I was recently asked by a fellow brewer to put together a “Plate and Frame Filter How to”. I’ve been writing articles for about 18 months now, since the website launched.
This journey has put me in touch with some great industry people who I’ve really enjoyed chatting with. It’s been a happy side effect of writing the articles, I hadn’t really thought about.
Brewers who wanted to discuss techniques or share their methods after reading about my ideas or thoughts. I’ve grown so much as a brewer these last 18 months and it’s thanks to these discussions I’ve had.
So, anyway back to the subject of this article, the plate and frame filter how to. This article is a little different. It’s more of a structured step-by-step guide.
It’s a pretty niche topic, but if a brewer is online looking for information about plate and frame filters this article might help. Let’s get started with what you need.
I will be adding some pictures to this article the next time I use the plate and frame filter. I use it less now as I try to fine my beers to get clarity.
Please Note: I’m adding some further notes to this article. As a lovely gentleman called Dick Murton got in touch and had some valuable feedback.
Dick Murton is one of the most knowledgeable brewers out there and is very generous with other brewers offering help and advice. If you’ve ever been on the probrewer forums you would of seen Dick answer multiple questions thoroughly.
So, the notes in purple are those by Dick. Here is his first input:
Dick’s First Notes
Afraid you have made the common mistake of calling this design a plate and frame filter. A very common mistake. What you are describing is a sheet filter consisting of alternating plates only.
I have had to insist on major changes to this section of the IBD GCB material. Because they got someone who doesn’t know the difference between a plate (sheet filter) and plate and frame filter. Using filter aid such as perlite or kieselguhr to author the material.
Equipment List – Plate and Frame Filter How To
a. Plate and frame filter (lol)
b. Filter pads
c. Minimum of 3 beer hoses (in for pump from outgoing tank, out of pump to filter plus out of filter to receiving tank)
d. I use a CIP pump, best if it has VDF control, otherwise need to control speed with a butterfly valve.
e. 3 sight glass for inline if you have 3 (for bottom of outgoing tank, at filter out and bottom or receiving tank)
f. T-piece at the bottom of receiving tank – to go to receiving tank and to drain.
g. Three butterfly valves minimum (hose out of going tank and hose going to receiving tank – both connected to end which will be connected to the tanks + Hose to t-piece drain)
Operating the Filter
How I put the equipment together starting with what’s connected to the outgoing tank later.
1. Butterfly valve
2. Sight glass
3. Beer hose
4. Connect hose to pump in of CIP pump
5. Pump out
6. Connect hose to pump out
7. Connect hose to filter in
8. Hopefully there’s a valve on the filter out (if not need to put one there)
9. Connect sight glass to filter out
10. Connect hose to sight glass
11. Connect other end of hose to another sight glass.
13. Butter fly valve off T-piece to drain
14. Not necessary really but also sometimes put a valve before the tank out valve
15. CO2 line between CO2 outlets of both tanks to make a circle – beer one way and gas the other.
Hope this makes sense to you all….as I say will add pics later to make understanding easier.
Filter Preparation – Plate and Frame Filter How To
First make sure you CO2 line is connected and the pressure between tanks is equalized.
Make sure you’ve pre-dumped from the out tank bottom all yeast and sediment prior to filter…preferably done the day before…then
1. You need to run hot water (76 to 82C) through the filter and beer hose to sterilize everything plus also to run water through the pads to get rid of the “taste” of them.
2. Hook hot water to hose, which will later be connected to the out tank.
3. I usually run around 250 liters of hot water through the filter which goes to the drain out at the receiving tank.
Some Great Notes by Dick Here
Fair enough, but this volume depends totally on the size of the filter pack. Which you give no indication of. Are you talking a 500-liter run, a 1000-litre run, or a 5000-litre run? Point I am making is that it is dangerous to give and indication of volume unless there is some context, in this case, the size of the kit.
For what it is worth, if the sheets are new, then they should be thoroughly wetted with cold water before tightening the plate pack (good point I forgot to add this) and then sterilized.
If they have already been used, then they can be re-used if they are back-flushed with cold water first until virtually clear, and the with warm water – circa 40 degrees C, and only then should they be re-sterilize, preferably in forward flow direction.
