From four of nature's simplest ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water, we handcraft our fresh, natural and beautifully complex beers. But it takes time, patience and skill to get it just right. Here's how we do it; we think you'll appreciate the results.
Malt: Malt provides many things for beer. It contains enzyme systems that convert the starch within the malt into sugars. These sugars will be extracted during the mash. In addition, these starches and proteins affect the body and mouth feel in the beer. As with coffee, malt can be roasted and there are many different styles, such as pale, crystal, chocolate and black. By blending these we can produce a wide range of colours and flavours in our beer. Malt from the Canadian prairies provides the basis for our beers, with the addition of specialty malts imported from the U.K.
Hops: The alpha acid content in hops act as a natural preservative. Most beer styles require the addition of several hop varieties - some are added for their bittering qualities and may also contribute spicy or floral flavours, others are used to add aroma. The bitterness of the beer varies widely, depending on the style and is used to balance the sweetness of the malt.
Yeast: Yeast is a microscopic, airborne member of the fungus family. The yeast "feeds" on the fermentable sugars in the malt, converting them into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation by-products such as esters contribute to the complexity of the beer. Beer yeast is divided into two families; we use both top-fermenting, for producing ales and bottom-fermenting, which produce lagers.
Water: Beer is approximately 90% water and we are fortunate to have some of Canada’s best quality water on Vancouver Island. We source our water directly from the Greater Victoria water supply, but to ensure absolute purity, we do a final filtration before our water enters the brewhouse.
The Brewhouse: Ralf Pittroff, our traditional, Bavarian trained brewmaster refers to the Brewhouse as the “Kitchen” of the brewery. The brewhouse is where he blends our select, all natural ingredients and converts grain into wort, a sweet liquid extracted from brewing grains and hops, which is then carefully crafted to become one of our fresh and unique beers.
Malting: The first step in brewing beer, this process converts barley into malt. Malting begins with steeping-soaking the barley in water. The barley is then allowed to grow, or germinate, unlocking simple sugars. Then this “green malt” is heated and dried, giving the finished malt its color and flavor. Our recipe specific and hand selected blends of malt are milled on site to allow for it to fully absorb the water and it to be mixed with and ensure we extract all of the available sugars.
Mash Mixer: The milled malt or "grist" is then augered in to the mash mixer where hot water (about 50 degrees Celsius) is added, creating a porridge like mixture often referred to as “Mash”. The addition of heat to the mash converts the starches, which were released during the malting stage, to sugars that can now be fermented.
Lautertun: The mash is then pumped into the lautertun, in which the mixture of sugars and water (“Sweet Wort”) is drained from the mash. This process is refered to as lautering and is completed when the mash is sprayed with a final rinse of hot water to extract any remaining sugars, leaving only the brewers spent grains behind. We donate these spent grains to local farmers as it is a prized feed for cattle.
Kettle: The sweet wort is transferred to the kettle for boiling. During this stage, important decisions are made by our brewmaster that will eventually affect the final unique and fresh personality of our beer. At this stage he adds select and specialty hop varieties at different times during the boil to develop the beers eventual levels of bitterness, aroma and flavour. The finished wort is pumped through a heat exchanger to be quickly cooled and aerated on its way to fermentation.
Fermentation: After passing through the heat exchanger, the cooled wort is transfered to the fermentation tanks. Our brewmaster again must carefully select the particular variety of yeast that will help craft the final style and flavour of our beer. This is where the “real magic” of brewing takes place where the yeast ferments the wort sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Conditioning: Our pure beers are conditioned or aged to ensure full flavour maturation. Our brewmaster patiently awaits the moment the beer has reached its true flavour and body potential. For example, our Hermannator Ice Bock, a seasonal beer of which we make only one batch per year, it is aged for over three months at near sub zero temperatures to develop a beer of remarkable smoothness.
Finishing: The last step in the brewing process is filtration and carbonation. The beer is then moved into the tanks in the “Bright Beer Room” where it remains temporarily before being bottled or kegged fresh for you.