Dan puts his BYO recipes to the test in the Briess Pilot Brewery

Briess_DanBies_Fermenter_72dpi_IMG_2840If you subscribe to Brew Your Own magazine, you’re already familiar with the tear-out recipe cards found in each issue since October 2007 – 120 in all to date. The recipes represent the combined efforts of staff at Briess and White Labs to continually generate new recipes and artwork.

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A big shoutout to White Labs for making the cards look so great. And another shoutout to the person who’s been creating the recipes the past several years – Dan. He’s in the Briess tech services dept and can usually be found in the pilot brewery instead of at his desk. About 3 times a year,  armed with a deadline from BYO and the malts and yeast that Briess and White Labs want featured, he goes to work creating recipes – usually enough for 3-4 issues at a time. At two recipes an issue, he needs to churn out 6-8 recipes at a time.

That’s pretty good coming from a guy who never considered brewing beer until he started working at Briess.

Dan was hired in 2007 with a biology degree and experience as a chemist. To make a long story short, Dan is now a passionate brewer and solid R&D guy in both the pilot brewery and our 500bbl extract plant. And, of course, he creates recipes for homebrewers. Many of Dan’s recipes evolve from his work in the pilot brewery…with a nice dose of creativity. Consider for example “Crystal Brewed Persuasion” or “Saison du Soleil” or “Oktobe®fest“. That last one is Dan’s tribute to the eight trademarked malts in the Briess portfolio.

Here’s a video of Dan brewing a batch of Goldpils® Vienna Export in the pilot brewery. The pilot brewery is under the same roof as the extract plant. It’s tricked out to mimic any style of brewing—single or multiple step or decoction—and is a mini-version of the 500bbl extract plant, designed for easy scale-up.

Recently I found Dan at his desk and asked him to show me some of the more unique features of the pilot brewery. So, here’s a viral tour of the Briess 1bbl pilot brewery which, like many home and small brewery setups, wasn’t a turn key system but pieced together to meet our unique needs. It’s also equipped with some great gadgets that Dan showed off too, so scroll all the way down to see them!

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The pilot brewer was designed to mimic the 500bbl extract plant. It has two 100 hectoliter (28 gallon) mash kettles with steam jackets for even heat and faster boil (on the left). The steam jackets will raise the temperature 3-4º F / minute. A separate lauter tun is safely accessible from the ladder, a separate whirlpool is to the right of the ladder and at the far right is the heat exchanger for rapidly cooling the wort.

The separate lauter tun's false bottom is cut from the same screen used in the 500bbl extract plant system, only smaller—about 12" vs 12' in diamater.

The lauter tun’s false bottom is cut from the same screen used in the 500bbl extract plant system, only smaller—about 24″ vs 24′ in diamater.

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Sparging is manual, with hot water drawn by bucket from the kettle and dumped into this pail. A spigot fits neatly into the top of the lauter tun.

A differential tube helps Dan keep runoff running smoothly by giving a visual indication of how much pressure is on the bed. Excessive pressure on the bed will slow down runoff, which is especially important when brewing with rye or wheat malts.

A differential pressure tube helps Dan keep runoff running smoothly by giving a visual indication of how much pressure is on the bed. Excessive pressure will slow down runoff, especially when brewing with rye or wheat malts.

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A simple stand pipe inside the whirlpool allows trub to settle around the bottom draw point.

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The heat exchanger has multiple draw points in order to create a strong whirlpool. Then wort is diverted through 30-plate heat exchanger for cooling on its way to the fermenter.

A stone aerator is placed in the line between the whirlpool and heat exchanger.

A stone aerator goes in the line from the heat exchanger to the fermenter.

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The three fermenters are glycol cooled for ales or lagering.

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The pilot brewery, including kettles, pumps and fermenters, are PLC controlled.

The pilot brewery, including kettles, pumps and fermenters are PLC controlled.

Fermenter temps are monitored through the control panel, which is mounted on top of the heat exchanger.

Company Prez Gordon Lane loves to brew hoppy beers, so he makes frequent use of this gadget for dry hopping after fermentation.

Company Prez Gordon Lane loves to brew hoppy beers, so frequently uses the hop sword—our version of a torpedo—for dry hopping after fermentation.

 

 

Yeast propagator.

Yeast propagator.

Want to know how carbonated your beer is? This handle tool will tell you.

Want to know how carbonated your beer is? This handle tool will tell you.

A few tasks in the pilot brewery still rely upon elbow grease.

A few tasks in the pilot brewery still rely upon elbow grease 🙂

Posted in Facilities, Homebrewing, Technical & QC | Tagged , , .
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