As beer-o-clock approaches and you ponder your weekend brew, take two-minutes out to see how beer gets from the tanks in the brewery, into bottles and onto trucks, ready for your consumption. I'm thirsty already.
Yesterday I was shown around Casella Wines' new brewery in Griffith, NSW for the launch of a new crowdsourced beer, Arvo.
All of the equipment they use for brewing is new and shiny, and the way they get it from the tanks into bottles is a fascinatingly automated process.
Empty glass bottles are ferried along the conveyer belt from the loading dock, where thousands of bottles are waiting to be given the gift of brew.
They slowly trundle along before they're scooped up the first machine that washes and flips the bottles. Depending on what's being bottled, the washing process will be altered accordingly.
Fill 'Er Up
The bottles are then flung into the filling machine.
This thing does its job so quickly it made my head spin watching it. Again, depending on what's being bottled, the filling technique will differ. This time, we can see that a small amount of head is gently bubbling over the top of the bottle as it goes into the capper.
The beer we saw being bottled wasn't screw cap, but there are facilities on site for when they want to pursue something like a cider, for example.
After they're filled, the beers head on over to be labelled. This labeller is actually one of the smaller ones in Australia. With bigger breweries, I'm told that the labeller runs so fast you can barely see what type of beer it is.
It's here that the brewery becomes a bit more like a print bindery than a beer factory.
Beers are shuttled along the conveyor belts and into the six-pack boxer. The freshly bottled, capped and labelled beers wander into the machine side-by-side in groups of six and are draped in an open piece of six-pack cardboard.
As the conveyor belt moves it along, a different piece of the machine will fold the boxes and seal them, before gently pirouetting them around to be stuffed into cases.
Robot arms push the box cases into the machine where they're wrapped around a number of six-packs. Like the six-packer itself, the machine folds the box and seals it without anyone needing to touch it.
The cases are then spat out onto another conveyor belt, before they're whisked away into a shipping area, ready to be loaded onto trucks.
How long does it take to get a six-pack of beer from the tank to the trucks? Less than three minutes by my count.
Watch the video to see this awesome automated effort in action
Luke Hopewell travelled to Griffith as a guest of Casella