On today’s episode, we’re joined by Tyler Jones and Judson Voss from Chart Industries to talk about their nitrogen dosing systems that are used for canning and bottling nitro coffees and beers (among other things). We chat about Chart as a company and we’re also able to talk about the ins and outs of how the nitrogen dosing process works and how it can be applied to “nitro” beverages.
Highlights & Takeaways
Some benefits of nitrogen dosing:
- Decrease dissolved oxygen in the final product
- Increase shelf life
- Reduced cost over other canning/bottling methods
- Widgetless nitro beers (and coffees)
Episode 44 Transcript
Brendan Hanson: Hey, welcome back to the Drips & Draughts podcast. We’ve got a great episode for you today; where we talk with Tyler Jones and Judson Voss from Chart Industries.
Cary: Yes, really, really interesting episode. Get all of your nitro and cold brew canning, bottling questions answered here; how do you do it, what do you need? Really cool episode.
Brendan: Yes, they work for a company called Chart Industries which makes all sorts of stuff but we talk to them specifically about nitrogen dosing equipment which allows you to can or bottle cold brew and, actually, turn it into nitro cold brew if it’s not already and–
Cary: Basically take it from flat cold brew to nitro cold brew in an instant —
Brendan: In the can or in the bottle.
Brendan: Yes, no need for the widgets so it eliminates a lot of expense; a lot of the stuff that keeps a lot of people out of the market, I think. So, definitely, a good episode. If you find this episode or any other episode useful for that matter, hop on iTunes and leave the show a review. We’d appreciate it and, yes, it’d help the show out. So with that, let’s get into the episode with Tyler, the tire guy, and Judson, the Navy Seal –
Cary: Here we go.
Brendan: – from Chart Industries.
Brendan: All right, welcome back to the Drips & Draughts podcast. As always, I’m Brendan Hanson. And today, we’re joined by Judson Voss and Tyler Jones from Chart Industries. How are you guys?
Judson Voss & Tyler Jones : We’re doing great. How about you?
Brendan: We’re good.
Cary: We’re good. Thanks for coming out, guys.
Brendan: So before we get into Chart Industries and what your company does, would both of you guys mind giving us a small background, maybe start with you, Judson?
Judson: Sure. Up until six months ago, actually, I was a Navy Seal and — okay, sorry, that’s somebody else’s story.
Cary: We’re just really impressed at each other. [laughs]
Tyler: Can we send you some full body photos just so you can see what a real Navy Seal looks like?
Judson: That’s the kind you’re thinking of. It’s more of the [making sounds].
Tyler: You really should’ve gotten this out before he pressed record.
Judson: Sorry. So my background, actually– Currently, I’m a business development and marketing manager for the packaged gas division at Chart Industries. I’ve been doing that for about five years now. Prior to that, actually, what I did for a living was did a podcast for six years on real estate investing. I did all types of teaching in real estate investing, that kind of stuff.
Brendan: I don’t know if I can believe that after the Navy Seal story.
Cary: Good point.
Cary: All trust has gone out the window.
Brendan: It’s gone.
Brendan: Cool, so you’re not a rookie at this?
Judson: Right. [laughs] That’s true.
Brendan: All right. How about you, Tyler?
Tyler: Well, I will be 100% honest if I can be here. This is like a good cop, bad cop kind of spiel we do. I have a degree from George Tech in mechanical engineering. I actually started out right out of school as a tire engineer developing experimental tires, OEM tires, all that kind of stuff for your passenger car trucks, and whatnot.
Then I came over to Chart five years ago as a beverage product engineer. So I designed the liquid CO2 pressure vessels for restaurants and even breweries and stadium applications, specialized vaporizer systems, things like that. Then two years ago, took this job as product manager of liquid nitrogen dosing systems which I’m currently doing, and love every bit of it. So it’s a good transition.
The reason I did mechanical engineering at George Tech was because I wanted to be flexible; I figured it was the most diverse engineering degree. I went from tires to cryogenics; now we’re talking about liquid nitrogen, and beer, and coffee, so you can —
Brendan: Beer and coffee.
Tyler: Yes. I think it’s a true testament to all the research I did before I went to school so —
Brendan: Yes, no kidding.
