Homebrewing a New eIPA

Finally found time for another brew day at home!  I have a nzIPA ready to bottle and need to recycle the yeast for today’s batch (more on that later).  Continuing one of my experiment series, today I am brewing another full-flavor, light-bodied India Pale Ale.  Today’s IPA is focused on earthy English IPA flavours.

The grain bill includes a majority of Maris Otter malt for full English flavour.  There is a bit of domestic 2-Row too keep it from being too rich (remember I’m shooting for a light-bodied beer).  A small portion of Crystal 60 to round out the flavours and scents while enhancing the viscosity and some White Wheat Malt to add a balancing tang and aid the head rounds out the grain bill.  To ensure a drier, more complete fermentation, the entire grain bill is reduced slightly and replaced with a portion of post-boil dextrose.

The grains sat through a long lower-temp mash before a combined vorlauf/mashout.  The tun was drained onto Fuggles first wort hops for 6 gallons of 1.038 first runnings.  Another 4 gallons were added as a batch sparge and drained for 1.018 second runnings.  Pre-boil collections came to nearly 11 gallons at 1.034.  Roughly 8.5 gallons was left in my 10gal kettle (that spans 2 burners on my natural gas range) and the remainder of the second runnings was reserved in my 5gal side kettle.  During the boil, all additions were made to the larger kettle, as the smaller one was left to caramelize a bit with only the FWH floating around (and later, a small bit of whirlfloc).

A fistful of Fuggles and Columbus went in at the start of the boil for bittering, followed up by some Hallertau Tradition (with the whirlfloc) at the 20 minute mark for some noble flavor.  I inserted the immersion chiller some time between the 10 and 15 minute marks to sterilize in the boil.  Yeast nutrients, dextrose, and more Fuggles dropped at the 5 minute aroma mark . . . followed by a bit more Fuggles right after flameout (just to be sure – LOL).

At flameout, both of my kettles had reduced in volume due to boiloff evaporation and I was able to combine them into the larger kettle, leaving me with slightly under 9 gallons of wort.  Before combining, the larger kettle (with the sugar addition) was at 1.051, while the smaller caramelizing kettle (that is pure second-runnings) had concentrated to 1.032.

My 50′ immersion chiller is running now and a final OG reading will be taken after whirlpooling and separation to fermentors.  Now, off to get some bottles filled and wash some yeast real quick!  Have a good night, y’all!

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Distribution Sales Begin!

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write a new post.  Time for a quick update on the Stark Brewing Company activities!

We are currently shipping out Milly’s Oatmeal Stout and Mt. Uncanoonuc Cream Ale.  We have TTB labelling approval for kegs of Milly’s, Mt. U, Tasha’s Red Tail Ale, and Bo’s Scotch Ale.

Three shipments of kegs (15gal half-barrels and 5gal logs) have gone to the warehouse at Amoskeag Distributors.

Amoskeag is still getting their inventory/sales software updated to include our products, so distribution has been slow to start and we are relying on marketplace rumour to find where kegs are ending up.  The TAP in Manchester and Penuche’s in Nashua are confirmed to be serving Stark brews.  Todd is updating the Stark Brewing Company page on Facebook as accounts are confirmed.

Even more exciting, we have received labelling approval for 22oz bomber bottles of both the Milly’s Oatmeal Stout and the Mt. U.  We have black Stark logo collar labels and full-sized bottle labels.

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We have also shipped out 40 cases (12 bottles per case) of each beer to Amoskeag to start delivering to retail accounts.

(After a lot of trial-and-effort, our bottler is finally working right…the auto-labeller, not so much.  How long do YOU think it takes to hand-wipe, -label, and -package that much beer?)

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We have another 50 cases of stout and 70 cases of cream ale packaged and mostly labelled at the brewpub.  We are proud to announce that in addition to growler fills of anything on tap (generally 17 or 18 house beers to choose from!), we now have bottles available to take home from the brewpub (cool new shirts too).  Tentative price point is $6.99 per 22oz bottle.

