Behind the Scenes: Brewing our Craft Beer
Through our Brewer for the Day package, we welcome beer aficionados to our Ashland brewery to craft a batch of beer with brewmaster Larry Chase.
Participant and avid homebrewer, Jeff McJunkin, who helped brew a well-received Double IPA, tag-teamed with Larry to share an account of our brewing process.
Larry took the great photos in this post, featuring our first three participants: Jeff, Brad Galusha and Chris Oliver.
You can see more on our Facebook “Brewer for the Day” photo gallery.
Mashing In & Out
To start out, Standing Stone mills a blend of grains for the chosen microbrew. These go in a mash tun, where sugars from malt extracts are extracted from the grains using hot water, taking about an hour. The grains enter the mash tun in a controlled manner through a chute, allowing for thorough sugar extraction and ease of handling. Once we’ve collected all of the resulting wort (sugar water), we remove the spent grain from the mash tun.
Boiling and Adding Hops
After this, the wort is heated and hops are added when it reached boiling temperature. For a five-gallon batch at home I add around three ounces of hops. Standing Stone used twenty-three pounds for the Double IPA we created. That’s more than 120 times as much! The brewery boils the wort for about the same time as homebrewing, though the temperature control at the brewpub is much better.
Wort Chilling and Yeast Pitching
Before yeast can be ‘pitched’ to start fermentation, the wort must be brought to yeast’s favorite temperature, around 68 degrees for ale.
Larry explains…We lower the temperature of the wort using a heat exchanger, a series of thin stainless steel plates. The hot wort flows on one side of the plate while cold water flows on the other side. The cold water absorbs all of the heat from the wort. We then have hot water that is pre-heated and saved for the next brew, and colder wort at the temperature that makes for happy yeast.
Jeff continues...After this, we transfer the wort to a fermentation vessel (a 360 gallon double-jacketed stainless-steel tank), using a pump and hoses that run through the brewpub’s heat exchanger, and add yeast to produce CO2 and alcohol. Standing Stone maintains their own yeast from batch to batch for the most part, and introduces considerably more of it. I use less than an ounce for homebrewing compared to 8-10 liters at the brewery!
Larry states…At this point, the beer ferments until it’s ready to tap. We schedule our production carefully to ensure our beers are always fresh and at their peak for your to enjoy.
Jeff continues...In each of these steps, cleanliness is extremely important. Between raking out spent grain, cleaning the mash tun and boil kettle, sanitizing hoses and fittings, and sweeping and mopping the floors, there’s more time involved in cleaning than brewing!
Thanks, Jeff, for joining us to brew an excellent Double IPA and sharing the secrets of brewing at Standing Stone Brewing Company.
And a big thank you to all of our Brewer for the Day participants – our customers have enjoyed the pints of your labor!
Want to peek further into our tanks? Check out videos from Southern Oregon University’s TV station: Our brewing process and an interview with Larry Chase & summer intern Acacia Baldner.