Day 156

If you walked into a brewery 150 years ago, you would have seen a lot of copper or wooden vats. Today, stainless steel is the hands-down winner in most breweries because of its easily cleaned, corrosion- and chemical-resistant surface. As we learned in Brewing Equipment, stainless steel is an alloy of steel and at least 11% chromium. By varying the amount of chromium and perhaps adding a few other ingredients like carbon, molybdenum, nickel, and manganese, various grades of stainless steel can made more ductile, more durable, shinier, easier to engineer, resistant to pitting,  non-magnetic or even resistant to seawater corrosion.

The reason we were learning about stainless steel was because it is time to take a very close look at each component of the brewhouse, starting with the mash tun. We had looked at brewery equipment last semester in Intro to Brewing, but today’s examination was less about what each piece of equipment does, and more about the various design features we will need to keep in mind in the future as we shop for–most likely “pre-owned”–brewery equipment.

So for the mash tun, we looked at the design of the steam jackets–the tunnels inside its walls through which hot steam travels–as well as the insulation used to keep that heat focussed inwards. Believe it or not, Fiberglas Pink is not the insulation of choice for a mash tun.

We also looked at the aspect ratio of a mash tun, the placement of the mash-out drain–not in the very centre of the mash tun floor, to prevent whirlpooling like what you see when your bathtub drains–and the agitator arms that an automated mash tun uses to mix up the mash.

Speaking of automation, we have also started to skim the surface of an automated or semi-automated brewery operation–the logical flow of procedures and error checking to make sure everything is happening properly.

It’s kind of like the old flowcharting we used to do way back in the day:

  1. Open bottle
  2. Pour beer into glass
  3. Take swallow of beer
  4. Is your glass empty? If yes, go to 1, otherwise go to 3
Hey, this automation could be fun.

 

 

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