Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 11: Glossary

This Glossary of my brewery is for all of you out there who want to know what I am talking about in this blog. It is long, but worth it if you want to learn a thing or two about breweries!

First things first, let's go over (quickly) how beer is made in 10 steps:

1) Barley is converted into malt, by steeping, germinating, and kiling.
2) Malt is milled into a mash tun with hot water, this magically creates sugars!
3) The sugar water, wort, is separated from the grain, lautering, through a screen
4) The wort is boiled, hops are added
5) The wort is cooled and transferred to a fermenter
6) Yeast is added to the fermenter, eating sugar and making alcohol! Now we have beer!
7) The beer is cooled in preparation for packaging
8) The beer is transferred to a bright tank, the carbonation levels are controlled
9) The beer is transferred to kegs and served!
10) We drink!

Now is the glossary!

Malt - One of the 4 main ingredients of beer (malt, water, hops, yeast). Malt starts as barley, it is processed by steeping it in water, letting the seed germinate, and then kilning the seed to stop the growing process. All this work "tricked" the seed into creating enzymes that will eventually break down the starches stored in the endosperm of the seed into sugars!

Milling - Before malt can be used to make beer, the insides of the seeds need to be exposed so that the enzymes and starches can mix together (with the help of hot water). The malt is ground between two ridged rollers, which tear open the seeds, while leaving the husks mostly intact (there is a reason for this!).

This is the mill we use to grind the malt. The malt arrives in 55 lb. bags; we dump them into the hopper on the mill, after it is ground it is carried upstairs to a hopper above the mash tun by a conveying system (the two vertical pipes next to the mill).

Mash/Lauter Tun - Ground malt (grist) is mixed with hot water as it is added to the mash tun. In the mash tun, the mixture is homogenized, then allowed to sit for ~1 hour. During this time, the enzymes in the malt act on the starches creating sugars (yeast food!)

Lautering - When mashing is sufficiently complete, the sugar water (wort) is separated from the grain husks. Remember before I mentioned that the husks needed to be torn but remain intact after milling? The intact husk pieces form a filter bed on top of a screen which the wort percolates through. The filter bed traps even the smallest particles from traveling with the wort into the kettle.

The mash/lauter tun and grist hopper above. The door at the bottom is used to remove the used up grains after mashing is complete.

The inside of the mash/lauter tun. At the bottom are screens to help trap the larger husk particles and establish the filter bed during lautering. Also visible on the right is the mash mixture, which is a rotating paddle (of sorts) that is used to homogenize the mash before it is allowed to sit for an hour.

Wort - The sugar water the is extracted from the mashing process. This is boiled in a brew kettle to sterilize it, to help with extracting the hop oils, and for a few other super secret reasons!

Hop Pellets - Instead of adding whole leaf hops, which take up alot of space and are very messy, most brewers today use hop pellets. Whole leaf hops are pelletized to increase density, and uniformity of what is added to a boiling brew kettle. Hops add the bitterness and some aroma compounds to the beer!

Hop Pellets in my hand!

Kettle - This is where the wort is boiled (with hops) before the beer is transferred to the fermenter.

The kettle is usually positioned near the mash tun for easy transfer of the wort. It is heated by a combination of steam and natural gas!

Heat Exchanger - The heat exchanger is used to cool down the wort before it is added to the fermenter. If the wort was boiling when it was added to the fermenter it would kill the yeast!!!

The boxy thing in the middle of this picture is a plate and frame heat exchanger. Multiple thin metal plates divide hot wort and cold water. Heat is transferred through the plates from the hot wort to the cold water. In this heat exchanger hot wort can be added at near boiling temerature and comes out less than 100 degrees!

Fermenter - This is where the yeast eats the sugars in the wort to make beer! There are many different styles of fermenters, our brewery has conical fermenters which have a cone at the bottom to catch the yeast at the bottom.

The fermenter in the front of this picture (currently holding a Pale Ale) has a 10 barrel (20 keg) capacity. The larger one next to it has a 20 barrel (40 keg) capacity!

Bright Tank - Also known as a finishing tank, this is where the beer is transferred before it is packaged (kegged, canned, etc.) In this tank the correct temperature for packaging is reached, and the beer is carbonated to the correct level.

This is a 10 barrel bright tank. Cool!

Keg - Who doesn't know what this is?

You'll notice in the above picture, that there are two main sizes of kegs used. 1/2 barrels (the larger more familiar ones that hold 15.5 gallons) and 1/6 barrels (these smaller kegs in the foreground hold 5.16 gallons). In the bottom right you can see 4 hoses coming from the bottom of the bright tank. We use these hoses with the standard Sankey keg taps to fill the kegs!

Pig - A unique beer packaging solution which holds the same amount of beer that is contained in one 24-can case. The pigs are plastic, and have an expanding bladder which is inserted into them to keep a constant pressure on the beer (keeping it carbonated). They are called pigs because hey, they kinda look like them! See the picture below...

Awwww... isn't it cute!!! "That'll do pig"

Growler - Common to microbreweries, growlers are portable beer-on-the-go packages that hold one gallon of beer. It is common to stop at a brewery and buy a growler for home consumption. Lone Peak sells not only the common glass growlers but also plastic Nalgene brand ones. That way beer can be taken on hiking trips and into national parks or other places where glass is prohibited (hot tubs, ski hills, fraternity main floors...)

Definatly not as cute as a pig

CIP - "Clean-in-place" This term is not only specific to breweries but many other industries (such as the food industry). It is the process of cleaning something, while it is sitting in the same damn place! Most fermenters are cleaned using this method. Look back up at the picture of a fermenter above. On the right side of the fermenter running up and over the top is the CIP arm. The arm extends into the top and center of the vessel where it has a spray ball inside the vessel. Cleaning solution is pumped through the arm, into the vessel, through the spray ball, which sprays off the inside surfaces of the vessel. Because this is the only method used to clean most fermenters their internal surfaces have to be VERY smooth, with no cracks or crevices in the metal so everything is cleaned away.

CIP Cart - This little cart (looks like two R2-D2's with a pump in the middle) is what is used to pump the cleaning solution through the vessels.

Okay so maybe not R2-D2, but it was a good try right?

Sanatizer Bucket - All of the small parts we use in the process (for the most part) have to be sterile. If they weren't then the beer could get contaminated. After using each part it is individually sprayed, cleaned, and placed back into a sanitizing solution.

During the day I can often be seen squatting next to this darn thing putting things in or fishing them out. Be careful not to spray water into it though! The solution will have to be remade.

So that does it for the glossary. If I forgot anything or you want to know something else, please comment and I will add it in the order the request is recieved.


  1. Wow... that seems like a lot of work. I'd love to see it all in action.

  2. very informative. great post. although, im pretty sure a growler would not be allowed on the main floor since it would be considered a "common container", even if it was a nalgene brand.

  3. Can you explain the terms "dark beer" and "light beer"? Which do you make?

  4. Great post, Spencer! Hey, shoot me a beer mail sometime, user name starofindia. Got some questions for ya.

    Colin: Light beer is bud light, coors light and miller lite. Dark beer is everything else. Ha ha

  5. Gosh after all that, I think you have the "Little Red Hen" story beat!

  6. Light beer is easily consumed by way of beer bong, beer stick, shotgunning, or chugging

    Dark beer is not so much

    Is one better than the other? Not mine to judge!