At the Grumpy Troll, we have a 10-barrel brewhouse. In the front of the brewhouse, from left to right, is our “hot liquor tank”, brew kettle and mash/lauter tank. Behind these tanks are five 10-bbl fermenters and one 7.5-bbl fermenter.
The brewing day starts with our brewmaster mixing hot water (160°) and barley malt/grains in the mash/lauter tank. Once they are all mixed in together, natural enzymes present in the barley begin to convert the starchy barley into a sweet mixture. After an hour, we begin to transfer the sweet liquid over to the brew kettle. Water is then sprinkled on top of the grain bed to get enough liquid to fill up the brew kettle. When this is complete, we begin to boil the wort. The left over grain is called “spent grain” and is picked up by a local farmer for feed.
In the brew kettle, we boil the liquid for 90 minutes and at various times add hops. Early additions are for bitterness, while later ones are for flavor and taste.
The variety of hops used adds to the flavor and taste profile. After the wort has boiled, it is run through a “heat exchanger” to bring the temperature down to a proper level. As it runs through the heat exchanger, we fill up one of our fermenters and add yeast. Once yeast is added, the wort starts to become beer.
Beers divided into two categories
Ales & Lagers
Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures and generally include beers with a fruity aroma and taste, and are the more bitter beers. Ales generally have a more complex taste and aroma, but not always. These brews usually take about 4 – 7 days to fully ferment.
Lagers are fermented at cooler temperatures and are generally described as being smoother, lighter, or crisper than ales. The lager style of brewing originated in Germany. Lagers are “cooler” fermented, which slows down the yeast activity and requires a longer aging time. These beers usually take about 6 – 10 days to fully ferment.
Classification of beer into one of these two categories – ales and lagers – is dependent upon the type of yeast used by the brew master. Yeast is identified as either a top fermenting or bottom fermenting strain. The type of yeast used dictates what other ingredients and techniques will be used in the brew master’s recipe. Ale yeast, a top fermenting strain, works best at warmer temperatures (60 – 75° F) and is by far the more ancient of the two methods. Lager yeast, a bottom fermenting strain, ferments best at cooler temperatures (48 – 60° F).
Within the top and bottom fermenting yeast groups are hundreds of different individual yeast strains which add different flavor characteristics to beer.
After our house beer has gone through fermentation and cellaring/lagering, we then send it down to our SERVING TANKS. At the Grumpy Troll, we have five tanks. In here, the beers are carbonated with carbon dioxide (CO2) and then served to our customers. When a serving tank is half finished, we then transfer the remaining beer into kegs. We have eight keg couplers to dispense beer. This allows us the ability to offer 12 different beers on tap.
A brewer’s job is about 80% cleaning. After each step of the process, a thorough cleaning is done on all equipment. This keeps our beers free from contamination. We clean our tap lines every two weeks. This allows the true flavors to come out the way they were intended. It is also very important to keep all work areas clean of debris, dirt, mold and other contaminants. Beer spoilers are present throughout!