Our brew house is a 10hl Specific Mechanical.
Great beer starts with great ingredients: barley, water, hops, and yeast
Barley (The Back Bone): Malting is the process by which raw barley is made ready for brewing. The raw barley is steeped in water until it germinates. Enzymes naturally present in the barley start to break down proteins and starches into simpler more accessible compounds. Once this process is complete the barley is dried and kilned. Variations in kilning time and temperature can create malts ranging from very light in color and flavor to dark, roasted, and intense. By using varying amounts of these different malts we can create a complex palette of natural colors, flavors and aromas in our beers.
All of our beers are built on a foundation of two-row malt (malted barley) from Gambrinus Malting in British Columbia. Gambrinus Malting has the distinction of being the smallest malting house in North America. Their malting process is performed in strict adherence of the German Purity Law. High quality barley, grown in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, are processed at Gambrinus’ plant in Armstrong, B.C. Our specialty malts come from a wide variety of the world’s best suppliers, including Crisp and Simpson in the UK, Weyermann in Germany and Castle in Belgium, depending on the beer style.
Water(Couldn’t Live Without): Water makes up the majority of any beer, and it’s properties are very important to the finished product. All water must be pure and delicious. Clean smelling and containing the proper mix of minerals.
Hops(Bittering and Aroma): The cone of the hop plant is added mainly during the boiling process, but it can also be added during aging and maturation. The hop cone, or flower as it is sometimes called, is very bitter and works to balance the sweetness of the malted barley. Hops also smell wonderful and can add refreshing aromas to the finished beer.
Yeast (The Voodoo Magic): The microorganism responsible for turning sweet wort (see brewing process) into beer. Yeast uses the sugars created during the mashing process (again, see brewing process) to fuel their metabolisms. It is through the yeast’s metabolic processes that beer is created.
We currently maintain two house yeast strains, which come from Wyeast Labs, in the Hood River Area of Oregon, the nation’s premier craft brewery yeast supplier. Our Belgium ale yeast does not have the overwhelming estery profile that most Belgium yeast strains offer, but it does provide complexity and subtle historical Abbey quality. Our English yeast offers a well rounded profile and restrained fruitiness, when compared to most other ale yeasts.
While our two house strains provide us with great flavors and character, they might not be the right yeast strain for a specific beer style. We feel every beer style deserves proper representation, so we will have special “guest appearances” as far as yeast goes for some of our beer styles.
The Brewing Process
Mashing: Crushed malted barley is mixed with hot water as it pours gently into the mash vessel. This oatmeal looking porridge is called the mash. The mash is allowed to rest, while naturally present enzymes convert starches in the barley into soluble sugars. The sugars leach away from the grain into the water, and can be drawn off into the kettle. This liquid mix of soluble sugars is called wort.
Boiling: The dense sugary wort is drawn off the bottom of the mash vessel, and pumped into the kettle. In the kettle it is brought to a vigorous boil. The boil fixes the sugar profile of the wort, sterilizes it, and causes all sorts of caramelizing reactions to occur. Hops are added throughout the boil, adding bitterness, flavor and aroma.
The boiled wort is then pumped through a heat exchanger, which rapidly cools it to fermentation temperatures. (Most of our yeasts ferment between 65 F and 75 F.)
Fermentation: After the cooled wort is transferred into the fermentation vessel, yeast is added. We employ open fermentation vessels, a very traditional type of vessel that allows for the fullest flavor development of our ales. Special brewing yeast work their wonders, creating alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a whole host of complex flavors in the process. At the end of fermentation the yeast is harvested off the top of the fermentation vessel and stored for re-pitching into subsequent beers.