Water. Barley. Hops. Yeast. These are the basic ingredients of beer. Craft brewers are precise, passionate and innovative craftsmen who labor over these raw ingredients to create beloved (and quite tasty) brews for the rest of us to enjoy – and enjoy them we do! In 2014, craft beer sales were up 17.6 percent and exports of American craft beers were up 36 percent, according to the Brewers Association. Craft brewers are now responsible for $19.6 billion of the overall $101.5 billion beer market.
Like their larger counterparts, craft brewers are committed to producing their beer under ideal conditions in clean, safe, state-of-the-art production facilities that have food safe flooring. When it comes to brewery floor coating systems, there’s a striking corollary between the way quality beer and quality floors are crafted. It turns out that even when you’re working with the same ingredients (urethane concrete or epoxy floor coatings), the performance, quality and durability of the floor come down to how it’s crafted, including the brewery floor coating solutions.
We caught up with Jason DeYoung, Midwest Regional Sales Director for Protective Industrial Polymers to talk about how craft brewers can avoid sinking resources into floors that fall flat when it comes to performance and durability.
What do breweries need to know when it comes to concrete floors?
“Without a doubt having the right contractor with the right equipment and expertise coupled with the right material makes all the difference.”
What are the best flooring materials for breweries?
“Urethane cements and epoxy flooring systems are ideal materials for brewery floors. Unfortunately, they have gotten a bad name because they have been over-specified or used in the wrong areas. There are areas where epoxy floor coatings can be effective. Some brewery managers have gotten the impression that epoxies don’t last or that as long as you’re using urethane cement, you can skimp on the preparation of the floor. In reality, the foundation of a good floor starts with the prep work. From there you can specify a material that can handle the traffic, chemicals and slip resistant needs for each area of the brewery.
Antimicrobial coatings are a newer option worth considering for your brewery floor coating. Even if you do a good job of cleaning on top of your floors, a crack in the floor can allow bacteria to brew beneath the system. An antimicrobial concrete pre-treatment never hurts with a USDA inspector and if you do damage your floor, it will help reduce or slow the damage at that spot from becoming a problem.”
What do you see breweries choosing for their flooring systems?
“Almost all the breweries I consult with end up using urethane concrete and appropriate top coats for their production areas and an epoxy mortar system for non-production areas. We recommend scarifying that urethane concrete and applying a top coat suitable for the production area. Sometimes, brewers think urethane concrete needs to be installed throughout all areas of the brewery but that’s not necessarily the case. Urethane cement doesn’t have to be installed in areas where hot water wash downs and strong chemicals are not going to be present; a properly installed epoxy mortar system in non production areas makes for great, long lasting floors.”
Why have epoxies gotten a bad wrap?
“Quite often it’s because the applicator used a surface grinder on the concrete or chose to hand grind around heavy equipment legs to save time on the installation of the new floor. Breweries really should spend the extra money for someone to hand scarify around equipment and scarify the entire concrete substrate in the production area. After that process is complete, the appropriate top coats can be applied and the floor will last as long as the building.”
Why is scarifying a brewery floor so important?
“Scarifying leaves a profile in a concrete substrate like a milling machine leaves in a highway getting ready for resurfacing. That rake-like profile is what you want on production area floors before you put down your urethane cement or epoxy mortar. Scarifying gives the floor peaks and valleys so it interlays with the top coat material. While it may mean a minimal upcharge, the cost of doing your brewery floor coating right makes all the difference in its performance. Scarifying makes floors stronger and last longer. If you just use a grinder, then when an accident causes a gash in the floor, it’s easy for caustics and acids to get underneath the coating, causing coating delamination and potentially damaging the concrete. Scarifying impedes the flow of water and resultant damage and makes the concrete last longer.”
What are some cool things you’re seeing breweries do with their floors?
“When it comes to aesthetics for the tasting room areas and public areas of a brewery, the options are limitless. I’ve seen some brewers add everything from blue sheens and metallic swirls to faux marble and solid stains to their top coats. It’s also fairly common to etch the brewery logo into the concrete substrate and then seal it with the top coat so that it’s a permanently protected and visible aspect of the brewery floor. There’s even a brewery in Lincoln, Nebraska that used their beer to create a stain for their logo in their restaurant floor.”
What should brewers remember when it comes to their floors?
“If you do it right, your floor will last as long as your building. Choose a contractor and materials supplier who will work together to install a permanent floor in your building that has as much integrity to it as the beer being made on it.”
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