Given the high demand for, and consumption of beer in Australia, it’s important for breweries to maintain high standards of quality and hygiene to ensure optimum production.

Brewery floors play an important role in the efficient, hygienic and safe operation of the facility. When the flooring fails for any reason, the facility could be at risk from slips, trips, bacteria build-up and unsightly blemishes.

Brewing and kegging facilities need a floor that can provide protection against challenging on-site conditions whilst complying with the sanitation regulations and surface characteristics of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Getting the flooring right is basically a matter of chemistry. Continuous exposure to the ingredients, cleaners, temperatures, impacts and workload inherent to beer production can take a toll on the floor finish. The material underfoot, therefore, needs to be made of sterner stuff to shrug off these conditions. Flowcrete has the recipe for the perfect brewery floor.

Polyurethane offers unrivalled resistance to corrosion, organic and inorganic alkalis and solvents, and has a low porosity of 0.5%. Epoxy systems, on the other hand, have a porosity that is dependent on the sealer used, and offer a limited resistance to the organic acids that are found in a large quantity of beers. 

Chemical attack is typically described as the breaking down of a floor’s structure, such that it is no longer able to fulfil its function. This erosion not only reduces the floor’s functionality but also creates an unsanitary surface, where bacteria can hide and multiply, affecting the cleanliness of the facility. 

There are many factors that will affect the chemical resistance profile of a resin flooring system, including thickness, resin formulation and reactivity of the chemical agent. Certain systems will be able to withstand intermittent exposure to a chemical, but not prolonged exposure; therefore, not only the type of chemical but also the amount on-site and the frequency with which it is likely to come into contact with the floor, will need to be known. 

During the mash process in beer production, long chains of carbohydrates (starch) are transformed into fermentable sugars using enzymes naturally found in the grain. The two most common types of enzymes (alpha-amylase and beta-amylase) are responsible for breaking the large starch molecules into small bits of sugar.

In addition to sugars such as the fermentable maltose, or unfermentable maltodextrins, hops contain a range of chemical compounds that affect the flavour of the beer, such as alpha and beta acids. Daily exposure to sugars and acids can lead to corrosion of the floor, especially if they are not cleaned regularly. 

The high cross-linked density of polyurethane means that it can survive intense and sustained contact with the corrosive chemicals and damaging substances most often found in brewing areas. These can also include caustic CIP cleaners such as sodium hydroxide (30-60%) used at a solution of 1-3% strength at up to 85°C; mixed acid detergents such as phosphoric (10-30%)/ nitric acid (10-30%) blend used as a solution of 0.5% - 1% strength at up to 85°C; hydrogen peroxide and peroxyacetic acid (PAA) mix acid sanitisers; hot water up to 95°C; high sugar concentrations; and residual beer and yeast at 0°C - 20°C with around pH 3.8 – 4.5.

In addition to chemical resistance, polyurethanes can be tailored to minimise slip and trip risks, improve cleanability and even actively attack bacteria. A positively textured finish can greatly reduce the chances of slips and trips, making the area safe for both staff and visitors alike. Thanks to the seamless nature of polyurethane, even textured surfaces can be cleaned quickly and easily, leaving no joints for the development of germs and bacteria. 

The HACCP internationally certified polyurethane flooring range Flowfresh was developed by Flowcrete to meet the stringent hygiene needs of the food and beverage sector. Flowfresh has become popular with Australia’s breweries thanks to the functional, clean and long-lasting surfaces that can be created. 

Developed in an exclusive partnership with Polygiene by incorporating the natural silver ion based additive, Flowfresh is able to reduce the bacterial population on the surface of the floor by up to 99.9%. When teamed with a regular cleaning regime, Flowfresh can help the brewery maintain high sanitary standards.