Flying Dog Brewery Tour

Flying Dog Brewery Tour

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi. This is Rob, hill
certified Cicerone with Total Wine & More. And I’m standing in
front of Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. We’re about to go inside
and meet the people behind these great beers. Join us, and
discover Flying Dog. [MUSIC PLAYING] We are in the brew house, or
the hot side as we call it. And we actually
brew wort, not beer. It starts with malted
barley from the fields. Outside there are three
silos that each hold 100,000 pounds worth of grain. That’s our bulk grain. The bags that you see
stacked on the shelves are our specialty malts. And those add both color and
flavor to the beer, everything from some caramel sweetness to
that espresso chocolate flavor and so forth. The grain goes through a mill. We crush the husks, exposing
the nutrient-rich endosperm. And then we transfer
it into the mash mixer. Beer is a biochemical process. So enzymatic reactions take
place in the mash mixer at temperatures that reach
up to about 165 degrees. And two main things happen. Large starch
carbohydrate molecules are broken down into
small sugar molecules, primarily maltose,
that the yeast can metabolize during
the fermentation process. And large protein
molecules are broken down into amino acids,
which are essential for the metabolic process as well. After the mash mixer,
we raise the temperature to stop that enzymatic
reaction and transfer the grain to the lauter tun. The lauter tun is a vessel
unique to the brewing industry. It has a false bottom to it. And we transfer
the grain in there. It forms a grain bed. And we do two things. The first is called borloff,
that’s a German term. And we recycle that wort
through the grain bed to eliminate any particles
that are going to be the wort. We clarify the wort. And then we sparge it. We run hot water through it. So we extract the
maximum amount of sugar. And one of the
brewer’s efficiencies is to extract the maximum
amount of sugar out of the grain and consistent with the recipe. We use over 5 million
pounds of grain per year. Grain went up $0.03
or $0.04 a pound. So obviously, we want to get
the maximum efficiency out of the grain. Once we have the clear
wort, or sugar water, we transfer it to
these brew kettles. These kettles are 50 barrels. A barrel is 31 gallons. So each one of these
kettles is 1,500 gallons. And they do go below the floor. And we boil the wort
for four reasons. The first is, for the
first 15 minutes or so, we can kill off any bacteria
that might have come in with the grain
through the field that could cause off-flavors
in the wort or off-flavors in the beer. The second is to flash off some
volatile compounds that could cause off-flavors in the beer. The third is, we
concentrate the wort so that that sugar concentration
reaches the level that’s called for in the recipe. But most importantly from
a consumer standpoint, we add hops during the boil. The earlier we add the
hops, the more bitterness you get on the palate. The later we add the hops,
the more of the aromatic characteristics that you get. So this boiling process
is the first step in putting the
bitterness into the beer. Again, our biggest beers
with the highest bitterness units, we’re adding
hops continuously throughout the process. Once that boiling
process is complete, we need to spin out some
particles, some of the barley particles, the hop particles,
the coagulated proteins. We do that in a whirlpool. And then we have to chill it. Yeast is a
single-celled organism. And it would feel
just as we would if we were thrown into boiling water. So the desirable
temperature for yeast is in the 60 degree range,
65 to 68 degrees on average. It depends on which type
of beer we’re brewing. And we do that through
a heat exchanger. And a heat exchanger
is nothing more than plates with cold
water on one side and the hot wort on the other. The heat transfers from
the hot to the cold. And we chill that wort
to about 68 degrees. In the brewing industry,
water is called liquor. So we have hot liquor tanks
and cold liquor tanks. The water that was cold
and warmed by the hot wort is transferred to
the hot liquor tank and then recirculated
through the process. So we recapture
some energy that’s used in the brewing process. And then once we have
the wort cooled down to the desirable
temperature, we transfer it to fermentation where
the magic takes place. We’re now in the
fermentation cellar. So we’ve transferred the
warm, nutrient-rich wort into these cylindra-conical or
unit tanks, as they’re called. And we pitch yeast into it. In the brewing industry, adding
yeast is called pitching yeast. And the first step in
the process, the yeast has no interest in making beer. The yeast is reproducing. So during the primary
phase of fermentation, the yeast is reproducing
very dramatically. We end up at about five times
as much use as we started with. And the byproducts
of that reproduction are ethanol, alcohol, and CO2. So much head pressure builds up
with CO2 from the fermentation process that we have to blow
it off into these barrels. The CO2 combines with
water, forms carbonic acid. We don’t want to fill
the room with CO2. But that’s how much energy
is being created just during this primary
fermentation. In most of our beers,
the primary fermentation is five to seven days. And then it settles down. And we chill it so that the
yeast floculates, or floats, to the bottom. And then we’ve harvest
it from the bottom. Some of that yeast is put
into the trub tank, T-R-U-B, and hauled away to the farmers. Other part of that used
is re-propagated and used for the next batch. We get about– it depends on the
yeast, about seven generations from each of our yeasts. Then the second stage of
fermentation is the maturation. Depending on the beer, our
beers take from 17 to 45 days to go through primary
fermentation and maturation. In general, the ales ferment at
