How PLAATO PRO Sped Up Production and Perfected Cider

Throughout the self-distribution journey developing a solid flagship brand has been a mild struggle.

While some products sell in distribution greater than others, we continually discover those lesser-known products that restaurants and bars want simply based on style.

Enter “Zero”, our Red Ale designed with the heart and mind of my own late Fox Red Labrador.

Since its inception, the brand and its backstory quickly became a crowd favorite and is requested by almost every Irish pub and traditional restaurants, respectively.

Zero isn’t complex but delivers a strong malty aroma that’s not overwhelming to the casual craft consumer.

While we manage this brand on our 10-barrel system we don’t often make it to capacity as we have 20 other brands and walk-in space to manage.

When we received our PLAATO Pro for this Test Kitchen we were initially only excited to be able to view fermentation digitally without having to take samples. Our first batch with the PLAATO Pro was with Zero.

In coordination with the PLAATO Pro, we did take manual readings simply to check the accuracy of the software. However, we quickly realized the accuracy of the system was perfect.

Additionally, with the typical turnaround of Zero being 14 days we set the preferred Final Gravity and assumed it would be in that timeframe. What occurred, however, was a finished product in nearly half the time.

Of course, we didn’t change up the recipe or yeast utilized for the Test Kitchen, and the PLAATO Pro didn’t speed up our batch, but it did notify us of a finished product when we might not have taken a manual reading during that period.

“The PLAATO Pro first proved helpful with immediately presenting an accurate starting specific gravity of the wort to be fermented; without any samples needed to be taken or the reliance on a hydrometer or refractometer, which both leave a slight possibility of human error,” explained our Head Brewer Cody Thompson.

“The PRO then allowed me to keep an eye on fermentation and temperature in real-time which was helpful as I could simply check the App on my phone to make adjustments without having to take more samples and the possibility of the aforementioned error.”

As soon as Thompson was notified of fermentation completion he was then able to adjust the temperature and begin the maturation stage of the beer.

“All in all, with these real-time measurements and readings I was able to more seamlessly track this beer’s production which allowed me to get it from grain to keg in 11 days, several days faster than our normal batch times.”

The process on Zero had the staff intrigued by its abilities. The next batch we utilized was our cider line, Fanny Cole, named after our town’s first cider maker.

Our batches of Fanny Cole had become mildly inconsistent. With fermentation typically being a seven-day turnaround, but often going below and beyond, the PLAATO PRO gave us exact readings that we needed for the desired finish.

The Fanny Cole batch built using the PLAATO PRO not only had the proper sweet-to-dry ratio we desired, but it also gave us the data for when to stall fermentation for the desired finish.

Needless to say, the PLAATO PRO has been extremely helpful for several of our brands in as short as two months of usage.

Of course, the real-time data is at the top of our pros with the PLAATO PRO, but the ease of use in a world of complex technology is fantastic for a staff that has a lot on their plate already. Combine that with its durability and ability to withstand traditional CIP and SIP and you’ve got a real game changer.

As with all brewing equipment, and one that’s continually innovating and upgrading, there are some cons that Thompson reported.

“Add a digital temperature read-out on the unit that can be read in passing, as this unit replaces the current analog thermometer to the fermenter,” he explained. “Personally, whenever I walk through the brewhouse I, out of habit, glance at every thermometer I see while passing by to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary.

“The next step for the best integration of this product in the brewing process would be to find a way to have the PLAATO PRO communicate with the brewery glycol system itself. This would allow brewers to set alerts for fermentation gravity while also allowing them to adjust the temperature at the click of a few buttons. This would prove useful as beer never sleeps or leaves the office; the brewery employees, however, do.”

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