Posts Tagged ‘brewing’


Previous brewing Posts




Christening Lagertha & Our First Brew

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Like all our tanks, the mighty 15 bbl brewery Lagertha needed to be christened before she was used for brewing.

Brie’s voice rang clear across the brewery on the chilly December morning as we christened Lagertha moments before our first mash-in.

After a tiring 27-hour brew day for the first brew on our 3-BBL system, we prepared ourselves for the worst as grain and water filled our new mash tun. However, much to our surprise, things went incredibly smoothly during our first brew-day and a 15 BBL batch of Contradiction Black IPA is now fermenting away happily in our brewery!

We all agreed that a victory cigar at 10pm after a finished brew was way better than a “victory” cigar at 5am while the brew was still boiling after 20 hours of brewing.

ebc-crew-with-cigars

And so began brewing on our new brewery. Named after a fierce Viking shieldmaiden, she is well equipped to take us forward to share the glory and power of beer to all the land.

Molly Chester – American Orange Wheat Ale

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Molly Chester American Orange Wheat Ale is a classic American Wheat Ale brewed with oranges grown right here in Moorpark at Apricot Lane Farms.

molly-chester-on-horseThe brew is named after one of Apricot Lane Farms’ founders and owners – Molly Chester. Molly Chester not only helped found Apricot Lane Farms with her husband John, she was also a traditional foods private chef, is releasing her own cookbook “The Traditional Foods Cookbook“, and can ride a horse (pictured right).

This was the first time anyone on the EBC crew had ever brewed with fruit – we never ventured into it when homebrewing. But when the opportunity came along to partner with another local Moorpark business we couldn’t pass it up. We had a great time brewing it – and Molly, John and Mallory from the farm even stopped by to help out.

It started unlike any other brew – traveling to a farm to pick oranges the weekend before the brew. We had a blast and almost wish all brew days started like this.

The following Sunday we started the brew. The first step was to wash each and every orange carefully with love and playfulness. Matt took care of that will skill and ease.
Giving the oranges some love

Giving the oranges some love

Playing with the oranges

Playing with the oranges



We couldn’t simply add the whole oranges to the brew. So Brie suited up in her brewniform, brought her cooking gear down to the brewery, and sliced, diced and chopped up the oranges in preparation for the brew.

The last unique step in the orange brew process was to add the chopped oranges to the kettle during whirlpool. Luckily the farm stopped by to help us with this delicate process.

What we ended up with was a delicious traditional American Wheat Ale with a delicious orange flavor that really highlights the locally grown oranges.

On tap starting Friday October 4th – we only brewed 60 gallons of this beer so stop on by before it’s too late. And with the small size, so everyone gets a change to try the brew, growler fills will not be available.

Apricot Lane Farms was founded in Moorpark in 2011. It is uniquely a bio-dynamic farm – meaning they try to mimic nature in their farming to create a fully sustainable farm. The foods raised and grown on their farm are nurtured without the use of pesticides, soy, hormones or other chemical inputs. Be sure to check them out at http://www.apricotlanefarms.com/

Christening Heidi

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Back in mid-March we picked up a new bright tank from Ladyface Brewery as part of our brewery expansion. It was named “Tax Determination Tank #2”. We needed to fill it with our 2nd year anniversary ale, but as you may know, all tanks at the brewery must be named after ladies in German drinking songs (or at the very least a ladies name) – otherwise it is bad luck.

But…
one-does-not-simply-rename-a-fermentor

Renaming a fermentor is not a simple task. First all traces of the old fermentor name have to be removed from our records. Second, the old fermentor name needs to be purged from existence. And lastly, the fermentor needs to be renamed and christened in preparation for the beer.

We were sure to perform this procedure at night while we were closed. If one false word was uttered, things could go very wrong – Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant opening wrong.

fermentor-renaming-gone-wrong

First step was to remove all traces of the old name from our records. This included deleting the name from our fermentation gantt chart.

deleting-old-name

brewing-gantt-chart

Then removing the name from our fermentation control panel.

tax-tank-on-fermentation-control

And finally erasing of the name on the bright tank itself.

erasing-the-old-name

Fog began to roll across the brewery as we prepared our final speech to remove the last of the old name. Captain Chris’ bosun’s whistle rang clear through the night.

preparing-to-burn-the-old-name

And on cue, Brie delivered a speech that will long be remembered for those few brewery personnel there on that foggy night.

