Guidelines for Craft Breweries Impacted by COVID-19

Craft Breweries COVID Craft Breweries COVID
Kris Krueger
Principal Application Scientist - Food And Beverage
Dec 01, 2021

The outbreak of respiratory illness COVID-19 Disease has forced craft breweries to adapt to supply chain disruptions, demand volatility and the increased necessity for worker / workplace sanitation. In a situation where severity, impact and response seems to change with every newscycle, brewers are questioning how to protect both their employees and their businesses from the worst impacts of the virus. Across the country, many breweries are facing tough decisions:


“What should we do with aging product?” 

“What is the best way to clean returned / used kegs?”

“What should be addressed now that brewing has decreased?”


Diversey Food & Beverage seeks to mitigate this uncertainty by not only providing effective product solutions for infection prevention, but also protocols, best practices and knowledge from brewing sector experts. 


It is a sad fact, but spoilage and aging product is forcing many breweries to dump keg inventory. This process can appear to be straightforward, but in order to be environmentally conscious and avoid excessive effluent charges, dumping kegs needs to be done in a controlled fashion. Many breweries do not have a holding system to degas or biodegrade undiluted product and solids. If a brewery has four pallets of kegs that need to be emptied, consider dumping one pallet a day over four days. When tapping a keg and running straight to a floor or trench drain, aslo run a water hose to knock down CO2 and dilute effluent. 


Micro and cleaning points to consider when dumping beer, cleaning kegs and cleaning lines: 

  1. When the kegs are received, use a pump up sprayer of a 50 – 100 ppm chlorinated bleach to spray the outside of the kegs. Let sit for 5 minutes and then rinse. This will help reduce loading on the outside of the kegs. Make sure to focus on the handles!
  2. For incoming kegs after the virus, a double rinse cycle is recommended before CIP’ing them.  This ensures any yeast sediment or old beer is removed. 
  3. Once the kegs are rinsed twice, consider implementing a colored zip tie or cap system that designates which kegs have been rinsed and are ready to be CIP’ed.
  4. When CIP’ing the kegs, increase the caustic concentration to 2% and the temperature to 150°. Do this  for the caustic wash as well.
  5. Increase carbonate checks during this extended CIP period to ensure the caustic is not being neutralized as well as causticity checks to ensure adequate caustic strength.
  6. When the keg is ready to be refilled with beer, remove the zip tie. This will ensure that only 2x rinsed and freshly cleaned kegs are used with fresh product


Micro and cleaning points to consider when cleaning canning and draught lines:

  1. CIP the packaging lines; canning, bottle and racking, and hold with a weak sanitizer solution. When restarting the respective line, re-CIP the lines. Repeat this with the filler.
  2. CIP tap lines prior to shutting down, but also take the time to do an acid descale. 
  3. Once the descale is complete, do an extended rinse and hold with a weak sanitizer. When ready to reopen, do an extended hot water flush of each tap / drop to ensure they are rinsed out.
  4. Keep sanitizer in drip trays, hold water / sanitizer in sink. 


Other items to also consider doing while experiencing downtime:

  1. Consider the backlog of preventative maintenance: that pump seal that is always leaking; the pipe hangers that need to be installed; any instruments that need calibration. This is a great time to do that work.
  2. Deep clean systems that normally are difficult to get to: the dust system on your mills or the mills themselves; internal kettle inspections of the wort boilers; underlit spray nozzles and ports;  cleaning under the lauter tun false bottom ( REMEMBER the false bottom plates go back in a specific order) ; disassembling and cleaning plate chillers (JUST REMEMBER THE PLATES GO BACK IN A SPECIFIC ORDER!!). 
  3. Do all OPC related cleaning in your cellars and paint areas that are normally inaccessible (behind tanks, grain storage, keg storage).
  4. Inspect all transfer hoses for damage and CIP them at one time. Once CIP’d, keep hoses submerged in a sanitizer bath or cap the hose ends off the ground to make sure they are clean and sterile prior to use.
  5. Use the Kaizen 5S strategy to organize your brewhouse: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. Organize loose items, malt, adjuncts and other ingredients. Inspect, repair or rebuild all vacuum breakers and have them ready to go etc.
  6. If possible, make 1 brew a week to keep your yeast strain healthy and fermenting.
  7. If you have kegged inventory that you need to dump occupying your walk-in cooler, dispose of the inventory and turn off the cooler. Use this time to empty the cold room, deep clean and organize. 


This time is difficult for many businesses, but especially those that depend on community and social interaction. We are sure to see much change in the aftermath of this virus, but one thing is for sure; people will have a reason to celebrate when this crisis has subsided. By following these cleaning and sanitation guidelines, you can ensure that your operation is ready to reopen and ramp up production.