Below is a picture of the Mt. Lehman Brewery brewhouse. Though more rustic than a commercial brewery, it has all the same major components. The number labels indicate the main components of the brewhouse. An advantage of the simplicity of our system (aside from price) is that it is easily understood. To briefly describe the system. Water flows from “2” into “3” where it filters through barley, turning into sugar water which is boiled with hops in “4”, then fermented in “5”. The flow of water through the system is completely powered by gravity (no pumps because they are expensive and break down and I don’t want to deal with that).
1: Barley Grinder
Here the barley is crushed, exposing the starchy/sugary inside. This allows water to strain the sugar out of the barley for beer.
2: Hot Water Tank
This stores hot water (around 75 to 80 Celsius) to mix into the mash-tun for the ‘mash-in’ and ‘sparge’ (discussed below).
3: Mash Tun
Here the crushed barley from the barley grinder and the hot water from the hot water tank are combined. The barley and water are mixed to together creating a porridge called the ‘mash’. The mash sits for about one hour at a temperature between 65-70 Celsius. This process allows the enzymes in the barley to convert the starch into sugar, which can later been fermented into beer.
After an hour, the mash has converted most of the starch into sugar. Now the sugar must be removed. Water from the hot water tank is added to the mash tun, and the valve on the bottom of the mash tun is opened to allow the water from the mash to flow into the brew kettle (4). This process is called sparging. It is similar to making coffee. As the hot water from the hot water tank strains through the barley, it strains the sugar out of the barley.
4: Brew Kettle
Here the sugary barley water (wort) collects from the mash tun during the sparging process. After enough wort has been collected, the wort is brought to a boil. It is boiled for 60 minutes. During the boil, hops are added to balance out the sweetness of the malt, and contribute hop flavours, aromas, and bitterness.
5: Fermentation Tank
After the wort has boiled for 60 minutes, it is cooled and added to the fermentation tank. The yeast is added, and proceeds to ferment the beer for 3-4 weeks. The yeast turns the sugar in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide.