Sunday, 10 January 2010

First Brew

Finally we have brewed our first batch of beer - Redemption Pale Ale. The brew went relatively well apart from one of the heaters on the copper not operating at full strength due to a fuse blowing, but we still managed to achieve a decent roiling boil, just not as quickly as we would have liked. We got a slightly lower extract from our malt than we hoped for, but should be able to improve on that with the next brew as we manage the runoff a little better and avoid keeping our malt in the coldest part of the brewery! The wort took three and a half days to ferment and is presently cooling until it will be moved into conditioning tank later today. The yeast took a bit of time to get going but then went into overdrive so it will no doubt take a few more brews to manage our fermentation more smoothly. We easily skimmed off 20lbs of yeast to be repitched with next weeks brew.

The big question now is whether the beer will be up to scratch. So many variables can have subtle impacts on both the flavour and the quality of the beer and I imagine it will take a good few brews before the whole process is running as smoothly as it should do. Technically it should be a decent beer but the proof will be in the tasting.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Chilling at the Weekend

Finally have our chilling systems up and running - not that we will need them in this weather! Our conditioning room is cooled by a pretty basic pub chiller run off a roof mounted condensing unit which will keep the temperature around 10ºC. The unit is only around 3Kw so will need to be upgraded once the warmer weather starts, but for now it will do the job.

We also need a cooling system in the fermenting room to keep our fermenting wort around 20ºC and then ultimately down to around 10ºC when fermentation is complete. For this task we are using a machine called an icebuilder which is more commonly found in a dairy to cool milk. The icebuilder creates ice which cools down the water in the tank before it gets pumped through our chilling pipes to circulate in and out of each fermenter jacket. Thanks to Marc my friendly refrigeration engineer we managed to get it all up and running over the weekend. Slight problem in that we have a small leak in the icebuilder tank, but hopefully plenty of silicone sealant will sort it out.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Slowly but Surely

We are getting there. Some of the main brewhouse equipment is now connected and nearly all of our hygienic cladding has gone on the walls. In the picture below you can see our copper on the left almost obscuring the cold liqour tank behind it, with the hot liquor tank to the right, underback in front and heat exchanger in the middle. We do have a mash tun (they come in pretty handy...) but for the time being we need that space to get our fermenters into the fermenting room.

There is still plenty to do and the next task is to get our fermenting room sorted out.

We have 2 twelve barrel fermenters, 1 ten Barrel (we had 2 but decided to use the other as our cold liquor tank) and 4 six barrel fermenters. That basically gives us 58 barrels of fermenting capacity so it will take us a good while until we reach that level of production.

We registered our cask colour bands last week. The colour bands are used to help publicans and other brewers more easily recognise the brewery to whom the casks belong. I had a look on the BBPA website and decided purple and pink will hopefully differentiate us from most other breweries and help reduce the number of our casks which go astray.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Brewplant Delivery

I must admit, when I initially bought the brewplant I didn't give too much thought to transporting it to the site in Tottenham. It turns out transporting a few tons of stainless is not quite as straightforward as delivering a pallet of baked beans. An assortment of 12 barrel brewing vessels are an awkward load and although they are pretty tough, they can get bashed about if mishandled.

So I managed to find a haulage firm that specialises in moving heavy machinery - Merritts. Damien and Melvin, the drivers made driving a large truck and maneuvering a heavy duty forklift seem like a piece of cake.

The photo above shows some of the brewplant, which was previously used by Slaters in Stafford to produce Top Totty and other fine beers. They upgraded to a nice new shiny 30 barrel plant. I'm spending all my days at the moment trying to make these old tanks look a little bit shiny, but as long as they will provide me with great beer, I won't worry too much about the cosmetics. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Evolution of a Brewery

It's hard work (and messy work) building a brewery, especially when you offer to pitch in and help shift some gravel and sand. Progress is impressive so far and already the main drainage channel has been dug out....

....and the Fermenting room and Conditioning room have only got a few remaining courses to be laid before the malt floor can rest on top.

There is still plenty of work to be done, but it's nice to see the brewery actually starting to resemble the basic structure of a brewery, albeit a little one. No doubt some kind of snag will hit us at some point during the build, but for now the brewhouse is on target to be up and running in Nov.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Brewery Shell

Lease signed and keys in hand, the Redemption Brewing Company can now start to take shape. The rather nondescript, hollow shell opposite, is about to be turned into a fully functioning 12 barrel brewery. So what's actually involved in building a microbrewery?

1) Installing drainage and flooring. As you can imagine there is a large amount of water used in producing beer, both as a raw ingredient and as part of the overall production process. Where water is allowed to sit in stagnant puddles, bacteria can thrive and this risks creating an environment where beer can get infected, the end result being a poor quality pint. Good drainage therefore is important and makes brewing good quality beer a little easier.

2) Build a fermenting room. After wort has been boiled it becomes vulnerable to any infections, so anything which can help restrict airborne particles from getting near to the fermenting wort is critical. We will be using traditional open top fermenters so we want them housed in a relatively well sealed room surrounded by hygienic cladding. This will also help us control the fermenting temperature more efficiently.

3) Build a conditioning room. We will run our beer from fermenting tanks to conditioning tanks before we then rack to cask. The conditioning room is chilled and is essentially a bigger version of a pub cellar, which allows us to control the temperature and ensure maturation of the beer will enhance the desirable flavours and restrict those negative flavours we have all occasionally come across.

4) Build a Malt Loft. On top of our Fermenting and Conditioning room we will have a mezzanine floor which will act as our malt store, allowing us to keep the malt away from any water. Our grist box will also be up here so we can use gravity to feed the malt in to the mash tun.

That's basically the essentials and all relatively simple really. We hope spending a bit of time and money getting the layout right initially will help us make better beer.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Beginning

My name is Andy. Last year, in what was probably a mild sign of a mid life crisis, I left my job to start a small brewery in North London. One year later the lease is just about to be signed on a small industrial unit in Tottenham and a team of builders are ready to create the required infrastructure. The 12 Barrel plant, fermenters, conditioning tanks, chiller units, pumps and pipes are waiting to make their journey down south. We hope to be brewing some wonderful beer by the start of Nov.

Starting any new venture is exciting, but slightly scary at the same time. The statistics on new business failures never make comfortable reading, but hopefully with hard work and determination, a degree of common sense and a bit of luck, The Redemption Brewing Company will benefit from the ongoing rennaisance of the cask conditioned ale market.

We will use this blog to tell you about our beers, our brewing and the daily fun and games involved in running a brewery.