Articles & Case Studies

Otter Brewery Removes Effluent Treatment Bottleneck at Devon Production Headquarters

Posted: Monday 6th June 2011

Industrial filtration specialist, Micromac Filtration has announced the successful completion of strategic infrastructure upgrade project at Devon-based Otter Brewery. At the brewery’s production headquarters, situated in East Devon’s Blackdown hills, Micromac has designed and installed an effluent pre-treatment system that substantially reduces solid loading to a traditional Wetland Effluent Treatment (WET) system that is found on site.

Micromac was appointed on the recommendation of Sustainable Direction Limited, who were recruited by Otter Brewery to investigate the efficiency of the brewery’s WET (Wetland Effluent Treatment) system as a means of preventing water-born pollution being discharged to the environment, and its ability to support production capacity expansion at the brewery.

“We discovered that Otter Brewery’s extensive system of reed beds, which were established in the 1990s had become overloaded and we needed to reduce loading by around one quarter,” explained Dr. John Henry Looney, Managing Director at Sustainable Direction. “Micromac’s system of run down screen, settlement and constant rate discharge to the wetland system is simple, relatively low cost and very effective.”

Sustainable Direction was able to source grant funding for the consultancy and capital expenditure on this project.

Within weeks of the system’s commissioning Otter Brewery saw a significant improvement in the quality of the water discharge from the brewery site. As a result, the brewery can continue to employ its traditional reed bed approach and avoid the installation of alternative much more capital intensive systems.

“As a company and as individuals we take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously,” remarked Patrick McCaig, managing director at Otter Brewery. “At the same time, we are a growing business, experiencing all the growing pains that you encounter. With the help of Sustainable Direction and Micromac Filtration we can ensure that our Wetland Effluent Treatment system meets our needs today and will also do so in the future.

“This will provide us with significant cost savings - £60,000 in effluent haulage is just one example,” he continued.

Brewing for Britain
One of the South-West’s most successful businesses over recent years, Otter Brewery needed to strike a careful balance in its operations. Whilst demand for its beers and ales continues to grow year-on-year the family-run company is very aware of its responsibility to protect the local environment. The brewery is based on a 16th century farm in the middle of a sensitive rural ecosystem.

Currently, the brewery makes 20,000 brewer’s barrels of beer per annum and every pint of beer made requires four pints of water to be used in the production process. To clean waste water and return it to the water course, the brewery use one of the oldest methods of waste water management known – the willow bed. The willow beds are of a series of ponds surrounded by over 8000 willows.

The waste water runs from one pond to the next through these willow 'filter' beds and eventually feeds a larger lake at the bottom of the field. As the waste water passes through the beds, the roots of the willows extract solids from the waste water and use them as nutrients for growth. Regular testing of this source ensures that water that runs from the final lake is in pristine condition before rejoining the water course.

“In some ways Patrick and his team are victims of their own success,” commented Richard Milton, managing director of Micromac Filtration. “Originally they selected reed beds since they represent nature’s solution, but they couldn’t support the increasing demand for their beer. Now, by pre-screening and settling the brewery waste water before releasing it into the reed beds we have created a cost-effective and natural solution that will support the brewery’s continued growth over many years.”

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