How We Bottle
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With the recent debate surrounding craft beer and real ale we thought we would give you an behind the scenes look at what actually happens when we bottle our beer.
With cutting edge craft brewers all over the world constantly refining production methods as we strive to improve every aspect of our beers, no longer does a beer need to be either sterile filtered, pasteurized or bottle conditioned. There is a new way of packaging craft beers. One which blurs the old distinctions. Pioneered and perfected in the US craft beer revolution and now practised by leading craft brewers the world over.
So here is an inside look at how it goes down at BrewDog HQ
After the boiling, our wort is fermented under pressure in closed cylindroconical uni-tanks, so most of the CO2 in the final beer occurs naturally from the initial fermentation. We currently have 30 tanks, ranging in size to the original 20HL ones we started with to our 6 newest 200HL tanks, which are outside because we kinda ran out of space.
After fermentation and during the second week of maturation we hop the hell of out of our beers. Dry Hopping is the process of adding loads of hops to a beer at a low temperature after fermentation. This process is a staple of the US craft brewers but seldom used in Europe. Because the temperature is low, dry hopping imparts no hop bitterness but instead an avalanche of aroma and flavour. The mesmerising aroma of our Punk IPA, 5am Saint and Hardcore IPA which explodes out of the glass is due to the dextensive ry hopping of these beers.
The bulk of the dry hops settle in the cone of our tanks and we draw out the beer from a special valve above the hops. Here is Stewart with some dry hopped punk from FV 12, check out how hazy the hops make it!
After dry hopping and before filtration we hold the beer at 0° for 7 days. This period ensures stability and shelf life in the bottle without adding nasty preservatives or additives to our beers.
Our beers are often slightly hazy and this is because we filter them so lightly. Sterile filtration (an aggressive filtration practised by most brewers) strips out flavour, aroma and mouthfeel from a beer. These are things that we work really hard to impart in our beers, the last thing we want to do is remove them before bottling! We prefer taste over absolute clarity. The shelf life in our beer comes from the sheer amount of hops (which also act as a natural preservative) and the cold conditioning time.
After conditioning for 7 days, the still hazy beer goes to our DE filter (in the photo above) for a light filtration to around 5-6 microns, which still leaves some yeast and still leaves all the flavour and mouthfeel in the beer. Sterile filtration (boo!) is to 0.45 microns.
Does this make our beer real ale? Probably, but who really knows anymore. And who actually cares? A new way has emerged with the craft brewing wave that transcends these out-dated conventions.
After the DE filter, the beer goes from a final trap filter (to catch any illusive hop particles), through our handy flow meter (so we know how much beer we have to package) and into one of our bright beer tanks. This light filtration process takes the beer from hazy to pretty clear.
In the bright beer tank (or BBT for short) the lightly filtered beer is checked for CO2 levels and we then adjust this in tank prior to packaging if necessary.
Then the beer either goes to our single head keg filler.
Or to our small bottling line for packaging and prepares to be sent out to craft beer drinkers all around the world.
The gentle filtration process we use merely removes the hop bits from dry hopping and the char from the whisky cask aged beers and makes the beers almost bright to the naked eye. The aromas that come through when you don't aggresively filter is quite amazing. The intense aromas and flavours that come from our beers is in a large part due to the maturation and packaging process we use and the skill of our Head Brewer Stewart Bowman and his team.
We are selfish and we brew beers that we want to drink, regardless of the cost of the ingredient or how arduous the process is. Which is why we will stick to dry hopping our beers, giving them plenty of maturation time and filtering them as lightly as possible.
In other news, we now have our own currency - beer bucks! A pretty awesome Christmas gift, these BrewDog vouchers will be available soon online and in all our bars.
Invest in BrewDog at www.brewdog.com/equityforpunks
- Was at an epic BrewDog tasting in Stockholm last night.
Hops Kill? was ace and Punk always goes down well.
- Well done on the HUGE business award last night - you guys rock!!
Yes, he says that the cask process is "similar" and highlights one of the differences.
In his rant on C4News, obviously rehearsed and delivered like an 8 year old in a school play, he claimed that the processes were identical.Jonas06.10.2011
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- Did he say that cask and keg production methods are different here? I can't find that bit.
Are you assuming that cask is unfiltered? If so you are wrong.
Some cask beers are actually sterile filtered and then have a bit of yeast added back at packaging time to make them "Real". Check out Marsdon's Magic Beans, for instance: http://www.beer-pages.com/protz/features/fast-cask.htmirishcraftbeer06.10.2011
Grow up, are weak insults about footwear the best you can do? Child.
James did in fact say that the production process for keg and cask are the same on Channel 4 News. Interesting that he's saying they're different here.Jonas06.10.2011
- Hey, do you guys export to the US? I'm interested in trying a few of your brews! bobhunt05.10.2011
- some people want to chill the f*%$ out, enjoy the beer ; 0 caesar05.10.2011
- I just invested! Can I come up and help on the bottling line for a day? I will even grow a beard!
Equity Punks Rock!
- Are Beer Bucks accepted for the online shop too? Might solve all my Christmas gift dilemas in one swoop! Peter M05.10.2011
- Not really what James said Owen. Anyway, you really should get out more. I would image a girlfriend would do you a lot of good.
Better loose the sandals though mate.....Bex05.10.2011
- But James, only the other day you were on Channel 4 news saying that the production process for cask and keg were identical. Owen B05.10.2011
- Love it. Really cool post guys, a great read, ace photos and I now know more about my favourite beers!
