Chilling invention set to lift spirits in pub sector

A YORKSHIRE family’s invention could save Britain’s pubs millions of pounds every year, and ensure more consumers enjoy a chilled beer.

Curtis Paxman MD of Brewfitt at the Woodman Inn, Thunderbridge Lane, Kirkburton, Huddersfield

The Paxmans from Huddersfield could claim to be Yorkshire’s most innovative family.

They’ve already created a scalp cooling system, which reduces the chances of hair being damaged by chemotherapy.

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Now the family’s other business venture, dispensing services firm Brewfitt, is set to dramatically increase its sales on the back of its Cooltube and 4Flow products.

According to Curtis Paxman, Brewfitt’s managing director, the system will save pubs millions of pints of beer a year.

4Flow is a coolant liquid designed to freeze at sub-zero temperatures, while Cooltube is a compact heat exchanger. This means that punters can enjoy colder beer, while pubs save cash.

Many pubs are battling for survival, so the money saved could ensure that time isn’t called on a local institution.

Brewfitt dates back to the 1950s when the beer cooler was invented by Eric Paxman, Curtis Paxman’s grandfather.

“We have been innovators for many years,” Curtis Paxman said. “We hope it will change the way beer is dispensed around the globe. The system in the marketplace hasn’t really changed since the 1950s.

“In principle, you’re cooling the beer in the cellar and transporting it to the bar, which causes all kinds of problems, because the beer heats up in transit.

“For the ‘extra cold’ market there are devices like shelf coolers, and what is known in the industry as pods, to chill the beer. There is additional equipment required which has got high energy costs to run it.”

He said the links between the scalp cooler business and Brewfitt had been an integral part of the company’s recent success.

“It’s about understanding different coolants that Brewfitt developed some years ago, which are now used in the scalp cooler for making efficient heat transfer,” Mr Paxman added.

“With the new system, a phenomenal amount of beer will be saved across the industry. It will save the average pub between £3,000 and £5,000 per annum in electricity. We did a case study for the Stonegate pub company, and we estimated that we would save them in the region of £1.2m a year, if they implemented the system across the whole estate.”

Brewfitt, which has a turnover of £3.5m and around 20 staff, expects to grow dramatically on the back of the innovation, which it has dubbed the Future of Dispense.

Mr Paxman said: “We recently exhibited in the Drink Tech exhibition in Munich. We’ve had more than 140 enquiries from 44 countries, specifically for the cool tube and the coolant.

“If it goes in the direction that we wish, it could transform the business into a £5m or potentially £10m-plus organisation.”

The company also has global connections. For many years, Brewfitt has been the sole agent for the Italian beer dispenser firm Celli.

The scalp cooler was developed by Glenn Paxman as a result of his wife’s battle with cancer. Together with his elder brother, Neil, he developed the system, in conjunction with Richard Sainsbury, consultant surgeon at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

After a couple of years of intensive research, Paxman Scalp Coolers went on a 12-month trial at the hospital in 1996. Although viewed as a great success, each system could treat only one person at a time and took up too much space in often crowded chemotherapy suites.

To resolve the problems, the Paxman brothers launched the second-generation cooler at the European Cancer Conference in Vienna in 1999. The system generated an enormous amount of interest. One Mexican doctor, whose wife lost her hair through chemotherapy, decided to buy the system out of his own money.

Today many patients who use Paxman’s system do not need a wig. Paxman has helped thousands of cancers sufferers in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America, and it is expanding into the US and Japan.

Curtis Paxman recently took part in a fundraising skydive in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, for the Huddersfield Town Foundation.