Cary: Can’t say that many high schoolers have that much foresight.
Tyler: [laughs] Well, yes. My dad helped a lot so, yes.
Brendan: Here we go.
Cary: This is what you’re doing.
Judson: Yes. Tyler’s dad actually said, “Knowing your track records, you’re going to be getting a lot of different jobs very quickly when you get out of school.”
Tyler: We could just do this podcast with me, if we have to, and just cut Judson out all together. It’s [unintelligible 00:05:17].
Brendan: We’ll see if he records him as the healing voice that you’re hearing or his normal voice and I will make that decision.
Brendan: All right, so you mentioned the nitrogen dosing systems. I think that’s going to, probably, be the main topic of the show. But before we dive into that, can you give us a little background on Chart Industries; what Chart Industries is, and an overview of what the company does?
Judson: Sure. You want [unintelligible 00:06:22]?
Tyler: Absolutely. Go ahead.
Judson: Sure. So Chart is about $1.25 billion publicly traded company that works in three different areas. We work on the distribution storage of cryogenics which is where the nitrogen doser group falls. We also have energy and chemical division that mostly does things like brazed aluminum heat exchangers for liquefying natural gas; we do LNG applications. The third group, sort of off from there in my field, is biomedical, so everything from the small respirator units, the oxygen supplies that you see on people’s shoulders to cryo-bio freezers that groups like CDC used to store different samples of–
Brendan: Wow, all over, yes.
Judson: Yes —
Brendan: You’re the first. It’s awesome. All right, so, yes, let’s dive in to the cryogenic area, the liquid nitrogen dosing systems. Is a quick elevator pitch? What is it?
Tyler: Well, basically, we build a vacuum insulated reservoir that holds liquid nitrogen and we dispense that as a liquid which is a little different from what Judson just got through explaining as far as how the rest of our products work is we store it in liquid form and we dispense in a gaseous state. We actually store in a liquid form and we dispense in a liquid form. The nitrogen dosing systems is simply a unit that puts a drop of liquid nitrogen in a container. That’s the layman way of explaining what we do.
Cary: Just one drop, that’s all that’s needed?
Tyler: Yes, one drop. It’s like a dollop of daisy.
Brendan: That’s all it takes.
Brendan: So, getting a little more technical, how’s that happen without the nitrogen just — Doesn’t that typically vaporize once it hits anything or? I know nothing about liquid nitrogen so —
Tyler: So the great thing about liquid nitrogen is it’s a very unique cryogenic product. It can actually be stored in an open container as long as it’s vacuum insulated. It can be stored at zero pressure, atmospheric pressure if you will. It’s just the property of liquid nitrogen. Things like liquid CO2, once it gets below 78 or so psi, it turns to dry ice. So you actually can’t store it in an open container. But liquid nitrogen you can; which is utilized everyday in the cryo-bio systems for the CDC and whatnot.
What we actually do is our dosers are not pressure vessels like the rest of our products. They’re a vacuum insulated reservoir that holds liquid nitrogen that’s open to atmosphere. So it holds the liquid nitrogen in atmospheric pressure. The whole system, being vacuum insulated, keeps it in its liquid form. Then once it’s dispensed to the product, that’s when it begins to vaporize because, now, it’s no longer protected by a vacuum insulated vessel.
Brendan: All right. Is there immediately a lid put on a can or bottle at that point?
Tyler: For certain applications. Water bottles, for example, liquid nitrogen dosing for water bottles is used for pressurization. So as soon as the drop of nitrogen is dispensed, it is kept almost immediately because you want to trap as much of that nitrogen in the bottle as possible. The nitrogen is actually still vaporizing a little bit when the bottle is kept. That’s why- -water bottles are so irritably thin, as I like to say now. They feel like a rock when you first get them and as soon as you open them they won’t hardly even stand up on their own. That’s because of liquid nitrogen.
Judson: You’re welcome is what you–
Tyler: Yes. I usually say you’re welcome.
Brendan: You can do this dosing in plastic, glass, aluminum anything really.
