Common Ground 809 – Minnesota Breweries

Common Ground 809 – Minnesota Breweries


Lakeland Public Television
presents Common Ground brought to you by the Minnesota
Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota. # # # # # # # # # Welcome to Common Ground I’m your host Scott Knudson. In
this episode join us we tour Bemidji
Brewing and Jack Pine Brewery in
Brainerd-Baxter as they share
their unique recipes for
fermentation. # # [Traffic noise] [Traffic noise] [Talking in background] [Talking in background] Tom: My name is Tom Hill. I’m head brewer and
co-founder of Bemidji Brewing. Company. And we’re sitting in
our new tap room space. And behind me is the new
production space. I got into brewing kind of the
way a lot of craft brewers of this era did. And that’s
through home brewing. I started
home brewing at BSU my Alma Mater,
and started home brewing in
sophomore year of college. And just fell in
love with it. So, I went to school for design
technology with emphasis in model making. And it was
something I was really
interested in but I also had this side path
of home brewing that I just love.
Production of beer, history of
it. I just dug into as much as I
could. And it was during my time at school
that I met Justin Kaney who was also in the same program. And
we had chatted briefly about starting
a brewery. And we both kind of
went our separate ways for career paths. And then
in 2010 we found ourselves working
in the prototype industry for what
we went to school for. But we both kind of wanted a change.
And at that time our
girlfriends now wives were involved as
well. And we said well lets let’s give this a go. And we
returned to the idea of
starting a brewery. And by then I had
really dug into home brewing. I just attended the
Siebel Institute in Chicago,
it’s the nations oldest brewing school. And
really just do as much research and development as I could ah,
prior to starting Bemidji
Brewing Company. So this is our malt room and
this is really where the process starts. Yesterday
before the brew day we had a pallet of grain in here that
had the whole recipe built on
it. We measured out any small
amounts that we need in the
buckets and then we mill it into our malt mill. You can see
there’s two steel rollers that are ribbed.
And those roll against each other and it crushes the malt.
If you look at the kernels of malt you can see
that nature’s wrapped that up
in such a good little package that it’s really
difficult for water to get in
there and pests to get in there. For us though, we’re interested
in what’s inside the malt.
We’re interested in the endosperm.
And that’s what’s going to convert to
sugar in the mash. And then in
the white pvc tube is a flex auger. So just
like a silo system. And then it’ll get augured up to the
hopper above our mash tun. And then we’ll do that the day
before. That way in the morning
we show up everything’s prepped, ready to
roll for mashing in. Chris is measuring out some
phosphoric acid right now. Which we’ll use to acidify our mash. So one important thing
for our mash is we definitely
want it to be in the right PH range.
And this will assist us with our
current water profile in Bemidji to hit the numbers that
we’re looking for. We pre-heat our mash tun with hot water at the beginning of
the brew day just to kind of
get everything up to temperature. That way
when we bring in the room
temperature malts and the hot water we don’t lose
anymore heat than we, than we need to adjust to the metal
itself and the container
itself. So, just have some hot water kind of coming out of here
right now. [Water splashing] [Water splashing] [Water splashing] This is our 2 vessel, 15 barrel
brew house. And we’ll start the day in our mash tun. Which is a mixing vessel for
our crushed barley which is held up in this hopper
right here up above it. And it’s got a stirring rake,
we’ll mix in water at a specific temperature
and we’ll conduct a mash in here. And later on, we’ll be
moving it over to our boil kettle. Clearly just a
large steam heated kettle. This we’ll be adding hops and do a
90 minute boil. And from there we’ll move onto
fermentation. Today we’re brewing our Autumn IPA which is
the first time I ever brewed
this beer. It’s Chris’s recipe he devised.
It’s kind of a big red IPA for the fall. And it
includes some flaked wheat. We send this into the mash tun
just through the man way. Our mill doesn’t like sending
flaked product through it so
it’s easier just to dump it in ourselves. [Wheat pouring] [Soft pouring] [Bag crunching] I believe there is what, 11,022 pounds of malt in this batch? [Yup] So
we…we haven’t pushed the mash tun quite that far. So we
will see what happens. Alright, so the first thing Chris is going
to do is add a foundation water to the kettle.
