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Dogfish Head & AC Beverage Collaborate on Rack AeriAle

Rack AeriAle
Dan Bortz

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and AC Beverage, designers and installers of beer draft systems, have collaborated on an interesting new way to barrel age and for dispense craft beer. The Rack AeriAle is a draft beer dispensing system, which extracts barrel-aged beer that has been chilled and infused with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

The two companies developed a process to transfer beer into wine barrels for aging. Inside the barrels, the beer is preserved by a blanket of nitrogen gas, which protects the beer from oxygen, which is able to penetrate the wooden barrels.

“Aging beer in wine or whiskey barrels creates a soft, complex flavor profile which is best enjoyed straight from the barrel.”

– Charles Kleinrichert, president of AC Beverage

A system was installed to feed the wine barrels with a continuous supply of N2 gas. Customized Nitrogenator extractors utilize low pressure N2 gas to pump the beer to a heat exchanger, chilling the beer to a desired temperature. Once chilled, the beer is fed into a CellarStream in-line liquid / gas contactor. This device creates a custom blend of gases to infuse into the beer. These infusions can range from crisp carbonation to the soft, velvety mouthfeel of Nitrogen. The finished product is then poured through a typical draft beer dispense system using a slow-pour faucet. A restrictor disc in the faucet strips the gas while the beer is being poured.

“I thought it’d be cool to work with AC Beverage to design a system that brings barrel-aged beers from the barrel directly to the tap system and incorporates a smooth creamy nitro head into the process. I shared my initial idea with Charlie with some notes and images of what I was thinking about and he took it from there and made the technical and mechanical magic happen.”

– Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Although the concept and design of the Rack AeriAle was a collaborative effort between Dogfish Head and AC Beverage, the construction and sales of this system will be conducted solely by AC Beverage.

Rack AeriALe
Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

The first Rack AeriAle system was sold to Eataly Boston’s Terra Restaurant and will begin dispensing beer later this year. That system was unveiled last night as a sneak peak to media and brewers at the opening of Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival in Boston. A second system will be on display from April 10-13 at the AC Beverage booth at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C.

Dogfish Head plans to purchase the second Rack AeriAle system for installation in the tasting room at their Milton, DE brewery.

Watch the unveiling of Rack AeriAle here.

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