About the Brewery

The brewing plant now consists of a half-barrel hot liquor tank (HLT), half-barrel mash tun with stainless steel false bottom, and half-barrel brew kettle, all with stainless steel valving for liquid transfer. Brew length is ten U.S. gallons. A food-grade 250°F pump recirculates the wort. Heat is provided via three 170,000 BTU propane burners built into a two-tier galvanized steel structure. There is also a fourth high-output burner on a separate stand for handling a second boil kettle when brewing double batches. The latest additions to the brewing kit are an oxygen aeration system, which allows the aeration of the chilled wort via direct oxygen injection, which is quicker and more effective than aerating with atmospheric air, and a 26 gallon kettle which is used for double batches, mainly as a larger mash tun, but also can be used to boil 20-gallon batches or as the hot liquor tank for two separate mashes.

Beer packaging consists of a fleet of twenty-four stainless steel 5-gallon kegs and three 3-gallon kegs for CO2 dispense and cask-conditioned ale, as well as two 10.8 gallon firkins and a 5.4 gallon pin for cask-conditioning. Our cask-conditioned ale, or "real ale", is dispensed via one pint and three pint Angram handpumps, fitted with a cask breather. The cask breather allows CO2 to be drawn into the cask or keg at atmospheric pressure, thus replacing the beer drawn out of the vessel with sanitary CO2 instead of air, which will spoil the beer. Use of the cask breather extends the life of the beer beyond to 1 to 3 days that is typical of casks in pubs.

To learn more about real ale, visit the CAMRA website. CAMRA is a British consumer group devoted to the traditional English method of brewing and serving ale, in its cask-conditioned form. Real Ale, close to extinction in 1970s England, is now making a resurgence, growing in popularity not only in Britain but around the world.

Brewing Equipment

The structure is made from galvanized steel angle iron, available from most hardware and home improvement stores, bolted together with 7/16" nuts and bolts. The pump is a March 809, available from most of the homebrew mail order websites listed on the links page.

Below is a diagram of the Boathouse Brewery brewing structure, with measurements.

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Diagram of the Structure – Click the image to enlarge

All surfaces which contact brewing liquor and wort are stainless steel or food-grade polysulfone. CPC polysulfone quick disconnects are used for all wort, water supply, chiller, hopback, and hot liquor connections. They are 1/2 inch in size and are rated to 250F. The pump is switched and connected via a ground-fault interrupt (GFCI) outlet for safety purposes. The propane burners are fed via 1/2' copper pipe with gas-rated ball-valves. A stainless-steel ball valve on the outlet side of the pump controls the flow of wort to and from the mash tun and boil kettle.

Brew Your Own magazine featured our brewing operation in the September 2008 issue. Here is a scanned image of the actual magazine article:

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Click the image to enlarge

Overview of the General Brewing Process

Generally, malted barley is crushed and steeped in hot water (the mash) for an hour or more at certain temperatures, depending on the qualities desired in the finished beer, then the sugary solution, called wort, is drained off the grain and the mash is rinsed with more hot water (sparging), collected in the boil kettle and boiled for one to two hours, during which hops are added at various times for bittering, flavour, and aroma. The wort is then chilled from boiling to around 70 degrees and yeast added (pitched).

A few hours later, the wort begins fermenting, and in 3 to 5 days primary fermentation is complete. The beer is then either racked to a secondary fermenter for conditioning or racked to a cask for cask-conditioned, or real ale. In the secondary fermenter the ale will mature and the flavour will develop and mature, allowing some remaining suspended yeast to settle and the specific gravity (density) to fall a couple more points. Then the beer is bottled or kegged.

If the ale is destined for serving in the traditional English manner, it is racked from the primary fermenter into a cask, where dry hops are added for some ales. Most commercial breweries also add finings to the cask, which helps to settle out yeast which is stirred up in the cask from the trip from the brewery to the pub. The cask is then vented to release excess natural carbonation, and when the condition of the beer is right, it is connected to a beer engine, or handpump, and served.