Shepherd Neame has invested in state-of-the-art technology, installing a yeast propogation plant at its base in Faversham, Kent.

Yeast propogation plant
Chief engineer, Mark Bowes, and lab manager, Sarah Marshall, examine the new yeast propogation unit

The equipment takes a small quantity of yeast created in the brewery’s laboratory and then multiplies it into a large volume for use in the brewing process.

The system was imported from Germany, where it was built by acclaimed engineering company Alfa Laval.  A 37-metre crane was used to lift the equipment, weighing almost one tonne, into the brewery yesterday.

The project got under way in March, but was suspended due to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic and has only resumed in recent weeks.

A Victorian brick wall was removed in front of the area of the brewhouse chosen to house the plant, replaced by a steel frame, and engineers dug new foundations to ensure the flooring was strong enough to take the necessary weight. An area of roofing was also removed, to allow the equipment to be dropped down into the space.

Yeast propogation plant arrives
The plant arrives via crane

Shepherd Neame’s chief engineer, Mark Bowes, said: “We have previously been propagating yeast using an amalgam of equipment which wasn’t specifically designed for the task and is now coming towards the end of its life, so this new plant will make a huge difference to the efficiency of our production process.

“A key difference is that the system is fully automated, so in addition to saving time for our team members, it will be a completely sterile process and will also ensure a consistency in quality.

“Our previous system also required us to buy pure oxygen to aerate the yeast, while this system just uses air, and due to its energy-efficient design, it will also require less electricity to power the entire process. We hope it will be up and running by the end of October.”

Chief executive, Jonathan Neame, added: “I am delighted that the equipment is now in place at the brewery, and would like to thank all members of our production team for their hard work to organise this challenging installation.

“We felt it was important to invest in a world-class yeast propagation system, and ensure that we can maintain the high quality of our beers in a more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way.”

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