Saturday, 12 October 2019

A visit to Weyermann maltings

Weyermann are known for making an interesting range of malts. And they're clearly paranoid that their competitors will nick ideas from them as they didn't want us taking pictures in the maltings, and banned the maltsters on the study tour from visiting. It's just as well I no longer have the word "maltster" in my job title.

The company started out transporting goods and founded the maltings in 1879. The were making erzats coffee from roasted cereals and wanted to roast grains for beer but due to the reinheitsgebot had to malt the grains first. 

They moved away from floor malting when they build a pneumatic malting in 1904. They also have an extract brewery, where sinamar (the reinheitsgebot compliant way of colouring beer) is made. They malt barley, wheat, rye and spelt, making 85 different malts from the four grains.

They steep the grains at 20°C from 12% moisture to over 40%. Germination takes place in Saladin boxes and after that green malt goes to the kilns for base malts, the roaster for caramel malts and kiln then roaster for roasted grains. They have 4 x 60 tonne steeping vessels, 8 x 120 tonne germination boxes and 4 x kilns. Steeping to for 2 hours, then 20 hour air rest with spraying, then 2 hours steep.

The speciality malts they make include acid malt (bacteria are sprayed on during germination), beech smoked malt, oak smoked wheat malt and de-husked chocolate malt  called cara-fa i.e. caramel and farbe (colour). 80% of the husk is removed before malting in rotating drums. This has to be done carefully and they can't remove 100% of they will damage the grains embryo and the grain needs to be living to malt.

Fifteen to 20 trucks of grain arrive per day. They are tested on arrival for bugs, moisture, grain size and tetrazolium staining for seed viability (need over 96% from 50 grains). If the results are OK the truck can be unloaded. 

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Brewery Health and Safety

SIBA may be tossers but at times they do something useful. I was pleased to see they had a talk on Health and Safety at their AGM back in March.

You can make a judgement on how serious Health and Safety is treated by small brewers by the fact the speaker was able to go round and introduce himself personally to everyone attending the talk.

If a company has more than five employees it must be able to provide evidence that Health and Safety arrangements have been considered. This needs to be in the form of documented risk assessments.
Information on accidents that have happened in breweries can be found on the HSE website as well as some guidance.

The biggest cause of deaths in breweries is fork lift truck accidents. This one strikes a little close to home as some of the people I work with say someone was crushed to death by a reversing fork lift when they were working at King and Barnes brewery. The other major accident they talk about was someone getting his arm mangled in a Steel's masher.


The seven most common causes of accidents:

Manual handling and lifting
Slips, trips and falls,
Being struck by something or falling objects
Falls from heights
Machinery related accidents
Exposure to harmful substances
Transportation related accidents

For companies of five to 50 people there should be a first aider at all times, and there must be a fire risk assessment, fire marshal and fire drills.

Confined spaces can also be a problem at breweries and it's not just CO2 filled vessels you need to worry about, mash tuns can also be a problem. SIBA have some information on their website, though it doesn't seem to be working at the moment, as do the Brewers' Association. 

We were also given some useful handouts:

10 things I must do to keep me, my business and my colleagues healthy, safe and legal

  1. Decide what could cause harm to people in your business and how to take precautions. This will help you identify the necessary risk assessment. 
  2. Decide how you are going to manage health and safety in your business. If you have five or more employees you need to have documented risk assessments. 
  3. If you employ anyone you need Employer Liability Compulsory Insurance and you must display the certificate in your workplace.
  4. You must provide free health and safety training for your workers so they know what hazards and risks they may face and how to deal with them.
  5. You must have competent advice to help you meet your health and safety duties. This can be workers from your business, external consultants/advisers or a combination of these. 
  6. You need to provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water for all your employees, including those with disabilities. These are basic health and safety and welfare needs. 
  7. You must consult employees on health and safety matters.
  8. If you have employees you must display the health and safety law poster or provide workers with a leaflet with the same information. 
  9. If you are an employer, self-employed, or in control of work premises, by law you must report work related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
  10. If you are a new business you will need to register with either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local authority. 
We were also given information on carrying out risk assessments and some examples but I can't be aresed to type that out. The HSE has guidelines on carrying out a risk assessment here

Thursday, 19 September 2019

A brief interlude at Krones

After the hospitality of Schneider Weisse we were on to the bottling line manufacturer Krones. Fascinating though bottling lines are I'm afraid my research at our previous stop into how much beer I could pour down my neck did not leave me in the best state to be paying attention during a lecture. It did however leave me in an excellent state for having an afternoon nap. So I let my heavy eyelids fall and achieved a lifetime ambition of of falling asleep during a lecture, something I never managed at school or university.

Sadly, I was dobbed in on the group whatsapp and soon woken by one of the trip organisers kicking my shin. Oh well, it did me a power of good and I woke refreshed and ready for the tour of the plant. I must confess my notes are a little lacking though so you'll have to make do with some pictures of shiny things.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

A visit to Schneider Weisse brewery

Now where was I? Oh yes, Germany. Schneider Weisse brewery, that was one I was looking forward to. It was founded in Munich in 1872 and bought the state monopoly for making wheat beer from Bavarian dukes. In 1928 they bought a second brewery (that had been founded in 1607) in Kelheim and a third brewery in Straubing. The Munich brewery was bombed during the second global imperialist mass slaughter and is now a restaurant. Brewing continues at Kelheim.

