First Brew Day

Chris Brown

Brewer

 

There was a chill in the air, this bright January morning. Like any winter morning should be, however unaccustomed we are to them in these temperate climes. I should’ve brought a hoodie, the inside of this steel building must be like a refrigerator… Never mind that now though, plenty of work to be done to warm one up.

We set about to counting out bags of Barley, then pouring them mercilessly through the grinning maw of the roller mill. My assistant Paul mutters something unintelligible beneath the grinding sound of the kernels being crushed. “It’s a shame,” I thought… “that was probably important.” Paul was our ride-along for the day, sent by the mad fabricators over at Premier Stainless to make sure we didn’t destroy something (or ourselves) in our first go around and tarnish their good name. “It looks good,” he said, taking a handful of grain from the grist case. It did look good, not too floury and not too coarse. Just right.

IMG_7554

 

We send it over to the mash tun, whistling away on the newly installed auger. The resulting porridge wafts smells of baking bread, steamy grainy goodness. It reminds me of Grape Nuts cereal, my dad used to have for breakfast. Spinning knives of the lauter rakes keep the resulting grain bed nice and even. Paul again delivers some gem of wisdom, harmonically identical to the sound of spinning motors, pumps, and water rushing through pipes. I nod thoughtfully… He seems satisfied with that response. After some time, the mash is done and all runs clear into the kettle.

Steam… A forgotten relic of the industrial revolution. Nothing heats like steam. Our jacketed kettle hisses as the pressure builds, heating our sweet wort in a matter of minutes to a rolling, raucous boil. Now the hops… Oh the hops. The most aromatic pellets of gorgeousity money can buy. Heaps of them. The smell that fills the brewery is indescribable, but rest assured it will be contained in the glass when it is poured. Gravities hit nicely, now to chill this boiling concoction down. We send it screaming through the heat exchanger, like hot lava running into the ocean to be quenched, then on into the fermenter. Our job is finished, now for the yeast to do theirs. Brilliant little buggers, they’ll make short work of this. We’ll have crisp hoppy beer to drink in no time. But now, the cleaning… endless amounts of cleaning. No time to stop now, though. There’s thirst needs quenching.