The nice thing about taking the trip to Tampa when I did was that Josh and Austin were actually brewing on this brewhouse for the last time before they decommissioned it. They were transitioning to a 15bbl brewhouse (3x the size of the current system) so that they could meet demand for their beer. The last batch of beer they brewed on this system was a big, dark Belgian beer in collaboration with a local home brew club
On this post, we'll give an overview of the brewing process and what makes our brewery special.
First, a quick primer on how beer is made. Malted grains are combined with hot water to create the mash. The mash is basically a thick barley porridge where a complex series of enzymatic reactions occur transforming the starches in the malt to simple fermentable sugars that the yeast can consume and create beer. Once the mash sets for an hour or so, more hot water is added to rinse the grains of all of the precious sugars and the resulting sugary water, which brewers call wort (pronounced "wert") is transferred to the boil kettle. The wort is boiled with hops (and other flavor additions, if necessary), resulting in another set of chemical reactions where hops create bitterness. The hot wort is then rapidly chilled to a temperature that the yeast can ferment the sugars comfortably.
Our brewhouse uses four high BTU burners to control the heat on the four vessels, which each hold about 120 gallons. The kettles are food grade stainless steel barrels, which can be cleaned over and over again without affecting the flavor. The temperatures are tightly controlled by two pumps and a control panel that monitors the temperature. For the brewers and process nerds out there, feel free to click through the pictures below for detailed explanations of the components. If you find yourself yawning, check back soon for the last installment of the series where we bring the brewery home!