Monday, October 13, 2008

Denver Week

Now that we are back, and every so slowly re-acclimating ourselves to the daily grind, let me try to tell you what we did this past week in Colorado. Matt was judging so he was busy most days from Tuesday until Friday. I flew in Wednesday, got our materials, and we went to the Brewer's gathering that is held every year at Wynkoop brewery in LoDo on Wazee and 18th. Our friend Charlie,(seen here in the red shirt) who used to brew at O'Fallon in Missouri, is now on the brewstaff at Wynkoop. He gave us the full tour and made sure that we had a great time.

Thursday, while Matt was toiling away at the judging tables, I was riding in a Escalade Limosene with the Pizza Port Crew. Jeff Bagby, the brewer at their Carlsbad location, and director of Brewing operations set up a tour for us of New Belgium with none other than New Belgium's brewmaster Peter Bouckaert.

They set us up with special lanyards that doubled as bottle openers that let the staff know that we were allowed to have free reign over wherever we wanted to go. And we certainly did. Peter asked us first thing, "Vat iz it that you vant to see?" And we responded with pretty much "everything."

Lauren Salazar also came with us to help answer our endless questions. Lauren is New Belgium's Sensory guru and is also very involved in their sour beers.

Heat exchanger for their 200bbl Steinecker brewhouse.

Hop and spice dosing tanks.

Peter explaining something important.

A view inside their kettle equipped with a calandria.

We checked out their mostly out of use 100bbl system that will eventually come back into use once they can max out their fermenter space. Then we got to see their 200bbl system that is in full use.

all breweries should be this cool.

The view from "acid alley." Peter asked us if we wanted to see the view from the tops of the fermenters. Nobody said no, so up we went.

A quick trip through the filtration and transferring room. and then UP.

and up.

The view was pretty awesome. You could see the Ft. Collins AB plant, and a whole bunch of other stuff in the vicinity even though it was cloudy.

Working preparing concrete molds for new fermenters that are coming.

New canning line!

Foeders in a line. These wooden vessels are typically used for wine production, but some breweries use them for aging beer in.

Lauren and Peter explaining the wood aging process of their sour beers. This was some of the coolest stuff on the tour for me.

Foeder #2 was tasting especially good to Lauren. Peter said the beer inside it would probably be used to make Le Terroir, an amazing sour beer that is dry hopped with Amarillos. We gave it third place last year in the sour category at FOBAB (tickets still available for this years fest).
But enough talk, it was time to drink!

After that went to the bottling building.

Thunder Dome is no joke. There was no Master Blaster, but it was loud. And this is a serious bottling facility.

700-800 bottles per min. Robot arm that automatically sorts and palletizes cases of beer. A lazer machine that prints the dates on the labels as they zoom by. It nearly made me cry to know that they bottle more beer in five minutes that I have in a year.

But to make things better, Lauren let us grab beers right off the line and drink them. Very Cool.

Then finally, the tour was just about over. The only thing we hadn't done yet was go down the slide.

This is the slide from the offices to the downstairs. Lauren says that she uses it at least four times a day.

It was an especially awesome tour. I can't reccomend New Belgium highly enough. And if you get a chance to go there in the near future, make sure to try Ben's Saison, part of their Lips of Faith series. Ben was in my Siebel class and made a great Saison.


Russ said...

Back when I was a grad student at CSU, we used to tour the New Belgium brewery whenever a friend came to visit. It was free and they gave us a ton of beer at the end, so how could you go wrong? Thanks for helping me re-live the memories...

Homebrewer Brian said...

I had no idea NB was starting to can. Great pictures. How about that kettle with the Calandria hey? Pretty amazing how fast they can get their hops to isomerize into the wort. Brilliant!

Anthony said...

You know how to post a proper blog, friend. I will be buying more New Belgium because of this blog.