Brewing More, Canning More

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 24th), we’re releasing 4-packs of two beers! It is the first canning run for Pillowfort, plus a fruited sour beer we collaborated on with our friends at Aslin Beer Co.! pre-order here

Pillowfort ($20/4-pack) We love the combination of fruity (orange, cantaloupe) aromatics we get from Citra and Azacca hops in this 8.4% DIPA. For some reason previous batches of Pillowfort always seemed to be more trying than our other DIPAs. One ended up a little higher alcohol than intended, another tasted perfect but became crystal clear. Luckily this first batch in our new tanks couldn’t have gone better, smooth, intensely hoppy, and plenty hazy!

Drupe Scoop ($18/4-pack) This is the first half of our collab with Aslin! We wanted a fall-like sour beer, so we increased the alcohol and the toastines compared to Plush Pop. For malt we added biscuit and Vienna, which have a crackery aroma, almost like pie crust. For fruit, we added apricot juice and peach puree, to create the filling. Finally topped off with more than 1.5 lbs of Madagascar vanilla beans to give it a creamy à la mode vibe. As always, no lactose so no worries enjoying a can if you are (lactose) intolerant, kosher, or vegan! The second half of the collab is souring in barrels now, waiting for fruiting next summer. We’ll be heading over to their big beautiful brewery in Alexandria, VA to brew an IPA next week (and later a barrel-aged stout)!

Our new tanks are in place and all filled with beer, so can releases will be more frequent! The next week we’ll release Sisyphean Task (a super-fruity science-based DIPA we brewed over at Jailbreak Brewing Co). The week after that on 11/7 we’ll have a triple can release of : Rings of Light (5% ABV Citra Pale Ale), Different But Same Same (7.3% ABV New Zealand Hopped IPL we brewed here with Astrolab), and Prophecy of the Clock (5% ABV Czech dark lager).

In Case You Missed Them

Since our last post/email we’ve released two barrel-aged beers in bottles, both are still available! Neither are true sour beers, but they are fermented with Brettanomyces which create fruity, funky, and earthy aromatics.

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather started as a buckwheat saison. Buckwheat is an interesting grain, not a true cereal, but it gives a toasty nutty flavor most people associate with kasha or pancakes. To 180 gallons of beer we added 60 lbs of Maryland wildflower honey for its wonderful floral aromatics. As a typically vegan brewery, we are donating $1 per bottle to the Howard County Beekeepers Association to help promote to valuable efforts of local hive-protectors and pollination boosters. 

Sunlight of Bygone Days is a completely unique beer. We were inspired by a Belgian tripel brewed in Canada that is aged in apple brandy barrels. We couldn’t get our hands on one of these rare barrels for our tripel, so we cooked down fresh apple cider and added that syrup to the beer instead. Sixteen months spent in Chardonnay barrels created a unique beer with caramel, earthy, and bright fruity aromatics. 

What is a Fermentation Tank?

With our three new 20 bbl (620 gallon) fermentation tanks installed, we thought it would be interesting to take you on a little tour of this specialized piece of equipment. They are often referred to as cylindroconicals because of the cone bottom and round top. The conical shape helps to concentrate any solids (hops, protein, yeast) at the bottom for removal.

Despite just calling them “20 bbl,” their actual capacity is 24.6 bbl. The extra ~20-25% allows for the foamy yeast (krausen) to form without immediately spilling onto the floor. That still sometimes happens, so in addition to allowing the escape of the huge amount of carbon dioxide produced by fermentation (sugar → alcohol + carbon dioxide) the krausen can “blow-off” as well.

All of the ports on the tanks are tri-clamps. This sanitary connection standard works by locking a gasket between the two sides with a clamp that holds the fitting (e.g., a sample valve) in place. Most of the ports are 1.5”, but we have a 2” connection at the bottom to reduce the risk of spent hop clogging.

When it comes time to take the finished beer out of the tank, we connect a hose to the racking arm. This has a gasket and handle that allows it to rotate, so we can pull beer from above any settled hops. We don’t filter our beers, so we rely on time and cold temperature to sediment particulate.

The top of each tank has a few additional ports. These include a pressure relief valve, which vents the tank if it is pressurized rises above a safe level. In the center is a spray-ball, which allows us to “clean in place” by spraying the inside with cleaners and sanitizers between brews. A dry-hopping port, where we can attach our hop doser to add hops without introducing oxygen or risking a hop-volcano.

Fermentation produces heat. Yeast like warm temperatures, but too hot can cause them to create off-flavors (harsh alcohol, excessive fruitiness etc.). To limit the fermentation temperature, each tank is jacketed. A controller monitors the temperature, opening a solenoid valve to start the flow of chilled refrigerant (food-grade glycol) through the jacket when the temperature rises above the set point.

We purchased these three tanks directly from Daygy, a manufacturer in China. As much as we might have liked to support a local manufacturer, the three tanks with shipping, import tariffs etc. were less than we could find a quote for one comparable American-made tank.

We’re close to capacity with our current space and chiller, so don’t expect us to double production again anytime soon! Although that isn’t to say that we aren’t working on expanding in other ways!

Cheers,

Mike & Scott

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