Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 23: Secrets, Secrets...

I really really hate Blogger right now, the whole entering text and photos thing is a real challenge for this program...

Yesterday I mentioned the "brewtine" that we are trying to get into, the picture below is the schedule that we came up with! Here is a great lesson for anyone working in a brewery (or anywhere for that matter): the schedule always changes! Nothing ever stays as planned. Our new plan is to brew the ESB on friday, and delay the brewing of the IPA until later next week. It changed because we got in our distributor order this week and they want alot of ESB! We need to get more moving through the tanks to keep up!

This morning I was fortunate enough to follow Steve around while he brewed the Headplant Pale Ale. What I have figured out is that if I were to work side by side with Steve telling me what to do, I don't learn as fast as if I just stand back and write down everything he does, while asking "why did you do that?" So my trusty notebook got about 7 pages smaller while I wrote down all the details of doughing in, mashing, recircing, and the beginning of lautering. I wasn't able to stick with him to follow the entire brewing process because we had kegs to clean, as usual. Tomorrow we (he) will be brewing the 2nd half of the Headplant Pale batch and I will hopefully get to shadow the 2nd half of the brew! Then I will focus on lautering (again), the boil, the heat exchanger, and the transfer into the fermenter.

Here are some comments from my notes today on the first batch:

1) The mash tun needs a bed of 1-2" of hot water above the screens before starting to add the malt.

2) The mash mixer is running, watch inside to make sure no "dough balls" are forming on the surface. Either turn up the agitation, water, or slow the malt if this is the case. Also the trusty canoe paddle helps break these up!

3) Use the target mash temperature (157F is standard) to gauge the correct water/malt ratio. Too hot, too much water; too cold, too much malt.

4) The mash mixer paddle needs to move up as the mash level rises, controlling this to the right location will help prevent splashing and heaving of the liquid.

5) While the mash is doing its thing (mashing) for the specified time, sanitize all the beer transfer lines. Some brew houses (such as ours) don't have enough piping to sanitize and lauter at the same time, so this needs to be done now!

6) We use a "lautering can" (totally the wrong terminology) which is a converted homebrew fermenter for the lautering. We let the wort flow through the grain bed by gravity, controlled by a valve on the bottom of the mash tun, and into the lauter can (see below). Then we control a pump to pull from the bottom of the lautering can into the kettle. This way we have a consistent way to ensure we aren't pulling to hard on the grain bed (collapsing it, oh no!) during lautering.
Note: some brewer's have fancy schmancy pressure gauges across the grain bed... not us!)

7) I stopped taking notes here... darn! More on this tomorrow! Any Questions?

So what is the big secret you ask? Let me direct you to a news article that sparked this idea! We will see if you can figure it out on your own...


Kelly also thought that I should mention the following. Today a few dudes came through the tap room and asked for a brewery tour. Steve showed them around for a while, and one of them started asking him about how to get a job at a brewery. Totally my specialty! While Steve gave him a short story about how I started here, I made sure the track him down and give him (my first!) business card and to give him a piece of my mind. I've discovered that I love helping people get information about this industry (and hopefully getting into it!) as much as I love making beer. This eager "dude" today reminded me why I am writing in this blog. Jared, cheers to you and the best of luck!

Also cheers to Derek and Tommy, two guys that have committed to getting their brewing educations and taking on the greatest job on earth!

Prosit and Skoal!

1 comment:

  1. From start to finish, how long does it take to get a batch of your ESB (or other high demand beers) outt the door?