Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visiting the brewery

One of my clients is a craft brewer and Paul and I travelled up to Vernon the other day to do a tour of their brewery.

I'd never been through a brewery before and this was a fantastic experience. This brewery isn't really set up to give tours, so it's not all fancy for the public. It's just there to brew great beer. And the brewmaster was a terrific guide.

The process and care for making the beer was incredibly interesting. For them it's all about the ingredients. The process from one beer to another is essentially the same. Maybe a little more time for one step or a little hotter for another, but most all beer follows the same steps. What makes the difference is what you put into it. Do you use only the best barley with a bit of carmelized malt mixed in, as you would for a quality beer, or do you toss in corn syrup? Do you use the best hops imported from Germany or do you use the cheap stuff from down south? Do you triple filter the beer or do you single filter it then pasteurize it? Essentially, do you cut corners to save a few bucks? As you can guess, these guys are all about doing things the best way to turn out a great product, and they're pretty serious about it. (Really, don't joke about the beer.)

The brewery is broken down into two areas. The first is where they brew the beer. The second is where they can/bottle/keg and ship it. And, if I'm to be totally honest, I think the canning process was the coolest. Watching all that beer going into all those cans, whizzing along a conveyer belt, filling, packing, binding and stacking. Apparently you want to be super efficient in this step, so that you can minimize the amount of oxygen that gets into the beer, allowing for a stable and consistent product. It's an amazing system to watch.

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