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What is Glycol and why is it Required in Brewing Beer?

By - July 11, 2016 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Rob Pinson

What is Glycol and why is it Required in Brewing Beer?
What is Glycol and why is it Required in Brewing Beer?

In the brewing industry, glycol is a necessary part of day-to-day operations. It’s used in chiller systems that run throughout fermentation tanks and conditioning tanks to control temperature during fermentation reactions. In the service side of the industry, glycol is also used for maintaining temperature of draft beer dispensing.

To be clear, we’re not talking about toxic ethylene glycol. And we’re definitely not talking about adding any kind of glycol to alcoholic beverages – which was the center of a huge scandal in 1985.

Beer brewers only use propylene glycol, and not just any kind. Even though it’s known as “food-grade antifreeze,” there are many inexpensive, low-quality glycol solutions – most of which are not designed for a brewery’s recirculation system and run the risk of causing equipment damage. For compliance and superior performance, breweries use USP-Grade Propylene Glycol. USP (United States Pharmacopeia) is the official, standard-setting authority for medicines, supplements, and health care products in the United States. Propylene glycol with USP-Grade certification assures quality and safety for use in the food and beverage industry.

In order to achieve the desired temperature, brewers must use the proper ratio of glycol to water in the chiller system. Too much glycol will cost more and limit efficiency of the chiller, while not enough glycol could lead to freezing and damage the chiller system if left unchecked.

The average brewery uses an approximate 35% glycol to 65% water solution – but this can vary depending on the ambient temperature of the facility and the type of product being fermented. To maximize the efficiency and extend the life of your chiller system, keep up with annual inspections and consult with your equipment manufacturer for optimal glycol/water ratios and preventative maintenance.

Robert Pinson

Robert Pinson

Robert “Rob” Pinson concentrates his practice in the areas of business law, tax law, estate planning, alcoholic beverage law and campaign finance law. As a Tennessee tax attorney, he has represented clients in stock and asset sales, tax audits and tax disputes. He also regularly goes before the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and numerous Beer Boards on issues related to Tennessee alcohol laws. In addition, he has advised clients on tax strategy, estate planning, asset protection and campaign finance reporting.
Robert Pinson
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