Brew Hose Materials & Construction
Brew hose is a substantial investment. You need hose that’s made with premium components to withstand the daily rigors of brewery processes. This article will help brewers understand the properties and benefits of the materials and construction used in brewery hose.
We’ll start with the inside of the brew hose, since that is what’s in contact with your beer. Chlorobutyl rubber, better known by its simplified name of butyl rubber, is most commonly used for the beer contact layer. But what makes butyl a good choice for the liner of brew hose?
Butyl has excellent resistance to alcohol, so the brewing process doesn’t have a negative impact on the liner’s physical integrity, provided the hose is properly maintained. Butyl-lined hose is also used for higher ABV distilling processes.
A synthetic rubber, butyl offers a high degree of cleanliness and is used in applications such as chewing gum and stoppers for pharmaceutical bottles. It’s a smooth material that’s microbe resistant – an ideal medium for beer transfer.
Other features of butyl rubber hose include:
- Very low permeability to air and gases – helps prevent oxygen ingress and beer spoiler development
- Naturally strong and flexible; free of plasticizers
- Resistance to caustics and acids used in CIP (clean-in-place) solutions
- UV exposure resistance, which has the added benefits of mitigating potential spoilers, along with low odor and taste impartation after cleaning
- Bonds well to other rubbers; this helps with hose construction – manufacturers can bond to more cost-effective rubber for non-fluid contact surfaces
- Excellent flexibility and kink/crush/impact resistance, even before hose reinforcement is added
- Wide range of temperature use: -40°F to 240°F
Moving on to the reinforcing layers and the outside of the brew hose, EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber is an all-purpose material that’s durable and impermeable. Like butyl, EPDM is a synthetic rubber with a wide range of uses including seals and gaskets, insulators and roofing.
In many hoses, EPDM is used not only as the protective cover but as one or more layers of reinforcement between the liner and cover. It helps the layers of butyl and stiffer reinforcement (such as steel or monofilament wire) mesh together and form a cohesive bond.
EPDM offers features such as:
- Inherent water resistance that prevents hoses in wet brewery environments from growing bacteria
- Low air permeability and airtight sealing, which is helpful when stainless steel collars and fittings are crimped onto the hose – the EPDM forms a seal that prevents oxygen from entering the hose
- Impact resistance, a plus in the often-industrial environment of a brewery – this material can take a beating
- Resistance to UV radiation and aging
You may find nitrile suggested as a liner material compatible with alcoholic beverages, but our experience has shown that nitrile is better suited to oily or fatty products like milk and other dairy items. Neoprene, UHMW polyethylene and EPDM are other hose liner materials used for food and beverage transfer including potable water and non-oily applications.
Brew hose with a liner of smooth, alcohol-resistant butyl rubber, reinforcement layers for toughness and strength, and a durable EPDM cover provides premium protection for your brewery operations and your premium product.