Solar Beer in Milwaukee


Project (Spring 2013):  Milwaukee Brewing Company Solar Water Heating

Place:  Milwaukee, Wis.

Design:  StarMax™ 4-port Solar Collectors, iSolar™ BX Controller

Purchaser:  (Engineer & Installer) H&H Solar Energy Services, Madison, Wis.



Milwaukee Brewing Company is Milwaukee’s first brewer to utilize solar hot water to supplement their heavy process water demands and reduce the high cost of energy in the beer brewing process. Located in Milwaukee, WI, the facility installed a solar hot water heating system during the spring of 2013.
The system is projected to save the brewery about 27% of the cost incurred to heat water. The project was funded in part with grants from the state Focus on Energy program as well as the ME2 Milwaukee Energy Efficiency program and the city of Milwaukee’s solar program, Milwaukee Shines. “Here’s a good example of a perfect application for solar hot water,” said Amy Heart, who runs the program. “Breweries use a lot of water- and so it made sense for them to invest in this.” Brewery owner Jim McCabe adds “we hope our installation encourages others to make the investment. This project will help boost the brewery’s competitiveness.”
The 1500 gallons of process water the brewery uses every day was still being heated with natural gas. According to Adam Gusse, project manager of design/build contractor H&H Solar Energy Services based in Madison, Wis, “Milwaukee Brewing decided to free itself from the expense and environmental impact of natural gas by turning to solar water heating.” While each brewer’s process is slightly different, beer brewing requires very hot water for multiple processing steps. It naturally requires a great deal of thermal energy to heat such a great deal of water.
The project’s design, manufacturing, and installation came almost entirely from Wisconsin companies. H&H Solar Energy Services designed and installed the system. “Because of the brewery’s requirement for a top-quality system the decision to use Caleffi solar heating components was easy”, says Gusse.
The system is comprised of (28) 4 x 10 feet Caleffi 4-port StarMax™ collectors for a total capacity of 1,120,000 kBTU/day, installed on the roof, a 175-gallon solar drain back tank, and two specially-made 550 gallon solar storage tanks that rest on the brewery floor. From there, storage water is pumped into a multipurpose 3000 gallon hot water tank as needed.. The system is controlled with a Caleffi iSolar™ BX multi-functional temperature differential controller, which includes built-in heat metering and data logging. The energy measurement functionality comes by connecting the controller to a 1-1/2” Caleffi V40 multi-jet rotary pulse flow meter and supply and return temperature sensors. This accurately measures how much heat is produced by the solar system, which directly translates into fuel savings. With its production of 1200-1500 gallons of hot water per day, the system immediately started making a difference in the brewery’s natural gas consumption.

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