Using urethane floor coating to resurface a beer filtration room’s ceiling has significantly reduced maintenance costs at one of America’s favorite microbreweries. But the task, which included a 35-ft.-high ceiling amid a maze of tanks and pipes, was declared “our toughest job ever” by installer Greg Hardig of E.B. Miller Contracting, Inc., Cincinnati.
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The Boston Beer Company is the seventh-largest brewery in the nation, producing 1.2 million barrels annually at facilities in Boston and Cincinnati. Its flagship beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, has won more awards than any beer in history.
Purchased in 1997, the Cincinnati brewery underwent a $6.5 million expansion project in 2005. It added new lagering and aging tanks, a storage cellar and two custom-made copper brew kettles. About two-thirds of all Samuel Adams beer is now brewed at the Cincinnati plant.
At the time of the expansion, E.B. Miller Contracting installed Flowfresh RT on thousands of square feet of fresh (or “green”) concrete poured for the new facility’s walkways and base floor. Developed by Flowcrete PLC and offered in North and Central America by Valspar Flooring (www.valspar.com), Flowfresh RT is a non-slip, heavy-duty, rake and trowel urethane concrete that resists chemicals resistant and includes Polygiene, an antimicrobial that inhibits growth of bacterial odors and guards against biological degradation.
Assistant Brewing Manager Todd Roseman was impressed with Flowfresh’s performance, so when it came time to refinish the original brewery’s aging filtration room, he again turned to E.B. Miller Contracting and Valspar Flooring. “The older section of our brewery has the unique heritage, pride and tradition that characterize Samuel Adams beer,” Roseman says. “However, we wanted it to share in all the state-of-the-art production capabilities found in the expansion. Resurfacing the floors, walls and ceiling of the filtration room was an important part of achieving that goal.”
As a rule, filtration rooms are hot and steamy, making them perfect environments for mildew and mold growth. The Samuel Adams filtration room is between several others kept cold for production, which caused so much condensation it appeared to be raining indoors.
“The filtration room only measures 60 ft. by 60 ft., so it sounded as if it was a small job at first,” explains Adam Jordan, technical sales representative, Valspar. “However, when I visited and saw the volume of coating removal that would be required, plus the brewing equipment the crews needed to work around, I quickly changed my mind.”
During the six-day, around-the-clock installation, the room’s tanks, pumps, piping and other equipment remained in place. E.B. Miller’s team set up “an amazing rigging job” that reached up the 35-foot high walls, providing 100% fall protection, along with a makeshift tunnel to give control engineers ongoing access to computers on the perimeter walkway, says Hardig.
“We had to remove the failing coatings from the floor, walls and ceiling,” Hardig says. “Preparation was completed using sand blasters, scarifiers, needle guns and demo hammers. Negative pressure was maintained using a 20,000 CFM dust collector with HEPA filters.” A half-inch of epoxy was removed from the floor, while the walls and ceiling were sandblasted to sound substrate.
On the floor pit area and walkway, E.B. Miller Contracting applied blue Flowfresh SR for its heavy-duty durability, heat resistance to 210°F, and superior slip resistance.
For the ceiling, Jordan made the unusual specification of Flowfresh FC floor resurfacer rather than a conventional coating. “The exterior ambient temperature was bringing the dew point into play and the constant washdown of the yeast room located above the filtration room added concerns,” Jordan says. “The concrete ceiling had high moisture content, more than a typical coating would allow. I knew that Flowfresh FC with Polygiene would prevent mildew and odor-causing organisms from taking up residence in the coating.”
Two coats were sprayed on with a large pump and gravity hopper. The gray color highlights the room’s bright white walls and navy blue floor, creating an aesthetically pleasing work environment.
“As great as these high-performance, long-lasting coatings look in the filtration room, the real bottom-line benefit is the reduced maintenance requirements that are yielding immediate savings,” says Roseman. “Washdowns are much easier to perform, especially for the ceiling, and because the floors resist abrasion, chemicals and impact, we aren’t interrupting production for repairs or recoating.”