After a long day, most people would like to crack open an ice cold brew. For some people, at the end of a long day, the proof of their work is an ice cold brew.
In reality, it does take more than one day of work: it takes approximately 16 days from the start of the brew until the day it is served.
According to co-owner of Peoria Artisan Brewery, Neal Farrell, the process can be quite long but easy enough for people to understand.
To start a brew the brewer has to run a mixture of different types of barley, which varies depending on the type of beer you are trying to make, though a mill.
Then after the barley goes through the mill to crack open the grains, Farrell said, “The grains are then added to a vat of water at approximately 168 degrees and stirred in vigorously. We let the grains sit in the pot for an hour, this converts the starches in the grains to sugars.
“Then we rinse the grain from the top while we drain the sweet wort out of the bottom and pump it into the boil kettle. The wort is boiled from 1-2 hours depending on the style and hops are added at various stages-again, depending on the style.”
Sweet wort is the unfermented malt, once it’s fermented it will become beer.
“When it’s done being boiled, we cool it rapidly through a series of chillers down to about 68-72 degrees while adding oxygen and yeast while it is pumped into a sanitary fermentation vessel,” said Farrell. “After a week, the yeast sediment is drained off the bottom and we transfer the beer to a secondary vessel called a brite tank so it can clarify and finish fermenting.”
The brew sits in the tank for a week to finish fermenting then CO2 is added for carbonation then after a total of 16 days it can be served.
Farrell Has been brewing off and on since the late 90s, although back then he was brewing at home. In 2010 he started brewing with friends including Matt Frosch, co-owner of Peoria Artisan Brewery.
“It took us a few years of planning, getting involved with investors and shooting for this grandiose plan with a huge cost and just couldn’t do it,” Farrell said, “we started to think small, found our great little location 5 minutes from my house and went at it. We started brewing for profit December 2013.”
Something that makes going to a brewery different than a regular bar or drinking a beer at home is intimacy of the experience.
“You are greeted right away by staff and filled in on the details of our operation if it’s your first time in,” Farrell said, “Moderately loud modern blues music is playing, there’s a mixture of locals and new visitors. The kitchen is 10 feet from the bar so you will always smell what’s cooking and what’s brewing if it’s a brew day.”
Stephanie Sheffield, self-proclaimed beer connoisseur said, “It may sound weird, but we were getting personal with the beer and the beer making process. Hearing the history and the story behind each recipe and flavor choice made us more invested in the beer and almost personified it, to an extent. It wasn’t just a drink anymore, it had a life of its own.”
Even people who aren’t considered connoisseurs can taste the difference in the beer at a brewery.
“The beer there is different then what I would drink at home because it’s much heavier and has way more flavor,” said Brandy Dahlgren, an Arizona native who has only been to a couple of breweries.
The process may be long but the people who have been to a brewery think each keg is worth the wait.