A new locally owned craft brewery in downtown Missoula will open later this summer with spacious outdoor decks, high-end pub food with a Southern twist and an innovative system that recycles the carbon dioxide created in the fermentation process.
Conflux Brewing Company has partnered with a Missoula green tech company called CO Brew Inc. for a CO2 recovery system that will keep thousands of pounds of the greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere, and cut down on transportation costs.
“It’s a great system,” said Conflux co-owner Hugh Yates. “We’re recapturing and reusing greenhouse gas instead of just letting it out of our garage door in back. It’s not just a feel-good thing. It’s actually going to be cheaper in the long run. We’re not bringing in CO2 for our company. It’s just a win-win on all fronts.”
Taylor Woods, the founder and CEO of CO Brew, said each barrel of beer produces 11-13 pounds of CO2 as the yeast converts sugar into alcohol and CO2. Breweries also buy CO2 for further carbonation of beer, transferring liquids between tanks, cleaning kegs, packaging and in draught lines.
“So they’re consuming 10-13 pounds per barrel,” Woods said. “So breweries consume just as much CO2 as they can consume, but the problem is there has been a technology gap preventing breweries from taking a raw vapor and turning into a pure liquid CO2, which is way more compact to store.”
His company has developed technology to solve that problem, and they’ve installed their system at Conflux and at Lolo Peak Brewery.
“We want brewers to be aware that CO2 recovery is an option for them, and consumers to learn more about greenhouse gas emissions in breweries and how we’re addressing it,” said Tresha Sanders of CO Brew. “Missoula is a very environmental and sustainability-focused city, and Montana as a whole, the same.”
Yates said his brewery hopes to produce about 1,000 barrels of beer of all varieties in the first year. They won’t be packaging their beer, but will sell it in the taproom and restaurant for customers in-house.
“We save breweries about 30 percent on CO2 costs and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by almost 90 percent,” Sanders said. “We’re also delivering more systems to Montana breweries, one in Alaska, and one to the only brewery in Nunavut, Canada.”
Yates said he hopes his brewing team can start on the first batch this month, and after that it’s about a 40-day process before the restaurant can open.
“We’re super-excited,” he said. “We wanted to have our building be as sustainable and green and functional as possible, and this is a massive piece of that.”
Yates and his wife and their staff are putting the finishing touches on the interior of the building, which will include a large wrap-around bar, a play area for kids, and custom artwork. The brewery will feature an enclosed patio with a firepit, an upstairs south-facing deck with views of the mountains, and outdoor seating on the sidewalks. With a full commercial kitchen, Yates said his menu will be unique to town.
“We’re excited about it,” he said.