How Micro Matic Helped Build the Biggest Beer System in the World
Looking like an enormous metallic origami structure situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the Mercedes-Benz stadium was designed to be revolutionary in its engineering, functionality, sustainability, technology, and fan-friendliness. Basically, an arena unlike any the world had ever seen.
The $1.5 billion, over 2 million square foot stadium features a retractable roof made of unique panels that spread apart like something from a Transformers film, a 360-degree high definition halo video board and open-air concourses and lounges allowing fans to catch the gridiron action or live concert from anywhere they roam. It also features 4,000 solar panels and uses nearly half the water and nearly 30% less energy than a typical stadium.
Of course, a modern marvel offering such a superior fan experience also needed to offer fans a better beer experience. So, the stadium tasked their concessionaire, Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, and their foodservice equipment contractor, Clearwater, FL-based Johnson-Lancaster, to find the most reliable, high-quality yet cost-effective beer dispense solutions provider in the industry. After reviewing several bids, the companies chose industry leader Micro Matic.
A Different Beer System Philosophy
Not only did both companies know they could count on Micro Matic’s superior product knowledge and customer support (having worked closely with them in the past on Wrigley Field, United Center, and several Disney ventures), they also appreciated Micro Matic’s philosophy on beer systems: use smaller line sizes and mixed gas to optimize yield, profitability, and quality.
Using a smaller line size to deliver beer from keg to faucet, significantly less beer is lost when a keg blows or when cleaning lines; the savings quickly add up. To keep lines as short as 200 feet, Micro Matic installed 26 coolers, whereas most stadiums have around 6 coolers with lines up to 700 feet long.
Micro Matic also installed blended gas systems, a mix of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen (N), to push the beer through the draft beer system (gas blending also gives ales and lagers that extra high-pressure hydraulic push they need to propel them through a system). To ensure proper propulsion and freshness, Micro Matic installed 26 nitro generators into each cooler.
“It doesn’t cost more to use shorter lines, and you wind up saving a lot of money over time,” says Neil Cahill, Technical Development Manager at Micro Matic, who also served as an onsite consultant at the stadium. “There’s also very little difference in cost to use mixed gas, and by applying the right blend of CO2 and nitrogen, you’re assured a fresher, higher quality, great tasting beer, and that’s what keeps customers coming back.”
Adds Cahill, “Long lines, combined with a beer pump or CO2-only system, are just how it’s always been done. A lot of companies are opposed to change, but at Micro Matic, we’re always looking to innovate and rock the boat a little.”
The Beer System Buildout Begins
Once awarded the project, Micro Matic got to work immediately, reviewing architectural drawings, making recommendations, and collaborating with the stadium’s kitchen equipment team. Unlike some beer system installs performed in the later stages of construction or done after the build as a retrofit, Micro Matic was brought on from the beginning to ensure everything went off without a hitch. The Micro Matic team was frequently on-site, offering help and providing consultation and support.
“There are a lot of moving parts in a project this big…a lot of moving parts,” Cahill laughs. “You’ve got structural crews, plumbing, and electrical teams, HVAC experts, and us—and we’re all trying to make everything work together in one space, sometimes at one time. If it turns out something wasn’t specced just right, you quickly learn to pivot and make things work a different way. It can be a challenge, but we’re always up for those!
”One challenge was increasing countertop space. Real estate behind the bar is a premium, and Micro Matic was able to accommodate this by turning their standard 24” beer towers into custom 17” towers. This additional 7” made a world of difference when installing the POS systems.
Once everything was in place, Micro Matic provided on and offsite training on beer system and line cleaning to Levy concessionaires, building maintenance, and beer wholesalers. Cahill and other team members also attended the first six events following installation to ensure everything went as smoothly as the pours.
“Micro Matic's attention to detail, on-site project management and 'can do' mentality was a huge component to the success and on-time opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Inc."
Contract Department VP, Johnson-Lancaster & Associates, Inc.
Unveiling the Biggest Beer System in the World
When the beer system installation was complete, everyone involved had a lot to be proud of. Mercedes-Benz stadium now boasts the largest faucet count beer system globally, with 1,264 faucets serving 67 stations. Despite using shorter beer lines, their combined length is over four miles long. To keep beer at a perfect 38 degrees, the stadium also houses more equipment than any other, including 83 power packs to cool the lines (for comparison, most stadiums house one-third the number of power packs and only have about 500-600 faucets).
Aside from serving customers faster, the number of faucets also enables the stadium to serve local craft beers alongside industry staples to provide variety and a more enjoyable experience. There are 40-45 choices of beer on tap at any given time, which switch out seasonally to bring in new flavor profiles. Truly, the volume of choices and locations is like no other arena in the world.
With Micro Matic’s innovative beer systems improving profitability by providing a better-tasting product while reducing product loss, the stadium can sell beer at a budget-friendly price ($5, $7, and $9). The selection and prices, combined with the stadium's sleek, modern atmosphere, have even brought people inside before the event, rather than tailgating outside the arena.
What Does the Future Hold?
A venue as unique and innovative as Mercedes-Benz Stadium is not going to rest on its laurels. Future plans may include self-serve beer stations, pre-order drink apps, and more. But for now, the visionaries behind the stadium can be proud that not only did they achieve what they set out to do, they’ve also given the Atlanta Falcons a home that makes other teams green with envy.
“It truly is a beautiful building, and many of the people of Atlanta consider it a second home,” says Cian Hickey, President of Micro Matic. “We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
DRAFT SYSTEM INSTALLATIOn stats
EVERYTHING ON TAP
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beverage equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting beverage equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.