Hops & Boiling
We love hops! Hops are normally harvested by collecting whole bines and taking them into the farm for picking. The bines are attached to machines which strip them of all the nice juicy green cones which is what we are after. These cones can be used in the brewing process like this (know as green hops) and is excellent for certain flavours and aromas, but mostly they are kiln dried in oast houses. Dried cones are packed together in hop bales. With our brewery we require our main hops in pellet form which means they go through a pelletisation process, basically they grind up the cones and push the powder through a former to create pellets – nothing sinister! But we also use whole leaf cones in our hop back which also acts as a natural wort filter – more on this later though…
Once all the wort is collected in the brew kettle it is brought to a rolling boil via steam jackets on the vessel. Hops are then added at various stages during our boil depending of the beer. They bring bitterness, flavour, and aroma to the beer. Our boil times range from 60 to 120 minutes. The boil is a very important stage in brewing as it extracts properties from the hops, sterilises the wort, halts enzymatic action, concentrates the wort, and coagulates the haze forming proteins.
The hot wort is spun round in the kettle and then left to settle. This process, known as whirlpooling, makes all the hop debris and protein to gather in the middle on the bottom of the kettle in a cone shape. Once this has happened we are left with a beautiful clear wort ready to be run off from the side of the kettle.
On the way to the heat exchanger we run our beers through the hop back which allows us to add extra hops (told you we love them), this time in the form of whole leaf. Not only does this act as a natural wort filter to catch any protein that has slipped through but it also adds excellent extra aromas to our beer!