Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
"Definitely worth adding to your collection – it’s as good a visual record of the brewing process as I’ve ever seen." - Dave of 33Beers.com
The Life of a Brewer
Unlike a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, the life of a craft brewer is sadly undocumented. Firemen, police officers, and unemployed pretty people all have lots of reality TV coverage. Craft brewers, despite a passionate fan base, don't receive much attention from nursery rhymes or reality TV.
The work of a craft brewer deserves certainly deserves more attention than crazed brides and messy people, doesn't it? Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company attempts to correct this injustice of media attention with the visual exploration of a day in the life of a craft brewer.
Brewery Tours or Container Museums?
I've been on many tours of large breweries, and although they're always worth the trip, visitors rarely go home with an understanding of how beer is made. This partially happens because large-scale brewing looks like many other industrial processes: lots of automation, and lots of large stainless steel tanks that sit quietly in huge rooms left mostly unattended. Another reason is that folks tend to visit on weekends, or other times when beer isn't brewed.
Even if you did visit on a brew day, you'll miss a lot because the process is long, and automation makes it less apparent what is going on. For that reason, the main attraction in many brewery tours is the bottling line, where bottles hypnotically shoot along conveyors and fill in giant spinning carousels. A few folks enjoy the free samples in the tasting room too.
Seeing the Brewing Process
To really get a good idea of how beer is made, you'd ideally spend a few days with the brewer at a less automated, more human-scale brewery. A brewery where trains don't swing by to drop off boxcars full of grain and ingredients aren't shuttled into the brew kettle at the command of a touch-screen computer. The sort of place where real humans mill grain, turn valves, pour hops, measure the gravity, fill kegs, and taste the wort. A place where almost every aspect of the brew process is visible and hands on. A place where the brewer listens to different music depending on what kind of beer he is brewing. A place like (512) Brewing Company.
The photos in this book represents a snapshot of brewery life near the first anniversary of (512) Brewing Company. (512) allowed the author and his camera spend countless hours documenting the brewing process up close so that you can see how they make beer.
Making Craft Beer
At a small craft brewery like (512), the work of brewing involves considerable physical labor. Half-barrel kegs weighing around 150 pounds when full are rolled, lifted, and filled. Sanitizer solution is mixed in 5 gallon buckets. Hoses and pumps are moved and re-configured. Fifty pound bags of grain are poured into the mill. The brew kettle, and fermenters are cleaned with hot water and sanitizer solution. Hops are measured and dumped by the bucketful into the boiling brew kettle. The mash tun is cleared of grain with a shovel. Fittings and hoses are cleaned and sanitized.
Almost every aspect of the brew process is visible and hands on. This book documents that brewing process in photos, walking through the steps of milling the grain until the final steps when beer is finally kegged. Unlike a typical sterile industrial brewery tour, there is a lot to see when (512) crafts beer.
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