Tyler: Pretty much anything. The only thing that we don’t dose in, actually we do dose in this, That’s HDPE. We do some dosing in that for motor oil and even detergents and things like that. That material is considered breathable. What that means is over time it can release some pressure and whatnot. A lot of people don’t like to use dosing in those containers because they believe, “Well, I’m just going to eventually lose that nitrogen the longer it sits on the shelf.”
However, for motor oils and detergents and things like that we dose those things not for shelf-life or any of that other stuff but for appearances. A lot of those are filled while hot so when they are seamed or sealed, as they cool, they create a vacuum effect. The bottles actually begin to suck in on themselves or fold in on themselves. Let’s say, for example, if you’re walking down the grocery aisle or the aisle somewhere in auto zone you look at two containers sitting beside each other. One of them was like it’s about to fold in on itself and the other one is there nice and plump and full. Which one are you going to pick?
Brendan: The plump one.
Tyler: The one that looks the best. A lot of these people do it for appearances. It’s called paneling. A lot of this people do it for appearance only. That’s the only reason really HDPE is dosed; but one thing we do for those people is HDPE tends to be thicker and more costly. These people that used to do HDPE because the bottles were weak when thin, they can actually change to PET because of the pressurization we can offer using nitrogen dosing. That was a very long explanation to a very simple question-
Tyler: -and I apologize.
Brendan: I suppose that’s what happens when we get a mechanical engineer on.
Cary: Moving on to the coffee industry and the beer industry. What are going to be the biggest benefits when using nitrogen dosing with beer or coffee?
Tyler: What we really are tatting and what we really are pitching to our potential customers and even users of our dosing system is one shelf life, preservation of your product and a little bit of pressurization for some of those people out there who are concerned about soft cans and whatnot. The second thing is actually nitrogenization.
Brendan: I mentioned this before the show, that’s the one question we get asked all the time. It’s how can I put a nitro coffee into a can or a bottle and have it still pour the same way. This is entirely without a widget, correct? I think we may have just lost Tyler.
Cary: I think we did.
Brendan: It got really quiet.
Cary: It did.
I can answer that and see if he jumps back on in a second, if you want to do it that way.
Brendan: Yes. That’s fine.
Judson: Sure. A couple of things, one is you can nitrogenate with or without widgets. I see the widgets that come from ball can that are in products like Guinness beer. As you’d say, used to be in Guinness beer. Guinness is getting away from widgets too. Those carry a little ball and I guess it’s important to know what they do in the first place. Those little balls actually contain a charge of nitrogen inside of them. In their little one way valve that’s under pressure; the idea is when that can cracks open or the bottle opens up the pressure drops low enough that that valve releases the nitrogen into the liquid. That’s the process start.
You pour it out and it comes out. It looks like it comes out from a tap that’s a nitro tap. Essentially we’re doing the same thing taking the widgets away but keeping it under that pressure throughout. Some tweaking and a little bit of artwork that goes into every single product that’s created. We get the right amount in there that does the same thing.
Brendan: Yes, very. When you’re talking about dosing a water bottle and then dosing what’s going to become a nitro coffee or a nitro beer, is it still just one drop? Are you guys going to be adjusting the amount of liquid nitrogen that’s dropped into that can or bottle?
Judson: That’s a piece of the art that goes into every single product. Tyler hesitated when he said a drop and the reason is because it’s actually a fraction of a drop that goes into each water bottle–
Brendan: That’s all it takes?
Judson: Yes. It’s just a fraction of a drop that goes in there because it’s such a small amount of head space. Now, when you’re nitrogenating a can or a bottle of beer there’s a lot more going on. We’re not just hitting the head space; we have to actually penetrate into the liquid so that changes. There’s all these different things that has to do with the viscosity of the liquid and much technical stuff that changes from one beer to another. Definitely, from coffee to beer so it’s a process of setting up the machine correctly to make it work.
Brendan: Based on what’s being canned or bottled?
Judson: Yes. In a beer brewer, they might have two or three different stouts. They might be totally different setups from one to the other. I think Tyler’s back in there.
Brendan: I think he’s back.
Tyler: Yes. Sorry guys.
Judson: That’s it. That’s the reason. It’s so simple. We don’t need a product manager.
