Brewing Information from our Brewer Andrew (“Rolf”) Harris
It’s my belief that many brewers overcomplicate brewing and treat it as a secret process that only some can participate in. I’m against this. The brewing process is thousands of years old, and whilst it’s true that modern innovations have improved it, the basic process and chemistry remains essentially the same.
One caveat though….whilst anyone can brew beer, it definitely takes some skill and experience to brew quality, award winning beers. I don’t claim to be one of the elite, but I do believe we produce fresh, preservative free and wholesome beers. This is confirmed by the awards we have won to date.
For the technically minded:
Some brewer’s guard their recipes and techniques like they are gold bars. I’m not one of them. I’m happy to talk about any aspect of our brews, and if someone wants to copy one of our beers then that’s a compliment to us. So to follow is a detailed description of a typical brew day.
We brew our beer in relatively small batches of 1000L. In brew speak, that’s our “Brew Length”. Our process is very hands on as you can see from our pics. I like it this way, it gives me intimate control over the process and makes each batch hand crafted and slightly different. This is in stark contrast to the major brewers,
who have large machinery that pumps out millions of litres of bland tasteless fizzy stuff that’s the same every time.
We are an all grain malt brewery, we do not use malt extracts or sugars in our beers. We use a two vessel British brewing method, as opposed to the three vessel German method. The two main vessels are the Mash Tun and the Kettle.
First step is to mill the malted grain. We use a two roller mill, and it takes us about 30 minutes to mill 300kg of malt which is the typical weight of malt for one of our beers.
We use only top quality malts that are appropriate to the style of beer we are making. For example, for our Pilsner, I use a German Malt (see photo), and for our English Bitter I use an English Malt. The same goes for hops. We only use filtered, UV sterilized rain water for our brewing.
The mash is then sparged (washed) with hot water and the run-off (wort) transferred to the kettle for boiling. Various hop additions occur during the boil depending on the beer. In the photo below we are using about 1.7kg of Tettnanger hop pellets (a German hop) to make the Pilsner. All our beers are boiled for 90 minutes with a good vigorous boil as you can see from the pics.
The wort must be then oxygenated and the yeast goes in (see pic). We oxygenate to 9ppm oxygen concentration. Temperature control is crucial especially with lagers (Pilsner), and this beer is fermented at 12-15C for about 7-10 days. The fermented beer is then racked off into a serving tank, chilled, conditioned and carbonated. The Pilsner is also filtered, but we don’t filter any of our other beers. It’s ready to serve in about 2-4 weeks depending on the beer.
The milled malt is then moved via a pencil auger into the Mash Tun. Hot water is run in at the same time at about 71C. You can see a photo of the mash showing the mash rake that stirs the mash to keep it at a consistent temperature throughout. Mash temperature varies, but is around 66C and mash time is 90 minutes for all brews. This is called a Single Step Infusion Mash method.
The wort is then run through a heat exchanger system to cool it quickly and transferred direct to the fermenter tank. In the photo below we are using a Dry Hopping method for our Pilsner, about 1.7kg Czech Saaz hop pellets into the tank before the cooled wort goes in.