Waukesha manufacturer looks to revolutionize beer production with Pewaukee demonstration brewery

Suggesting it is approaching a “major” breakthrough that “could alter an entire industry,” Waukesha manufacturer Hydro-Thermal Corp. is proposing a demonstration brewery to test new beer-producing technology in Pewaukee.

“Hydro-Thermal in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is on the verge of something that could dramatically elevate Waukesha’s standing as a hub for bold innovation,” said the project narrative the company submitted to the city for review in June.

The resulting facility proposed for an existing building at N22 W23977 Ridgeview Parkway would brew and package batches of beer, demonstrating Hydro-Thermal’s new technology to prospective customers, academia and engineering firms. If the technology catches on, Hydro-Thermal would intend to build a larger contract brewery nearby to make bigger batches of beer for other companies.

“We have this special opportunity to develop recently patented technology and demonstrate a new way of brewing to the world,” Hydro- Thermal president and CEO Jim Zaiser is quoted in the application to the city. “We will engage employees and partner within the community to complete the development, begin producing ‘Futuristic Brewhouses’, and brew great beer!”

The initial demonstration brewery would mean about a dozen new jobs in 2023 on top of the 100 Hydro-Thermal already employs.

A representative of Hydro-Thermal did not respond to requests for comment Friday. A conditional use permit request for the brewery is to be presented to the Pewaukee Plan Commission on Thursday.

“In total, we hope the team is 30 strong in the next 5 years,” the application said. “The business should increase revenues upwards of $20 (million) to $40 million.”

The Pewaukee demonstration brewery’s initial space would be about 24,768 square feet, with the ability to expand into another 14,317 in the same building over time.

Brewing tanks used to make wort currently occupy a lot of floor space in the average brewery.

Hydro-Thermal’s products are already used in the production of ethanol, food and beverage products and pet food. The application to the city of Pewaukee doesn’t detail its new brewing operation beyond referring to a newly-patented technology and production of batches of wort, the sugar-water mash that is mixed with yeast to make alcohol in the beer-making process.

That mash is currently made in large stainless steel kettles that take up a lot of floor space in the common brewery.

A patent Hydro-Thermal secured in April 2021 expands on the company’s new concept to make wort.

“The techniques and equipment used to generate these products are centuries old and advances in food production have not been applied successfully to the brewing industry,” a summary of the technology found in the patent records said.

Hydro-Thermal proposes to use its existing steam injection technology in the brewing process, more quickly heating the grains and fluid used to produce the mash. The end result for breweries, according to the patent filing, is the ability to use smaller tanks to produce the same amount of mash for beer, reduced lag times traditionally needed to heat it in the brewing process, and reducing the possibility of the grain used to make the mash forming into “dough balls” that aren’t good for making beer.

Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal

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