Brewer's Blog – Vol. 1

Our Brewer's Blog Series will focus on the geekery and mad scientist side of beer making. Put on your Einstein wig and button up your lab coat...

After the craziness of holidays, we finally have some time to sit down (or rather we’re still too full of holiday grub to get up) and let you know what’s been going on around the brewery. We are in the final stages of buildout!!! Coolant lines need to be plumbed and the system electrified, electricity is being laid in the tasting room, and a bar top is being installed at this very moment! After those bigger projects, all we need is to put in finishing touches, and then WE’RE READY TO SERVE BEER!

For us, the first week of the New Year was spent setting up our shiny, new brewhouse. This slick 7 barrel (217 gallon) brew system was made by Stout Tanks in Portland, OR with the control panel being supplied by BREWmation out of Fishkill, NY. It takes six 15 KW electric elements to run, 3 in the hot water tank and 3 in the boil kettle. For reference, imagine turning on 150 standard sized (100 watt) light bulbs; that would equal the electricity used by just one of our electric elements. As a side note, I wouldn’t recommend plugging in that many bulbs at once...

Sarah Wildes is excited to show off her Flight Deck Brewing t-shirt in her home city of San Francisco, CA!

Sarah Wildes is excited to show off her Flight Deck Brewing t-shirt in her home city of San Francisco, CA!

 

All the elements are monitored and controlled by a unit that allows us to precisely manage the heat supplied by the electric elements. Having this much control allows us to have confidence in the consistency of our beer by being able to pre-program heating schedules, reducing the chance of boil-overs without using additives (brewers using propane will know all too well of the dangers of an angry kettle) and giving us control over the amount and character of sugar caramelization in the boil kettle.

Being environmentally conscience brewers, we are particularly excited about the electric system because of its efficiency. Our system is completely enclosed, and the wort is in direct contact with the heat source, making it the most efficient brewhouse in terms of energy input to heat gained. ALL of the energy put into the elements is converted into heat with an electric system. By comparison, steam systems convert about 70-80% of energy into heat, and direct-fire gas systems turn about 25-50%. As an added benefit, all of our electricity will be supplied from renewable resources, and a portion of that will be supplied from Brunswick Landings’ very own Village Green Ventures. Located at the southern end of the Landing, Village Green operates a biodigester that, essentially, takes organic waste and turns it into energy. The best part - THEY CAN USE OUR WASTE! Some of the energy used to make our beer will come from the waste of previous batches! Beer begets beer. What a world we live in…

Of course, nothing is perfect, and there are some downsides. Electric elements are slow to heat and cool, meaning we will need to be on top of our power adjustments. Electric stove-tops are a great example of this problem; they take a bit longer to get your pan up to temperature
and, when you’re done cooking, you’ve got to give the range time to cool down before using it as a surface to lean on.  However, it’s a small price to pay for being able to harness the wind and the sun to make our beer!

More to come - for now, back to work!