The Brewhouse

Our brewery was sourced from Italy, it was the first LA INOX plant in Australia supplied through FB Propak. It is a four vessel steam brewhouse that consist of a mash kettle, lauter tun, whirlpool and hot liquor tank.  We have five 20 hectolitre pressure fermenters, with dual cooling jackets that allow us to maintain consistent fermentation temperatures. We chose to go with steam heating as it is a much cleaner and efficient way to heat, we have also recently installed a 24kW solar system sourced from Tiger Solar to be more sustainable in both the brewery and the Taminick Cellars winery. It a very well constructed brewery from quality stainless steel and has given us the ability to craft much bigger volumes than our original brewery. In April 2015 we also took delivery of a brand new four head linear counter pressure filler, we are able to ferment in our pressure tanks and at a particular level of sugar close off the tank valve and retain natural carbon dioxide in our beers.  Our filler is then able to fill the bottles under pressure called isobaric filling and maintain this carbonation in the bottle. We are slowly adding new equipment to our brewery as we go to increase the quality of product.

Photo by Jamie Durrant

Brewing Process

How is our beer made and what from, its a common question we get asked at the brewery door.  With craft beer on the rise more people want to know exactly what goes into the beer they are drinking, and the process of how it is made. So here is the simple process;

Milling

The first step to making our beer is milling the malted barley or wheat if the recipe requires it.  We have our mill set to a particular gap to break down the grains into smaller particles to aid in the next step but also to try and keep the husks intact when lautering.

Mashing

In this step we mix our milled malt with a required amount of heated water, this is called liquor to grain ratio.  The temperature of this water also called strike water, is again dependent on the beer style.  For a lighter bodied beer we would want the initial mash of 65-66 degrees celcius for a fuller bodied beer 68-70 degress celcius.   These different temperatures control the enzymes called alpha, beta amylases and dextrinase which in short convert starch in the malt into our fermentable sugars.  The higher the temperature the more alpha amylases the lower then the ratio of beta amylases and dextrinase is higher, this process can take anywhere from 40-90mins and take place in our mash/kettle.  Once this process is finished we transfer the mash to our lauter tun where the next step occurs.

Lautering

This step is where we separate the liquid from the solids, the liquid known as wort which consists of the sugars we had the enzymes breakdown in the mash.  This is the slowest process which can take 1.5-3hrs depending on the beer style, if producing a dark beer the longer usually due to higher beta glucan content which slows things down. Inside our lauter tun is what we call a false bottom, its a series of plates that aid in the separation of the wort from the grain.  Once we can see about an inch of wort above the grain bed we start the sparge process, this is where hot water usually 78-80 degress celcius is sprayed over the grain.  This helps to rinse most of the sugars we converted through the false bottom, all the wort collected is pumped back into our mash/kettle for the next step.

The Boil

Once we have collected the desired volume of wort at our required sugar level we boil it, we check this using a hydrometer we measure in specific gravity some brewers use plato.  There are several reasons why we boil, the main is to convert the hops we add into their bitter alter ego know as iso alpha acids. The timing of how long a hop is boiled for determines how much of the iso formed is converted from the alpha acid.  Adding hops throughout the boil adds different flavour characteristics, but adding very late if not the end of the boil imparts hop aromas  These aromas are from the hop oils which are very fragile to heat chemistry term known as volatile, which means they boil off quickly hence why we don’t wont them in the boil long. The other reasons behind the boil are sterilisation, stop the enzymatic process remaining in wort from the mashing process and remove certain proteins. The boil process is usually 1-2 hrs

Whirlpool

In our brewhouse we have a separate whirlpool so once the boil is finished we transfer to this vessel from the kettle and continue to pump for 20 minutes, this creates a whirlpool in the vessel hence the name of the process.   This whirlpool forces what we brewers call trub into a pile in the middle of the vessel, its a mix of insoluble ( doesn’t remain in solution/liquid) materials mainly left of hops particles and proteins precipitated during boiling.

Wort Cooling

Once the whirlpool is finished the hot wort needs to be transferred to the fermenter to be pitched with yeast, to cool it down to the temperature which the yeast functions we pass it through a two stage plate heat exchanger, the hot wort flows in one direction and chilled water or glycol passes through the opposite direction.  We end up with our wort cooled down in our fermenter, and we collected the water that runs through in our hot liquor tank for more brewing or cleaning (saves a lot of energy due to less heating required)

Fermentation

Once we have transferred all the wort to tank we pitch with our selected yeast and hopefully if all goes to plan see our bleed off valve bubbling away in the morning.  This means the yeast has begun doing its work on the sugars in the wort converting it primarily to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation takes anywhere from 4-14 days depending on yeast strain, temperature, the initial gravity.  Once its finished we allowed it to have a diacetyl rest, its a natural yeast by product that has a butterscotch character but by allowing yeast to remain in contact the yeast metabolises it again. Now that ferment has finished we either dry hop this is adding fresh hops direct to the beer, it imparts fresh hop aromas and flavours.  We only dry hop our hoppy style beers like our Howling Pale, Leader of the Pack IPA and Hell Hound IBA.  Or the beer is cooled down to 0 degrees celcius to mature/condition for 10-14 days, prior to bottling and kegging. And that’s how we produce our beer there are a lot more scientific processes going on but that’s the brewing process in a nutshell!