To cut energy costs, improve efficiency and grow their business, owners Alejandro and Noelle Brown of Big Al’s Brewery hired locally based Net Zero Impact to install a solar water heating system. It’s no surprise that brewing beer requires large volumes of hot water. At Big Al’s, a natural-gas fired kettle had to be left on all night to heat the water for brewing the next day. Now, thanks to two solar water heating tanks, evacuated tube collectors, and a high efficiency boiler, the hot water can be produced in about an hour. Not only is the new system 55 percent more efficient, it increases brewing capacity by 2,000 gallons, while significantly reducing natural gas consumption. It also allows Big Al’s to turn two full brewing cycles in the time it previously took to do one, and that adds up to big savings.
The new solar system at Big Al’s will heat water to between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or close to boiling. A high-efficiency boiler is used to achieve the 204 degrees Fahrenheit needed for brewing. Net Zero Impact has also installed a comprehensive monitoring system to collect data on energy production and savings. Big Al’s will save an estimated $12,000 per year. The project took three weeks to complete.