designs attached to your brewery equipment. Each valve has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the implementation which will be discussed in the succeeding sections.

#1 Ball Valve

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Ball valves are the most commonly used valves in breweries. They are used as service utility valves. But when rigorously cleaned often, they can be also used as direct contact valves. Check out the XHVAL ball valve if you are looking for one of these.

Means of Operation

Ball valves are operated by rotating the valve handle which in turn rotates the ball inside the valve. This ball has a hole in its center and is responsible for closing and opening the valve.

Implementation in the Brewing System

Ball valves are often used in gas and water lines, carbonation stones and in regulating thick mediums such as wort.

Advantages

Ball valves are durable and offer a good sealing throughout its life. Furthermore, it allows an unobstructed beer flow and only causes low-pressure drops. 

Disadvantages

The floating ball and the hole inside it require frequent cleaning to guarantee that the processed beer is free from bacterial contamination. So a three-piece ball valve is recommended for easier inspection and cleaning. 

#2 Butterfly Valve

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Butterfly valves are also one of the most frequently used valves in the brewing process. They are used as direct contact valves.

Means of Operation

Butterfly valves are made with a disc or wafer inside the valve which is rotated using a handle. When the valve is open, the disc is parallel to the pipe and is closed otherwise.

Implementation in the Brewing System

Often used on blow off and racking arms, clean-in-place lines and bottom blowouts in brewery tanks.

Advantages

Butterfly valves are compact, hygienic, easily cleaned and offers a good sealing property. This makes them an ideal valve for direct contact applications.

Disadvantages

Butterfly valves are not ideal for high-pressure applications. Contaminants may build up in the valve stem especially in thicker mediums.

#3 Diaphragm Valve

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Diaphragm valves are either used as direct contact valves or a service utility valve and piping strainers for sanitary purposes.

Means of Operation

A knob is used to operate diaphragm valves. The knob is screwed and moves the valve stem and diaphragm to open or close the valve.

Implementation in the Brewing System

Diaphragm valves are used on heat exchangers.

Advantages

The diaphragm in the valve allows efficient control of the fluid flow and is hygienic.

Disadvantages

Diaphragm valves causes high pressure drops.

#4 Gate Valve

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Gate valves are used as service utility valves in the brewing process.

Means of Operation

To open or close the valve, a knob is screwed to move the valve gate or wedge either parallel or perpendicular to the pipe.

Implementation in the Brewing System

Gate valves are commonly used in water faucets in the brewing system.

Advantages

Gate valves allow unobstructed fluid flow when they are open.

Disadvantages

The closure mechanism of the gate makes gate valves not suitable for high-pressure applications. Furthermore, precise control of fluid flow is difficult.

#5 Globe Valve

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Globe valves are used as service utility valves.

Means of Operation

Rather than a gate, globe valves are comprised of a plunger. This plunger moves up or down to open or close the valve when a knob is rotated.

Implementation in the Brewing System

Just like the gate valves, they are also commonly used in water faucets in the brewery.

Advantages

Globe valves are good at regulating fluid flow.

Disadvantages

Globe valves have high-pressure drops. 

#6 Normally Closed Solenoid Valve

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Solenoid valves are typically used either as a service utility valve or a direct contact valve. Moreover, they are recommended in the automation of processes and to ensure safety in the brewing process.

Means of Operation

Solenoid valves use a power source for operation. It is comprised of a solenoid that receives current from the power source which creates an electromagnetic field. The electromagnetic field caused the plunger to move up which opens the valve. The valve is closed when the power source is shut down. 

Implementation in the Brewing System

Solenoid valves are widely used as service utility valves in glycol or gas pipes to ensure safety. This is because solenoid valves are closed by default. Moreover, they are used in the automation of the bottling process.

Advantages

Solenoid valves are reliable because of their quick response time.

Disadvantages

Solenoid valves are not recommended for use in highly viscous flows because contamination may happen.

Conclusion

There you go, now you know the different types and classifications of the valves used in the brewing process. The selection of valves to be used in certain stages of the process is crucial as not all valves are suitable for a certain application. So be sure that you use the appropriate valve in your brewing system. This ensures the production of a high-quality beer free from any contamination. 

Adam Hansen