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In fact, the first bottles have begun moving!  Pictured above are the buyers of the first direct sale of Stark Brewing Company bottles.  Amoskeag has started moving them into stores.  As might be expected from anyone who knows the Manchester area, Bert Bingle of Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett was one of the first in line to be stocked.  Again, Todd is updating on the Stark Facebook page as accounts are confirmed….I think were past 15 accounts a few days ago.

I’ll to put up a few short posts about our new in-house releases before I get back towards the backlog of 40+ posts I owe y’all that are half-written.  😉

Until next time, raise those pints high and drain ’em low!

Brewery Intern: Day 12 (I Wanna Mount U)

It was another brew day today, so we started early at 9.  I started to hook up hoses, but the burner was being ornery again.  Bryan had already been trying to reset it for 20 minutes or so and passed it off to me to watch the lights on the box and walk around to hit the reset every few minutes.  Not really long enough to accomplish much of anything else.  After about half an hour of tapping the igniter tube, adjusting the flue venting and blower fan, and resetting the box, it finally fired up and got the water heating.

The hoses and pump were set up and then we dragged the grain sacks into position.  It was an early morning and the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, so some of the hoses needed to be moved around.  The sacks were opened up and the grain augur lowered.  The water wasn’t nearly up to temp, so some time was spent moving kegs around, straightening up the Grundy Room, and preparing some backup kegs (the smaller 5 gallon logs to fit into the kegerators out in the bar) of the Chocolate Stout and the Crabby Apple Ale (which includes some apple cider).

Once the water was close to strike temperature, the input hose was attached to the side of the hydrator and the flow was turned on.  As in the past, we preheated the mash tun and filled it up to just a bit above the false bottom before was started sending the grain up the augur.  The augur chute dropped into the top of the hydrator and the wetted grains fell down into the mash tun.  The oar was constantly moving to avoid any doughballs in the mash.

After the water was shut off, the mash was let to rest.  Then recirculated by pump through the sparge head to set the grain bed.  Once the sight glass ran clear and clean, the sparge water was turned back on and the pump started to move mash to the kettle.

The Mt. U (short for Mount Uncanooc) beer is a cream ale. It has a fairly light grain bill and hop schedule, so it is correspondingly light in colour and intensity.  It is a pleasant introductory beer with a bit of flavor that is good for wooing macro beer drinkers into craft beer.

With the light recipe, the boil, chill, and transfer went very smoothly without any memorable complications.  This time, Karen ended up cleaning out the mash tun while I clambered into the boil kettle to clean it out.

The kettle is much more awkward to get in and out of than the mash tun for a few reasons.  The manway hole is much smaller – and much closer to the ceiling.  Although there are lots of pipes and such around, nothing is strong enough to use to brace yourself, which makes it awfully hard to get your feet and legs up through the hole without becoming unbalance and tipping over.  This effect is significantly magnified by being tall, as I can attest.

For an extra bonus, there are no handholds or footholds inside the kettle, and the opening is above your head.  The one safe brace is a bolt through one of the old mill ceiling beams.  Attached to it is a length of plastic-coated steel cable that is clamped in a loop at the end to drop through the kettle hole and use as a step to get high enough to pull yourself out.

That awkwardness of getting in and out aside, I much prefer cleaning the kettle to the tun.  I can stand up inside, it’s much less claustrophobic, not nearly as hot, and much less messy.

Tired from a long day, we cleaned up everything else, paused for a few pints and went home to rally for the next day’s cleaning.

(Once again, catching up on posts – photos will be added soon.)

Brewery Intern: Day 08 (Smoother Runnings)

Today’s brew day proved much smoother (and much shorter) than last week’s for a number of reasons.  Rather than doing a partigyle brew to produce two different beers in half batches, today we were doing a single full-size brew.  It also helped that the kettle burner decided to be cooperative today.

The plan was to re-brew the Milly’s Oatmeal Stout to replace the batch we had drained from the fermentor the day before (which was now serving on tap, replacing the batch that had kicked just a few days before).  This stout is one of the eight flagship beers that will be promoted through the Stark Mills distribution agreement – and will even have its own custom tap handle (we are supposed to see a prototype tomorrow)!

