Full steam ahead …

 

Construction continues as we focus on the big 4 items needed by the brewhouse:  electric, water, steam and glycol (pre-chiller).  People routinely ask us when we’re going to open but we really can’t say for sure until the brewhouse is operational.  The real answer is 4-6 weeks after we start brewing assuming all our inspections are done/approved.

Today, we finally had both our steam and glycol folks working!  As mentioned in previous posts, one of the things we’re doing to ensure we can make the best beers possible is using steam to heat all 3 of the brewhouse kettles.  While this common on breweries larger then ours, its unusual for 15 barrel and smaller systems.  Having a steamed hot liquor tank (HLT) means we can heat up the water much more quickly while the steamed boil kettle allows us to envelope the wort with heat rather then just creating one hot spot on the kettle bottom which happens for fire-based burners.   On the mash tun, we can apply heat to change the mash temperatures allowing different enzymes to be activated to convert the starches to different types of sugars enjoyed by the yeast.  This give us maximum flexibility in mashing so we can heat the mash to affect dryness of the final beer plus the amount of body/mouthfeel without fear of scorching the grains.

The boiler has the job of creating the steam used by the brewhouse.  In case your like us and have never seen a new boiler (normally they are covered in spider webs and dust), take a look at ours before its first use.

Our boiler has multiple components that are now connected by pipe and run across the brewery area to the brewhouse.  Of course their is venting as well and once complete we will build a room around the equipment thus it won’t be a primary stop on our future tours :-) .

On the brewhouse side, at the moment only 1 of the 3 kettles are connected to the steam piping.  Our 30 barrel hot liquor tank (see below) was fully connected as of this evening.  We are hopeful the other kettles will be connected later this week.

Once the steam installation is complete, the installers will insulate the pipes to help hold their temperature and avoid burning us when we bump into one of the pipes.

Cellar tanks now in place

 

Today our cellar tanks were put into place.   Gotta love all that stainless.   Can hardly wait to be able to fill them up!   The 3 tanks on the right/center are 15 barrel (2 conicals and 1 bright tank) and the large conical fermenter on the left is a double batch (30 barrel) fermenter.   We have room for another 5 tanks so expect to see more 30 barrel fermenters in the year(s) to come.

Glycol system in progress

 

After a lot of research and shopping for bids, we finally settled on a glycol installer (thanks to those who made suggestions).  Last week, they installed the main trunk of the system (shown in the picture) to the ceiling of the cellar.  The trunk transports the glycol from our glycol chiller to and from each of the tanks   The glycol system is the heart of the cooling portion of the brewery which carries the chilled glycol to our fermenters and bright tank to keep the beer at a target temperature.  Our fermentation tanks each have multiple jackets which allow the glycol to chill the beer without coming in direct contact (yick).  

Controlling the beer’s temperature is critical for making good beer particularly in the hot summer.  Yeast tend to stress when put into less then ideal environments such as high temps.  This stress affects the flavors imparted into the beer.  Sometimes these flavors are desirable like in some Belgian style beers, but for many American beer drinkers they prefer something clean and crisp without yeast byproducts.   Hopefully we’ll have an update our on fermentation cellar in another week.

First Pilot Batch

 

Over the weekend, we brewed our first pilot batch of beer made at Rip Current.  With the extended period of hot weather we’ve had of late, its the ideal season for making Belgian style beers where the fermentation is done at warmer temperatures then other world styles.  This batch is an Apricot Saison which we plan to pour during our opening events.   The yeast we use tends to give a pronounced citrus flavor profile highlighting lemons, a little orange and apricots with a spicy background.  We complement these flavors by using Apricot puree resulting in a easy drinking beer with amazing fruit complexity (mostly from the yeast) and a very dry finish.

The picture shows one of the Rip Current Brewing owners adding the bittering hop addition to the boil.


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