Distillery Drainage: How to Choose the Best System for Your Facility

Guest post and photo courtesy of Slot Drain Systems

From small-batch distilleries to corporate mega-breweries, safety and sanitation are at the top of any owner/operator/manager’s priority list. They should also be top of mind when selecting your floor drainage system, but they’re not the only considerations.

You want a drain system that’s quick and easy to clean so that employees can get back to what matters most — creating excellent products for your consumers to enjoy. 

The following are many of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to choosing a brewery or distillery drainage system.

What Types of Floor Drains Are Available?

The two main drainage options for distillery/brewery environments are traditional trench drains and slot drains

Traditional trench drains comprise a wide drain channel with heavy grates covering it. Slot drains, on the other hand, do away with the grates, opting for a narrow slot opening instead. Both are effective drainage solutions for your facility, though they’re certainly not created equal.

How Do I Clean My Floor Drains?

First of all, you want to choose a drainage system made of stainless steel so that it can withstand the extreme temperatures and harsh chemicals that may be found in a distillery environment. Corrosion-resistant stainless steel will also help to reduce bacterial growth, making for an altogether safer facility from the ground up.

Trench drains are cleaned by removing the large grates, one by one, thoroughly cleaning the drainage channel with a brush and/or applicable chemicals, and then cleaning each and every grate to help minimize bacterial growth around all the edges, nooks, and crannies.

Slot drains require only a brush and/or paddle tool to clean. The scrubbing brush can be inserted through the slot opening to scrub along every part of the drain channel, and the paddle can be used to move debris along the channel toward a catch basin. This generally takes only minutes per 10-foot section. 

Slot drains made from stainless steel can also withstand all the necessary cleaning chemicals you use to keep your facility spotless. Slot Drain Systems in particular manufactures their slot drains with clean-in-place considerations, like a water line connection (Flush-Flo), which allows you to flush the channel manually or automatically using a timer.

Can I Empty My Tanks into My Floor Drains?

Provided you choose the right drainage system, you can absolutely empty your tanks into them. 

You’ll then want to choose a drain that can handle an enormous flow at once.

Trench drains are great for this because they’re wide open, allowing for a lot of liquids at once. Depending on flow rate, however, you may encounter quite a lot of splashing, so the end result may be wet floors and a lot more work when it comes time to clean up.

Common slot drain options can withstand up to 27 gallons per minute, per linear foot, which is more than enough when you need to empty a tank. The narrow slot opening helps prevent backsplash, and Slot Drain Systems even manufactures an accessory called the “Slot Hog,” which has a tri-clamp connection to help minimize the mess.

Are Floor Drains Difficult to Install?

Neither a traditional trench drain nor a slot drain is particularly difficult to install, as they must both be encased in concrete and leveled appropriately. In some cases, however, a slot drain is easier to install, since it is manufactured in longer sections, reducing the time it takes to level and connect to subsequent sections.

Do I Need to Install Catch Basins?

Though drainage systems can be made without the need for catch basins, they are always recommended, as they make the cleaning process easier and more efficient when paired with a strainer basket. 

Catch basins also catch debris and lost items that you may want to retrieve, should they fall into the drainage channel, such as rings, keys, and other small items. 

Which Type of Drainage System Is Best for My Distillery or Brewery?

The best drainage system for your distillery or brewery depends on what you want out of it and how you’d like to spend your time going forward. 

Traditional trench drain systems can be less expensive than slot drains up front, and they may seem like the easiest solution, but they come with some caveats.

First, trench drains require heavy grate covers, which are cumbersome, take time to clean, and can harbor harmful bacteria that shouldn’t be found in a beverage processing facility. 

Second, their wide drain channel opening is less than ideal for distilleries and breweries, where tanks and stills may empty large quantities at a time. Essentially, trench drains can help to create just as much of a mess as they help to prevent.

Slot drains, on the other hand, may cost somewhat more upfront, but they can actually save you time and money in the long run. The absence of heavy grates allows for a more streamlined cleaning process, and the added benefit of clean-in-place considerations helps you more thoroughly clean out the drainage channel.

It’s Up to You

Weigh the pros and cons of each system before you literally set it in stone. Do you want to save some money upfront with a traditional trench drain system? Or would you rather save it in the long run with a slot drain system?

Each system is effective in its own way, but just remember that what may seem like a luxury drainage system (slot drain) can actually be a time and money saver over the life of your facility.

> When it comes to choosing the right equipment for your distillery, the team at StillDragon is happy to answer any questions you might have. Contact us today!