Design of brewery wastewater treatment systems

The design of brewery wastewater treatment systems is a crucial step in finding the best solution for your brewery wastewater. The individual design of the treatment solution is a decisive factor for ensuring correct wastewater treatment and compliance. On this page you will find all the information necessary for planning brewery wastewater treatment systems. 

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Biological brewery wastewater treatment systems 

There are various process technologies for the treatment of brewery wastewater. To select the correct brewery wastewater treatment systems, some information is important. This includes the amount of wastewater produced, the contaminant load carried and the required discharge values. This page provides you with all the information you need to plan your wastewater treatment plant. We present the best solutions for this that can achieve guaranteed compliance with emission limit values.

Discharge options for brewery wastewater 

As already described on previous pages, various discharge options for brewery wastewater exist. Most breweries are indirect dischargers – they discharge their wastewater into the public sewer system. Only about 10 per cent of all breweries treat their wastewater for direct discharge into a receiving water body. 

The decision to discharge brewery wastewater directly or indirectly is dependent on several factors. One such factor is the location of the brewery. Treated brewery wastewater can be reused for various purposes. For instance, it can be used to irrigate wheat or barley fields as well as the brewery’s own green areas, allowing for direct discharge of the wastewater. 

If a brewery decides on indirect discharge, heavy pollution surcharges may be incurred, which can be avoided through pre-treatment. For this reason, it is crucial to select the correct brewery wastewater treatment systems. We are happy to support you with your requirements and guarantee compliance with all required discharge values. 

industrial wastewater treatment

Pollutants in brewery wastewater 

brewery wastewater treatment

The pollutants present in brewery wastewater fall into three categories: Solids, organic contaminants, and cleaning chemicals. In the case of solids, it is important to screen them out of the wastewater as early as possible, as they can lead to blockages – regardless of whether the wastewater is discharged directly or indirectly. 

The organic pollutants can be broken down excellently by a biological treatment stage. They are primarily divided into small amounts of alcohol, colouring agents, which enter the beer via the malt, sugar, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The cleaning chemicals enter the wastewater stream by CIP (clean in place) activities and the cleaning of all brewing utensils. These can usually be treated just as easily via a biological treatment stage, but some pH adjustment or nutrient adjustment may then be needed. 

Pre-treatment of brewery wastewater 

The pre-treatment of brewery wastewater serves primarily to reduce heavy pollution surcharges or to avoid them completely. These can occur when an excessive load of organic pollution or solids enters the municipal wastewater system. The solids are usually husks, which are heavier than water.  

There are two effective processes for the pre-treatment of brewery wastewater: Screening and SBR processes. 

brewery wastewater treatment after hop addition
ClearFox pre treatment system


Screening is an absolutely necessary part of brewery wastewater treatment systems and an important step before the wastewater can be discharged into the sewer system. The most proven technology here is a screw screen. This transports the wastewater with all its solids through a fine-meshed screen. Thus, the wastewater flows through the screen, while the solids are carried over the screen and thus separated from the wastewater. The solids can simply be collected in a container while the wastewater moves on to the next treatment step. 


Dissolved air flotation is a highly efficient pre-treatment step for brewery wastewater. It is a chemical-physical process in which the contaminants are floated out of the wastewater. This solution is particularly space-saving, as we have developed a flotation reactor that separates the contaminants from the clear water in the smallest possible space.  

The ClearFox® dissolved air flotation uses the smallest air bubbles to float the suspended solids out of the wastewater. Initially, the system mixes flocculants into the wastewater to bind the suspended solids. This increases their surface area. Under pressure, the wastewater is supersaturated with air. When the wastewater enters the flotation reactor, the pressure is released, and the additional air is released from the wastewater in fine bubbles. These carry the suspended solids to the surface, where they are separated from the clear water via a cone opening. 

Chemical-physical treatment of slaughterhouse wastewater

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With the ClearFox® DAF you can be sure that your wastewater is free of suspended solids before it enters the municipal sewage network or a biological treatment stage. We have optimised the flotation reactor so that it removes up to 99 percent of suspended solids. This makes it an excellent pre-treatment step for brewery wastewater. 

