Such has been the success of the system that Mondo has achieved a return on its investment in just four months.
The use of dry hopping techniques is on the rise, largely due to increasing demand for enhanced hop aromas / flavours in craft beers. Rolec has been quick to recognise this trend, developing innovative systems for implementing dry hopping methods in the brewhouse and cellars, with the additional option of using either whole hop flowers or hop pellets.
Mondo Brewing Company was founded by Todd Matteson and Thomas Palmer, who started as home brewers back in the mid-2000s. The pair created their first Mondo beer at Battersea in March 2015, upgrading to a 20hl brewhouse in December 2017.
Thomas said: “We double brew a lot of our beers into 40hl and 60hl fermenters. Currently, we have two of each of those. There are ten 20hl fermenters for core beers, seasonal and experimental batches. Brewery space in Battersea is limited, but there’s just enough space for another small expansion as we move into 2019.
“We have been interested in deriving a more efficient hopping process for a while. There have been plenty of trade show visits and lots of research into a multitude of different solutions.
“Originally, we settled on a device based on hop separation that was custom made for us by a friend of the brewery. We could get 40kg in there, but during trials it didn’t work as expected.”
A contact at Rolec called into the brewery during a visit to London and they got chatting about the Hopnik. “It is a macerator-based system and seemed like a far better solution for the quantities and flavour profiles we need,” said Thomas.
“We decided to invest in a Hopnik 80, which has a 40kg capacity. It was installed in April 2018 and quickly became invaluable to our operation. In fact, it has already paid for itself.”
This rapid ROI is partly due to the expensive hops that Mondo Brewing Company prefers, which include the citrus and pine-based hop aromas of the Pacific North West, as well as those from Australia and New Zealand.
Thomas added: “If we pay £30 per kg of hops and the efficient operation of the Hopnik saves us 500g per batch, those sort of numbers soon mount up. In addition, the system saves a lot of man hours and loads of tank space. We are in a very expensive area in terms of real estate and have to get a return from every square metre.”
The mobility of Hopnik is another huge benefit to Mondo, which has a number of tanks outside. The ability to simply roll the Hopnik up to the tank and connect easily and hygienically is of enormous value.
Of course, any new investment in the brewing industry is only as good as its performance. This is particulary the case at craft beer specialists like Mondo, which mostly makes balanced, complex and interesting session strength beers.
In such cases, the final hop addition usually has a massive impact on final product quality, and it is here that the Hopnik comes into its own, says Hoptimiser, acting akin to a giant tea bag to infuse the wort with all that hoppy goodness.
The great thing about hops is that there are hundreds of different essential oils that can be combined and utilised by the brewer in an infinite number of ways, which is why craft beers from every brewery will always taste that tiny bit different.
Thomas said: “As our hops are, in essence, pulverised by the Hopnik, we get far better hop utilisation. This intensity transfers to the finished product. We sometimes make batches the old way and compare against the new method, and the difference is always very noticeable. The flavour and aroma jump out of the glass.”