Oh mighty ruler of the fermented fruits of the barley, to whom all men and machines who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name “Tax Determination Tank #2” which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom.

As proof thereof, we submit this burning symbol of this vessel’s previous name.

preparing-the-tank

Pause was given to light the last symbol of the old tank aflame to burn into embers atop the trench drain.

burning-the-old-name

more-burning-of-the-old-name

no-more-tax-determination-tank-2

As the flames died down, Brie started up again.

We give thanks to Ladyface Ale Company who served with this beautiful vessel in the past and kept her clean and free from the horrors of beer stone and mineral deposits.

May the purging of this name from the ledgers of the deep bring forth a new beginning for this glorious vessel and a bright future for her new deployment as a bright tank in the Enegren Brewing Company.

And with the old tank name purged from existence – it was time to rename the tank. First we carefully applied her name.

naming-the-new-tank-heidi

And then, with all the usual pomp and circumstance with a new tank we began the christening.

Dear Lord,

We ask you for your blessing of this bright tank. May her glycol jackets cool efficiently, her ports seal tightly and her gauges read true. May all brewers who serve on her go unharmed by the perils of craft beer and may you bless this glorious vessel and give her the strength to carry the Enegren Brewing Company onward and upward.

preparing-to-christen-new-tank

heidi-tank-christening

And so, after the breaking of the beer bottle on our new tank Heidi, she now embarks on her continuing mission to brew new beers and boldly go where no fermentor has gone before.

Guest Brewer – Brian Avery

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

This past weekend we had a guest brewer join us for the first part of the brew day – Brian Avery from Bravery Brewing Company. They are opening a 3bbl brewery (also built by Premier Stainless) over in Lancaster and wanted to come check out our system.

We gave Brian a brewniform and all the fun jobs like crushing grain, helping clean, scraping out the spent grain and stirring the mash.

brain helping clean brewery

brian stirring mash

He even got an official name tag:

So check out our sister 3bbl brewery – we wish them the best of luck!

Deviation Oatmeal Stout

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Some brews go according to plan. Some don’t. Re-brewing our winter seasonal – Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout – did not go according to plan.

Everyone seemed to love the oatmeal stout; a fact confirmed by the fact we sold out in 4 weeks. Excited to brew it again, we pushed back our IPA brew one week to squeeze a second brew in before spring. It was a tricky decision, because we projected to run out of IPA a week before our next batch was ready. So, we had to limit IPA keg sales in the tasting room, and as of writing this (a few days before our next batch of IPA comes out) we have 1 keg left.

Now, our normal Friday night pre-brew procedure includes weighing out and crushing grain for the brew, sanitizing the heat exchanger, and going to bed as early as possible.

Matt’s in charge of counting and measuring out the grain because he’s an accountant – a logical decision. Chris sanitizes the heat exchanger. Joe is basically useless because he sits in Friday night traffic on the drive up from LA. Once we finished, we went home and enjoyed a growler of El Segundo Brewing White Dog IPA before hitting the hay.

The brew the next day went amazingly smooth. That is, up until we took the final gravity reading on our first batch and it was 3 degrees Plato (1.012 SG) lower than our target. Panic ensued.

Chris, overreacting as per usual, wanted to throw out the beer and re-brew both batches (second batch was off too). Joe tried to calculate various ways to fix the brew (adding malt extract, brewing another small batch and adding it, etc.) – all of which wouldn’t work. And Matt, well, he was just upset with himself. Partially upset that he miscounted and the beer didn’t turn out correctly, and partially upset because he knew he would never live this down.

Turns out we (Matt) left out an entire bag of Munich Malt in our brew. 55 lbs out of about 280 were missing.

Despite the missing grain, we continued on with the brew hoping this accounting error – like a bank error in Monopoly – worked in our favor.

And so now we bring to you Deviation Oatmeal Stout. It tastes a lot like Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout, but has accentuated roasted flavor, less alcohol and a little thinner body. It’s delicious.

We have since taken preventive measures to keep this miscounting from happening in the future – our brew log now displays the number of bags to use (no math required!).

Joe and Chris both later admitted that one of the first thoughts through their head was “Phew, glad it wasn’t me who miscounted the grain.” And with all said and done, Chris and Joe still trust Matt to count the grain better than themselves.

Float Sensors

Monday, December 19th, 2011

With the brewery up and running all ahead full, we’re continually working to improve efficiency before expanding capacity.

One of the biggest time vampires (process that takes a lot of time) in the brewery was the sparging process. We had to monitor water level in the lauter tun, flow rate and water level in the lauter grant, and flow rate out of the lautering grant. We also to monitor fill volumes on the HLT and holding tank. This prevented us from focusing on more important brewing operations.

To fix this problem, we installed float sensors on four tanks – lauter tun, lauter grant, HLT and our holding tank.

Lauter Tun

lauter tun float sensor top

view from the top of the lauter tun

lauter tun float sensor

Float sensors in the lauter tun

There are two float sensors in the lauter tun – a high level and a low level. At the start of the sparging process, we set both to the desired height. When the sparge level in the lauter tun goes below the low point float sensor, the HLT pump is automatically activated to start filling the lauter tun. When the high point flow sensor is triggered, the pump is shut off. This ensures a consistent and accurate level in the tank.

Lauter Grant

lauter grant float sensor

High and low point sensors in the lauter grant

The lauter grant float sensors work the same way as the lauter tun, except they aren’t adjustable. When the lauter grant fills up to the top sensor, the wort pump is activated, pumping the wort to the collection tank. The pump automatically shuts off when the low sensor is triggered.

HLT & Holding Tank

hlt float sensor

Top of HLT float sensor

holding tank float sensor

Float sensor on top of holding tank

Both of these tanks have one float sensor. We set it to the desired fill volume and then start filling the tank. When the float sensor is triggered – the tanks stop filling. On the HLT this is important because we have to make sparge water adjustments based on water volume. On the holding tank, this is important because we don’t want to lauter off too much wort.

Floats in Action

float sensor in action

Lauter tun float sensor during sparge

While we still have to monitor the tank levels to double check the sensors, they have greatly freed up time during the brew day for us to focus on other brewing operations – and even allows us to take some short breaks.

First Brew

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Last weekend we brewed our first batch of beer – Protector, our Imperial IPA. Wouldn’t say that it went smoothly, but it did create a batch of beer that after week 1 tastes pretty good. We started on Saturday at 7:30am and finished up around 11am Sunday. It was a long brew.

Things went slowly because we were getting used to our new system and some things did not go according to plan. But we learned a few lessons and can’t wait to do it again. Here’s what we learned:

  1. When pumping the mash from the mash-kettle to the lauter tun, a lot of the wort pulls out first and leaves a very thick mash solution – it doesn’t move through pipes too well. Taking the hose and, using filtered water, spraying the mash into the drain to the pump speeds up the process and prevents clogging.
  2. Adding a small mesh filter on our lauter grant (aka Ulysses S Lautering Grant) would greatly improve vorlauf time.
  3. Unless you want hot wort shooting several feet up into the air, always close the sight-tube valve before initiating the whirlpool.
  4. One gets a lot dirtier when brewing in a 3 bbl system than a homebrew system.
  5. Shortage of buckets on brew day is not fun.
  6. When vorlaufing, start pulling directly from the base of the mash tun before going through Ulysses S Lautering Grant. This gets a lot of the small particles out quicker.
  7. Our kettle evaporation rate is half as much as we estimated (aka, we brewed more beer than we wanted to)
  8. If one plans on a long brew, be sure to put insoles in your rubber brewboots unless you want numb toes for a few days.
  9. Pump #1 sounds exactly like a goat when you turn it off. It is now lovingly called Goat Pump. Coincidentally, goats also eat our spent grain.

Pics from the brew day: