Making your own beer? Plastics make it possible

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 4, 2014 1:50 pm ET
Updated: April 4, 2014 3:28 pm ET

Image By: The Beer Machine Co. Makers of The Beer Machine use PET, PP, nylon and TPE in the home brewing kit.

Related to this story

Topics Consumer Products, Injection Molding

CHICAGO — The craft beer movement is creating new interest in home brewing, and that interest is driving sales of introductory beer making kits complete with PET brewing equipment designed to make it easy for anyone to start brewing their own beer.

“It’s no longer just for the propeller heads, if you’ll excuse that description,” said Colin MacLennan, vice president of The Beer Machine Co., during an interview at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago March 15-18. “The machine makes it easy.”

In an American Homebrewers Association survey of retail beer supply shops, retailers saw business grow by 26 percent in 2012 alone and 80 percent of those shops saw their biggest sales jump in beginner homebrew equipment kits.

Home brewing was not even legal in the U.S. until the 1980s. When The Beer Machine launched 25 years ago, it aimed to keep things easy for a novice.

Reno, Nev.-based The Beer Machine’s starter kit comes with a two-gallon PET container that houses the beer during fermentation and chilling. It has integrated temperature and pressure monitors to make it easier to keep track of how the fermentation is going.

There’s also a tap to serve the beer once it’s ready.

The Beer Machine used to have its own in-house injection molding, with five presses ranging in size from 95 tons to 320 tons. MacLennan says the company was among the first to use PET in large scale injection molding, rather than in pre-forms and blow molding.

It opted to move plastics manufacturing to a Texas-based contract manufacturer a few years ago to focus on its ingredient packets.

“You can’t really be in both the engine room and the bridge at the same time, and our forte was on the mix,” he said.

MacLennan declined to disclose the molder’s name.

In addition to the PET barrel, The Beer Machine uses nylon for slide-on clamps and a cup and cap to house to pressure control valve. The valve itself uses a thermoplastic elastomer. The top cap, base and internal float are all made from polypropylene.

The company’s “BrewMaster” model also has six blow-molded PET bottles and caps.

Competitor Mr. Beer of Tucson, Ariz., has a similar 2-gallon container — also made in the U.S. — as part of its starter kit along with PET bottles.

Both companies — and the makers of other starter kits — sell a variety of packets to produce different beer styles at home, so all beginning home brewers need to do is add water and monitor the process. The Beer Machine lists 22 different styles of beers available for its users, ranging from an American ale to an Irish stout.

Compare the ease of an enclosed PET system to the more “hands-on” approach to home brewing that the first brewers faced. People trying to make their own beer from scratch even today are looking at five hours in front of the stove just to develop the liquid wort, said Shawn Halstead, sales manager for Mr. Beer, which is owned by Australia’s Coopers Brewing Ltd.

While there are differences between the makers of starter kits, they all are based on making the entire process easy to do from the beginning, including a PET container that helps to cut down on the likelihood of a messy accident.

And for any beer makers who feel they’ve outgrown the all-included PET system, it’s easy to move up to a more complex system that can make more beer and give brewers more opportunities to explore different beer styles. Those ones, Halstead noted, typically use high density polyethylene containers.


Comments

Making your own beer? Plastics make it possible

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: April 4, 2014 1:50 pm ET
Updated: April 4, 2014 3:28 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Ohio molder sold to private equity firm

August 19, 2014 5:23 pm ET

Private equity firm TVV Capital of Nashville has acquired injection molder Design Molded Plastics Inc. for an undisclosed price.    More

Image

Germany's Bolta building $50 million plating plant in Alabama

August 19, 2014 2:21 pm ET

A German company is setting up a plastics chrome plating plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.    More

Image

Soaring business leads to growth for Composites Horizons

August 19, 2014 1:56 pm ET

Composites Horizons LLC is investing $12 million in new equipment and processes, in part for ceramic matrix composite production in its fourth...    More

Image

Report: Graham looking to sell Infiltrator

August 19, 2014 11:32 am ET

Private equity group Graham Partners Inc. reportedly is ready to sell septic tank maker Infiltrator Systems Inc. after holding the Old Saybrook, Conn....    More

Image

RTP expands very long fiber thermoplastic production to Mexico

August 19, 2014 9:47 am ET

RTP Co. has introduced very long fiber reinforced compounds at its Monterrey, Mexico, facility.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events