We arrived and got the warm water in the kettle from last night heating up again and positioned our pumps and hoses.  While waiting for the grain delivery truck (actually, our biggest delay of the day), we took apart and cleaned the fittings on a few corny kegs and tested the fittings.  Once the truck arrived, we brought two pallet-loads of grain sacks in by hand, checked them in, and separated the ones that we needed for today.

Once the grain was set, we started moving quickly, getting the mash tun heating up with hot water through the hydrator.  I dropped the grain augur to the floor after the specialty grains were measured out.  Karen and I switched positions this time and she dumped the grain sacks into the augur with Bryan’s help while I stirred the mash and talked with Craig.  That is, until we got through the barleys and the oats started to come up the augur . . . and quickly jam it.  Yee-haw!  The rest of the oats were hauled up to the top and dumped in directly while I stirred.  Then (after disconnecting the power) I unclogged the augur with a screwdriver.  A four-inch diameter pipe was clogged with nearly a foot-long mass of flaked oats compressed into a near-solid cork.  By the time I was done, I had filled nearly half of a brew bucket with oats to stir in.

Milly's Oatmeal Stout in the Boil Kettle

Milly’s Oatmeal Stout in the Boil Kettle

The lovely roasty dark mash settled nicely, recirculated nicely, and (other than a brief near-stick during sparging) lautered evenly until our brew kettle was filled.  We drained off a bunch of the remaining sweet wort to play with while the kettle finished heating up to a boil.  We all had half a glass or more of the syrupy roasty chocolatey malt candy goodness.  I mixed up a chocolate Malt Cola that I passed around. We passed a pitcher off to the kitchen to have fun with – with Bryan reporting hearing the word “marinade” being muttered before he exited the kitchen.

RECIPE: Malt Cola


30-60% sweet wort (bolder British malt flavors work best)
40-70% cola soda (the more citric Coke works better than Pepsi)


Add cooled wort to soda and gently stir before adding ice. Adjust blend to taste.  I like it best with a bit more soda than wort.

Dark roasty worts such as stouts and porters make it more of a chocolate cola, while worts from bitters/milds/browns will be more of a caramel cola. More caramelly worts would also be appropriate blended with a traditional root/birch/ginger beer.

Raking the Spent Grain out the Manway

Raking the Spent Grain out the Manway

I measured out the 75 and 60 minute hop additions, and we got to raking out the now-drained mash tun.  The spent grain was loosened from above with the oar and pulled out of the manway with a heavy-duty garden hoe to fall into plastic 55-gallon drums and trash cans.  The grains were packed down in each bucket to compress them as much as possible.  As each bucket was filled to within inches of the brim, it was loaded on a hand cart and wheeled through the twisting path of ramps and tight corners through the function room, kitchen, and back of the house areas to exit at the back door near the dumpsters.  As the buckets began to pile up, a call was placed to our regular farmer to come collect it for feed for his farm critters.  There is so much heat stored in this amount of grain that even at the below-freezing temperatures that we’ve had lately, it will take days to cool off enough to start to sour.  (We filled about 9 of these big barrels with the heavy, wet, spent grain – which had weighed close to 1,100 pounds while dry before the mash . . . I hope I don’t need to break out the thermodynamics equations for you to get the idea that there’s a LOT of hot mass in each of them.)

I measured out the next additions of hops and put the boxes away before climbing through the top hatch into the mash tun with a bucket, a green scrubby, and the garden hose.  I sort of lost track of time for a while, drenched with sweat and water spray, not able to hear much of anything outside except when I occasionally stuck my head out of the top.  Eventually, I got the four panels of the false bottom turned up and everything inside the tun sparkling and shiny and clambered out with surprising ease.

Top Hatch of Mash Tun

Top Hatch of Mash Tun

Once on the floor, I could see that the others had finished up carting out the spent grain and had gotten the yeast from the Grundy Room to warm up for pitching.  I measured out the Irish Moss and Bryan dumped it in the kettle, along with a couple of gallons of older yeast that we weren’t going to pitch to act as a nutrient.  The final hops went in a bit later and we started the whirlpool.  After the whirlpool was allowed to rest, we started draining into the fermentor.  I opened the manway hatch on the FV and popped the lids off of the two corny kegs of yeast we were to pitch.  The yeast that we had pulled the day before proved much more frothy than we had thought – after overnight settling, the kegs were only half full.  While I was working the yeast loose and dumping it through the hatch, a third keg was retrieved and depressurized to find similar settling.  The third keg also went in before the hatch was sealed up and the blowoff hose was rigged to the top port.

