Cleanliness is the name of the game. I’ve been friends with a well-known craft brewer up in Maine for many years and he once told me that “brewing beer is 80% cleaning and 20% paperwork”. He told me that quite simply “if your brewery is not clean, then your beer will not taste very good!”.
Brewery flooring systems are exposed to a number of potentially harmful factors. These include everything from exposure to chemical attack and bacteria contamination to degradation from continuing thermal shock. Breweries themselves are packed with tanks, water filtration systems, bottling lines and other equipment. As such, repairing existing floors can be nearly impossible without shutting down production to remove everything and repair the entire floor. Proper planning and flooring specification during the design phase is critical to the long-term success of any brewery. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when designing a new brewery floor:
Is the floor suitable for wet conditions?
Brewery floors are often wet and may have cleaning agents and other detergents present. This creates a potentially slippery floor that can lead to safety issues and limit productivity. Be sure to design your floor so that adequate traction is available in both dry and wet conditions. However, be careful not to make the floor too rough so that its becomes a significant challenge to clean. Excessively rough floors can also create environments for contaminants to gather and bacteria to grow.
Work directly with your floor coating manufacturer and approved installer to review samples and install mockups so that cleaning procedures and slip coefficients can be verified during the specification process.
Does the Floor Help Mitigate Bacterial Growth?
Bacteria will flourish in warm and humid conditions. Breweries and other food-grade manufacturing facilities use materials that greatly stimulate the spread of bacteria. It is imperative that your floor is functionally designed to minimize any potential for bacterial growth.
So how can you design a floor that helps to minimize bacterial growth?
The floor itself must be completely impervious to water, chemicals and other materials that may absorb into the floor. Surfaces such as bare concrete, wood or open grout joints can act like a sponge for a variety of contaminants.
Grout or No Grout?
Seamless, “grout-free” floors are especially effective within brewery applications. By eliminating joints, you essentially remove what can become a microbial nirvana for bacteria. It is also important to pay special attention to floor and wall transitions. A perimeter cove base that directs water away from the transition point, will also prevent moisture intrusion into the wall - very important!
Addressing Thermal Shock
What is thermal shock? Thermal shock occurs when a substrate (concrete floor) is exposed to a sudden temperature change. These rapid temperature fluctuations will cause concrete substrates and other flooring systems to expand and contract. From a brewery perspective, thermal shock commonly occurs when hot water is dumped on the floor during periodic cleaning of fermentation equipment. This rapid temperature variation can range hundreds of degrees in mere seconds. If the flooring system in place does not dissipate heat properly, it will expand and contract at rates different than the underlying substrate. This constant expansion and contraction begins to manifest in small cracks in the floor and may even cause flooring delamination. These cracks become contaminated and eventually lead to a flooring failure. Be sure to carefully select a flooring system that is designed to withstand thermal shock while also taking into account periodic brewing operations and cleaning procedures.
Drains, Terminations & Sloping
Most failure points in flooring systems occur within areas that have the potential for water intrusion. This is the case around areas such as doors or flooring transitions where the brewery flooring system terminates. For brewery floors, proper sloping to drains is a must to allow for waste disposal as well as proper maintenance. Work closely with your flooring expert to ensure proper sloping to your drains. For termination points, especially around drains, you must make certain that the flooring system is designed to eliminate the potential for water intrusion under the floor. Long-term moisture intrusion under a floor will lead to a small flooring failure, which can become a nasty problem in short order.
As craft-beer enthusiasts, our team at Resinwerks is keenly focused on helping Craft Brewers design the right system for their application. Just like you, we take pride in the quality of our finished products and can assure you of the highest level of service throughout the process. Please contact us today for more information on our line of polyurethane concrete flooring systems for brewery floors.