The Bruery has always made living beer that is unfiltered and unpasteurized. The choice to do this has lead to some speed bumps along the way. Up til now, we age completely finished beer cold for an extended period of time to help the flocculation process. While having a small amount of yeast and bottle conditioning improve beer quality, excess yeast can cause stability issues, such as autolysis, and will result in unwanted haze.
Living beer is much more temperamental than filtered (and less flavorful) beer. Transportation, temperature fluctuation, and storage conditions can damage product more quickly than other beers that have been unnaturally treated to withstand such punishment. As we continue to improve ourselves and make even better beer that excites us, we just can't compromise the flavor and aroma of unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, delicious craft beer.
To backtrack a bit, most beer is filtered. When a beer is filtered, it passes through a membrane in order to remove excess particulates, yeast, and remaining trub that is less desired in the finished product. Filtering will also remove positive characteristics that contribute to aroma and flavor. Depending on how small the media is that the liquid passes through, both solids and larger molecules, such as hop oils and soluble proteins, will be removed.
Pasteurization is a common practice at larger breweries. When beer is pasteurized, it is heated to 140ºF for two to three minutes, which basically cooks to death any remaining bacteria or yeast. Finished beer can also be flash pasteurized, which means a 15 to 30 second hit of 165º F heat that's thought to be a bit nicer to the beer, but it still kills it!
A living beer that has been unpasteurized comes straight from the brewery without enduring this intense and damaging treatment. Most kegs from breweries that pasteurize their beer are unpasteurized, which is why you want to keep those guys cold.
There's no doubt we make many, many tasty beers with some atypical brewing ingredients. Since we have no desire to strip any flavor and aroma out of our beer, filtration is simply not an option. But we certainly want to make beautiful quality beer that is clear of excess yeast and particulates as much as possible. The best way to do this is by using a centrifugal separator. Not every small craft brewery has one of these babies, as it is quite an investment, but we are thrilled to announce that this year we will be adding a GEA Westfalia Centrifuge Separator to our brewery!
This piece of equipment is made by the best producer of centrifuges in the world. It clarifies beer via the simple concept of centrifugal force. Think of your washing machine once it hits the spin cycle: when it's finished and you open it up, all your laundry is stuck to the sides and not resting on the bottom because of centrifugal force pushing up while it was spun around super-hyper-fast. This is also the same thing that helps get your spinach so dry in a salad spinner, or what happens when you take a ride on the Gravitron.
Now imagine your washing machine on 'roids, with beer inside it (only it's designed much, much better). As the beer is spun around, centrifugal force pushes all those solids out of the liquid, separating the gunk from pretty, clarified beer. The clarified beer comes out, solids are tossed, and that beautiful, living, beer gets bottled, kegged, or racked into a barrel -- unfiltered and unpasteurized, bursting with flavor and aroma!
With a centrifuge, most solids can be removed while all the good parts of the liquid components remain the same as without separation. Our production team will be now be able to schedule and package beers without having to wait for yeast to flocculate, we won't have to dump as much beer to remove solids, and we'll have a higher level of control over our beer since there is much less non-beer hanging out in our product. The words "more control" and "improved scheduling" are music to all of our ears.
This video shows the separation process that goes on inside the separator:
Our centrifuge is expected to be received by May of this year. We have more updates brewing, including one next week about a yet another pretty big piece of exciting equipment coming our way. Cheers!
Read more blogs about our ongoing expansion plans for 2014
- Expansion Update 1: Hello New Kosme Bottling Line!
- Expansion Update 3: A Bigger, Better, More Efficient Brewhouse
- Expansion Update 4: More Warehouse Space = Improved Quality