Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Mac and Jack’s Brewing Generates Nitrogen with Atlas Copco

Washington State has a proud history of businesses that got their start in a garage. A case in point is Mac and Jack’s Brewing Company. Malcolm Rankin and Jack Schropp established Mac and Jack’s in 1993, in Jack’s garage. The partners started brewing about 200 kegs a month using a straightforward approach: make beer that people love and make it the right way instead of the easy way.

Mac and Jack Atlas Copco NGM nitrogen generator

Mac and Jack’s brewery operation uses an Atlas Copco NGM nitrogen generator.

It proved a winning formula. They moved their growing business into a converted transmission repair shop in Redmond, WA. Today, Mac and Jack’s is the 3rd largest craft brewery in Washington with a tight-knit crew of 20 dedicated beer fanatics and a capacity of 50,000 barrels. 

“We’re lucky, I believe, to live in a region where craft beer is available everywhere,” said Ken Nabors, Brewery Manager for Mac and Jack’s Brewing Company. “Here we’re making all kinds of ales, from our flagship African Amber to multiple kinds of IPAs, porters and stouts.”

Nabors emphasized that Mac and Jack’s is constantly evaluating best practices that mesh with their philosophy about making beer. “We don’t want to put anything into our beer that doesn’t belong there,” he said. “So, using an inert gas to push our beer fits into that nicely.”

That inert gas is nitrogen. The air we breathe is about 78% nitrogen, but at a higher level of purity, nitrogen has a wide variety of practical applications across many industries, including brewing. Beer moving between various stages of brewing at Mac and Jack’s is pushed from one vessel to the next with pressure supplied by nitrogen gas.

Companies like Mac and Jack’s that require a reliable supply of nitrogen benefit by generating it in-house. This enhances production flexibility by ensuring that they have the nitrogen they need, at the level of purity they need, when they need it. Because there’s no third-party nitrogen supplier, constant order processing, refills and delivery costs are eliminated. Space otherwise needed to store nitrogen bottles (both full and empty) is freed up.

Continuing growth in demand for Mac and Jack’s beers has brought with it the need for more nitrogen. “When it came time for us to increase our nitrogen production, Atlas Copco was the logical choice,” said Nabors. Mac and Jack’s brewery operation uses an Atlas Copco NGM nitrogen generator to provide a reliable and secure supply of nitrogen at low operating costs. Using advanced membrane air separation technology, the NGM delivers purities from 95% to 99.5%.”

“The NGM made sense here because, for purity control, Mac and Jack’s was targeting 95% nitrogen,” said Evan Stanley, Sales Manager, Atlas Copco Compressors in Seattle. “This system is designed to do that all the time, and we meet or exceed that target. Besides the purity level, the NGM also takes up minimal floor space. It’s a plug-and-play kind of a system where you don’t have a lot of other components you need to add with it.”

“The primary objective in switching to nitrogen was cost savings,” said Nabors. “We’re using two-thirds  less CO2 than we were using before. An added benefit of nitrogen is that it’s dry, and now we can run all our pneumatics on nitrogen. One of the advantages we didn’t expect was no loss. We use all of the nitrogen we produce. There’s no loss. There’s no waste.”

Twenty-seven years in, Mac and Jack’s Brewing Company is still owned by Mac and Jack. They’re still in that converted transmission repair shop in Redmond. Their dedicated crew is still listening to customers and delivering the most compelling beers they can.

As Nabors explains it, “Our mission is simple and fixed: make beer people love, make it the right way not the easy way. And this nitrogen generator from Atlas Copco is now a big part of that.”


About Atlas Copco Group & Atlas Copco Compressor Technique

Great ideas accelerate innovation. At Atlas Copco, we have been turning industrial ideas into business-critical benefits since 1873. Our passionate people, expertise and service bring sustainable value to industries everywhere. Atlas Copco is based in Stockholm, Sweden, with customers in more than 180 countries and about 37,000 employees. In 2019, revenues were BSEK 104, approximately 10.8 BUSD

Atlas Copco Compressor Technique partners with customers to turn industrial ideas into smart, connected air and gas solutions and leading-edge compressed air technology. By listening to our customers and knowing their needs, we deliver value and innovate with the future in mind. For more information, visit