Refrigeration in its many evolving forms has had a huge impact on consumer lifestyles without us realising just how large that impact has been.
The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians numbered among the first to use ice to cool their beverages and people in China were already using ice cellars as far back as 1,000BC.
So ice-making for ‘refrigeration’ purposes is nothing new. Cooling drinks with ice was widely used until the early 1900s in the US when contamination and dirty water became a problem – and not just for the breweries, the largest users of ice at the time.
Here in Ireland our culture was more one of ale drinking until the 1950s and 60s so our beers tended to be ‘warm’, explains licensed trade historian Eamonn Casey.
“That’s still the case with real ales to this day,” he says, “You can get the hop flavour better when the beer is slightly warm”.
Guinness would have carried on the tradition of red ales and stouts, he adds, pointing to the traditional bottle of Guinness still available ‘off the shelf’ which goes back to an era before freezers came in.
Some pubs used have cellars underneath to rest beer that was ‘high’, keeping the beer at a temperature that meant that the publican wasn’t losing product.
In the 1920s Prohibition led to the birth of the cocktail revolution and colder temperatures came into play as Americans travelled further abroad while also drinking colder beers, mainly lager.
“That ‘revolution’ didn’t hit this country until the 50s when the stone cellar ‘ice houses’ were on the way out and refrigeration took over where we’d have been coming from the red ale/real ale background,” says Eamonn.
“Before this many publicans overcame the lack of refrigeration facilities by having particularly good trading days on some days of the week .”
Eamonn cites The Diamond – now Smith’s of Malahide, County Dublin – which, following Sunday mass, used to have “an absolute onslaught into the pub, so 15 minutes before people came in they’d fill out 60 or 70 pints of Double Diamond or Bass leaving the heads to sink before being topped up again as ordered”.
Self-generating cooling technology
Being able to generate a mini-environment that kept foodstuffs and drinks cold took the hospitality trade a significant step forward. The technology involved in refrigerating food and drink has expanded and improved very rapidly from those early days for restaurants and pubs which can now avail of the latest in trunk and cabinet coolers for bars.
The idea of selling a cool beer at the height of a hot Summer – even an Irish Summer – would be a very different and more complicated proposition altogether without the benefit of those giant steps taken in advancing refrigeration technology.
Bulmers (not) over ice just wouldn’t have had the same ring to it.
Today, refrigeration units in pubs can respond to ambient temperature levels and thereby save money on energy costs by periodically checking the circulating air temperature and only initiating a refrigeration cycle when the temperature drops below the ideal. As a result, less energy is consumed in keeping product cool.
But there’s more to it. Air temperature monitors used in refrigeration tell us little about the temperature of the product itself as air tends to heat up faster than solids or liquids so the refrigeration cycle may be triggered needlessly by repeated opening and closing of the cabinet by bar staff.
However, by ensuring that a few simple precautions are observed, licensees can save unnecessary expense.
It’s vital, for example, that the airflow around both refrigeration units and compressors remains unobstructed and that the grilles are not blocked.
Licensees should check the condition of their refrigeration systems regularly as part of a weekly or monthly maintenance schedule.
Condensers and evaporators should be free from dust and dirt; seals and gaskets should be in good condition and in larger systems check for bubbles in the refrigerant cooling liquid sight-glass. If these are present, it may indicate a leak in the system; check and keep in good condition any strip curtains in a walk-in refrigerated space.
It would also be wise to site refrigerators and freezers well away from heat sources, have the controls calibrated and the refrigeration system and components serviced annually.
Premier Cooling Services
Premier Cooling Services is one of the longest established specialist refrigeration supplier to the hospitality sector.
By working closely with our customers and suppliers we provide quality, reliable and affordable refrigeration solutions to suit any budget.
Our extensive range of products include:
• Conventional Ice Bank Draft Beer Cooling Systems
• Glycol Draft Beer Cooling Systems
• Beer Cold Rooms
• Glass Door Off Sales Cold Rooms
• Catering Chill and Freezer Rooms
• Catering Chill and Freezer Cabinets and Prep Tables
• Glass Door Bottle Coolers Plug-in and Remote
• Ice Machines Cube and Flake
• Air Conditioning Systems
• Stainless Steel Fabrication Services
All equipment is selected and recommended so as to minimise running costs without compromising on quality or effectiveness.
A large percentage of our equipment is manufactured locally to our specifications which gives us the flexibility to offer value for money bespoke solutions at short notice.
Peace of mind is assured by our after sales service and maintenance packages carried out by our fully qualified technicians with a full range of spare parts and materials enabling a fast efficient fix to any refrigeration equipment failure.
All our technicians undergo regular up-skilling to stay informed on current technical innovations, legislation, the environment and health and safety enabling them to deliver the best advice and service to our customers.
Being one of the first refrigeration companies to attain breweries approval for the supply, installation and service of draft beer systems we continue to work closely with all the breweries to ensure the standard of equipment and services we offer will at a minimum meet with brewery specification.
With a long standing client list of prestigious licenced premises, hotels and restaurants our intention is for continued growth while offering each client the personal attention and value with which we are synonymous.
REL – the next generation beer system
The origins of REL date back to the mid 1950s when the company specialised in domestic refrigeration. Since then the company has gathered core competencies and extensive experience in glycol refrigeration systems, commercial refrigeration and air conditioning installations.
- Tell us how REL keeps abreast of technological developments in commercial refrigeration and what these are at present?
REL is continuously developing its glycol refrigeration system for the hospitality sector. Together with Carlow Institute of Technology and Enterprise Ireland it’s developing the next generation glycol system.
This system is the industry leader and allows REL’s clients to provide their customers’ dispensed beer as the brewers intended. The system is proven to reduce energy usage and minimise waste.
- What can REL offer today’s on-trade retailer that was not possible yesterday?
REL’s Glycol Beer System provides perfect solutions to all refrigeration needs. The system is designed to incorporate under-counter bottle coolers and cold rooms, cooling the product at the point of dispense to deliver the perfect pint at the perfect temperature every time.
The temperature at dispense is guaranteed, which is not available with any other system.
REL’s system also offers free hot water, up to 50°C, with its smart heat recovery system.
- How do your refrigeration systems enable pub owners to redefine their customers and drive sales?
The REL system, which has been installed in over 150 outlets nationwide, enables pub owners to give their customers consistent pouring at selected temperatures, a choice of serving temperature and quality presentation of draft.
The system reduces the operating costs of the beer cooling system both for dispense and bottle. All of these allow the pub owner to drive sales and increase turnover.
- Which refrigeration technology trend will impact most significantly in 2016 (and why)?
REL sees remote management, self-controlling technology and real time information transforming the industry in 2016. All of these will give the client the ability to focus on other areas of the business with the knowledge that they are able to consistently produce a top quality product at an affordable price.