Boiler Provides Dependable Process Steam to Successful Craft Beer Start-Up
Located just northeast of Charlotte – North Carolina’s major commercial hub – lies the city of Concord, home to Twenty- Six Acres Brewing Co.
Named for the original 26-acre plot on which the town of Concord was founded, Twenty-Six Acres opened its doors in November of 2016 in the wake of the region’s craft-beer boom.
While Twenty-Six Acres faced the same start-up concerns as any craft brewery (sufficient capital, federal and local licenses, zoning, construction), they also came to many of the same realizations.
They realized that brewing beer for the masses requires rigorous precision and consistency in operation. Or, as Brewmaster Eric Troutman states, “that there is a perfect setting for everything.”
“Heat can’t be too high or too low; can’t have the ground malt too coarse or too fine,” continued Eric.
They also realized that the equipment they rely on must function flawlessly. So, at the heart of their brewing operation, they chose a Fulton vertical tubeless boiler.
In addition to its smaller footprint . . . we liked the way the Fulton boiler looked . . . its really cool stainless steel exterior that matches our modern motifEric Troutman Brewmaster, Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Co.
As a first time brewery, Twenty-Six Acres considered many boilers, including those recommended by their local brewhouse equipment seller, but most were too large.
“One boiler we looked at was a big, green, square-looking thing, the size of a small car,” says Eric, “and it would not allow for the extra space we needed for a cold-filter tank and other equipment.”
So Eric and his business partners, Joel Padgett and Wes Ports continued looking at other boilers, and Joel eventually found a smaller one that was manufactured by Fulton.
They then did some research, and asked around, and found out that the Fulton brand was one of the industry leaders.
“In addition to its smaller footprint – and this might be purely vain,” said Eric – “we liked the way the Fulton boiler looked over the other one . . . it’s really cool stainless steel exterior that matches our modern motif, especially since it’s visible from our taproom.”
The initial cost was a big factor too, and Fulton came in under the price of the competitor.
The Fulton boiler provides maximum efficiencies of up to 84%, in part due to its specially engineered flue gas enhancing system; and it has a lesser utility cost because it runs on natural gas versus electric.
Said Eric, “If at the end of the day, I have to give up eight more square feet for a boiler that is 30% more efficient, then I’m going to do that. I’d give up floor space for boiler efficiency and brewhouse efficiency, but I didn’t have to with the Fulton boiler.”
A Brewhouse is Born
In addition to the Fulton boiler, Twenty-Six Acres purchased Fulton boiler feed water, condensate return, and blowdown tanks, thus obtaining a complete boiler heating system design, which Fulton specializes in creating.
They also purchased two 30-barrel fermenters the first year (2016), then added a third one in August of 2017, and can now ferment 90 barrels at one time. The fermenters mix beer with yeast before converting the fermentable sugars into alcohol.
Fulton’s boiler, with the versatility to meet an array of steam applications, is set to run between 10 and 15 psi during the brew day.
The Fulton steam boiler heats a hot liquor tank (which stores hot water), a mash tun to which they add cracked grain, and then a boil kettle (where the wort is boiled).
Some of the hot liquor tank’s hot water is used for cleaning kegs and tanks. In time, it will also be connected to a steam keg washer.
Twenty-Six Acres is a 15-barrel brewhouse, meaning they are capable of producing 15 barrels of beer in one brew cycle, which equates to about 465 gallons.
They set an aggressive goal of 1,000 barrels the first year – for which they were shy by only about 80 barrels – with a goal of 2,000 barrels for 2018.
It's pretty much been a rock star for us since day one.Eric Troutman Brewmaster, Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Co.
Service and Dependability
Tim Flood at Weeks-Williams-Devore, Inc. was the Fulton sales contact who did the installation and helped re it up. The steam piping was done by a company called Fruition Construction, LLC.
“Tim has provided fantastic service,” said Eric. “Except for one incident, which wasn’t the fault of the boiler, we haven’t really needed service.”
For maintenance, Eric and his assistant do blowdown (removal of water impurities) at least every two times they use the boiler. A third-party company takes care of the boiler’s water chemistry.
In 2015, Eric, Joel, and Wes met at a homebrew club meeting, quickly became friends and then business partners, forming Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Company soon thereafter.
Today, Twenty-Six Acres offers about ten signature brews, including Unicorn Milk (a cream ale), Viking Spider (a double IPA named after two local high-school mascots), and an IPA called Industrious People Ale, named for words spoken by a dignitary from about 200 years ago who referred to the people of Concord as “industrious people.”
“One’s life takes many interesting twists and turns when starting a brewery,” said Eric. “It’s been a great ride so far.”
I know the Fulton is going to work.Eric Troutman Brewmaster, Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Co.
Fulton’s vertical steam boiler provides a consistent and dependable heat source to Twenty-Six Acres throughout the brewing process.
Consistent heat in the mash process is extremely important or it could caramelize the wort (scorch the malt sugars), which could change the flavor.
“I don’t want to have to guess if it’s going to work on any given day,” said Eric. “I know the Fulton is going to work.”
“I’ve been really happy with the way it’s performed. It fires up really fast, gets us to pressure really quickly and when I need to shut down, it shuts down really quick.”
If I had issues with it, I would tell you, but I’ve never been concerned about its performance. It’s pretty much been a rock star for us since day one.”
Fulton Steam Solutions Inc.
Fulton Steam Solutions is part of The Fulton Companies, an American multi-national group of companies headquartered in Pulaski, NY. Backed by over 60 years of research, innovation and experience, Fulton designs and manufactures complex heat transfer equipment for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications.