Colorado State University (CSU) held a grand opening yesterday for a new hands-on brewing lab and industry showcase that will give students practical experience for careers in the brewing and fermentation industries. The lab is part of CSU’s Fermentation Science and Technology (FST) program. Support from both the university and members of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork program was vital to getting the brewery operational.
Large multi-national and regional breweries have depended on automated brewing processes and precise control technologies to maintain product consistency and quality. Today, smaller craft brewers are increasingly investing in these technologies for the same reason.
“Demonstrating repeatability to students is vital,” said Jeff Callaway, associate director for the FST program at CSU. “We are able to be agile with flexible procedural control, and we can confirm consistency with data collection and analysis.”
Malisko Engineering led the automation specification and integration efforts of the new brewery. Dan Malyszko, director of operations and lead engineer at Malisko Engineering of Denver, has been active in the program for several years, serving as a regular guest speaker in the brewing classes and teaching students about automation technology and batch processing. He also serves on the program’s industry advisory board.
CSU will be home to two future breweries, one modeled after a craft-style brewery and the other modeled after a commercial brewery, albeit on a smaller scale. Both breweries will run on the PlantPAx distributed control system (DCS) from Rockwell Automation.
CSU’s mission as a land-grant university includes industry outreach and extension encouraging the application of research-based knowledge in response to high-priority needs. The on-campus breweries provide industry with a unique resource to engage in recipe development, lab testing, operational technology research and process data analytics.
“Brewers from industry can do anything from trying a new grain bill to a new kind of boiling scheme,” said Callaway. “For commercial brewers, having access to a miniature system allows small-batch experimentation with raw materials and process changes that may not be feasible on industrial-sized systems.”