The milled barley is now
placed into the Mash Tun. Here, hot water is mixed with the grain
starting an enzyme conversion process. This converts the starch in to
two different sugars - both fermentable and non-fermentable. The mash
tun has a slotted screen false bottom. This allows us capture the sweet
liquid called "wort" and leave the grain husks behind. These husks or
"spent grain" still have nutritional value and is given to our local
organic farmer. As we capture the wort, hot water is sprayed "sparging"
on the top of the grain insuring extraction of most all the sugars.
Form here the wort is pumped to the brew kettle.
Here the wort is
vigorously boiled for one and a half hours. Three major things happen
in brew kettle. First the heat sterilizes the wort. Second, evaporation
reduces the volume and makes the flavors much more intense. Lastly here
is where we add the hops to the beer. Hops give the beer the bitterness
needed to balance the sweetness from the grain. Once boiling stops we
circulate the wort in a swirling motion, called "whirlpool". By
mechanical action any particulates are driven to center, just like when
you swirl tea leaves in your cup. Once settled, from the side of the
tank we draw off the clear wort. Before leaving the brewhouse the wort
must be cooled to about 65 F. This is done by pumping the hot wort
through a heat exchanger. Then its off to the fermenters.
As the cold wort is pumped
to the fermenters yeast is added. This single cell micro-organism
metabolizes the fermentable sugars in the wort producing alcohol and
carbon dioxide. Fermentation generates a lot of heat so to maintain a
constant temperature our tanks are "Jacketed" with a cooling system.
Depending on the style of beer being made fermentation can take from
ten days to six weeks. As the fermentation process comes to an end we
chill the beer causing the yeast to fall to the bottom of the tank and
leave the beer bright and clear.