Our Brewing Process
When it comes to craft brewing,
less is always more. More or less.
It’s not what goes into our craft beers that makes them different. It’s what doesn’t. No additives. No preservatives. And always, and we mean always, unpasteurized. We’ve got a simple process. One based on nearly 500 years of tradition. It relies entirely on all-natural ingredients, a little bit of patience and the considerable know-how of our Bavarian brewmaster, Stefan Tobler.
Funny thing about embracing a brewing standard established in 1516; It’s not about “heritage”, “nostalgia” or being “stuck in the past”. We’ve always been passionate about progress and brewing for the here-and-now by using the newest equipment and latest techniques. It’s just that we believe in taking the time to do things the way that they should be done. The right way. No short cuts and no compromise. We think it’s this dedication to our craft, unmatched expertise and attention-to-detail that makes every beer a true triumph of brewing.
For everyone here at the brewery, “know your beer” isn‘t just a tagline. It’s a promise. A commitment. And an expression of the passion and dedication that we all have. That’s why we developed our unique beer colour scale and why we talk about the ideal serving temperatures for our beer styles. Simply put, we think it’s important to understand as much as possible about where your beer comes from and what goes into making every delicious drop. We invite you to get to know us a little more.
Barley. Malted barley. Barley malt. Whatever you’d like to call it, this grain is the foundation for all of our great tasting beers. We use only two-row Canadian barley that’s been grown under strictly controlled conditions and kiln-dried to give it just the right colour and flavour. We always crush and never grind our barley. This keeps its husks as whole as possible, exposing only the starch inside. The more we keep the husk intact, the better the separation during the lautering process.
The ground barley malt is fed directly into our Mash Tun where it’s mixed with filtered and purified spring-water sourced from right here in Vernon, BC. Depending on the type of beer, we’ll add special malts like caramel malt, black malt, or wheat malts to get the desired flavour and colour. Steeping the malted barley in hot water allows the natural enzymes to turn the malt starch into simple sugar which then dissolves in the water. What’s left is a porridge-like substance called “mash”.
The mash contains a sweet, sugary liquid called “wort” as well as the solid “spent grain” or sugarless barley grains. The Lauter Tun lets us separate the liquid from the solids. “Lauter” is a German word that means “to clarify” and that’s exactly what this giant sieve-like container was built for. It “clarifies” the mash mixture by straining it through a perforated base and into the brew kettle. Further “sparging” of the mix extracts as much sugar as possible. In layman’s terms, we spray hot water on to the remaining grains to make sure we get every last drop of sweet goodness.
Still rich in protein and other nutrients, the “spent” grain leftover from the mash is sent to farmers in the surrounding area to be used as cattle feed.
Boiling and Hopping
Once all of the wort has made its way into the Brew Kettle, we use steam to heat the liquid and bring it up to a rolling boil. It’s a timely process but it helps reduce and sterilize the liquid. Our Brewmaster carefully times the addition of hops to the mixture while boiling to add aroma and flavour to the brew. The slightly bitter taste helps to balance out the sweetness of the wort. All of the hops we use are imported specially from the Hallertau region of Germany. It’s a place where they take beer quite seriously so we trust their know-how.
Leaving the Brew Kettle, the wort is far too hot too for fermentation. It passes through a plate cooler – picture a giant radiator – to quickly bring down the temperature before it’s pumped into our Fermentation Tank and a combination of yeast and air is added along the way. The yeast helps break down the sugar in the wort, turning it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It also lends a distinct flavouring to the beer and contributes to its natural fizziness.
It can take anywhere between 3 days to a couple of weeks for the yeast to work its magic, depending on the style of beer. Our ale yeasts thrive in temperatures between 60-70F and are first to finish. Our lagers prefer slightly cooler conditions, between 50-60F, and by comparison, take a little bit longer. All of our beers are aged following fermentation. It can take anywhere between three to seven weeks them to mature depending on which type. Patience, as they say, is a virtue.
Filtration is a delicate process. When it’s done right, filtering clarifies and stabilizes the beer by removing any yeast left behind in the fermentation process. However, if it’s done incorrectly, it can compromise the beer’s flavour or colour. Our Pale Ale, 1516 Bavarian Lager, Original Lager, Porter and Brewmaster’s Black Lager are all cold filtered, while our Hefeweizen, true to tradition, is left unfiltered.
Packaging and Shipping
After it’s been stored in a holding taking for a short while, our beer makes its way into either our traditional brown glass bottles, or cans and kegs before being shipped across the country for beer drinkers, like yourself, to enjoy. Look for any one of our ales or lagers on tap or in a fridge near you and get to know your beer a little better.