Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: Proud Papa

It's always a special day for a brewer when his brewhouse arrives. Here, Bill Madden stands next to his 465 gallon (or so) brewkettle. It had just arrived after a 2,250 mile journey from manufacturer Premier Stainless in California to Bill's soon-to-open brewpub Mad Fox Brewing Company, in Falls Church, Virginia.

Proud Papa

The term brewhouse refers to the collection of vessels, equipment, and tubing with which a brewer brews his beer (sometimes referred to as hot-side operations), as opposed to the vessels in which fermentation occurs (i.e., cold-side). A brewhouse typically includes:
  • mash tun (where the barley malt is steeped until its starches are converted into brewing sugars)
  • lauter tun -pronounced like 'louder' but with a 't'- (where the solution of brewing sugars, called wort -pronounced like 'word' but with a 't'- is separated from the mash)
  • hot water tanks (referred to as hot liquor tanks)
  • brewkettle (in traditional British brewing referred to as a copper, named for the metal with which brewkettles, now fabricated of stainless steel, were formerly made.)
  • whirlpool (in which the hot wort is separated, after the boil, from suspended solids such as spent hops and proteins)
  • heat exchanger (where the boiling wort is chilled to fermentation temperature
  • other assorted equipment and tubing
In the interest of cost efficiency, a large production brewery relies upon all of these vessels to minimize the time in which it takes to brew a beer —often brewing 3 to 4 batches per day— and to maximize the extraction of brewing sugars. Brewpubs and other small breweries, due to size (and monetary) constraints, will use vessels that combine various of these functions. Thus a mash tun and lauter tun will often be built as one vessel to sit atop a hot liquor tank; a whirlpool will often be integrated into a kettle, etc.

The quality of the finished beer, whether from a larger brewery or from a brewpub utilizing smaller, combined equipment, stems from the skillful practices of the brewer.

  • More photos from the brewhouse delivery: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays.

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