Thursday, 24 April 2014

Beer 2: lotta bottle

On Tuesday (22nd April) afternoon I headed out of the MPAD office and down to Granite Rock Brewery to meet up with Driftwood Spars' head brewer, Pete Martin, to check on progress of our beer.

Pete had been in over the weekend with Dave from Granite to taste and start the process for bottling.

When I got there I found the beer had been transferred into six casks, with four of them high up on a rack with tubes connecting them to a piece of apparatus that made the brewery look like some sort of beer milking parlour.

Pete placing the bottles under the 'udders'

There were six 'udders' with bottles under each one, filling up with a beer.

Beside the equipment were three bottle trees with washed and sterlised bottles ready to take the brew.

Bottle tree

Bottling underway

Pete told me that he'd needed to add a 'hop tea' to the beer on Saturday before transferring to casks to help boost the flavour.

When brewing at the Driftwood, Pete adds loose hops to the mix and lets them stew, but as he was using different equipment at Granite Rock he decided to put the hops into three 'tea bags' to reduce the clean up process at the end.

It would seem that the tea bag process didn't allow the flavours to mix fully - a bit like the difference between loose leaf tea leaves and tea bags.

It was also the first time Pete had used Nelson Sauvin hops and he thought the Cascade could have hidden the flavour, and that if he brews it again on his own kit he may have to use even more of them to get the full effect. It might even be a case of substituting them for different hop in future.

Anyway, Pete made a tea using the Nelson Sauvin and Cascade hops to help the flavour.

It was great to have a small taste of the beer, and Pete was happy to have the initial bitter hit that then softened.

Once Pete had showed me the ropes I started getting into rhythm of sticking the bottles under the 'udders', letting them fill, removing them, adding another bottle, placing a cap on the bottle, putting into a case, filling the case, putting together another box, and repeat.

Me having a go at bottling the beer

Action shot - checking there's enough beer in each bottle

It was actually quite therapeutic just to focus on one job and getting it right. I could imagine Mr. Miyagi sat on the side repeating "bottle on, bottle off."

Capping the bottles and putting them in the case

The cases soon mounted up and the beer worked its way from five of the casks into around 360 bottles (one cask is being left to be split between our forthcoming MPAD party and the Driftwood's beer festival - May 2nd - 5th).

The cases starting to takeover Granite Rock's floor space

Pete with a full case

Pete was then going to transport the beer back to St Agnes where the bottles need to condition for two weeks: one in a warm room and one chilling, which helps the flavour develop.

That means it will be ready to go on 6th May, just two days before our party.

Pete did say that he will come over the office beforehand so we can have a tasting.

And all this in the name of work........

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