Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Propagating Greatness

We got a new delivery in today!

Our yeast propagator came in the mail!

For those who don't know, we primarily use a single strain of yeast for about 85% of our beers.  It's a Belgian-style yeast strain that is highly attenuating (it eats a lot of sugar) leaving our beers with a very desirable, dry finish.  It's attenuation is also important because we make a lot of beers that are over 8% or even over 10% alcohol and it takes a very strong yeast strain to keep on working and break the sugars down until we get to that strength of beer.  

A problem that we often run into because of this yeast and our massive use of it is that we often don't have enough.  Many of our strong beers basically destroy a yeast pitch after it is done fermenting because of how strong the beer is.  Some of our other beers are simply too unique to reuse the yeast from them for another beer.  For some of our smaller beers, however, we can re-pitch the yeast from one fermentor into another, often up to 8 or 9 times.  In fact, yeast can multiply while fermenting, it must get excited while making all that beer, and we can end up with more yeast after a fermentation than we started with.  Because of this quality of yeast, homebrewers and professional brewers alike will make propagation batches.  In a homebrew, this might just be taking the small vile of yeast that you pick up from a homebrew shop, adding it to a small flask of wort (sugar water made from malted barley) and after a few days of fermenting you'll have enough yeast for a batch of high gravity homebrew.  

Here at The Bruery, part of the reason that we often make low alcohol, draft-only beers like our Humulus ales or 714 is because besides the fact that they are exciting to brew, it works as a giant propagation batch that we can harvest yeast from.  We love making these one-off beers and will continue to do so, but the problem with using them as prop batches is that it means we have to fit them into our brewing schedule at specific times and they take up fermenters that we might need more for something else.

So, we finally got ourselves a yeast propagator.  This bad boy, a 120 Liter Newlands, is going to be our savior.  It's only job is breeding yeast.  We add some wort and some of our house yeast and it efficiently feeds and aerates and does everything that yeast needs to grow up big and strong.  It's like hiring a nanny for our yeast babies.  Now we can get back to making beer while Newlands takes care of the yeast until we need it.

carefully and frightfully unloading our new toy.

Only the best gifts need a drill to unwrap.

Everybody is so excited to see it!


One last thing... Jay must bless the propagator.

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