As the kettle drained, we could see that unlike the brew day last week, this brew had formed a nice, solid cone of trub.  Actually, once we had filled the fermenter, drained some to a bucket for gravity readings, and let the rest down the drain, the pile of hops and break was very solid.  It took quite a bit of force to blast it away, layer by layer, with the jet blast from the cleaning hose.  Bryan climbed in this one for the cleaning while we took apart and cleaned the yeast kegs.

Cone of Trub from Whirlpooling

Cone of Trub from Whirlpooling

After everything was cleaned up, we checked on the status of kegs with the bar, replaced the root beer keg, and were done with our brew day.  When possible, we try to have the brewers stay at least through the end of the happy hour.  The staff likes us to be on hand to swap kegs and taps . . . and the management likes us around to answer questions and give brewery tours.  So, dutifully performing my role, I had a pints of the oatmeal stout that we transferred yesterday (decidedly less over-roasted and much more balanced than the previous batch) and mingled amongst the patrons before heading home.

Tomorrow is the Certified Cicerone Exam, time to do some last-minute studying!

19th Annual Boston Homebrew Competition

On Saturday, I headed down old stomping grounds in Boston to judge at the 19th Annual Boston Homebrew Competition.  After the usual miss-at-least-one turn drive through town, I wound my way through the levels of the parking garage and found a spot.  After getting to street level, checking the facades and realizing I had just exited the building I was looking for, I found the security desk and headed upstairs.  A less organized bunch than I’ve seen at other competitions, I got myself checked in and after much wandering, found my morning session table.bhc-roomMy morning session assignment was for Category 18 – Belgian Strong Ales.  The selection included a few Blond Ales, a few Dubbels, several Tripels, a couple of Golden Strong Ales, and a whole lot of Dark Strong Ales.  There were two tables assigned the category, so the stewards split the selection between us as availability allowed.  As can generally be expected, the quality of entries ranged from “do I have to taste this?” to fairly decent – sadly, our mini-BOS selections only merited scores in the high 30’s.

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We were one of the largest categories, so were one of the last groups to finish (it took the IPA groups even longer to find some consensus).  We moved to the next room for lunch to find an impressively-catered spread of sandwiches and wraps of all kinds, a couple of salads, and big plates of chips and pretzels with accompanying dips.  Someone had made a frothy fruit lemonade and was serving it from a keg through a mini jockey box.  After lunchtime concluded, we gathered back in the judging room for more confused shuffling as we located our new table locations and then more shuffling of judges to ensure all categories were covered.  I found my way to the Sours (category 22) table with mixed feelings of dread and anticipation.

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The Sours category is notorious for being a complete wild card.  Acid levels, flavours, mouthfeel, carbonation, etc. all run the full gamut – but nearly always palate-wreckingly intense.  It’s also known for horrendously horrible entries and divinely-inspired magical elixirs.

We managed to avoid both extremes.  While there were a couple of entries that we didn’t want to finish, and a few that were clearly not intentional sours, the overall level of quality was pretty good.  There was a Berlinerweisse, a few Flanders Reds, an Oud Bruin, a pair of Gueuze, and a Fruit Lambic.  One of the Gueuze really stood out and was the only entry of the day that I scored above the 30’s – and in fact, turned out to the be the competition’s Best of Show winner!  It had the nuanced layers of a blended beer, with notes of aged sherry qualities and bright spritzy sweetness over a more solid mineral-and-malt tang with sparkling hints of various fruits.

I had two entries in this competition:  my Smoky Twilight RauchAle and my Gryffon’s Talon Continental Wheat IPA.  Neither won an award (no one from Brew Free or Die was represented amongst the winners this year), but both scored what I would consider appropriately.  My scores are online (a decent 32 on the wheat IPA – probably lost style points for the wheat, and an expected lower 23.5 – I thought it merited a 25-26, but didn’t taste the competition).  I won’t know more until I get my actual judging sheets back in the mail, but I’ll post notes when they do.

