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How to reduce water consumption at the place of beer production

Water consumption in a craft brewery can be 10−12 litres per 1 litre of finished product. For large industries, 5−6 litres are considered a good indicator. Giants like AB InBev claim in press releases that they have reduced their water consumption to 3.2 litres per litre of beer. Let’s take a look what solutions optimizing water consumption in production helped them achieve such savings. Our specialist worked at AB InBev at the level of an area expert, with 20−30 breweries in control.
Leak test
Water reuse
Equipment upgrade

Water conditioning

Good beer starts from quality water. A brewer cannot afford to be dependent on local natural conditions, which is why every production facility always has a water conditioning site.
The liquid goes through several stages:

  • coarse mechanical filtration, where all insoluble impurities up to 0.03 mm are removed;
  • deferrization;
  • ion exchange for softening or desalination.

The number of water conditioning stages depends on the composition of natural raw materials from the water intake, as well as the ability of the brewer to purchase equipment. The purest water is obtained by using reverse osmosis — membrane separation, which removes up to 99% of all salts, bacteria and pyrogenes.

Losses in the water conditioning site constitute up to 30% of the total water consumption of the brewery. This is the consumption for periodic washing of the filters themselves, contaminants removing membranes. The losses of raw materials in water conditioning are so significant that some manufacturers are willing to invest in equipment replacement in order to reduce consumption. Such a situation, for example, happened with one Viravix Engineering client, but Viravix experts managed to offer him less expensive procedures.

One of the solutions is the recovery of water in production. This is the reuse of liquid in technological processes. After washing filters, membranes water can be collected and used for other purposes. For example, it is used for washing floors and walls.

If the existing equipment does not allow installation of recovery tanks, then it will be upgraded. And then the water is collected for reuse.

Consumption can be reduced if all leaks are eliminated. One of the best practices used by the brewing giants is the Day of Silence. All production is stopped for a day, and specialists are looking for all non tight places where air, water, CO2 leaks occur. This procedure can be used to save raw materials in all brewery sites, not just water conditioning.

Hopped wort cooling

Optimization of water consumption at the place of beer production means not a direct saving of the resource, but its reasonable consumption.

Food companies always need a balance between energy saving and microbiological safety of the product.

When the hopped wort is cooled, an excess of hot water is created. Some manufacturers simply dump it down the drain because they don’t have refrigeration units at this stage. Reasonable water users install containers for collecting and storing hot water, which can further be used in production.

Viravix engineering experts develop a set of procedures for recovery in production, based on individual conditions at a particular brewery:

  • how much hot water remains after cooling the hopped wort;
  • what is the quality of this raw material;
  • how many and what volume of tanks can be installed;
  • which process is easier to send liquid to — mash tun kettle or shower devices.

Cooling units consume a lot of electricity and not all brewers can afford them.


In the production of beer, there are always several circuits for equipment washing. CIP stations are another place where recuperation can be applied in the enterprise. The main thing at the same time is to understand where it is possible to collect the solution from, how many vessels can be placed and where to use it later.

The Viravix Engineering Company is engaged in the design, installation and service support of CIP-stations. We initially offer the customer energy saving procedures, but we can also help at existing stations.

Clean water during CIP cleaning is available at:

  • intermediate washings — after cleaning with an alkaline or acid solution;
  • final rinse;
  • pipelines' disinfection stage.

This liquid can be collected in a tank and reused in the same CIP cleaning or for mopping the floors in the workshop.

Some manufacturers offer to save water by using special CIP heads that reduce consumption. This should be approached with caution. It is always necessary to strike a balance between the saving of raw materials and the quality of cleaning, because the bacteriological safety of the product directly depends on the latter.

The best option for optimizing the amount of water used in the enterprise is reasonable consumption and return to production.

If the CIP station is not designed for the installation of recovery tanks, then it can first be upgraded, and after it the technology of collecting water for reuse can be applied.


Packaging processes are significant consumer of water in brewing.
A lot of raw materials are used for washing conveyors and transporters. Often they are cleaned by hand, watering from hoses.

Automation reduces consumption because it eliminates the human factor. An additional benefit of machine cleaning is the improved quality of the process.

Viravix Engineering specialists will design, install and service automatic washers for transporters.

Washing hoses

They are available at any brewery for manual cleaning of equipment, floors, and walls.
To reduce water consumption, we suggest using special nozzles with a smaller diameter. They reduce splashing and increase jet stream distance.

Bottle-washing machines

These are the most significant water consumers in packaging processes.

The principle of operation of the bottle-washing machine is based on the constant flow of liquid through the bathtubs for:

  • presteeping;
  • first, sometimes second alkaline cleaning;
  • post-alkaline rinses;
  • fresh water;
  • final rinse.

The exact water consumption depends on the particular model of bottle-washing machine. Here we offer the same recovery to save money — to direct raw materials in the reverse order: from clean processes to dirty ones. That is, from the final rinse to presteeping.

Another solution to save water is the upgrade of syringes for rinsing bottles. Here you can control the liquid pressure: the lower it is, the lower the consumption.

Bottle-washing machines have a cutout valve to stop the water supply when the equipment stops. Not all brewers pay attention to its good condition, and it can leak. This is not noticeable because the area around the bottle-washing machine is always wet. Regular checking of the cutout valve correct operation also saves raw materials.

Tunnel pasteurizer

The equipment is used for pasteurization of cans and bottles with beer. The container slowly moves through the tunnel and is pasteurized for 30−40 minutes, and then cooled for 30−40 minutes.
During normal operation of the line, liquid of the same temperature circulates between the bathtubs in the heating area and the cooling zone, and everything is compensated. If the line stops, then to avoid overpasteurization, the hot bathtubs are cooled with cold water to 50 °C. The excess liquid is drained into the sewer.

We propose to install a recovery tank and a heat exchanger to cool the raw material to a certain temperature. When the line stops, to the hot zone already collected water is added, not fresh.

The cost of such a project is 15−20 thousand euros, but it is quickly compensated due to reducing consumption. In large tunnel pasteurizers, with unstable line operation, the savings amount to hundreds of cubic meters of water per shift.

Equipment upgrade is another procedure for energy saving. It is used if it is impossible to install recuperation tanks on the existing pasteurizer.


On all PET lines, can lines and where a new glass bottle is used rinsers are installed.

Rinsers can also be equipped with recovery tanks. Initially, equipment manufacturers offer this option, but not all brewers understand its purpose and refuse such expenditures.

Meanwhile, reusing water from the rinser significantly reduces consumption. This does not mean that the brewer will be able to completely abandon the use of fresh water. But renewing water in the rinser will become less frequent.

Additional upgrade

Viravix Engineering specialists can offer other solutions to reduce water consumption at the brewery. It all depends on the specific conditions of production.
Somewhere it is possible to use drainage water from sewage treatment plants; somewhere – to install containers for collecting rainwater.

A specific list of energy-saving procedures is determined on site. We repeat that in brewing it is important to strike a balance between the economy of raw materials and the quality of beer.