We don't know if they brew steam beer at W.T. Hackett's Brewing Co., but we do know a steam boiler helps brew the beer. The owners of the Scranton, Pa., restaurant worked with a Canadian manufacturer to help design the microbrewery. Since the cost of electricity is comparable with other sources of energy in Canada, and since natural gas is also not commonly used, the manufacturer speced an electric boiler to power the brewing process.

Plumbing contractor Scott Staniszewski, owner of Scott's Plumbing and Heating, Moscow, Pa., began working on a proposal. After meeting with the Canadian company's engineering department a few times, Staniszewski further tailored his plan and added a few twists.

One of those twists was to use a gas-fired steam boiler since it was more cost effective to operate than an electric model. Also unique to Staniszewski's proposal was the location of the boiler with respect to the rest of the brewing equipment. The boiler is normally located adjacent to the brewing equipment since it is technically part of the process. Staniszewski proposed installing the boiler in the basement directly under the brewing equipment where it would be out of sight.

Although that's where the Peerless Heater Co.'s Series 62, 13-section, natural gas-fired steam boiler ended up, the piping connecting the boiler to the brewing equipment is in full view of the customers. As a result, the piping work needed to be extremely neat and clean. Adding to the piping challenge were space restrictions - tight areas around large pieces of brewing equipment. (In addition, a Peerless Series MI-08 gas-fired hot water boiler heats the restaurant and bar area.)

The Series 62 boiler is used only during the first two stages of the brewing process. The boiler is piped directly to a "mash ton," a large hot water tank in which water and barley are heated together at different temperatures, depending on the type of beer being brewed. The accuracy of the temperature is extremely important during the initial stage of the brewing process. Piped to the mash ton and also to the boiler is the second large tank known as the "brew kettle," which is steam heated to boiling. After the brew kettle stage, the liquid goes through a series of cooling and fermentation stages until finally the liquid is beer. The entire brewing process takes about 14 days.

The brewing system, approved with the rest of the mechanical system by the City of Scranton and Pennsylvania Department of Labor, also had to be inspected and approved by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and the LCB (Liquor Control Board).

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