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We buy pilsner malt from Viking Malt in Halmstad and specialty malt from Weyermann in Bamberg. Malt is produced by all four kinds of grain; barley, wheat, rye and oats. Most common is barley malt. But wheat malt is also used quite extensively in the beer industry. Malt is produced by soaking the grain. Which is called steeping. During steeping the grain becomes moist and enzymes in the grain kernel activated. After steeping the unnecessary water is removed and the enzymes will start a process that breaks down starch into simple sugars. This step is called malting. The malting take place for 7-8 days. When the malting is done the malt is beeing dried with hot air at about 70 degrees. When you want to give the beer more body, darker color and flavors you let he malt dry at higher temperatures, up to about 230 degrees.
Hops are a perennial plant grown in all parts of the world where the climate allows. There are male and female plants. On the female plants hop cones grow. The cones contain substances that we can gain bitterness, flavors and aromas from. We buy hops from New Zealand, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany, UK and USA. We buy all the hops pelletized. The hop cones on the picture is ground and pressed into pellets. Pellets are easier to manage in the brew house and for dry hopping in the fermenter. The hops are stored cold in vacuum-packed bags to maintain flavors and aromas as well as possible. The hops are harvested in the fall and begin to be used at the end of the year. Since the harvest shall last until the end of next year it is very important how the hops are kept.
We have our own water source. It was drilled outside the brewery in 2005. The water from the farm was not enough. We had planned to drill down to 80 meters. But at that depth, there was no water. So we had to drill deeper. At 125 meters we found enough water. The water is soft and perfect for brewing beer. We also have municipal water that we use for anything but the brewing water. In order to give the beer more roundness, we add calcium chloride at mashing. In a few beers where we want a drier beer, we add calcium sulfate. These salts are found naturally in water but most of the time we want to add more calcium salt since it improves the results of brewing.
Pilsner Malt is the base of all our beer. It´s purchased from Viking Malt in Halmstad. Outside the brew house are two malt silos where the base malt is stored. When it's time for brewing the malt is screwed into a container standing on weighing cells. When the malt is weighed the special malts are added, such as caramel malt or wheat malt. The malt is crushed and transported up to the mash pan in which the malt is mixed with hot water so that we get a mash that keeps around 65 degrees. During the 60 minutes starch is converted to maltose. Malt sugar, proteins and flavors are leached out with more hot water and pumped to the wort kettle. What remains in the mash pan is called spent grains. It goes to a dairy farm and is used as cattle food.
The wort is boiled for 90 minutes. During that period of time hops are added at different times. Early additions gives bitterness while later ones give more flavor and aroma. Here we take a density test, a measure of the sugar content, this is to be able to calculate the alcohol by volume. After boiling the beer is pumped in to a Whirlpool. In some recipes, we add a late hop addition in the whirlpool to preserve the hop aromas as well as possible. In the Whirlpool the wort is circulated so that residues of hops and coagulated proteins fall to the bottom. After that it’s cooled down through a plate heat exchanger and then in to the fermentation tank. The hot water produced by the cooling water will be brewing water for the next brew. In this way, we save energy. We can brew several batches per day.
In the tank hall we add the yeast at the same time we're staring to fill it up with beer. We brew mostly three rounds to each fermenter. So when batch number to is added to the fermenter day two the fermentation is already in full action. It takes around four to eight days until the fermentation stage is complete, depending on beer type. When the beer has finished fermenting, it is stored to be stabilized while the temperature is gradually lowered to minus one degree. This step takes seven to ten days for our ales. Some beer is dry hopped, it means that we add hops in the fermenter after fermentation is halted. This gives more flavors to the beer. Amarillo, Indian Tribute and Thurbo Double IPA are such beer. During storage, we drain the combined fermentation and storage tank on yeast a few times to get a simple filtration and a more stable beer. The yeast is pumped out and collected in a tank which is emptied once a week and transported to a farmer who uses it for pig food.
Most of our beers are filtered. In order to get the beer as stable as possible it is importent to chill the beer as much as possible before filtering. When the beer is minus one degree or colder chill haze proteins folds out of the beer and can be filtered out. The beer is pushed through a layer of diatomaceous earth composed of fossil diatoms. It has a different charge than the beer and attracts particles of yeast, hops and malt. When the beer is filtered more carbon dioxide is added. During filtration, and later on when filling bottles or barrels great focus are put on avoiding the beer to being exposed to oxygen. Oxygen and bacteria is the beer's worst enemies. We measure the amount of oxygen in tanks, during filtering and after bottling as well as we looking for bugs in all of our equipment that is in contact with the beer to ensure that the beer we ship out are good and of consistent quality.
We fill most of our beer in bottles. The vials are disposable. We buy all new bottles from a glass factory in Germany. We are often asked if there is more environmentally friendly using recycled glass. For such a small brewery that we are, it is doubtful if it is. But even if it would impact the environment somewhat less we still have no way to take back the unwashed bottles because our logistics based on the distribution of Systembolaget no longer accept returned bottles.
We have invested in several new machines in our bottling line to obtain better quality and thus better durability. Almost all of our beers are bottled six months before the expiration date. The exception is stronger porter and stout that can win on storing.