The new yeast propagation plant at its Faversham site will take a small quantity of yeast created in the brewery’s laboratory and multiply it into a large volume for its brewing process.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame recently revealed to Food Manufacture the challenges the brewery faced during the lockdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The novel system was imported from Germany, where it was built by engineering company Alfa Laval. A 37-metre crane was used to lift the equipment, weighing almost one tonne, into the brewery.
A Victorian brick wall was removed in front of the area of the brewhouse chosen to house the plant, replaced by a steel frame. Engineers dug new foundations to ensure the flooring was strong enough to take the necessary weight. An area of roofing was also removed, to allow the equipment to be dropped down into the space.
Work on the new plant was suspended due to the impact of the pandemic, but it is hoped it will be operational by the end of October.
Shepherd Neame’s chief engineer Mark Bowes said: “We have previously been propagating yeast using an amalgam of equipment which wasn’t specifically designed for the task and is now coming towards the end of its life, so this new plant will make a huge difference to the efficiency of our production process.
“A key difference is that the system is fully automated, so in addition to saving time for our team members, it will be a completely sterile process and will also ensure a consistency in quality.
“Our previous system also required us to buy pure oxygen to aerate the yeast, while this system just uses air. Due to its energy-efficient design, it will also require less electricity to power the entire process.”
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We felt it was important to invest in a world-class yeast propagation system, and ensure that we can maintain the high quality of our beers in a more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way.”