Monday, April 12, 2010

Brewing Furniture and Safety

What's wrong with this picture?

It's not a mess, it's not disorderly, it's easy to see a clear workflow operates from right to left, intermediate steps are managed in place, so what's wrong?

The furniture. It's bamboo. Now, when you load bamboo along its length its very strong, however, table tops of split bamboo are not designed for supporting 30 or 40+ kilograms of grain, water, burner, terracotta tiles etc. Well at least not for the long term. To top it of lateral movement stability leaves a lot to be desired once you start getting a vigorous stir up and going.

But, sometimes brewers will compromise on the support foundation of their brewhouse by cobbling together what ever they can find, rather than focus on building a great foundation for supporting their equipment safely. It took an ominous threat of spillage to force me to think about this particular issue.

Sure I wanted my pots, I wanted my cooler and I wanted everything organized so that I could "get brewing" but I had to wait a little while to get the right furniture, and it took me quite a while to think of the design, carefully, and sketch it out so that the Vietnamese steel workers in Hanoi could produce exactly what I was looking for.

And, here it is...
Now, having a 'pretty brewery' is no guarantee of making good beer, but it does go a long way towards making a consistent product safely and comfortably. Cheers!

Until the next time,

It's Your Shout, Mate!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Singapore - Touring The Pump Room

Whilst meeting with some of the Brewers from The First Homebrew Club of Singapore, I had the chance to talk with Jamie Hawkes, Restaurant Manager for The Pump Room Microbrewery and Bistro, ad he organized for me to meet up with their Brewmaster, Hayman TKM, the very next day.

So lets go inside and take a look around.

Now, The Pump Room is located behind a glass wall in the back corner, to the left of the stage, diagonally opposite the main entry to the Bistro, and the first think you notice when looking at the brewhouse, is that its a two pot confguration...  Mashing and Lautering are done in the smaller upper tun, Boiling and Whirlpooling are done in the larger lower kettle.

Hayman TKM and The Pump Room Brewhouse.

Hayman is a good natured guy and makes a decent IPA using this NDA manufactured equipment.

Just behind the entry door and to the right of the two main pots is the control panel. This Brewery is a hands on system! All the valves (left side of picture) are turned by hand and the pumps are activate by selecting the correct  nob (lower right side of picture) on the control box. Another interesting aspect is that the after the grain is milled (center of picture), it is mixed, in the pipe (bottom center of picture) with water and this moves both milled grain and mash-in liquor into the Mash/Lauter Tun.
Grain Hopper, Mill, Valves and Pump Station

After Boiling and whirlpooling, the wort has to be cooled as quickly as possible. In  The Pump Room this is accomplished using a standard industrial plate chiller. Hayman tells me that this is one part of the system that they plan to upgrade so as to improve their cooling flowrate and to allow larger volumes of beer to be cooled more quickly. Presently it take a couple of hours to complete the cooling process.
Plate Chiller

Now, space is a premium in most breweries and here it's no different. On the right are the fermentation tanks and on the left is the CIP unit - which can be moved to each piece of equipment; and. behind it is the hot Liquor Tun. After the Fermenters is a panel of sight glasses showing the various beers currently on tap.

In the Cellar/Coolroom several conditioning and Serving Tanks are kept, along with smaller kegs which are used for distributing finished beer to various Singapore locations that also dispense beer from The Pump Room.

Next to the Cellar Door is a small conical fermenter which is used for yeast harvesting, Whilst next to the Mash tun & Kettle is probably one of the most important peices of equipment in any brewery - the Step Stool!

Now, we've had a look around the place but I know you're dying to have a peek inside the beast... So here we have it...

The Mash Lauter Tun has a screw down false bottom and rakes for stirring the mash. Removal of spent grain is done by hand as the rakes don't particularly help in this situation. Afterwards a few screws in the false bottom are removed, the plates lifted up and the underside can be cleaned.

In the Top of the Mash Lauter Tun is a sparge ring with several spray-myst nozzles, and to the right of the ring is the CIP Inlet. In the centre of the ring is the drive shaft for the rake arm.

The Whirlpool is driven by pumping the wort back into the Kettle to create a vortex in the Wort.

The Pump Room relies on having a good whirlpool result as the beer is not filtered downstream. Natural flocculation methods are used to help clarify the beer to some extent.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of the Pump Room Brewing Facility, I certainly did, and it's great to see that some of these craftbreweries are making their beer in a way that is very recognizable even to the small, home-based or hobby brewer. Thanks Hayman, and The Pump Room for letting me have a look around.

Until the next time,

Its Your Shout, Mate!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Hoby Brewers Club of Singapore

Well, I met up with Bill, and Michael from the First Hobbybrew Club of Singapore at Brewerkz at Riverside Point (you would hve seen a few pics from a previous post.)

From there we went to The Pump Room. The beer of choice on tap was an IPA. It was a golden brown colour, quite cloudy and noticably citrusy, like grapefruit - really, like grapefruit.

We discussed this a bit, and it seems some people can't distingush between Citrus - Orange; Citrus - Lemon; Citrus -Lime; or Citrus - Grapefruit (or Pomello).

After a few beers in The Pump Room, it was time to go. Here's a pic:

and hopefully I'll get a closer look around the brewhouse, tomorrow.

Until the next time,

Its Your Shout, Mate!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expedition Singapore

So, I got the beer into bottles, and the missus had us booked onto a plane bound for Singapore.

Singapore, the land of Raffles!

Did you know they also did home brew? I didn't know until I Googled it - home brew club, home brew shops etc.

So here we are: Just done the Santosa Island experience, and we're in need of refreshment... we end up on Riverside Point. One place, two places, Brewerkz!

Hey, I saw this mob online!

So I went in, looking for the 1st Hobby Brewers Club of Singapore, as I thought it was also associated with this place, but no cigar, I couldn't even find a staff member who knew anything about the group: I was feeling very sad :-(

So I decided after looking around the place to settle down in front of the brew kettle, at the bar and order an Indian Pale Ale...

...and a very nice ale it was. I also noticed one of those curiosities about Singapore that seemed a little out of place in this pub - that is the, "don't go beyond this point our you'll get shot!" signs. It begs the question, why would you get shot for going near the brewhouse?!?

So, craftbrewing here in Singapore is almost a matter of, "Life and Death" and not worth chancing. However, the beer does taste good. That's all for now, so...

Until the next time,

Its Your Shout, Mate!