Ramble On

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Shiny Stuff @hawksbillbrew

We picked Alpha Brewing Operations for our five barrel brewhouse.  They worked closely with us to review our business plan and expectations for the brewery before specifying a system and sending along a proposal.

Almost as much fun are the frequent emails we get about the status of our order.  The big shiny stuff had to be fabricated, but last Friday we got a status report on it, with photos, showing that the tanks were completed and were being loaded into a shipping container.  It's estimated that they will arrive in Baltimore by mid-November.

From there, they will be transported to the brewery in Luray, where they'll be united with the brewhouse, which will arrive separately by early December.

The three tanks shown here each have different functions:

1) The top photo is a five-barrel fermentation vessel.  It is made of stainless steel, as are all of the vessels I'm writing about today.  This is where the sugars in the wort produced by the brewhouse will be converted by yeast into alcohol.  The conical section at the bottom of the tank allows spent yeast and other suspended materials to settle out of the beer before it moves on to the carbonation process.

2)  The second photo is our five-barrel brite tank.  This is the next stop for the beer after fermentation - it is used to carbonate the beer before serving it.  Although breweries can serve directly from the brite tank, that won't typically be the process at Hawksbill Brewing - we'll move the beer to kegs for this purpose.

3) The final photo is our 10-barrel hot liquor tank.  We'll use a lot of hot water during brewing - specifically for the "strike," the water that will be used to soak the grain in order to extract the sugars, and for the "sparge," essentially a rinsing process that allows us to capture the sugars that will eventually be fermented in the beer.

While our system is designed to produce five barrels at a time, we doubled the size of the hot liquor tank to give us some flexibility.  By heating double the requirement of hot water, we can do two brews in quick succession.  This is part of how we will accommodate seasonal fluctuations in demand, and hopefully any growth we experience in our first year or so of operation.

There's plenty of action to come at the brewery, so be sure and follow our Twitter feeds for updates - the brewery is @hawksbillbrew and these blog posts (among other info) is @cabin_jim.

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