Foundation Fieldbus: Australian for Success

Foster's Brewery Uses Fieldbus in Filtration Room

Ah! You can taste it now: the crisp, refreshing taste of an ice cold beer on a hot summer's day. The pale golden lager sparkles in the glass. The toasty smell of malt mingles with the spicy aroma of hops. Hold a sip in your mouth. The taste is light-handed and pristine. There's the slightest sweetness of the malt balanced with just the right amount bitterness from the hops. The bubbles dance over your tongue and down your parched throat.

We at Carlton & United Breweries know that a great beer is always cause for celebration. We are the leading brewer in Australia, producing over half the beer consumed in this country. We are also one of the top five brewers in the world, brewing over 50 different brands, among them Foster's Lager, Foster's Special Bitter, Victoria Bitter and Foster's LightIce. Our beer is sold in 121 countries and brewed in eight. At our Abbotsford Brewery in Melbourne, we produce 580 million liters of beer a year. Our Melbourne plant covers 22 acres and employs more than 500 people during peak periods. But, even with brewing that many different brands of beer, we're still feeling pressure from the craft breweries and customer's increasing sophistication for greater variety. Our eight packaging lines at the Abbotsford plant alone often run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just to keep up with demand. It is essential to our competitive edge that we find ways to make our people more efficient and our plant more technologically flexible. One of the ways we've done this is to install a new process control system using a digital communications system called Foundation™ Fieldbus in our filtration room.

Beer through the Ages

Beer is probably the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. In fact, anthropologists have speculated that it was the growing of barley to brew beer that transformed early man from hunger/gathers into farmers. Since the very earliest days, ale was brewed by wetting barley, or other grain, and allowing it to sprout. The sprouted kernels were then roasted, producing malt. The malt was steeped in hot water, then the water drained off and boiled. This brew was

seasoned with hops, transferred to another vessel and a top-fermenting yeast was added. The beer was then allowed to ferment for a short period of time at air temperature, probably about 10°C.  It was also traditionally drunk at this temperature, colder temperatures tending to deaden it's complex flavors, not to mention refrigeration being scarce. Developed over the centuries by trial and error, consistently good beer was considered a rather mystical art at any medieval king's court. Is it any wonder that the ancient sign for a brewer was the same as that for an alchemist: a six pointed star?

These early ales tended to be robust, fruity and complex, similar to the ales of today. They also tended to be cloudy since there was no filtration process. Now you know why ale has sometimes been referred to as "muddy pond water" in disdain.

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