Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Small Batches Of Beer

   For the most part, brewing commercially is a series of repetitive motions that mostly involve cleaning.
In the midst of it all I occasionally get to brew some special batches of beer to keep my spirits alive. The first picture below is a five gallon batch of Belgian Strong Ale fermenting away happily.
   We have been brewing multiple large batches of this beer for the Cerveceria Dos Aves anniversary beer to be released in late November so I took the occasion to pull off enough wort to re-pitch a different yeast that I salvaged from a beer that was brewed last year that I really liked. This is a very pleasant Belgian yeast Wyeast Belgian Ardennes but some of the bottles ended up with some acetobactor and these bottles I expecially liked. I want to try and duplicate the results and I'm making an assumption that the entire batch was infected and that the salvaged yeast includes some of the bacteria I want but that's a big assumption. Chances are it was a single keg or maybe just some bottles. With any luck, the bacterial infection that improved the beer is present and I'll have a nice stash of an awesome albeit personally enjoyable sour beer.

Special yeast for a Belgian strong

   The three other seen below are a trial batch that I brewed to see if it's possible to get a viable small beer from the second runnings off an imperial stout. The idea was to gain five gallons of mild (in this case an English brown ale) after pulling 10 gallons of R.I.S. from the mash.
The process I used was mashing in as normal for our R.I.S. but only collecting until the runnings were reading 15 brix. I was able to collect 9 gallons of wort. I then topped off the kettle with enough water to achieve 11 gallons total at the beginning of the boil. This would allow for a one gallon boil off in 60 minutes to achieve our normal starting gravity which will result in a 9% abv. stout.
In the mean time I continued to sparge and collect for the second (small) beer harvesting 6 gallons that I would boil down to 5 for a starting gravity of 9 brix.
   This technique worked for the most part but I will need to fine tune it in the future so that when we brew a large batch we can be precise in our collection quantities and gravities
After chilling and aerating I pitched an English yeast in the small beer and Whitelabs 001 in the imperial stout.

Two Imperial stouts and a mild

   The following day I had activity in each fermentor and am anxious to find out the results on the mild. I'm hoping that the English yeast doesn't ferment down too far as this lower gravity beer (o.g. 1.036sg) will need some body to be enjoyable. I'll keep you posted on the results of this one.

English yeast on far right

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

3bbl kettles for Cerveceria Dos Aves

Each year we continue to grow. Slowly. It's a struggle to make a small brewery profitable and it's an incredible amount of work just to break even. But, with our recent gold metal wins in a national competition against professional brewers throughout Mexico the hard work is rewarded with a sense of validation. This is encouraging and the pride of the achievement has energized me to keep at it. We took first place for our Am. pale ale and R.I.S. 
Last year we took 3rd. place for our Belgian tripel and two years ago a gold medal for our barley wine. Needless to say, we are making some good beer now we just need to make a lot more of it.

We have commissioned a local welder to manufacture a set of 3bbl kettles that we hope to put into use by the end of September. This will reduce our current work load of eight back-to-back brewing sessions in a 17 hour period down to one in 8 hours in order to get our fermentors half full. As our sales increase we can then go to brewing two back-to-back sessions to completely fill the fermentors (6bbl). 

The next hurtle to overcome is the cumbersome bottling system we have in place. Filling corney kegs and force carbonating, chilling and then bottling is very labor intensive, not to mention a tun of cleaning. So, moving to the top of the wish list are a set of brite tanks and glycol chiller. 

So the journey continues leaving little time to blog but as events unfold I shall endeavor to keep you abreast. Salud!

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