A layer of foundation water. And that’s going to just
bring that water up above the mash screen on the
bottom. And from there we’ll begin to
add the malt in from the
hopper. [Machine sounds] [Machine sounds] And throughout the water
addition as it’s flowing in the
mash tun, we also add the phosphoric
acid in the water mixture. Again,
just so it’s thoroughly incorporated into the mash and
helps us get our PH right where we want it. So
once we get mashed in, we’ll
recirculate upon itself for a
bit and pull a sample. You can see
the rakes have been turned on now, ready to begin stirring
the malt as Chris adds it in through a
slide gate underneath the
hopper. [Machine sounds] [Buzzing] [Buzzing and bucket hits] [Buzzing] [Buzzing] [Buzzing] [Buzzing] [Buzzing] So the goal of us mashing in
right now is to incorporate the malted barley any wheat products or adjuncts
that we have with hot water. And that hot
water activates enzymes in the malt that begin
to break down the starches of the grains
into sugars. And it’s these sugars that will
be fermented then by the yeast. Right now the
mash looks very starchy, very milky. And throughout the process it will
get clearer and more sugary. And you’ll be
able to visually see that happen as well as
taste it. So Chris is keeping an eye on this
float-a-lyzer that is letting him know just
the amount of water that’s come through the blending
station. So right now we just
finished up adding all the grain and
we’re shooting for 365 gallons of water total. So, we got about 20 gallons left to
go here. And it looks like we fit it all in there. So we’ll slow the rakes down a
bit and let the mash settle a little bit. And then
we’ll recirculate it upon
itself to pull a sample for PH. [Buzzing] So this is a grant and what it
is is it’s an intermediator vessel
between all the other vessels. And it’s got two radio frequency sensors on the back
here that detect the liquid
level. And as it comes above the
bottom sensor, it will kick on our
first pump and draw that liquid wherever it’s going. In
this case it’s going to go back
upon the mash and just onto the top. So we
just keep recirculating upon
itself. And if it flows out too quick
and fills up the grant top sensor kicks on and it’ll
stop the flow allow it to draw down. And it
will modulate it right in
between those two sensors. We’re just getting
to a quick recirculation here
so we just kind of control it by
hand. Just to get the quick
sample we need. [Beeps] So right now you can see it’s really chunky, it’s full
of some husk material. It’s
also very milky looking. Later on
once the mash is complete and all the starch
has been converted to sugar and we’re sending it over to
the boil kettle, you’ll see it’ll be a nice clear red. And
ah, be basically sugar water at
that point. And then now if you look up in
the top of the mash tun you can see it’s coming
through this site glass here.
So it’s going through our pump system,
through a pneumatic valve. Up this tube and then right
back in. So if you look up in there, there’s a spreader
in there it just makes a nice
gentle cone. So that way we’re not
just digging a hole in the mash
bed when we recirculate upon
itself. We do this at this
point to make sure that all the acid
that we added the salts, all that mixing,
just helps homogenize the whole mash. So when we take our
PH sample we’ve got a consistent medium to take it
from. Once we have our sample and
everything’s been mixed up and we made any
adjustments we need to make, now the mash
will rest for 40 minutes. And again, that’s
when the starch and sugars are converting. And after that we’ll start the
process called Borlaug. So, Chris is taking the PH of our
mash sample right now and we’re shooting
for….[Shooting for 5.3 pretty
much] 5.3…5.35. It looks like we
hit 5.30 on the PH meters. That’s all
going to relate to the enzymes that are active in the mash and
how efficient they are in converting starches to sugar.
Through the mouth feel the beer
and the hop character of the beer and how
crisp or round the beer is in a finished product. So to
start the beer off at the right PH range is crucial. It just
kind of carries itself after that. So other than the acid
that we added to the mash, Chris right now is mixing
up a variation of salts. So in this one we’ve got some
gypsum or calcium sulphate. Some canning
salt which is just sodium chloride. And then some calcium
chloride as well. And again, we’re fortunate to
have really great water to brew with in
Bemidji. It’s a little high in carbonate, that’s why we add
the phosphoric acid to knock that down. But with
the salts we’re really looking for a water profile. Something
that’s going to accentuate the hops, accentuate the malts that
we’re using. So the salts that
are being added now are really for ascetic
purposes rather than
functionality. [Machine noises] Once we’re transferring the wort over to the boil
kettle and the liquid portion of the
mash is moving out of there, we want to start sparging. And
sparging literally means rinsing of the grain. So Chris
is drawing in some water from our
hot liquor tank right now and that’ll just be slowly
sprinkled over the grain bed. And trying to keep
the liquid level the same
throughout the entire transfer. And what this is doing is
helping rinse out all those sugars that are trapped
within the grain husks and throughout the mash. At this
point the entire mash bed is acting as a
filter. So we have the screen that’s on
the bottom of the mash bed.