warmer temperatures and faster. And you get more of those
complex caramel flavors. The lagers ferment
slower and colder. And you get that very dry,
crisp, clean finish to it. And we do a lot hybrids too. We use lager yeast
at ale temperatures to create our amber lager. After primary
fermentation, the beer is filtered or can be filtered. We don’t pasteurized beers. What we do is we filter them. So depending on the
beer style, some beers are not filtered at all,
such as our Hefeweizen, which translates to yeast wheat. And that’s a very cloudy beer. And that yeast imparts
very desirable flavor characteristics. Other beers are either partially
filtered or even polish filtered. So by doing that,
we’re removing yeast and any other particles that
might cause shelf instability or off-flavors in the
beer or just by tradition would be undesirable. It would be very
unusual to have a lager with yeast floating in it. We also library
all of our beers. We take beer from every run,
the beginning, middle, and end, and we store it in three
different conditions. The first is ideal conditions,
which is cold and dark. The second is room temperature. And third is the
penalty box upstairs, which is bright light and high
temperatures, which really speeds up that aging process. So we can see how
that beer would be aging on the shelf under
less than ideal conditions. The three beer killers are
light, heat, and oxygen. We often get comments
in the summertime from consumers who buy
beer and then take it home three or four hours later and
say that it tastes kind of off. Being in a trunk of a car at 100
degrees for even three or four hours will cause that beer
to pick up stale cardboard flavors. So it’s very important
to keep the beer cold and dark or at
least under consistent temperatures in the
cellar temperature range, 65 to 70 degrees. Every morning, we meet
here in the lab at 8:00 AM. And we look at the results
from the prior day. No matter what the
numbers say– we can measure everything in the
beer from the bitterness units to turbidity to the CO2 volumes. But somebody has to taste that
beer before it gets packaged. So the ultimate test
is, does it taste the way it’s supposed to taste. And there’s a group
of us that are qualified to taste that beer as
the final step in the process before it gets
packaged each day. We recently started doing cans. This is our Snake Dog IPA. We also did Underdog. We have a small
mechanical canning line. And cans were viewed as a,
I guess, a non-craft package for some time. But a lot has changed. The interior coatings that
would not hold up well against high alcohol beers,
that has all changed. So there’s virtually
no opportunity for the metal can to impart
any metal flavors to the beer. There’s virtually
no oxygen in a can. It’s impervious to light. It’s lightweight. It’s 100% recyclable,
unlike glass. So it’s become the
perfect package for hikers, backpackers,
people out on marinas during the summer. And about 10% of our volume
these days is in cans. I’m standing in front
of our filler room. This is a Krones
filler from Germany. I would consider it the
Rolls Royce of fillers. We fill at the rate of
250 bottles per minute. We’re sort of at the
middle of the process. The new glass is
unloaded in the back. It goes through a twist
rinse, where the bottles are turned upside down and sanitized
and rinsed and then come into the filler. The first thing that happens
is, we hit it with CO2 to force the oxygen out. Again, oxygen is one of
the three beer killers, light, heat, and oxygen. And then it immediately
hits the bowl or filler that you’re seeing. We have 36 heads on it. It’s a gravity fill. It comes around to the right. And then it gets shot
with just a small dose of hot sterile water. That causes the beer
to foam in the bottle. Then the cap is put on it. It’s called cap on foam. That’s another
way that we ensure that we’re forcing out
any oxygen that might be in the headspace of the bottle. The bottles then
are coming around on the back side of
this is a shower very similar to the shower,
probably, we all stood under this morning. That beer is rinsed off and then
goes back around to our labeler on the other side of this room. We brew 24 hours a day,
6 and 1/2 days a week. We can package three times
faster than we can brew. So what takes us 24
hours to brew we can package in about eight hours. This is our labeling area. And the labeler is
also a Krones labeler. And obviously, it
labels at the same rate that we bottle the beer,
250 bottles a minute. We’re packaging Underdog
Atlantic lager today. We use both a body
label and a neck label. In the old days, fillers
weren’t quite so consistent. So neck labels would, I guess,
conceal from the consumer the inconsistencies. Today they’re very consistent. And we have a FillTek here that
will knock out anything that’s not within our tolerances. We use the neck labels just
because we like the art, and we think the
bat wings look cool. From here, the beer is
transferred down the conveyor to our drop packer
where it’s lined up. The mother cartons with the
six packs are underneath. And the 24 bottles are
dropped into the case. They go around. The case gets sealed. They go around this hobbit
trail all the way around to that far corner where the
yellow metal railing is where the beer cases are palletized. The standard pallet
in the beer business is 72 cases per pallet. And they get shrink-wrapped and
put into one of two coolers. The cooler to my right
is a case cooler. And then we have a keg
cooler in the back corner. We ship about 20,000 to
25,000 cases of beer per week. There are 1,900
breweries in America. We rank number 26. And right now on hand, we have
about 40,000 cases of beer, about a 12-day supply. [MUSIC PLAYING]

7 thoughts on “Flying Dog Brewery Tour”

  1. Flying Dog was one of the so called Craft beer brands i first tasted on the start of my Craft Beer journey in Scotland..

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