Brendan: You should’ve heard what he was saying about you Tyler while you were gone.
Tyler: It’s cutthroat at Chart. It is.
Brendan: You’re dog bit your ethernet cable?
Tyler: That’s what is was.
Brendan: We just talked a little bit about the nitrogenating the beer widget vs non-widget and also the variance from one product to the other.
Tyler: Perfect. If I’m ever uncomfortable answering another question, I’m just going to fake like I lost connection again.
Cary: Cut the power.
Judson: Pull the plug.
Tyler: Judson can make up something and then we can move on.
Judson: That’s how we work.
Brendan: Going back to coffee and nitro coffee in a can or bottle. By dosing it with nitrogen and then capping it you’re basically causing the liquid to absorb that nitrogen? Is that more or less what’s happening or–? I’m sure there’s a little more than that.
Tyler: Judson, I don’t know what you said about the widget but– [unintelligible 00:17:55]
Judson: I just explained how it worked – the one-way valve. That kind of thing.
Tyler: In terms of a flat beverage, let’s say that, then yes. We’re putting far more nitrogen into that beverage than we would be dosing into anything else. Essentially, we’re trying to infuse that beverage with nitrogen and fill the head space with the nitrogen.
Then for a beverage, let’s say coffee that’s already been preconditioned with nitrogen. It’s technically nitro right out of a keg or something like that. They want to can it that way. We would be dosing it with a smaller dose of nitrogen. What we’re actually doing there is we’re trying to keep the nitrogen in the beverage. It maintains it’s nitrogen infusion or it’s nitrogenization throughout the shelf life of the beverage.
Brendan: Got it.
Cary: The quality of the– or the amount of nitrogen I guess, like when you open it and pour it is equal to or better than if you were using one of those widgets?
Tyler: Correct. Yes.
Tyler: We have some customers especially in the beer industry who are canning and actually believe that based on their own taste test and whatnot, they believe that we can achieve a better mouth-feel and even a better pour without the widget, in their personal opinion.
Brendan: Wow. It’s awesome. There’s no, I guess limit to how much you have to do whereas if you’re doing these– We looked into the ball cans and all that stuff. I think it was a minimum investment of buying– What was it? 80,000 cans or something. Just astronomical; whereas you could do just X amount at any time, right?
Tyler: Yes. That’s one of the major pulls. That’s why we really started this ditch-the-widget campaign. There’s a lot of smaller breweries out there and now coffee brewers who want to get into canning or who are canning and just simply don’t have the space for 80,000 cans; much less the capital. They can order their standard cans for a portion of the price. They can order whatever number they want and use a doser instead of a widget and achieve the-
–same thing. They can run test, they can do experiments, all that kind of stuff without saying, “I bought 80,000 of these cans I better use them.”
Brendan: No kidding. If I’m a coffee producer, if I make cold brew and I’ve got a flat cold brew that I like serve as well as — I’ve also got a nitro cold brew that I like to serve, I could call you guys up or one of the people who has your systems. Can of cold brew flat with minimal amount of nitrogen and then can at same cold brew but cause it to be infused and actually be the end product would be nitro coffee?
Judson: Correct. Yes.
Brendan: That’s cool.
Judson: One of things that I would recommend. Brew has been doing this for years. A lot of our brewery customers they know every single product that goes out of their store, can, bottle, nitro, CO2 based whatever it is. They differ the shelf life, piece and everything else but also for taste. Tyler’s done some testing with natural products, we know in coffee there’s a lot of natural additives that go in there. Yes obviously have to still use all the best practices when it comes to handling food products and making sure that’s sanitary and everything. Once they’re actually in the can, that nitrogen dose on top not only keeps the product longer but it keeps the same flavor that you as the brewer intended when it was put in the can the first place. That’s a big thing. Can it be capped in a decent condition and not make somebody sick without it? Of course it can. But can we make the taste the same way as one of you have poured out at the tap at the brewer house? That’s the real question.
Brendan: Yes, absolutely. We drink IPAs all the time. You can tell a big difference on a fresh IPA or you smell those hops versus how they diminish over time.
Judson: Yes. You start getting that carbord flavor. A lot of hops are high in tap beers. I mean you can get that carbord flavor five to ten days in the can.
