The Brewing Process
How Beer is Brewed and Packaged at Great Western
Award-winning brewing all begins with the selection of the finest ingredients…and after a carefully watched process; the result is a very fine-tasting beer. Here’s the story.
The basic ingredient in beer is barley malt. To be more specific, it is barley grain that has been allowed to germinate and age to a limited extent and then is kiln-dried to halt any further germination.
In the mashing process, the malt is blended with brewing water in a “mash mixer” where it is mixed and heated according to a brand-specific, time-temperature program. During the process, the malt starches are converted by natural enzymes into fermentable and non-fermentable sugars.
The water used in brewing is pure and must meet rigid standards. To brew the best beer, it is important to have the right pH and mineral content.
When the mashing process if finished, the mash is transferred to a straining or “lautering” vessel, with a slotted false bottom 2” to 3” above the real bottom. The liquid extract drains through the false bottom and is run off to the brew kettle. For most of the Lautering, hot brewing water is sparged onto the grains to wash out as much of the extract as possible.
Boiling and Hopping
The liquid in the brew kettle is called “wort”. It is not yet beer. The brew kettle, holding up to 5,000 gallons and made of stainless steel is probably the most striking sight in a brewery. It is fitted with a jacketed bottom for steam heating, and is designed to boil the wort under carefully controlled conditions. This depends on the nature of the beer being produced. Corn syrup may be added during wort boiling. Boiling serves three functions, namely, to concentrate the wort to the desired specific gravity, to sterilize the wort, and also to obtain the desired extract from the hops.
Wort Settling and Cooling
After the wort has taken on the flavour of the hops, it is passed through a hot wort tank where a large amount of protein has precipitated during the boiling and settles out. The brews are then transferred through a heat exchanger, aerated and cooled to a starting fermentation temperature.
The wort is now moved to the fermenting vessels. Yeast is added on the way. It is the yeast that metabolizes the sugar in the wort and breaks it down into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide is collected, cleaned, liquified and stored. It is then added back to the beer prior to packaging to give the beer a zesty, carbonated taste appeal. Fermentation lasts approximately nine days. When the fermentation is over, the yeast is removed by pushing it out from the bottom of the fermenter after the liquid has been transferred to storage. Now for the first time, the liquid is called beer.
The beer now passes through a period of maturing and storage at minus 1 to 00C. After the required aging in storage, the beer is carbonated, clarified by filtration, and transferred to tanks and is ready to be bottled or canned.
Returned empty bottles from the beer stores are cleaned and sanitized in a process that uses sodium hydroxide, or “caustic” solution. After electronic inspection, the cleaned empties are filled with beer and crowned at a speed of about 350 bottles per minute. From there, the bottles move slowly through a pasteurizer and are then labeled, packed and palletized on skids containing about 100 cases each. The canning process is similar except that the empty cans used are always new and do not require labeling or washing.
Taste Tested (Lab Analysis)
The beer is taste-tested by specially trained testers and examined by our quality control personnel in our laboratories. This is done at every stage of production to ensure that the beer meets the high quality standards of the Brewer.
The transport fleet then distributes our product to Saskatchewan Liquor and cold beer stores, of which there are about 1,300 locations. We also produce beer that is exported to Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta (to be warehoused and distributed by both private and goverment systems).