Biological treatment of brewery wastewater 

Biological treatment of brewery wastewater is an absolutely necessary step if you want to discharge the wastewater directly into a receiving water body. This ensures that you comply with all required discharge values. As a rule, wastewater with the following values is suitable for direct discharge: 

Parameter CODBOD5NH4-NNtotPtot
brewery wastewater treatment systems

The ratio of COD to BOD5 in brewery wastewater is on average 1.7, making it ideal for biological, aerobic treatment. Brewery wastewater contains no fats and oils and only a few suspended solids. An upstream separation process step is not necessary in brewery wastewater treatment systems. This process step can be used as a stand-alone solution for the treatment of brewery wastewater for direct discharge. 

FBBR process 

An outstanding technology for brewery wastewater treatment is the submerged fixed bed. This is a purely natural process that does not require any chemicals. Thus, there are no running costs for the provision either. Due to the high organic content in brewery wastewater and the exceptionally low COD/BOD5 ratio, the fixed-bed process is a particularly effective and cost-efficient solution. 

Our FBBR process involves a special growth material on which the microorganisms can settle. This growth material consists of net tubes, which have an area of 150, 200 or 250 square metres per cubic metre. This allows us to control the amount of microorganisms that settle on the growth material and thus adapt the treatment performance to the conditions and requirements on site. 

ClearFox FBBR for brewery effluent treatment
ClearFox FBBR for municipal wastwater treatment

The use of a biological wastewater treatment process is first and foremost cost-efficient. Since treatment by microorganisms is a natural process, the operating costs of the system are extremely low. In addition, maintenance costs are kept to a minimum. 

With our FBBR process, you can be sure that you will comply with all direct discharge regulations. With a COD of around 100 mg/l and a BOD5 of around 20 mg/l, the treated wastewater is suitable either for discharge into a receiving water body or for irrigation. This is also certified at regular intervals by PIA GmbH, an international, independent testing institute for wastewater technology. 

SBR process 

The SBR process (Sequential Batch Reactor) is a biological treatment process that uses aeration to help the microorganisms that are part of the wastewater to break down the pollution. The microorganisms respire the pollutant load and produce secondary sludge, which settles out from the clear water. The SBR cycle is divided into four phases: Filling and mixing, aeration, settling with sludge removal and clear water removal. This cycle usually lasts up to eight hours, with four hours for aeration. Biodegradation takes place during this time. 

The cycle times can be adjusted under certain conditions. Shortening the cycle has the advantage that more wastewater can be treated in each period. The degradation performance, however, is lower. Often, however, only partial degradation is necessary for indirect discharge to avoid the heavy pollution surcharges. 

ClearFox SBR for BOD removal

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The design of the SBR process depends on three factors: The amount of wastewater, the pollutant load present and required discharge values. Therefore, each wastewater treatment plant for breweries must be individually tailored to the wastewater. We have many years of experience in the food and beverage industry and have already planned numerous SBR processes for different applications and in varied sizes. For this reason, PIA GmbH – an independent, international testing institute for wastewater technology – regularly awards us and certifies the outstanding purification performance. 

Your brewery wastewater treatment plant design

We can support you in completing the correct brewery wastewater treatment plant design for your project with our extensive experience. We can help you reduce disposal costs, and we can guarantee your effluent discharge standards. Our solutions and know-how are ideally suited for wastewater treatment in brewery. 

Our goal is to offer cost-effective, durable, and reliable solutions for wastewater treatment in breweries. To this end, we have gained experience in the food and beverage industry over many years and have developed brewery wastewater treatment systems internationally. 

We also have an in-house laboratory where we can test wastewater samples from any sector. You will receive a detailed report and can request a non-binding quotation at any time. This service is available to all interested parties worldwide. 

The entire process – from analysis to quotation – is completed within one week. If you have any questions about our laboratory analyses or would like to request a quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Our wastewater treatment solutions are suitable for any application such as brewery expansion for greater output, new planning or changing from indirect discharge to direct discharge. Contact us today! Together we will find out which solution is best suited for your wastewater. 

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