Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome, Tank 28!

Tomorrow, we'll be filling our newest fermenter, "Tank 28" for the first time. 
Tank 28 is the last tank in a third expansion of our fermentation cellar.  This most recent expansion cannibalized warehouse space to install a total of four 200 barrel fermenters and one 200 barrel bright tank.

Previous expansions took place in 2008/2009 (three 200 barrel fermenters) and again in 2010 (two 200 barrel fermenters and a 200 barrel bright beer tank).

The Craft Beer industry is growing by leaps and bounds. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer production volumes grew by 13% industry-wide in 2011.  Contextually, 2011 Smuttynose production volumes increased by a staggering 28.6%.  In short, we need more places to put beer.  But with ground breaking on our new home at Towle Farm on the verge of being scheduled, we’re not sure that this will be the end of expansions at Heritage Avenue.

Tank 28 traveled 3,183 miles from Canby, Oregon to Portsmouth, NH. It was built by JV Northwest with whom Smuttynose Founder and President Peter Egelston has worked with since they built the brewing system for The Northampton Brewery in 1986.  The fabricators opened in 1981 and they build equipment for food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies.  

Here's a clip of the tank being removed from between two stacks of hottubs and rotated in mid-air:


New Hampshire's own WMUR-TV shared this nice photo montage, as well as a short video piece, which we weren't able to track down. 

Seacoast newspapers Foster's Daily Democrat and The Portsmouth Herald each ran articles as well.  We thank all three of them for their support.

Tank 28 Stat Box:

Height: 22.5’
Diameter: 9’ 10”
Weight: 7,200 pounds
Total volume: 8024 US gallons or 259 US barrels.
Working volume: ~200 US barrels of beer, or four batches of Smuttynose beer

If our working volume is 200 barrels and the cycle through the tank takes three weeks, then our new tank will produce about 3,500 barrels (108,500 gallons) of beer in a year. 

The difference in these two volume measurements is a necessary part of fermenter design.  Fermentation is a very turbulent process that causes large amounts of carbon dioxide to be produced and then released through the volume of beer. This violent gas production causes the beer to foam, kind of like what happens when you shake a bottle of beer before your friend opens it.  The extra head space allows that foam to form, while minimizing or preventing foam-overs, which are messy and cause beer loss.

We’ve had to make significant modifications to our building for each expansion.  For this most recent expansion, we had to lease off-site warehousing to make space for the tanks, as well as extend the roof height and install a portal, through which the tanks were inserted and will later be removed when we move to our new home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 16: Homunculus Returns!

The second release of our hoppy, Belgian golden ale, Homunculus, will begin leaving our warehouse on Monday, July 16.  Just a reminder that joining our Big Beer Series Subscription ensures you'll get bottles of each release before we begin shipping it to our wholesalers.  Here's all the information on this year's release. 

Smuttynose’s Homunculus returns to the Big Beer Series after a wildly successful 2011 debut.  Inspired by hoppy, golden Belgian ales, Homunculus’ prototype was a 2007 Short Batch Series release called “The Gnome.”  It was a nice tribute, but we needed a new name for the bottled version.  Not only is “homunculus” a memorable name, but it’s also synonymous with “gnome.”

So what is a Homunculus?  The term, Latin for "little human,” shows up in disciplines as diverse as psychology, alchemy, and biology.  As you can see from the label art, we were captivated by the biological roots of the term.  Before the creation of ground lenses and microscopes (circa 1600), medieval scientists had many theories that explained the origin of human life.  “Preformationism,” widely accepted at the time, proposed that each new child grew from invisible, miniature versions of themselves (homunculi). 

Enough genetics, let’s talk about the beer!  Like the label says, Homunculus is a hoppy, Belgian-style golden ale. A special yeast strain creates an array of fruity esters which complement the hop aromatics.  The simple grain bill of 2-Row base malt, German Carahell, and some cane sugar lends a touch of sweetness, but more importantly, a lightness of body.  Magnum hops are used exclusively at the beginning of the boil for a clean bitterness, while late boil additions of Sterling contribute a subtly spicy hop flavor.  We’ve already got the makings of one tasty beverage, but Homunculus' real moxie comes from its pungently aromatic dry-hopping.  Our brewing team selected Saphir, a newer German noble hop variety, as this year’s dry-hop.  Saphir contributes a clean, subtle aroma reminiscent of tangerines.

We'll begin shipping Homunculus the week of July 16 and it should begin appearing in beer stores, bars and restaurants not long after that, depending on when each order goes out.  

Stat Box
9.37% ABV
45 IBU
Starting Extract: 20˚ Plato   Finishing Extract: 2.5˚ Plato
Malt: North American 2-Row, Weyermann Carahell
Hops: Bittering-Magnum, Flavor-Sterling, Dry-Saphir
Yeast: White Labs Trappist Ale Yeast, WLP-500
Special Guests: Cane Sugar, to lighten the body.
Production Size: 200 barrels (6200 gallons)  

Homunculus pairs well with a wide range of dishes.  Its fruity notes will accentuate earthy foods like terrines and pâtés, sausages or hearty stews.  Homunculus also has enough acidity to stand up to white, creamy pasta sauces and grilled salmon.  For cheese courses, we suggest any variety except blue cheeses.