On Wednesday, October 30, brewers executed the next phase of our Parkesburg brewhouse commissioning schedule and initiated our first full test brew with, what else but, HopDevil IPA. Much to the delight of everyone in the building, the new brewery was filled with the sights, sounds and, best of all, smells of brewing.
“It’s great to transition from construction project to working brewery with the first brew, but it’s tempered by knowing that as the door of construction closes, the door towards brewing excellence opens. Generally, there are a few long, hard shifts when turning the lights on, so to speak,” said Scott Dietrich, Vice President of Brewing Operations. “Having said that, it went very well, which is what we were expecting with the team we have.“
Check out the events of the day with the photo blog below.
Here, Scott and Adam Bartles, director of brewing operations, monitor grain making its way from the mill into the mash tun. Scott explains that Parkesburg, while not vastly different from Downingtown in engineering philosophy, the scale, level of automation and number of functions that can be performed simultaneously, is much greater.
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Scott, Adam and ROLEC commissioning brewmasters, Lance and Mattias, monitor the first mash-in.
After the mash-in, the soon-to-be-brew moves to the lauter tun, where the clear liquid wort is separated from the grain.
Here, brewers prepare for the boil, readying the first of several hop additions to be made over the course of the brew, as Brewmaster Ron Barchet, a “brewfather” of whole leaf hops, keeps watch.
Adam monitors the terminal gravity at the manifold station. Scott continued, “The first brew was our old friend HopDevil. It’s important to HopDevil that the terminal gravity be on spec in order to balance the hop character and ensure we are developing the mouthfeel and malt character we desire. The first two batches came out right on spec.”
Here, Ron and ROLEC engineer, Peter, look into the lauter tun and watch as the grain, just separated from the wort, is pumped out, headed to the spent grain silos.
Hops make Senior Brewer, Matt Couch, very happy. Here, he adds them to our HopVIC, the vessel that adds extra hop deliciousness to many of our brews.
Scott and Peter discuss the latest hop addition.
ROLEC engineers and Ron at the end of day one of test-brewing. Smiling is a good sign!
With the mill fully commissioned and the brewhouse vessels now receiving their first full workout, the promise of an operational production facility in Parkesburg is quickly turning into reality. But as Scott explains, there are still quite a few important milestones to hit before that becomes so.
“The next significant steps are commissioning the new fermentation cellar and yeast handling/propagation system, as well as moving the bottling line, which is a challenging task as we also are coordinating new brand releases,” Scott continued. “Though we knew there would be a few hurdles with the first brew, it’s fantastic and empowering to see our group put their hands around new equipment and processes and bring it to life.”