Cary: So, adding the nitrogen to a carbonated beer is you’re basically just trying to remove any oxygen that might been in that vessel?
Judson: Correct. We’re trying to reduce the DO levels in the can. Of course, we say that the brewer is responsible for the integrity of their beverage. During the brewing process, during the filling process, there’s a certain amount of oxygen that’s introduced to the beverage. There’s even some oxygen pick-up as the beer’s is being or coffee is being filled into the can or to the bottle of course.
What we do, what we recommend is you dose around top of that with nitrogen. That nitrogen vaporizes and pushes wherever oxygen maybe sitting on top of that beverage. It’s about to be sealed into the beverage and it pushes all that out creating a nitrogen — or not of all it, a vast majority of it out and it increases– and it creates a nitrogen enrich environment so increases your shelf life. It keeps the integrity of the products that’s in the beverage that you intended for your — in use customer to experience and to enjoy. Much later than five to seven days or whatever your shelf life maybe. Your shelf life may be 30 days and we extend it to 45 days or something like that; it depends on the ingredients.
Brendan: That’s awesome. So it creates a nitrogen barrier instead of having some oxygen left in there?
Tyler: As Judson was saying that, these brewers were saying originally they get a doser because they want a natural or something; or they have a natural and they want to keep the integrity of their natural beer but what they discover it helps all of their beers. [crosstalk]
Judson: All of their products.
Tyler: We have a customer here in the Atlantic area that’s dosing beer with 2.47 and above valves of CO2. That’s a good level of CO2 and most people would say, ” You don’t need nitrogen.” But that beer was 28 days or a little earlier even was– after that you could tell you are taking a step back from how it was filled, as far as how it tasted and it could be a few days after that then it’s not good anymore. But nitrogen dosing, for example, we kept some cans from our initial trial of that. Judson, what was that last when we opened it? 90 days?
Judson: 90 days.
Tyler: 90 days and it was still good.
Judson: That’s a product in particular that’s carrying some natural ingredients in it;-
Judson: – whether it is some lemon grass, ginger and other things and there wasn’t– We are not talking [unintelligible 00:25:24] They were actually using a natural ingredient. Of course natural products tend to have a bacteria as a portion of them. So that’s a part of it. It’s just creating off [unintelligible 00:25:36] It’s not creating an issue with directly the product but that’s a big deal if you can get up to 90 days with natural products.
Brendan: You are not kidding?
Cary: Is liquid nitrogen something you can just go and buy anywhere? Do you have to have a license to buy it? I can imagine it’s pretty dangerous to have. [crosstalk]
Tyler: There is proper handling and you can’t just go buy it anywhere in liquid form. It’s handled by gas distributors globally. You have to rent [unintelligible 00:26:15] and vessels and all that kind of stuff. There’s all kind of safety and liability issues with that if you were to go in and just say, “Hey, I want to do liquid nitrogen.” But one thing to keep in mind is that there is different levels and grades of nitrogen as far as purity. All this nitrogen that is going into the dosers, that’s being dispensed into your beverages are all food-grade nitrogen. So we talking like 99.8% purity. That’s the kind of stuff we have to look out for because a lot of the nitrogen is liquefied in a manufacturing process, if that makes sense.
Cary: Can you guys speak a little bit ti what the cost of liquid nitrogen is; like refills and how far, let’s say if they’ve got the canister of it and they were doing their bottling line. How many 12 ounce cans would X amount of nitrogen–
Brendan: I imagine that will have to be handled by the bottling company right?
Tyler: I guess Judson is going to have the pricing if there is.
Judson: From one gaseous sugar to another; these are the folks that, if you already have CO2 they are the same people who supply nitrogen. It’s an extremely low amount per can; so the cost per can will be– I don’t know. What do you think? Will it make it four decimals or not?
Tyler: Yes, it’s three to four decimals usually because nitrogen depending, like Judson is saying, the distributor who is running you the doer and charging you the for the molecules, as we say in the industry. It can be– we are talking cents a liter; so we are talking 30-40 something cents up to a dollar per liter of liquid nitrogen. It depends on your deal and how much nitrogen you are using. But each container is taking a piece of a gram of liquid nitrogen because liquid nitrogen expands 700 times to one. So, we’re dropping a very small amount of liquid nitrogen and allowing its natural properties of expansion to take over and to do all the work.
