By Eric Grulke, Environmental Engineer
Last week, Connecticut Governor Lamont signed a bill that allows Connecticut craft breweries to sell up to nine gallons (3 cases of 16-ounce cans) of beer to an individual per day; approximately four times the amount they were previously allowed to sell. Furthermore, it allows them to make wine, cider, spirits, and mead in-house. While consumers cheered this move, I saw it as the next logical step for craft brewery growth in Connecticut.
As an Environmental Engineer, my job usually involves helping companies comply with state and federal environmental regulations and, generally, trying to make the world a little bit cleaner. However, over the last year, I have been given the enviable task of leading our craft beer initiative. While my coworkers and friends are convinced that I just get to drink beer on company time, this actually entails evaluating the market and figuring out how we can help breweries grow and become even more successful.
The question I always get from someone just learning about this part of our business is: what does a consulting engineering firm have to do with brewing beer? As it turns out, quite a lot. There is a lot of fermentation science and brewery mechanics that go into that pint glass. The most important ingredient, perhaps, is water. Prior to use, water requires delivery through piping, filtration for purity, and mineral balancing for optimal taste. Our MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) Department designs liquid delivery and processing systems for projects both large and small with integrated chillers and treatment devices. Post use, brewing wastewater often requires pH and temperature adjustments, biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) controls, and potentially, a discharge permit. Our Environmental Compliance Department specializes in wastewater analysis and permitting services that cover any discharge.
While the water is being transformed into fresh wort by the hops and yeast, those large and heavy kettles need a stable and supportive floor to rest on – enter our Structural Department. If a brewery is looking to expand their brew house, parking area, or existing seating, they may need assistance finding a new space or might need to modify to their existing space. Either of these options involve our survey crew, landscape architects, traffic/transportation engineers, and site/civil engineers. Additionally, there are a host of new automation controls and sensors that help fine-tune the beer-making process in which our Compliance Department excels.
The development of this industry is interesting to me both personally and professionally. When I’m not playing disc golf, I’m checking out local breweries and experiencing the creativity of craft brewers across New England. When I was in college, I certainly didn’t think this was going to be a part of my career path, but I’m glad I was able to craft an intersection.
For more information about Fuss & O’Neill’s brewery services click here.
About the Author
Eric Grulke is an Environmental Engineer with Fuss & O’Neill’s Industry & Utilities Business Line. When he is not waiting in line at Treehouse Brewing Company or flaunting his mug at Labyrinth Brewing Company, he is likely either hiking, playing disc golf, or talking about the new brewery in town.