You MUST NOT back flush plate and frame (KG / Perlite filter aid filters) as the sheets will tear.
You need to state the temperature at every bleed point must be checked for 80 C plus before starting the timer – typically 20 minutes. A useful tool for this is to use the stick on temperature strips which are presumably available worldwide – one on each outlet as there is no point risking infecting beer from old sheets etc.
Back to My Notes
4. Once your happy everything is sterilized you can stop the water.
5. Keep the line packed with water as best you can. Then you can purge the water out with CO2.
6. Optional – some people like to go with cold water after hot water to chill everything down before moving to beer. Others don’t like too, up to you.
Best practice is to cool down before introducing beer. Introducing beer into hot filters is commons but not good practice because you get gas breakout and rapid deposition of dissolved and undissolved solids which have coagulated due to the heat .
Similar to over-pasteurizing beer at high temperatures (haze) but worse because you will have suspended solids, yeast and bacterial in addition, so these blind the filter sheets. Not likely to be a problem if using fresh sheets every time, but loss of working life if re-using.
Also, allows some suspended material to re-dissolve and be available for formation of haze, potentially reducing the beers shelf life. So suggest strong recommendation to cool down with chilled cold water before introducing beer – ideally this would be < 2 C, but obviously this is not normally practical in a micro brewery.
7. So yeah purge lines with CO2.
8. When lines are purged, let off pressure so, it’s below the pressure in the tanks.
Typical differential pressure indicating a blocking filter is around 1 bar. Again, I accept that most micro brewers will not have pressure gauges on the filter inlet and outlet. But normally would on the tanks because of ensure suitable CO2 pressures.
9. You can then connect the hose to the out tank – to the racking arm or equivalent. So not to the true bottom where all the yeast and sediment is.
Switching Over to Beer
10. Open the valves so beer can begin to flow out of the tank into the filter and have it going to drain.
11. You will always see some water at first as the beer starts to go out to the drain…almost impossible to completely purge all water.
12. When you’re happy you’ve all beer; open receiving tank bottom and close drain so, you can begin filling the receiving tank with filtered beer.
13. At first, I like to just go with gravity so as not to make too much foam in the receiving tank.
14. As you have some volume, say around 200L, you can begin the pump on a low setting maybe 6%. I like to fill the receiving tank slowly, I don’t want to create too much foam and lose head retention in the finished beer.
Flow rates: Don’t exceed manufacturers recommendations (please, check with your supplier). Again I think this is highly unlikely in most micros, but can often be found in larger breweries trying to push the envelope.
15. As you increase the volume of beer in the receiving tank over time you can also increase the pump speed. This is because you will have more pressure from:
– The filter pads slowly getting blocked
– The head pressure from receiving tank
Keep An Eye On The Filter Run
16. Keep going and an eye on the sight glass at filter for speed and to make sure the beer is clear.
17. Hopefully you will have a good run and get all the beer into the receiving tank without issue.
18. When the sight glass is empty at the out tank, you can close the butterfly valve.
19. Take off the out hose at the out tank, connect to the CO2 and push the remaining beer in hose and filter to the receiving tank. Once the sight glass at the bottom of the receiving tank has no beer, the filtering is complete.
20. Close everything up, disconnect the CO2 and then then slowly release the pressure by opening one butterfly valve at the end of one of the hoses.
21. Then rinse everything with hot water like you did when you were sterilizing.
22. Breakdown everything and clean.
23. Top up pressure in receiving tank to the pressure you want for proper carbonation…refer to the CO2 volumes graph.
And your done yay!
Plate and Frame Filter How to – Conclusions
I hope this guide was helpful to you. When I have the pictures, I plan to turn this into a short PDF for offline referral and help. Every time I move beer, I like to go slowly, you can only create foam/head once. You don’t want to lose it…brewing is often about patience.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message or comment below. My email is:
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Please Free to Contact Me
I’m a brewing consultant helping people with their upcoming projects, as well as help people looking to source brewing equipment from China.
If you have a beer processing technique, you’d like help with (like I did with this plate and frame filter) then feel free to reach out too. I’ll try and help if I can.
Thanks for reading and hope it was useful. Have a great day and happy brewing.