All in all, a good day judging, got to taste the winning beer, and off to the third state of the day to visit a friend and share some growlers of ManchVegas IPA and John Stark Porter from the brewpub and a few bombers of my homebrew for the rest of the weekend.

The Boston Wort Processors have posted the full results on the event’s homepage.

Brewery Intern: Day 06 (Kegs, Casks, and Yeast)

Today started with doing some rearranging in the Grundy Room and restacking the full kegs, including moving a few into the cold storage in the back of the house.  We put a few feet of water in the kettle to heat, got the keg washer pulled out, and hand-trucked a pile of 14 kegs from the back door up to the Grundy Room.

During all the walking around, I said something to Bryan about noticing how much the brewery smelled like hops today, joking it must be leaking out of the fermentors with the fresh IPAs from Friday.  Turns out….yup, literally.  FV1 hasn’t been used in some time because the coolant coil in the top half isn’t working right.  We only put a half batch of HFR IPA in it, so the lower coil was just fine (as we found out, unfortunately, on Friday) – however, the heavy rubber gasket around the manway door had torn a bit on the side (and the fill level is currently well above the bottom of the manway door).  Bryan actually sounded relieved that a small amount of IPA was appearing in the edge of the seam around the gasket (which is why we could smell the hops so much).  He pointed that he first noticed the blowoff tube wasn’t bubbling and freaked out that the beer still wasn’t fermenting after nearly 3 days – after spotting the leak and pulling a sample to test gravity, he was much relieved to find it was fermenting just fine.

Once the water was up to temp in the kettle, I got to work running kegs through the keg washer cycles (something that continued through the early evening).  During waits for cycles to finish, Craig and I took the empty metal cask of Apple Cobbler offline, cleaned it, and pried the bungs out.  We took apart and cleaned the beer and gas lines, as well as the cask breather.

Cask Breather

Cask Breather

Later on, we brought out a metal cask of Pumpkin Bread (a sour pumpkin ale blended with a portion of dark porter), set it up on the stand, and installed the saddle (a specially-designed cooling coil that drapes over the top of the cask under its jacket).  Craig hammered a soft spile (porous wooden peg) into the hole in the center of the plastic bung to allow some carbonation to escape through the pores of the wood.  After judging sufficient pressure had off-gassed, he pulled the spile out and screwed the attachment to the cask breather into the bung hole.  While the cask was allowed to rest, a line cleaner solution was mixed up and pulled through the hand pump for a bit before allowing to rest with flooded lines.  The hand pump was pulled periodically for an hour or two before clean water was pulled through to rise.  Craig hammered in the tap, installed the hop filter, and reconnected the line.  We pulled the hand pump until the water was replaced by beer, then poured a couple of samples.  It was lightly sour (but my palate might still be wrecked from judging the sour category at the Boston Homebrew Competition two days ago) and tasted like gingery pumpkin cookies.

Cask Breather Spigot on a Cask

Cask Breather Spigot on a Cask

We carbonated a keg of the house root beer (non-alcoholic) and put it on tap, kicked the last keg of oatmeal stout, and replaced a keg of American pale ale.  We taste-tested the Hopzilla from last Friday: still very yeasty, quite bitter, very piney hops up front (lots of Simcoe in this one) and took gravity readings of the oatmeal stout in the fv (which, of course, ended with tasting….quite roasty).  We took apart, cleaned, and pressure-tested 3 older 5-gallon corny kegs that are used for yeast – then dumped a bit of trub from the fv (fermentation vessel) full of stout and filled two of them with fresh yeast, leaving a fair amount of head space.  After settling, we will pull another 5-10 gallons tomorrow too.

After cleanup and putting the keg washer away, I did some more keg re-stacking in the Grundy Room and pulled most of the freshly-washed Sanke kegs back in.  It was getting late, so before I left, I helped Craig start filling kegs from one of the large holding tanks.  It was acting as a serving tank and had about 6.5 barrels left, so the first keg filled was stacked and tapped immediately to keep the barfront functional.  As I left, Craig was filling the rest of the kegs and planning to rinse out the tank before he left.

