Peter Fraser was fly-fishing in Southland when we caught up on another angle: carbon dioxide.
The Australian brewing veteran has spent more than three decades in the industry with Carlton & United Breweries (previously Foster’s) and one of his stints for the company was in India where Foster’s built a brewery in Aurangabad.
His time in India has given him huge respect for the brewing industry there, and he is now the Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific agent for Hypro of Pune, which manufactures energy-efficient equipment for brewing, pharmaceuticals, other beverages, and liquid food handling. “I’ve known the owner of Hypro since before he started the business and he’s been at me for 15 years to be part of his business.
“What a lot of people don’t appreciate is that brewing and distilling are big in India.
“Technologically they are right in tune with the modern brewing industry but suffer from a lack of recognition. People know about China because of their low manufacturing costs but few people appreciate that India has quite a sophisticated manufacturing base and excellent engineering.
Of particular interest to brewers in New Zealand is that Hypro specialises in carbon dioxide recovery for reuse.
There is a looming worldwide shortage of CO2, caused by different circumstances, causing a crisis across all industries. It has hit the brewing industry particularly hard with hiked prices and problems with supply, even rationing. The CO2 shortage in New Zealand has followed the Marsden Point refinery closure, leaving the Kapuni gas field as the sole significant supplier, supplemented by imports from overseas. As a result of the supply and cost issues, Fraser says that enquiry for CO2 recovery in this region (and worldwide) has gone through the roof.
Cost and supply are not the only drivers for the increased interest in CO2 recovery, said Fraser. Before supply became a problem, enquiry was driven more by the sustainability element, the desire to get to net zero emissions, and the grain-to-glass provenance of carbon dioxide, with cost being a secondary concern.
Fraser says the benefit of a Hypro system is that they make small “plug-and-play” units. “They are the only company that produces the same type of equipment that a major brewing process uses, but at a craft beer scale. The systems they make for a craft brewery are the same as they make for Carlsberg or Molson Coors.
“The units are scaled to collect from as little as 1 kilo of CO2 per hour to more than one tonne per hour.”
Fraser says the high purity CO2 delivered by the Hypro systems can allow a brewery to get close to self-sufficiency when it comes to CO2; some breweries have become self-sufficient by recovering their own gas with Hypro technology. CO2 can be collected off fermentations, bright beer tanks (during filling and before cleaning) and other processes.
“We’ve supplied to breweries where they can’t even get gas, like a craft brewery in Bhutan, where there was one road in and one road out and the journey was fraught with problems due to the mountainous terrain and narrow roads.
“Before the CO2 crisis there wasn’t a strong motivation for breweries to look at CO2 recovery with any urgency, but now the cost of CO2 is pushing many brewers to reconsider it. Brewers also really like the idea that the CO2 they collect from the brewing process can be put back into the beer or be used in other parts of the process like canning.”