- @ Andy, we actually used to sterile filter our beers, but we stopped this practice around 2 years ago as we were loosing so much flavour. It was only by meeting other craft brewers we discovered the process outlined above.
We made the change to the current system we use to improve the experience for the drinker and make our beers better.
When it comes to cask beer, the process is similar, but the primary fermentation is not under pressure.
- Great Blog post - really informative.
Has Brewdog always followed this brewing process?
Does this process allow you to rack to Cask if you decided that a beer was better suited to is (you never know!)
- We are actually working on Hops Kill Kittens...... James, BrewDog05.10.2011
- Perhaps you could brew some hops kill hippies and send some to brackens bitches? BenH05.10.2011
- Oh that's fantastic news. Now if we could only get a BrewDog bar on this side of the puddle.....
- We are looking at also canning at the new brewery.
- I know I've asked before, but is it possible that you could turn your process to canning instead of bottling? Now that you are building funds for the new brewery, I would hope that it would be a canning process and not bottling. Beer in a can is so much better (Punk IPA) and better for the environment. Bracken's Bitches05.10.2011
- Great stuff. I really need to get me and the missus up to The Broch in the October holidays for a mosey round the brewery.
- really awesome. Thanks for shearing this. Gotta get back to Aberdden soon!!! Kjetil05.10.2011
- How many bottles can the bottling machine fill per hour?
- For those of us with little knowledge of the brewing process these Blogs are very interesting.
Brewdog beers do satisfy me and that is the criteria I plan to stick with!BeerHawk05.10.2011
- Cool. Thanks for clarifying BenH05.10.2011
- Punk IPA is now massively dry hopped - we started dry hopping punk at the start of 2011.
The Tesco Finest beer has different dry hops in it to what we use for Hardcore IPA.
- I thought new punk wasn't dry hopped and tesco American iipa was hardcore with a different label. Am I mistaken? BenH05.10.2011
- Beer Bucks look awesome. Can you also use them for Monopoly? Mr T05.10.2011
- so if it's not real ale it must be unreal ale ? dogbert05.10.2011
- Really cool post. How about one on other parts of the process too? matt p05.10.2011
- Who cares about definitions when the PUNK IPA tastes as frickin Awesome as it does!! Keep up the good work. Cheers fellas xD Chris05.10.2011
- Owen, you ARE da man!
Incidentally, I'd like to hear one of the industrial brewers' version of this walkthrough...Tom05.10.2011
- Owen, you're quite right. Sorry. James, BrewDog05.10.2011
- Indeed, school boy error on my part Owen. Now, off you pop and buff those sandals. John05.10.2011
- I AM the party.
Not only that, I know how to use an apostrophe.
I truly am a renaissance man.Owen B05.10.2011
- Bet Owen get's invited to lots of parties...
Great blog guys! Always cool to see what goes on behind the scenes. Keep up the great work, I'm one happy Investor.John05.10.2011
- Saying "if it doesn't contain 0.1million viable yeast cells per ml it will be rejected" is not the same as saying "anything with 0.1million yeast cells per ml is real ale".
But you know that.Owen B05.10.2011
- Well Owen, it is the crieria they told us our beer had to meet for their GBBF to qualify.
- More misrepresentation James?
That is not CAMRA's definition of real ale.
It is one of the measures of whether a beer satisfies the definition, but it is not the definition.Owen B05.10.2011
- This blog is about our bottling procedure and not about any issue with CAMRA. Incidentally their definition of real ale is a beer containing more than 0.1m yeast cells per ml, which our beers do. James, BrewDog05.10.2011
- Graeme: You'll note I didn't say that bottles had to be primed, I only said it was an option.
Beers that have been re-seeded with yeast are more "real ale" because they actually fit the definition. The definition doesn't require that the yeast was always present, or that it's even the same strain used for primary fermentation.
The fermentation of long-chain sugars will depend on the strain used, and with lager yeast they'll usually be fully fermented out by the time the bottling happens as I understand it. any residual long-chain sugars will be so low in concentration as to be negligible.Owen B05.10.2011
- @Owen B : FYI, you do not have to prime a bottle with sugar for it to be bottle conditioned.
Technically, if there is still yeast in bottle, it will continue to (slowly) ferment long chained sugars that are relatively unfermentable compared to the short chain sugars such as maltose. A lot depends on the grist and the gravity at which you bottle.
If you are from Camra, and you can't see a thick yeast deposit, then you probably won't give it your seal of approval. But you know that lots of "CAMRA approved" beers are *sterile filtered* (thus stripping flavour), reseeded with another yeast and then bottled, right? How do you argue that that is any more real?graeme05.10.2011
- Cool post - bottle it up punks :)
- The Tesco IIPA has the same amount of dry hopping, just different hop varieties.
The canned beer is packaged at Thwaites as we do not currently have a canning line ...... yet :)
We use the same filtration process at Meantime - you can read all about it here http://www.brewdog.com/blog-article/an-update-on-stock-our-new-brewery-and-our-partnership-with-meantime
- "Does this make our beer real ale? Probably, but who really knows anymore."
The answer is no, and will be clear to anyone who has read and understood the definition.
The beer in Brewdog bottles is fermented out completely before bottling, and the bottles themselves are not primed with sugar. No secondary fermentation can occur in the bottle, and therefore they are not "real ale".Owen B05.10.2011
- canned* Stephanos05.10.2011
- So is the difference with Tesco finest IPA less dry-hopping? Do you bottle that too?
Are the beers brewed at Meantime bottled there?
Where are beer scanned currently?>Stephanos05.10.2011
- Great Post - really informative and some ace pictures too.
Bowman's beard becomes ever more epic.