Juneau brewery to get $2 million upgrade

Company needs expansion at plant to keep sales growing

Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Alaskan Brewing Co. plans $2 million in improvements this winter.

Earlier this month the company poured concrete pads to support additional fermentation tanks due to arrive in late December, said company spokeswoman Kristi Monroe.

The firm plans to add six stainless steel tanks two holding 40,300 gallons each and designated as packaging tanks and four 12,400-gallon fermentation tanks.

Alaskan Brewing also plans to install an expanded bottling line, she said.

Alaskan Brewing officials did not list investment costs for individual projects.

The old bottling line is scheduled for a final run, probably the amber beer, Dec. 22, she said. "It will be dismantled over the following four days, with a day off for the Christmas holiday," Monroe said.

The new bottling line will take four weeks to install and should be completed by the end of January, she added. It will expand capacity from 180 bottles per minute to 300 bottles per minute, Monroe said.

The new line won't run at full capacity immediately, but allows for future growth, she said.

"There was no way we were going to be able to continue growing with our current system over the long term," Monroe said.

The brewery produced about 69,000 barrels of beer in 1999 and expects to produce about 80,000 barrels or nearly 2.5 million gallons this year, Monroe said. That number should jump to around 90,000 barrels in 2001, she said.

The brewery also is upgrading its carbon dioxide (CO2) reclamation plant. Plans call for a second reclamation plant to be added in late spring or early summer.

The reclamation system collects raw CO2 off the fermenters, she said. CO2 is a natural product of fermentation and excess is produced during beer-making.

"The reason for adding another CO2 plant is that there is a 24- to 48-hour regeneration period during which we cannot reclaim CO2. Therefore, we will be able to reclaim even more CO2," Monroe said.

The current plant generates 135 to 140 pounds per hour of CO2, compared to the new plant which company officials expect to generate 350 pounds per hour eventually, she said.

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