A "full steam ahead" brewery charts new growth using Clayton steam generators

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Boulevard Brewing Company achieves its dreams with the help of Clayton’s advantages.

Without steam you can’t do anything in a brewery. Boulevard Brewing company has been “full steam ahead” since its founding in 1988 by John McDonald.

It took a year and every penny he’d saved to retrofit his live-work space and find the right equipment. The first commercially available brew was a keg of Boulevard Pale Ale. The next big leap was investing in a small, used bottling line. His business plan called for someday brewing as much as 6,000 barrels per year. But by the third year sales passed 7,000 barrels and by 2004, Boulevard was turning out over 100,000 barrels annually and still growing. 

Time for a steam upgrade

Time for a steam upgrade

In 2006, it was time for an upgrade. On his early travels in Europe to learn the brewer’s craft, John found many breweries using steam generators made by Clayton Industries, Inc. So when he delegated the task of selecting the new equipment to a plant engineer, he directed him to include Clayton on the list when asking for bids from boiler manufacturers.

 “We lost the bid” said Mark Begert, senior sales engineer for Clayton Industries. “We don’t win every round – and understandably there’s a feeling of safety in the familiar. They went with another brand’s conventional 400 BHP steam boiler…but it gave them headaches.” 

He continued, “A conventional boiler is like a tea pot, but bigger. It heats large volumes of water in a tank all at once, takes one to two hours to start making steam, and then when temperature drops it spends energy to re-heat. It doesn’t react quickly to the fluctuating steam demand that is part of the batch brewing process. Not only is it inefficient in terms of floor space, time, and energy costs, but a conventional boiler can also have a steam explosion – a risk to both workers and property.” 

Expansion draws interest from Belgian giant

Expansion draws interest from Belgian giant

By 2014, news of Boulevard’s success drew the attention of a Belgian icon of John’s -- Duvel Moortgat. It was a proud moment when the legendary company invited Boulevard to join the Duvel Moortgat family.

Brewing more beer meant another expansion, and a need for more steam. Given the problems with the last boiler, this time the plant engineer took a tip from Duvel, who had exceptional experience with Clayton’s line of steam generators. 

“We won round two – and once customers understand the Clayton advantages, they keep coming back,” Mark said

He explained: “Boulevard chose our SEG504-1, a 500 BHP design that has one third the footprint of their previous 400 BHP boiler. Clayton’s steam generators are a once through, forced water flow design that combines a steel helical coil heat exchanger, a positive displacement feedwater pump and a mechanical steam separator to produce steam on demand. It takes very little time to heat just the water you’re going to use – typically 15 minutes maximum, so it’s a rapid start up, and far more fuel efficient, too. And it’s safe – there’s no chance of a steam explosion.”

Dali worked with an outside brewery equipment manufacturer on Boulevard’s first expansion, which earned him an invitation to join the company the following year. During the second expansion he was on the team that brought the new Clayton online.

“My old boss decided we would give Clayton a shot. From purchase order to installation took 16 weeks. Once we installed it; it came on, no issues,” said Dali. “It’s a good team, Clayton. They didn’t just make the sale and move on. They’re responsive. ‘You’re our priority,’ they told us, and we were. That really matters.” That promise was tested. “After startup we developed a strange issue,” Dali said. “That’s when we got a call from Mr. John Clayton – the owner of the company! He worked with us to diagnose the problem, we implemented his changes and now everything works perfectly. We loved the customer service, of course,” he said. “It was fantastic!”

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