Boston-based Lord Hobo Brewing Co. was a cavernous 49,000-sq.-ft. warehouse five years ago. With the vision of owner Daniel Lanigan, the fully functioning brewery opened its doors in 2015 and produced 5,000 barrels the first year.

While the team was aware of the important role of the cooling loop in the brewing process, the ambitious startup was purposely planned as an inexpensive short-term means of getting the brewery operational, according to John Irwin, Lord Hobo’s maintenance and facility manager. “The goal was to be up and running as quickly as possible,” he says. “So a small PVC glycol system was installed along with a 20-ton chiller. This allowed production of the first ales within a few weeks after starting construction of the facility.”

After tripling in size after just two years of business, Lord Hobo was named in the June 1, 2017, edition of the Boston Herald as the fastest growing brewery in America. Because of this quick expansion, the PVC glycol cooling system became overtaxed. “With just a 300-gallon reservoir and small 3-inch trunk lines coming out to supply 15 tanks, it simply didn’t have the flow or the cooling capacity to keep up with the growth rate,” says Irwin. 

Search for the upgrade

The brewery considered four methods of installation: welded/threaded steel and copper, solvent cemented and fused plastic, but ultimately chose a preinsulated plastic system joined with solvent cement.

Irwin had attended a Master Brewers meeting, where he learned about the Cool-Fit ABS Plus from GF Piping Systems. “After learning more about the system at the actual seminar, I was sure which system we’d choose.”

After a day of training by the manufacturer, the crew installed 800 ft. of d225 (8") and 250 ft. of d110 (4") without interfering with brewery production. At the same time, a 200-ton chiller and a 3,000-gallon reservoir were installed (compared to the previous 300-gallon reservoir). The system conveys glycol at 28°F to maintain the tank farm fermentation process, which includes 44 vessels in 160BBL (24), 80BBL (12) and 10BBL (8).

“The GF transition fittings we used to connect the Cool-Fit ABS Plus to some existing copper and threaded pipe areas were easy to use and connected smoothly and effectively. We made roughly 450 joints and ran almost 1250 ft. of pipe with hundreds of fittings. Maintenance on the system is next to nothing—just a daily walk through to visually check the lines. Temperature loss in the system is virtually nonexistent and the Cool-Fit pipe remains accessible but hidden,” Irwin says.

The company’s main building houses beer production and a tasting room with more than 25 types of craft beer on tap. Cold storage and office space are across the street in a 14,000-sq.-ft. structure. In the next two to four years, the Lord Hobo team plans to complete the tank farm of 11 rows, seven deep—77, 160 BBL vessels, and as many 10 BBL tanks as they can squeeze in. In anticipation of that, the new cooling system is already installed with valves in place ready for hookup. 

By the end of 2017, the brewery produced close to 20,000 barrels a year and in its third year reached 32,000 barrels, a 420% growth rate. In 2019, the Lord Hobo team stepped up that output to more than 50,000 barrels.

Lord Hobo’s mantra—“To bring the New England craft beer experience to thirsty fans everywhere—Lords and Hobos alike—we all deserve to drink like royalty”—was fulfilled uninterrupted during the new cooling system expansion.

Irwin is proud that they never lost a day of production doing the install.

“We never interfered with operation or disrupted production,” he says. “We wouldn’t have been able to do that with steel pipe because we’d have had sparks flying everywhere.”

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