Monday 26 November 2018

A visit to Bath Ales brewery

The latest IBD Southern Section seminar was at Bath Ales, a brewery bought by St Austell in 2016.  They've obviously been investing a lot of money as the were shiny new things everywhere.

Brewhouse has a Mash Conversion Vessel, Lauter Tun, Copper and Whirlpool as well as a hop infusion vessel.  The brew length is 90hl. If I remember rightly they're currently brewing twice a day.

They have a four roller mill.

More space is devoted to packaging.

There were lots of casks soaking when we visited as they'd come back skanky. If only publicans would cork them cleaning would be a lot less effort!

The cask washer was bought by Bath Ales from St Austell, so when St Austell bought Bath Ales they bought back their old kit!

Here's underneath the brewhouse:

And there's the hop infusion vessel:

The flow plate looks pleasingly simple:

The bottling line looks very flash, but as is a tradition or an old charter or something it wasn't running when we were there.

They've got a cross flow filter from Pentair which doesn't need a centrifuge. One of the talks at the seminar provided information on this and I really must write it up for the blog. I know Alan has a keen interest in kieselguhr free filtration.

It was promised that the slides from the seminar will be put online, but as far as I know this hasn't happened yet, and unless this changes me writing up my notes will be the best you'll get.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Crisp's new malt sacks a great innovation

Crisp Maltings have started sending out their malt in new sacks that are opened with a tear off strip.

I've been in two minds about them myself. No more cutting the string and teasing out the thread, but the strips sometimes snag and the sacks are smaller, making them more difficult to handle when opened. And you lose the satisfaction of a job well done when in a moment of zen calm you pull the thread out:

Om mani padme hum. Or should that be nam myoho renge kyo?

I don't like being stuck in a limbo of indecision. So as the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas I decided go with the current fascination for The People's Will and determine if the sacks were good or bad by a twitter poll:
The results came in with a resounding victory for them being a great innovation. The margin of two to one being an even bigger mandate than the previous biggest mandate ever of 52:48. So nice one Crisp, I look forward to using your sacks again and I shall not give another though to the redundancy of my carefully acquired string removal skills and the loss of job satisfaction.

Friday 2 November 2018

A visit to Timothy Taylor's brewery

I don't really have time to organise visits for the Brewery History Society at the moment, but no one has volunteered to take over the job. So when I can I'm organising a few trips, and strangely enough I somehow managed to find the time to organise a visit to Timothy Taylor's brewery.

My obsession with Landlord is entirely unrelated to this.

The brewhouse came from the wrong side of the Pennines, originally being from Oldham brewery. They recently added a new Steel's masher.

The mash tun was filled almost to the brim, giving a brewlength of 180 barrels which is liquored back to 250 bbl. They still work in Fahrenheit and unfortunately I brew in Celsius. Figures were kindly translated for us and they mash at 66°C for an hour, then underlet raising the temperature to 70°C and leave for another hour.

They use only whole hops and add more hops in the hop back.

A lot more hops go in the copper though.

And I bet it's a right pain in the arse filling those bins. The use WGV (Whitbread or is it White's Golding Variety), Fuggles and Savinjski Goldings, with true Goldings also being used some years.

Brewing sugars are used in wort production and priming sugar is added to the casks.

Blocks of No.2 there

They carry out a range of lab tests in house...

...including using an antique Lovibond meter. Modern colour determination only measures colour at one wavelength (430nm) which does not give the full picture so they compare the colour of their beer to tinted glass slides by eye.

They ferment in open squares and rouse the yeast during fermentation. The yeast also came from Oldham brewery and they've been continuously re-pitching for 36 years.

They crop the yeast by skimming it off the top.

Newer vessels have lids that can drop down and seal the tanks. Which makes CIP (cleaning in place) easier and allows them to be used as conditioning tanks.

They now have a five barrel pilot plant which has been used for brewing some small batch beers.

Production is over 80% cask, with the rest being bottled at Robinsons. Annual production is 61,000 barrels so unsurprisingly they have very snazzy cask washing and racking equipment.

They still have to bang in the shives by hand mind.

With the casks being primed and racked with a yeast count of 2 million cells per ml there is a vigorous secondary fermentation. They recommend the cask is vented and left open for 24 hours before adding a soft peg.

The tour ended with a look at the Quality Control.

Very important that bit.