The craft brewing sensation has had a gentle slope upwards over the past decade, but now it’s become a phenomenon. Lancaster alone has over 15 different craft breweries and an ever growing number of home brewers. The 1777 Americana Inn Bed & Breakfast is proud to be part of that number with our onsite brewery, Black Forest Brewery. The concept for the brewery was thought up by Bob Harter and his three sons over 6 years ago on a back-packing trip through the upstate PA Black Forest Trail. A veteran of home brewing already at this point, Bob and Denise thought it would be an excellent idea to combine the retirement plans of opening a bed and breakfast with opening their own craft brewery, and that is exactly what they did.
Black Forest Brewery opened its door 12.13.14 and has had an impressive first year as they have brewed over 128 barrels of their original recipes. Black Forest Brewery is built on the concept of creating and enjoying true tavern ales or in other words- beer that tastes like beer. Keeping that in mind, Bob currently features 6 varieties including- 5 O’clock Hefeweizen, Shrek Tavern Stout, Whistle-stop Amber Ale, Americana Pale Ale, 42 Mile IPA, and J.G. Belgian Strong. This week I’ll take you back scenes with me as we explore the process of creating a great craft brew!
Beer 101 for Dummies
- What is beer made of? Beer is comprised of 4 main ingredients- grain, water, hops, and yeast. These four things make up the essence of beer, from its hoppiness, flavor, maltiness, color, and aroma. Broken down the grain contributes to the maltiness and color and is added in different combinations depending on the beer style. Water which is fully conditioned, filtered, and softened is an essentially component that makes beer taste different all over the world depending on its environment. The hops add the aroma and bitterness to the beer and there are a hundreds of hops that are used and added at different times to create these attributes. Finally, there is the all important yeast which ferments the grain and turns it into alcohol. Bob currently uses 3 different strains throughout his 6 varieties.
- What is the process? Now that we know the ingredients, how does this process work? At Black Forest Brewery we operate with a 3 barrel system and two fermenters which allows Bob to ferment two beers at one time and have a beer finishing in a separate tank. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how this delicious beverage becomes so tasty.
- Water is heated in the HOT LIQUOR TANK
- Grain is poured into the MASH TUN where it steeps in hot water for ~1 hour. *Mashing the grain allows the starches to become fermentable sugars. Bob donates leftover grain to local farmers for their pigs*
- The MASH TUN is drained into the BOIL KETTLE where the sugar water (WORT) boils to extract the bitterness from the hops being added during the boil.
- HOPS are added in various amount depending on the recipe to the boiling water which then enters a whirlpool stage where solids are drawn to the middle of the tank and the WORT drains without clogging the pipes.
- Next comes the COUNTER FLOAT CHILLER which does exactly what it sounds like, it cools the boiling water by moving past chilled city water in a separate pipe. This is an essential to chill the WORT to 70 deg.
- Oxygen is also pumped in the sugar water at this point so the mixture is a perfect environment for yeast to thrive.
- The WORT moves to the FERMENTER, once in the FERMENTER and at a consistent 70 degrees, ~1 gallon of yeast is added. The YEAST “gobbles up the sugar and creates alcohol” and must stay in the fermenter for ~1 week.
- After a week, the fermenter is dropped to a chilly 38 degrees to stop the fermenting process and the yeast has now more than doubled in capacity. Bob uses this yeast over and over until it looses its potency.
- This final brewing step is transferring the WORT to the BRIGHT TANK. The BRIGHT TANK is consistently 38 degrees and equipped to add the essential CO2 element which helps create the bubbles in the final product we love so much. To create the perfectly carbonated beer, the psi should stay at ~13-14 psi. The beer must stay in the BRIGHT TANK for about 1 – 2 days until it can be kegged.
- This process usually yields Bob about 6 kegs of the final product. These kegs can be kept 90-120 days without going bad, but rarely does one batch longer than 6 weeks.
STOP BY OUR BREWERY THURSDAY-SUNDAY TO TRY OUR BEERS AND TAKE A LOOK AT OUR BREWERY EQUIPMENT IN PERSON!