If you were– I have a calculator; I can tell you exactly. If you could tell me how many cans a minute you’re running and I knew what your dose duration and all that stuff was, I can tell you how many liters per day. But we are talking, I don’t know how many thousands of cans with one doer of nitrogen.
Cary: That’s very cost-efficient.
Tyler: Yes. Especially compared to what a lot of people were using and that is the modified atmospheric packaging gas tunnels. They are just blowing gas across the cans hoping that they get oxygen and stuff out there. They have no idea how much nitrogen they are using, how much money they are spending but I can quantify what you are spending on a daily –. I can quantify what what you are spending per ton of nitrogen if you answered four questions for me.
Brendan: Wow, amazing
Cary: Isn’t that crazy? It’s that same calculator that will tell you what size tires you need on you truck.
Tyler:That is the curse of being in tire engineering and a tire guy; no matter where you go.
Brendan: They follow you.
Brendan: Okay. Cool guys. Anything else that you think should be mentioned before we wrap this up?
Tyler: Judson, did you tell them about the website?
Judson: I did not. I haven’t promoted us at all.
Tyler: My goodness.
Brendan: So where can people go to find you guys and learn more about this?
Tyler: I recommend– We’ve got a booth coming and it’s going to be [unintelligible 00:30:19] conference in Washington DC, coming up in this spring. come by and see us. Go to www.chartindustries.com-
-or www.ditchthewidget.com and there’s a ton of information on both those websites. I and Judson will be at [unintelligible 00:30:45] conference in the flesh and come up.
Brendan: Meet the Navy Seal.
Tyler: Come meet the Navy Seal you’ll never guess. You will never guess which one it is.
Judson: As crazy as that is we actually have one of our customer partners who will be serving up nitro cold brew coffee in our booth and both of them were actually Army Special Forces.
Tyler: That is true.
Judson: [unintelligible 00:31:16] we’ll be doing a tour at their facility as well during the show it will be a great opportunity to see our doser in action and they can really speak to just the benefits they’ve seen with the doser and the differences from their product before and after. If anybody listening is looking for some products they’d like to try out you can email us, you can email me. We try to keep a list and idea of products that are out in the market that are using our dosers It gives people an opportunity to go out pick up a six pack something or six pack of beer or coffee and try it out themselves.
Brendan: Yes awesome. I was actually just thinking that as well because we get people asking about mobile canning lines and stuff. You guys have any record of just people using yours that they might be able to go and get their stuff bottled out or anything like that?
Judson: Yes we have a list of our customers that are mobile canning partners that do that. Some are fairly large regional and some are individuals that are working in certain areas but we have groups that are equipped with the doser.
Brendan: Nice awesome. Cool guys appreciate you taking the time Tyler, Judson nice chatting with you today.
Tyler: Yes thanks guys.
[background music 00:32:43 – 00:32:53]
Brendan: All right once again big thank you to both Judson Voss and Tyler Jones from Chart Industries for joining us today. As we mentioned at the beginning one of the biggest questions we always get is how can I bottle nitro coffee? After talking to Tyler and Judson it looks like and sounds like Chart Industries has come up with a way. Not only come up with a way to bottle nitro coffee or nitro beer but they’ve actually simplified it by removing the need for the widget which has always been the one way to get a nitro coffee or beer in a can.
Lot of good information today hope you enjoyed the episode. If you need any more information you can refer back to the show notes which will be online at dripsanddraughts.com/44. Or as Judson mentioned at the end of the interview you can reach out to them directly, he was kind enough to share his email address in there. Go back look for that we probably won’t be putting that in the show notes, not sure he wants that online.
All right thanks again for listening. If you found this episode useful we’d love a review on iTunes. It’s not hard it’s easy to do and it doesn’t cost you a thing. All right one final thank you to Judson and Tyler for joining us today, to Cary for joining me in the studio. I’m Brendan Hanson we’ll see you again next Friday on the Drips & Draughts Podcast.