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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.