Tomorrow is planned to wash that holding tank, fill it with oatmeal stout from the fermentor, and clean out the FV once it’s empty.

Brewery Intern: Day 04 (Swap Them Hoses)

The slow filtration of the red ale last night meant that Craig and Bryan went home after the late-night staff meeting without cleaning the fermentor. The planned brew day for today was postponed until tomorrow. Today, we cleaned.

Today also marked the start of two new interns:  Ashley (a home kombucha fermenter) and Karen (a homebrewer and another member of the Brew Free or Die homebrewing club), both eager to get brewing.  The owner/brewmaster also left for a ten-day vacation today, leaving operations of the brewery in the hands of Bryan and Craig.

I hung back for a good portion of the morning, as Craig isn’t the loudest speaker.  He was doing a lot of the introductory explaining that I had already heard, so I was getting chemicals, putting away hoses, etc. while he was talking.  The burner for the boil kettle was extra ornery starting up this morning, requiring a couple of resets and some judicious *ahem* calibration with a mallet.

Ashley and Karen got some practice connecting and moving triclamp fittings as we cleaned the 14bbl fermentation vessel by:  draining it, rinsing it, adding cold water, recirculating the water, draining it, pumping in hot water, adding caustic, recirculating, draining, rinsing, pumping in more hot water, adding acids, recirculating, draining, rinsing, adding yet more water (this time, pumping in some iodine sanitizer), recirculating, then pumping the iodine into FV#1 (which has been on standby), recirculating that, and finally draining.

Fermentation Row

Fermentation Row

We also took apart and cleaned a Corny keg with short tubes that is used for yeast collection.  One of the quick-disconnects (QDs) had a persistent leak that we spent a little while troubleshooting before solving with an extra o-ring for better compression in the fitting.

We went over the plan for the brew day tomorrow before leaving for the day to let the brewers shop for parts to order.  The plan is to do a split batch:  mashing and using the first runnings for one beer, then adding more grain and mashing again to pull the second runnings for another beer (that might need to be boosted with a little sugar, depending on mash efficiency).  The brewers will be in early at 9am to start setup of hoses, measuring grain, etc. and the water should be mostly heated tonight.

A long double-brew day tomorrow, then off to Boston in the morning to judge at the Boston Homebrewing Competition on Saturday!

Brewery Intern: Day 03 (Filtration Blues)

A shorter day at the brewery today (for me, anyway).  We cleared excess pressure from two of the grundy tanks that were previously cleaned and sanitized.  After washing/sanitizing all of the plastic plates and sealing grommets, we loaded up the plate filter with cellulose pads and flushed it full of water.  After allowing the water to absorb into the pads, we tightened the filter and repeated a couple of times to ensure good seals.

Plate Filter

Commercial Plate Filter

While water circulated through the filter and transfer hoses, we dumped the last bit of trub from the bottom of the conical fermentation vessel into a bucket until the beer ran clean.  A feed of CO2 was applied to bring the headspace in the fermetor up to 15psi over 10-15 minutes.  After taste-testing the output water, we shut off the water and connected the filter to the pump, then connected the pump to the fermentor.  Once the gas pressure was up, we opened the valves and the beer began to flow.  Down the drain.

The first bit of running beer was still mixing with the water embedded in the filter pads and being diluted.  After a couple of taste-tests, we shut off the flow and connected the hose to the first grundy tank and fired it up.  The beer began to flow into the tank and excess CO2 started bubbling out the blowoff.  It took a while, but eventually, the grundy tank filled up.  As it was finishing, a customer ordered a 1/4 barrel of beer.  Fortunately, we had just cleaned and sanitized one two days ago and we promptly filled and carbonated it for him.

Then we hooked up the second grundy tank and recommenced flow, adding a bit more CO2 to the fermentor to avoid vacuum, and engaging the pump this time.  After about 1bbl of flow, it slowed to a crawl (while we were having lunch, of course).  After a while, flow picked up slightly, but it was still another 5-7hrs before the filter would finish.  There was little else to do (the brewers were planning to do some online research and shopping for parts) other than baby-sit the filter, so I was done for the day.

