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A Pipe Runs Through It


Flathead Lake Brewing Company, Glycol, Heating Distribution, Chilled Water, Snow Melt

Products Used
Blue Pipe® 
Location / Date
Big Fork, MT
Spring 2014-Winter 2015

Aquatherm Advantages

  • Using Aquatherm instead of copper saved an estimated $100,000 in piping and installation costs
  • Aquatherm’s heat fusion process eliminated the need for glue or solder on pipe joints
  • Aquatherm Blue Pipe has natural insulating properties which can enhance the efficiency of cold systems like the glycol processes used to brew beer
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The Challenge

Ownership sought a piping system that would give them points for a LEED Certification


The Solution

Aquatherm provided extensive savings while also contributing indirectly to LEED points and delivering a robust system


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Aquatherm Supports Sustainability Initiatives at Montana Brewery

There is a lot to appreciate about Flathead Lake Brewing Company’s (FLBC) newest brewery and pubhouse in Bigfork, MT.  There is the award winning beer, which can be enjoyed while gazing out over the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.  There is the facility, a rustic yet welcoming spot, borne from the ruins of an old bowling alley.  Finally, there are the many sustainability strategies used in the construction and functionality of the brewery.  Most notable among these is the unprecedented use of clean effluent from a nearby water and sewer treatment plant to indirectly provide heating and cooling for the building and brewing processes.

The keyword is indirectly. The effluent, which is piped into the brewery from the neighboring Bigfork Water and Sewer District, is completely contained within a separate closed loop.  It serves the typical role of a geothermal well field, something that was not possible for the brewery to install given its downtown location. The effluent is the “heat-sink,” giving up or absorbing heat as needed in order to pre-heat or pre-cool the water used for heating and cooling the building and the glycol that is used in the brewing process.   .

It is a complex design that uses several thousand linear feet of Aquatherm Blue Pipe® to transport both heating water and glycol to and from several water-to-water and water-to-air WaterFurnace heat pumps. A plate & frame heat exchanger is positioned between the closed effluent loop and the actual fluids used for heating and cooling. Before the water reaches the heat pumps it is pre-heated/pre-cooled via a plate & frame heat exchanger using the clean effluent. It is then routed through a Lochinvar® buffer tank, which serves as a reservoir of pre-tempered water to be used downstream for HVAC and process applications.