Brewing isn’t all Smelling Hops and Tasting Beer

Besides a few customer visits and some website updates earlier in the week, last week was filled with hard work in the brewery. Although this was not the romantic side of brewing it is the most important side filled with tough work of brewing, cleaning and kegging and bottling.

On Tuesday, we were up at 7am and kegging at 8am for four or five hours straight. During this time, we cleaned, labeled and filled about 130 30-liter kegs, which was a single batch of about 4000 liters. A machine cleans the inside of each keg with hot water and steam and then cools it and fills it with beer and CO2 to pressurize it. Although we don’t manually clean and fill each keg, we do have to do all of the heavy lifting and loading of kegs onto wood pallets.

Jack kegging J.A.C.K. It's funny because it's true. @_jack_slattery_ #nyacarnegiebryggeriet #jack #brooklynbrewery #beer #kegging #craftbeer

A post shared by Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (@nyacarnegiebryggeriet) on

On Wednesday, after the kegging was completed, we were charged with cleaning all of the brewing equipment in advance of brewing again on Thursday. At Nya Carnegiebryggeriet, we use a cleaning in place (CIP) system that uses Hot Water Caustic and Acid to clean all of the tanks. The tanks and pipes are flushed with hot water, and then caustic, rinsed and flushed with acid and then rinsed again with hot water. This is extremely time consuming considering it is necessary to clean all of the four tanks in the brew house (the Mash Tun, the Lauter Tun, the Wort Kettle and the Whirlpool) as well as the fermentation tanks, the filter, the cooling tanks and the kegging and bottling lines. Each cleaning cycle takes about 30 minutes to an hour and each time the pipes have to be connected to the new tank from the CIP system.

On Thursday we brewed. We were up by 5am and milling malt by 6am. Once the malt is ready, it is sent to the mash ton where it is mashed in hot water to break up the stuff we need to make wort and beer! After the mash cycle, the mash is moved to the lauder ton where the spent grain (used up malt) is separated from the wort. The wort is moved on to the wort kettle while the spent grain is recycled. Here at Nya Carnegiebryggeriet, we send out spent grain to be composted and to be turned into biofuel that we buy back. Spent grain can also be used as animal feed. When the wort is in the kettle, it boils for a certain amount of time depending on the recipe. Throughout this boil, hops may be added at certain intervals to give the beer that nice hoppy aroma. On this day, we were brewing J.A.C.K, a session IPA (under 5% ABV) which takes in 3 hop doses (one that’s been boiled for 60 minutes, one that’s been boiled for 30 minutes and one dose that was not boiled). Then this wort is moved to the whirlpool where the excess hops and other unwanted solids are collected at the bottom and filtered out.

Throughout the process, beer is often tasted and tested in the lab. Here we test temperature, gravity (units of sugar per liter), and oxygen and alcohol levels. It is important to check these things at all stages to ensure quality, accuracy and consistency. In Sweden, Systembolaget can test the beers to ensure that the information on the labels is accurate. They give a little leeway in terms of alcohol content because not all craft breweries have such sophisticated lab technology to test these things.

After the whirlpool cycle, the wort is sent to the fermentation tank where yeast is added and in this case some more hops (dry hopping). It ferments for a few days while the yeast eats the sugars from the malt and makes alcohol and some natural carbonation. In the case of J.A.C.K. the beer is filtered (not all of NCB beers are!) and sent to a cooling tank where it is infused with CO2 to further carbonate the beer. After a day or two in the cooling tank the beer is ready to be packaged and enjoyed!

Today, we bottled a few thousand bottles of J.A.C.K. and cleaned some more tanks in the morning and had a sales action meeting and beer innovation plan meeting in the afternoon. Tomorrow we brew again!

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