UPDATE:  Plans had been to brew tomorrow, but I just got a txt saying otherwise.  The filter took too long to get the FV (fermentation vessel) cleaned tonight too (and brew day water heats overnight for an early start), so brewing has been bumped ahead.

Brewery Intern: Day 02 (Scrubby Grundy)

Bryan and I finished up yesterday by filling a number of kegs and emptying a Grundy tank in the process.  Today started with Craig and I cleaning and sanitizing the Grundy to prepare it for refilling tomorrow with an Irish red.  There is a lot of swapping of lines, running and monitoring of the pump and water temperatures, as well as fill level/pressurization of the tank.

Grundy Tank

Grundy Tank

One of the pumps started with a small leak that started spraying into the housing, so the other pump got dragged back and forth for double duty (pulling hot water from the boil kettle or recirculating the Grundy tank contents).  After breaking the pump down, we gave it a thorough cleaning and relube, before reassembly and a test had it apparently running better than it has in months.  As soon as we get a couple more c-clips in, the plan is to break down the other one for the same treatment.  A log (5 gallon Cornelius keg) of Scotch ale was carbonated for Craig to take to a tasting event this evening – however, it was cancelled, so the keg is ready for the barfront to tap when needed.  Swapped out a couple of spent kegs for filled ones, some discussion of general procedures, potential equipment upgrades, and hop contract planning filled up a good portion of the in-between time.

Thanks to the snow today, we shut down early and I was home for 3:30 today.  Nice to have a couple moments to plan some of the next round of homebrewing activities, then back in tomorrow to filter a fermentor off to the freshly-cleaned, -sanitized, and -pressurized Grundy tank.  Looks like the plan is to be brewing a batch at the brewery on Thursday, after the fermentor is emptied and cleaned/sanitized.  I did manage to snap a couple of photos in the Grundy Room today – we’ll see about getting some into this and last post.  If I find the time this evening, I’ll post up a brew day entry as well.

Cheers!

Brewery Intern: Day 01 (Hi, Here’s Some Kegs)

The brewpub that I am interning at has two brewers that work in staggered shifts from 10am-6pm and noon-8pm.  At 10am, Craig met me at the front door and took me on a quick tour through the backhouse areas (tap lines, kegerators, function room, kitchen, cold walk-in, gas tanks, brewer’s store room and offices) before we headed into the Grundy Room.

In the Grundy Room are three large 15bbl bright tanks and seven classic 8bbl Grundy tanks.  They are used as the receiving receptacles from the brewhouse’s fermentation vessels (after passing through the multi-plate filter).  Some are used as cold conditioning bulk tanks, some are used to carbonate in bulk, and some are pressurized to dispense directly to the barfront’s taps.  There are also an assortment of sanke and corny kegs, as well as metal firkins.  Mostly rigged to the bar’s tap lines, backup kegs are stored in here, as well as kegs being cleaned, being carbonated (or awaiting carbonation), and kegs storing root beer for future use.  This room also houses the brewery’s keg washer.  Consisting of a metal frame to hold kegs and a large water basin below, with a fairly large manifold.  Up to four kegs at a time can be rigged up, drained, flushed with caustic, rinsed, flushed with acid, rinsed, flushed with an iodine-based sanitizer, and lightly pressurized for ready storage.

4-Station Keg Washer

4-Station Keg Washer

Craig introduced me to the early-day staff, then to the other brewer, Bryan.  Craig and I washed a several sets of sanke and corny kegs (which at the end of the day, I helped Bryan refill with fresh beer from one of the Grundy tanks).  I polished the 15bbl mash tun and similarly-sized boil kettle from top to bottom while the brewers and owner had a meeting with a tap handle maker about the new designs.  Then more keg cleaning (it gets COLD in that room!)  Craig did a tour of the brewhouse for a few customers, which I followed along to see what they cover.  Talked with a few of the customers on my own too, when they wanted me to.

Of course, there was a lot of talk all day about the details of the brewery, our homebrews, and beer in general — and there was a tasty lunch on the house, too.  All-in-all, a very good day, albeit long.  (The nine hour shift wasn’t that long, but on top of driving back from two states away, I’m pretty beat!)  Back in for 10am in the morning tomorrow!  Time for bed.