That’s really just keeping out the
chunks. But then you’ve got all that husk
material that forms a matrix within the mash bed. And
as the liquid flows through that it forms it’s own
filter bed. And right now we’re trying to be as gentle as
we can with the beer. So, we’re sparging slow, we’re
rinsing real slow, we’ve got our pump turned way
down. And we’re just slowly
transferring over to the boil kettle.
Because we don’t want to
collapse that filter that we’ve created with
the mash. So as the wort flows out of the mash tun,
through multiple points on the bottom so it’s drying
nice and even, it flows through a series of
valves and up into the grant. And again, this is just an
intermediatory vessel between
the mash tun and the boil kettle.
And it prevents just gravity draining,
pulling down that mash bed. So it goes in here, it
floats up and it’s modulated with two RF frequency
controllers that will keep it right in the
middle of that sight glass. And this allows us to verify
the clarity. As well as more importantly
control the run off speed over to the boil kettle.
There’s a lot of proteins in
here still so once we boil those will
coagulate and drop out and we’ll really start to see a
clear beer. But you can start
to visually see just the deep red
color that we’re shooting for
with this one. [Machine noise] Chris has just placed a sample
into our refractometer. And
what this does is it measures light as
it’s refracted through the sample. And the more sugar
you have in there the more it’s refracted. So we’re able to
look through this device and be
able to see the percent sugar. For us that
allows us to know kind of if we’re on track for the recipe
and just where the starting
point is for the mash. So I’ve assembled basically the kit of everything I need to
assemble this 15 barrel fermenter. Sanitizing
as I go. And then we will be able to
fill a portion of the cone with peracetic acid
sanitizer. And recirculate it amongst
itself to get the whole vessel sanitized and just ready to
roll for the end of the brew
day. So then everything the beer
touches will have had this
sanitizer ran through it and it’ll be ready to receive
the finished beer. [Buzzing] [Buzzing] So right now we’re transferring the
finished wort out of the boil kettle through
our heat exchanger through the brewers tube over
to our 15 barrel fermenter. We’ve got cold water
running in one direction of the heat exchanger and then
we’ve got hot wort coming the other direction. And then
we’re watching a thermometer
here that telling us what temperature
it’s coming out of there at. So
we’re shooting for 66 today. Once it comes out of
the heat exchanger we’re also injecting oxygen
into it. And that’s for yeast health. So that’s going to help
the yeast grow um, and perform the way that we want it to. So
you can see this whole mass of bubbles in there that were
injected in line through a
venturi mechanism. And then we’re going
to inject the in’sd pitch into the beer in line. [Humming] [Whirring] [Clip sounds] So after counting our yeast we
determined that 31 kilograms is exactly where we
need to be for this beer. So
we’re going to work to get that sent in line
here. [Whirring] [Whirring] [Whirring] [Whirring] [Whirring] And there we go! We’re all set with our yeast. So from here on
out it’s just a matter of
continuing to chill the beer on its way to
the fermenter until the kettle’s empty. And then we’ll
put the blowup hose into a bucket of sanitizer and we’ll
be wrapped up with the ah, the brew day and it’s just a
matter of cleaning up. [Traffic sounds] [Traffic sounds] [Bottles clanking] Patrick: I’m Patrick Sundberg
owner, founder and brewer here at Jack Pine brewery. And we
are brewing beer, we’re bottling
beer and cleaning kegs all today here at the brewery. I started as a home brewer,
basically a home brewer in my
garage. Got into the hobby more and
more. And really got interested
in it. I started entering home
brew competitions and doing pretty well in them. I
became a certified beer judge and got more and more
into it as a hobby level. And it kind of got to a point
where you know, I wanted to work at a brewery but there
were no breweries in this area.
So I felt that it was time to
start something up here. So I spent about 4 years
putting together a business plan doing research on what had
worked for breweries and what hadn’t worked. And everything
kind of fit together and we opened the
doors to the tap room January of 2013. [Machine noise] The crushed malted barely and
the other grains are being stirred in with hot
water. The temperature in here
is going to hit at about 154 degrees when it’s all said and done. That will sit
for 1 hour. And while the enzymes
in the malted barley are converting the
complex sugars into simple sugars that the yeast
can use later on. Once the mash
is done we’ll run off the liquid
portion into the boil kettle over here. And
we’ve got the first batch of the day is
actually coming to an end here.
