Virtually all beer is made using the same basic ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. Malting is a process whereby grain (barley is the most common) is allowed to partially germinate in order to activate starch-converting enzymes before being quickly dried, or kilned. The grain is cracked open to expose the starch by running it up an auger that takes it through the grain mill.
When the milled malt is mixed with hot water and fed into the Mash Tun, the enzymes instantly go to work converting the starch into sugar. The temperature of the mash will determine the amount of body desired for the particular beer style being produced.
The sugar is then rinsed from the spent grain and sent to the Boil Kettle in a process called lautering. The sugary liquid is now called wort and it comes to a vigorous rolling boil in the kettle. It is here that hops and any herbs or spices are added to the beer. Hops are the resinous cone-shaped flowers of Humulus lupulus that give the beer its desired bitterness. A brewer can then take a measurement of the sugar content at the end of the boil (original gravity).
After the boil, the wort is cooled by a heat exchanger, a kind of giant radiator. The sweet wort is transferred to a fermentation tank where yeast is then added (pitched). During fermentation, the yeast organisms devour the sugar and in the process produce alcohol and release CO2. After fermentation, most of the sugar in the wort will have been converted to alcohol (final gravity). The difference between original gravity and final gravity enables the brewer to calculate the beer’s alcohol by volume (ABV). The wort is now beer.
After harvesting the yeast for reuse, the “green” beer is conditioned prior to bottling and kegging. Conditioning includes adding finings to the beer for yeast clarification as well as final carbonation.
Our state-of-the-art 6 head Meheen bottler runs at 60 cases per hour while filling 12 oz bottles of beer.