Production grew in the 70s and 80s and they now make around 250k hl (150k bbl) of wheat beer a year.

Old wort cooler
 The Hauptman brewhouse dates from 1989 making 320hl at a time by decoction mashing (i.e. pumping out a portion of the mash and boiling it). They mash in at 35°C, a ferulic acid and protein rest, and have further rests at 48° and 52°C with the decoction at 62°C. The lauter tun is large due to the amount of wheat used (which due to its lack of husk compacts easily and forms a poor filer bed). The depth in the lauter tun is only 50 cm.

The grist is 60% wheat malt and 40% barley malt. Colour for the Original is 16 EBC. Malt and hops are sourced locally but as no strains of wheat have been bred for brewing they have to try and get the best they can. Ideally 12% protein but recently they have had to use 13.5-14%. A small amount of black malt (0.5%) is used for colour.

They use city water (which has 20 German degrees of hardness). Ultra filtration and reverse osmosis are used to purify and de-mineralise it and calcium chloride is added to the brewing liquor. A Lactobacillus fermentation (at 28°C) allows them to add acid whilst still sticking to the letter of the reinheitsgebot. Mash pH is 5.4 to 5.5 and lactic addition drops the pH in the copper to 5.2 to 5.3 which drops to 5.1 to 5.2 by the end of the boil.

They have open fermenters and as you might expect from a wheat beer brewery the fermentation room smelt of bananas!

The Original has 14 IBUs of bitterness. The bittering hop is Herkules, with Hallertau tradition added 10-15 minutes from the end of the boil. Saphir is used as a dry hop in the hopfenweis at 1.2kg/hl. Hallertau Cascade is used in Kristal and Tap 1 (pale weiss). One brew goes in each fermenting vessel and they brew six times a day.

Fermentation takes five to seven days (at 17°-22°C), except for the alcohol free beer which has three to four days. A 10°P Speis (food) is brewed once a week for use as priming in the bottle conditioned beers.

Lid with spray ball for Cleaning In Place
The yeast is only usually used once, which might explain why there were happy for us to wander around the fermenting room! The weizenbock (18.5°P) however uses second generation yeast.

Bottle conditioning is carried out for a minimum of two weeks at 15°C. The final gravity is 2°P. The beer is centrifuged on its way to the Conditioning Tank (10% bypassed) and speis (10%) is added on the way.

They were kind enough to make a diagram in English explaining how the bottling line works. As they have reusable bottles there's a lot going on!

The it was a stop for some lunch...

...followed by the tasting. I wasn't really looking forward to this bit, expecting to be served thimblefuls of various beers whilst someone lectured us on the likes of 4-vinyl guaiacol and isoamyl acetate. Instead we were taken to a cellar in which various crates of beer were laid out and basically told "fill your boots". So we did. Superb!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

A visit to Spital brewery

The next stop on the study tour was Regensburg, where we had a brief talk from a historian before we got on to the brewery tour. I wasn't taking notes at this point, which is a bit of a shame as she go on to religious sects at one point which is one of my interests. I can remember her saying that in the middle ages the town was threatened by the Hussites (Bohemian proto-prods). I suspect she is a Catholic as she compared them to ISIS which seemed a little harsh. Mainstream Hussites are fairly boring, but I've got a soft spot for some of their spin offs, which you can read about in Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium.

The proto-prod menace might explain why near the brewery there was what looks like a statue of a heavily armed Mary. I'm sure she doesn't normally carry a sword.

We were going to Spital brewery, which dates back nearly 800 years, originally being linked a hospital a bishop founded. The hospital is now an old people's home, but they still seemed linked and it still looks religious.

We were interested in more temporal matters though. The group I was in started with the bottling line, and it was a feat of engineering that they'd managed to cram it in to the space it filled. It was smaller than most of the lines we saw on the tour but still pretty flash.

The bottle washer
 Two people work on the bottling line, filling at the rate of 7,000 bottles per hour.

The filler

There were two vessels in the brewhouse, a mash/wort kettle and a lauter tun. 

They produce 15,000 hl of beer per year.

The whirlpool was in the next room.

As an old brewery they had various bits of crap lying around, which is always good to see.

And some sacks of malt from Weyermann, which we would be visiting soon.

They made their own malt up until 1970 and we got to have a look around the old maltings.

Some of the malt goes into three tonne silos.

The brewery moved back to open fermentation in 2013 and has open cylindro-conical Fermenting Vessels (FV), which was a new one to me. They have a CIP (Clean In Place) ring around the top so can be cleaned automatically, and a slight vacuum can be applied to the CIP ring during fermentation to remove most of the CO2.

They generally allow 20-25% free board on the 4.8 m deep vessels giving a working volume of 130 hl.

The brewlength is 60 hl so two brews can go in one FV.

The FVs have two cooling jackets and a cooled cone, the angle of which is 70°. Fermentation is carried out a 10°C.

The largest conditioning tank holds 185 hl and lagering is carried out for four to six weeks, depending on the beer.

This beers were not just in traditional German styles, with some modern innovations in evidence.

I don't suppose they've made IPA for much of the brewery's history.

Bavaria might have a conservative reputation, but this is not universal. Indeed, when we got to our hotel we saw a Bavaia that Erich Mühsam might have approved of.

And I even had Léo Ferré on my bedroom wall! How cool is that?

They are not one in one hundred, and yet they exist.