And we’re just getting going on the
second batch now. Once the
liquid portion is pulled over into the boil
kettle it’ll boil for an hour
and a half. And we add hops at different
times throughout the process. Ah, depending on the style and
type of beer that we’re
brewing. Ah, once the batch is done
we’ll run it through a whirlpool
which is what we’re at right
now with this second batch. Basically just a
recirculation what that does is it’ll pull a
lot of the hop particles
together and any sort of proteins that
are left over in the boil. Pull
it to the middle so they don’t end
up into the fermenter. So we’re
just finishing up the first batch of the day. And
kind of about mid process on the second
batch. We’re doing the
recirculation or the vorlauf is the official
term for it. Basically in the mash
we’re pulling a little bit of the wert, the liquid portion
off and pumping it up to the top. Just to kind of get it
to clear up. The grain in the
bottom actually sets up it’s own
filter bed. So it’ll trap a lot
of the proteins and any of the grain
bits from getting into the boil. You want to keep
as much grain out of the boil as you can. Because
if you boil grain you’ll get
kind of a harsh astringency. So we’ll run
this for about 15 minutes while we’re cleaning
out the boil kettle. And getting ready for the next
batch to go into it. [Water hose spraying] Now we’re sparging the grains. We’re gradually introducing hot
water on top of the grain and then pumping
it off of the bottom of the mash tun into the boil kettle. Starting out, it runs pretty
sweet. Um, a lot of the concentrated
sugars from the mash will come through into the boil
kettle and then it gradually
starts to thin out as the water rinses
the grain. The goal is basically to get as much of the
sugars out of the grain as we
can during this process. [Water dripping] [Water dripping] [Water dripping] [Fire starting] [Water dripping] And this is where it starts to
get nice and toasty in here. Once the fermenter is full and the whole batch is chilled down
to 60 degrees we’ll actually pitch a fresh slurry of yeast.
This is what does all the work. This is what converts it
from the sugars that we set up in the mash into
alcohol and then the bi-product is carbon
dioxide. We’re actually on the
third generation right now. We harvest from batch to batch. We’ll go out
about 7 generations of re-using the yeast. I use
primarily one strain of yeast for the brewery
just for that fact so I can I can recycle the yeast and use
it from batch to batch. Ah, it kind of maintains it’s
health a little bit better. The first pitch of yeast is
always a little bit sluggish ah but then once it kind of
hits its stride and gets a feeling for both our
fermentation temperature and
the beers that we’re brewing, then
it really it really takes off. And it ferments it really well.
So that’s the stuff right there. Those
guys are the hardest working
critters in the brewery. So after the whirlpool is done, ah we’ll
chill the beer down as quickly as possible. Run it
through a heat exchanger here which takes it from near
boiling down to 60 degrees. On the way to the fermenter
here it runs into the bottom of one of these fermenters. Ah,
right now we’ve got 8 fermenters going. So once the
beer is in the fermenter and chilled down,
it’s time to put the yeast in
here and get them to work. Crack the lid
a little bit. Now this is a nice thick slurry of yeast on
the bottom here. This is 3rd generation it’s
been pulled from a few other batches. Get as much as we can out of
there. Now the real work starts. The
yeast will eat the sugars and convert it into
alcohol and carbon dioxide. And the yeast
during fermentation it also produces a
lot of other compounds in there that
which give it give the beer kind of it’s
unique flavor. We’ve got 8 fermenters up and running right
now. We can brew about 4
batches a week. This room is
temperature controlled, I keep
it at 62 degrees. Kind of keeps the
fermentation under check. Ah, fermentation actually
produces heat so it’s ah, the fermenters will
heat up if left to their own devices.
But since the room is set at 62 we kind of keeps the fermentation
under control and keeps the
yeast doing what we want it to do. So
once the beer is done fermenting it will get
pumped into these bright tanks. And this is
where the beer clears out we chill it down, clear it up
and carbonates all in these guys. The beer
will sit here for 2-4 days, something like that.
Depending on the brew schedule.
