Wednesday 27 December 2017

A visit to Liefmans Brewery

The last brewery on the IBD study tour was Liefmans, and it was a case of leaving the best till last. Which makes it all the more annoying that I lost my camera on the way home, and I haven't been able to scrounge any pictures of the brewery from other people.

All I've got is this picture from my phone of the wonderful woman who used to run the place:

She's the one on the left
She still calls in regularly for a glass of Goudenband.

The brewery has had a financially troubled history and is now owned by Duvel Mootgat. The current brewery was built between 1928-1930, though since 1991 it's been used for fermentation only with wort being brought in from other breweries. At the moment it comes from De Koninck and bottling is carried out down the road from Achouffe.

The product range has "commercial" (like Fruitesse) and "traditional" (like Goudenband ) beers. My personal preference was for the latter, but it's the "commercial" beers that make up the vast majority of sales.

Cold, aerated wort is trucked in from De Koninck and sprayed though a fish tail into the fermenting vessels. The yeast contains lactic acid bacteria. It's perhaps not surprising they stopped brewing at Liefmans as it was a long winded process: mill on Monday, brew on Tuesday, grain out on Wednesday. They had two mash tuns, two mills, two grist cases, two Hot Liquor Tanks and three coppers. The brew length was 440hl and the boil went on from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.

10% flaked maize is used in the grist, as well as some dark malts (caramel and black?). The hops are mostly Saaz, though some WGV is also used.

It's a shame I've got no pictures as they have cracking coolships, with a trough below in which the trub would be strained though a cloth to get more wort. The wort was cooled to 60°C in the coolships before going to a Baudelot cooler.

The two 440hl Fermenting Vessels are open copper rectangular vessels equipped with scrapers for cropping the yeast. When the yeast head is scraped from the top it slides down a chute to open and uncooled round vessels where it says until it's repitched. Fermentation is carried out at 22°C for six days. 

We did have the process of making their fruit beers explained to us in great detail (and they've also started a barrel ageing programme). I was bursting for a piss at this point though so my notes are a little lacking. It's hard to take notes when you're hopping from one leg to another and thinking arid thoughts.

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