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After three years of planning, Ninkasi Brewing Co. opened its expanded Eugene, Ore., brewery and brewed its first batch of beer in the facility in late March. The brewery worked with ecoReal Solutions, Portland, Ore., to add numerous sustainability features to the brewery, setting it on the path to reach Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the company says.
“Since the beginning of Ninkasi, we have continuously been in a state of construction with four expansions in the last seven-and-a-half years,” said Nigel Francisco, chief financial officer for Ninkasi, in a statement. “Finally, we will have a space that we can grow into for the next 10 to 15 years instead of constantly adapting our facilities to fit our needs.”
Ten percent of the construction materials used in the expansion were made of recycled content, and another 10 percent were sourced from regional manufacturers, in addition to Forest Stewardship Council Certified wood products, the company says. The company also installed Niagara high-efficiency toilets, which use half as much water as standard toilets; energy recovery systems that capture hot liquid throughout the brewing process to be recirculated in the brewhouse; high-efficiency natural gas boilers that use 40 percent less energy than conventional boilers; a clean-in-place system to reduce water chemical usage when cleaning brewing vessels; a wastewater balancing system to pH balance all waste before releasing it into city sewers; a bulk grain unloading system and bulk chemical storage to cut down on packaging waste; and a high-efficiency hop cooler, it says.
Ninkasi’s current 55-barrel brewhouse has a capacity to produce 90,000 barrels of beer a year. With a second 90-barrel brewing system installed across the street in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood, the brewery will be able to add an initial 70,000 barrels of capacity with room to grow to 250,000. The expansion also enables the brewery to produce a wider variety of beers with longer fermentation times, the company says.
“With two breweries operating together, we will have the space and capacity to brew more beers, like lagers, that can take anywhere from eight to 12 weeks to ferment,” said Jamie Floyd, founding brewer and co-founder of Ninkasi, in a statement. “We’ll also have the capacity to brew more under our Rare and Delicious Series, exploring new beer styles and ingredients.”
Ninkasi worked with GEA Brewery Systems GmbH, Kitzingen, Germany, to install a new 90-barrel GEA Huppmann brewhouse in the expanded facility; however, the team realized that the amount of hops used in its brews could result in a less efficient brewhouse. During the brewing process, the hops soak up a significant amount of liquid wort, which could be used in the brewing process instead of being captured in the hop filament.
Because Ninkasi is committed to not using hop extracts in brewing, the teams worked with GEA to develop a proprietary technology that will allow better yields with more hops. The new system uses a hop strainer that allows Ninkasi brewers to pass the hopped wort through a strainer to help remove the hops and also garner as much liquid as possible from the hop matter, the company says.
“We’re excited to be on the forefront of brewing technology and looking forward to the opportunities we’ll have with the new system to produce more beer and more varied beer styles,” said Nikos Ridge, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ninkasi, in a statement.
Ninkasi plans to operate both brewhouses moving forward and expects its expanded brewery to be fully online by May.
This expansion is part of a larger growth project for Ninkasi, which includes a new local distribution facility that opened last April, along with a new administrative building set to open in early June. All buildings are registered to be LEED certified under the new LEED campus platform.
Tours of the new facilities will be available this summer. To learn more about Ninkasi’s current sustainable practices, visit www.ninkasibrewing.com.