A Tour on Our Local Brewery
By: Nelson A. Feliciano
On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Mechanical Engineering students of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM) went to the “Compañia Cervecera de Puerto Rico” in Mayagüez for an internal tour as part of a concentration class since the brewery is always ahead in the technology and innovation of better processes for better quality.
This company was founded by Don Alfonso Valdés and his brothers, Sabino and Ramón, in 1937 at Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The company was first named “Cerveria India” but in 2009 the brewery changed their name to Compañia Cervecera de Puerto Rico”. Even though it is the only brewer in Puerto Rico and of Puerto Rico it manufactures two international award winning products, Medalla Light and Malta India. Through these awards the brewery has gain respect among other famous alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Not only it have awards winning beverage but also they are locally the most consumed beer and malt. “It does not have a too light nor too strong taste, which makes it enjoyable and perfect” said Victor Tomala, one of the UPRM students, after he was asked how he would describe the product.
Starting the tour the anxious students enter through the main entrance, a security guard checked their identifications, and then they passed to a conference room. There the company had organized a presentation, which was an hour long, focused mainly in many projects they had done to improve the efficiency of their machines. For example the heat exchangers, pipes, and purification machines are among the improved equipment. “From 2005 to 2009 the company invested $80 million dollars in the development of the best technological equipment and processes available in the United States and the Americas” said one of the head mechanical engineers of the company.
Later they took the students for a tour through the most important facilities. First, they showed them the plant where the beer and malt are bottled. Later the students were able to see the boiler where they sterilize and prevent infections of the malt extracts, called wort. In the inside of the boiler, after burning the fuel, it releases particles which by an air flow are trapped in swirls.
They also showed the different components of the machines like, the steam-traps, evaporators, and the system used to maintain the sugar liquid. The brewing process is separated in 6 processes. First the mashing, where they combine the ingredients; second it is the boiling. Third process, the fermenting process, where the wort is cooled down with ammonia, then it is mixed with yeast. Fourth it comes the conditioning which is the longest process of the brewing, which can take from 2 to 6 weeks. In conditioning, the tanks are cooled with ammonia to almost a freezing point. The sixth and last process is the packaging. As you can see the brewery uses ammonia to cool down their products and processes, this is very useful since the ammonia can be reused.
The recycling and purification process of water was shown later to the students. In this process, the company adds some microorganisms to the water and these group the impurities in the water turning them into mud. Now the company filters the water and throws the purified water to the river, and contract a company to take care of the mud. This mud is what produces the strong smell which all the UPRM students are already used to.
After the tour, the brewery had a session to answer any questions and thanked students for their interest. Therefore, later the future mechanical engineers had a better idea of how a brewery works. Also in collaboration with the UPRM the brewery give opportunity to students taking an engineering class to design and sea. Afterwards rch for better alternatives for their process plant.
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-Tour given by “Compañia Cervecera de Puerto Rico”
-Victor Tomala: 5th year University of Puerto Rico Mechanical Engineering student
-Mechanical and Chemical Engineers at the tour of the “Compañia Cervecera de Puerto Rico”