On June 8th, on its final session, my BJCP beer judging class took a field trip to the facilities of Heretic Brewing, where Chris Kennedy, the head brewer, gave us a tour of the facilities.
Located in the new E. J. Phair Brewing Company brewery in Pittsburg (California), Heretic shares space in a rather unique time-share sort of arrangement, which entitles them to two brew days per week. The prepping and cleanup when working on such a large scale -30 barrel batches- can extend a brew day up to 12 hours, as opposed to a homebrewer's 2-4 hr brewday.
Here we see the mash tun, with a hydrating hopper above it. The grain is milled in a special room in the basement and transferred to the hopper via a long pipe fitted with an screw conveyor. Next to it, on the rights side of the photo, is the boiler.
At that time Heretic was in the last stages of fermenting a Brettanomyces-innoculated beer for release at the National Homebrewers' Conference in San Diego this week. They also have plans for a Brett porter in the works, but are waiting until after NHC to brew it.
Heretic -and E. J. Phair- are as yet fairly hampered in their brewing schedule by the absence of a cold room on premises.
This is the future cold room for the E. J. Pahir brewery. The kegs in the corner, as well as the area they're in, belong to Heretic. The kegs are all Sankey kegs, even the ones that are Corny-sized. Chris explained that on a commercial level Cornelius kegs are a pain and a risk for the brewer because they have so many places that yeast and bacteria can hide and they are so hard to clean compared to Sankey kegs.
Here Chris shows us the millroom and the pipe that carries the milled grain up to the mash tun at brewing time.
One of the peculiarities of brewing in Pittsburg is that the sewer system cannot accommodate the large amounts of trub and spent hops generated by the brewery, so they must all be removed before discharging the dirty water after cleaning the equipment. To try to make that the two brewing enterprises are going to experiment with a giant sieve to remove the solids from the discharge water.
After the tour, Chris joined us for the final session of beer judging over at the E. J. Phair taproom across the street.