These bright tanks will keg it off. We
actually use one of these,
there’s a racking cane in here that pulls off um, pulls off the beer from a
little bit above the bottom so
we’re not pulling any of the yeast that
has…yeast or proteins that
have settled out. So we’ll keg it off right off
of here. And once it’s in the
keg it’s ready to go. Ready to go
to either our tap room or to our wholesale accounts
around town. [Bottles clanking] So we’re bottling our 22 ounce
bombers right now. We just launched
bombers in the liquor stores over memorial day weekend. And
so we kind of run through the
process here. We bottle right from a keg. So this is a
little sanitizer rig. We got the sink full of
sanitizing solution. We blast it through here. We got ice packs in there to
actually chill it down. So it
cools down the bottles. We’ll get less foaming on the
bottler if the bottles are chilled before we run them
through the bottler. We give them a quick rinse of
sanitizer, let them drip dry. And then run them through this
counter pressure filler. So what this does is it’ll flush
any oxygen out of the bottle with a Co2 first and then it
fills from the bottom under pressure. Similar
process that larger breweries would use but
a little bit more manual. You know you lose just a touch
of carbonation between the filler and the
capper but because we’re not
leaving the bottle sit out for an extended period of
time. The goal is, is we try to
cap on top of foam so it does push
all of the oxygen out. But you know there’s such a
small amount of oxygen in there. And
another thing we have going for us is this beer
isn’t filtered it’s not pasteurized so there’s actually
living yeast still in the
bottle. So if there’s a little bit of
oxygen in there the yeast will kind of scavenge that up
and take care of it. An hour for a half barrel keg. So we
can do about 7 cases an hour. With two people is
really nice. Ah, Aaron’s been running it on
his own for a little bit here. But ah, it does work pretty
good with two people. And then all of the bottles get
date stamped, too, on the fill date. So we can keep track
of rotation and make sure we’ve got fresh
stock rolling around the liquor
stores. That’s usually not a
problem cause the beer, ah, we’re on
such a small scale the beer tends to move fairly
fast. It took a little bit to dial
this system in we were getting a lot of
foam initially and it was just it was a little bit of a
headache. But, we’re about to
the point where we need to be brewing a
batch every single week now.
Just to keep up with how fast it’s
moving. That’s one of the advantages of
being a smaller brewer you know, we’re brewing 4
batches a week. So if we kind
of anticipate a need going down in the future we can
kind of you know scale up and be like, ok let’s
brew 2 batches of it this week
just to kind of get ahead. of it and catch up. Versus you
know being a larger brewery in a
smaller community you know, if we were only
brewing you know, every other
week it’d be a little tough to try to
plan the production out. We
wouldn’t be able to have as many beers as
we have right now. I mean the tap room right now has
about 11 beers on tap give or take depending on the
week. We wouldn’t be able to
keep up with that many different brands and
beers on tap. Ah if we didn’t have such a
small system. Tom: There’s absolutely a community about
Minnesota breweries. And especially with so many being
added in the last few years. We started planning, there were
just over 20 breweries in
Minnesota and this last year we capped
over a 100. So within 4 years we really just
skyrocketed with the number of breweries available in
Minnesota. Patrick: While there
are a lot of little breweries that are popping up all over
the place, we’re all kind of in
this together. Tom: We like to use
the term “coopertation”. So even though
a lot of craft brewers in
Minnesota and other regional brewers that
distribute within this area are going for the same
customers. There’s absolutely the competition side
of it. Vying for tap handle
space and shelf space in the bottle
shops. But there’s also that
community aspect that we are all small
brewers and we’re all operating underneath the same
guidelines. Patrick: As
competitive as the market is, we’re all still little
guys. Trying to make a go at it and there’s so many more
aspects into you know getting a business up
and running. Tom: And it’s
almost more of a how do we navigate
the larger brewers, the Anheuser-Buschs and the
Millers and the Coors and the
import brands. And how do we make our
footprint as stable as possible within
Minnesota. Patrick: You know the business
side is actually a lot more
difficult than the brewing side. Or it
should be anyway. Tom: I think
my favorite part of the brewing business
from the brewers perspective is just being able to share
with somebody and with the public
something that I’ve made and has been developed in my minds
eye and in a brewers minds eye and
being able to really have a goal for something. See it
through and than see somebody
enjoy it. # Thank you so much for watching.
Join us again next week on Common Ground. If you have
an idea for a Common Ground piece that
pertains to north central
Minnesota email us. # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

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