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When Investing in a Mash Filter Press Makes Sense

While not without its costs, a mash filter press can dramatically increase efficiencies and lower costs. It can also open the door to some unusual beers that would be challenging or impossible with a typical lauter tun.

Ben Keene Sep 5, 2022 - 15 min read

When Investing in a Mash Filter Press Makes Sense Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Industrial Arts

At Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon, head brewer Cam O’Connor typically oversees 15 to 18 brews per week on the company’s 23-hectoliter system. Founded in 2012, Crux produces a wide range of ales and lagers, but it’s built a loyal following with high-gravity beers such as Tough Love (barrel-aged imperial stout), Lost Love (barrel-aged imperial rye stout), and All Worked Up (barrel-aged wheatwine). With recipes that lean heavily into specialty malts, these beers—while popular—slow down a brew day and won’t be setting any records for mash efficiency.

So, in the interests of versatility, efficiency, water savings, and turn time, the brewery invested in a mash filter press in 2016.

“Personally, I had not had any experience with a mash press,” O’Connor says, adding that it’s a fairly simple piece of equipment and more forgiving than a lauter tun. “We are still learning small things though. Figuring out the brew recipes and how they work with the system was a challenge. Getting the right pump to run mash into the press was a challenge.”

Ultimately, though, the mash filter press’s true versatility proved to be a pleasant surprise and a net advantage, regularly exceeding expectations.

“We can brew 17-hectoliter batches on it if needed,” O’Connor says. “We can make a 30° Plato wort if needed. We can make a 25-hectoliter batch on it if needed,” he says. “High-gravity brews are much easier to run off than [on] a lauter tun system.”

In short, O’Connor views the addition of a mash filter press as beneficial to Crux—and he’s not the only one. Across the United States and Canada, both small and mid-sized breweries have found this piece of equipment to be an asset at a time when costs are rising, a recession is looming, and the pressure to innovate and diversify is arguably greater than it’s ever been.

Offering much higher efficiencies—think 95 percent or greater—30-minute sparging cycles, wort quality improvement, and a growing range of options in size, a mash filter press should no longer be seen as a piece of equipment exclusively designed for big lager breweries.

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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.