Thursday, 15 March 2012

T & J Bernard's Old Edinburgh Brewery (part two)

Continuing our stroll around Bernard's old brewery, we get to see the brewing equipment. Which is what we're most interested in, I'm sure. Picturesque ancient stone buildings are nice enough, but I'm more interested in mash tuns.We'll be seeing them first.

I'd love to show you pictures of what the brewery looked like inside. Unfortunately Barnard didn't supply any. Damn. The best I can do are the offices. With what I believe is the jail looming over them in the background

"After this we passed along a passage and ascended a few steps, when we found ourselves on a gallery overlooking the picturesque courtyard before referred to, on which we walked round to the large malt stores on the other side. They occupy a building about 120 feet long, four storeys high, and are contiguous to the feeding hopper connected with the mill.   This latter contains a pair of steel rollers for crushing the malt, which (falling into a receptacle below) is elevated to the mash-tun hopper in the roof of the next building, whither we followed it.  Passing through a doorway we ascended a stair to the top floor of a building whose walls on one side are formed by the solid rock on which it abuts.   This is the mashing room, the floor of which—resting partly on iron columns and partly on a ledge of the rock—is covered by three mash-tuns, two of which are constructed of copper,with gun-metal draining plates, are served by Steel's mashing machines, and hold together eighty-three quarters. Here also we observed two large hot water tanks, heated by exhaust steam from the engine, and a cylindrical heater filled with tubes, of a peculiar construction, for sparging purposes."Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 109 - 110.
Judging by that description, the whole rear wall and part of the floor were cut from the bedrock. I can see some advantages in having the brewery partly built into the natural rock. It must have helped keep the brewery at a nice even temperature, year round.

By this time who didn't have a Steel's masher? Maybe the odd country pub brewery. A few more details on that cylindrical heater for sparging would have been useful. I could try guessing, but my imagination is notably poor. I'll leave that to you.

I'll do my traditional brewhouse maths now. 83 quarter mash tun capacity, at four barrels per quarter makes 332 barrels per day. Multiply that by 300 and you get almost 100,000 barrels. They didn't brew anything like that amount. especially not at the old brewery. I happen to know that in 1890 the two breweries combined produced 46,970 barrels (that comes from the prospectus when the company went public in 1895). Shows how far out my calculations can be.

Next are the coppers and coolers:

"Descending a few steps we came to the copper stage, another ancient room of large dimensions, in which are placed three coppers—one with a dome cover, the other two without—holding together about 300 barrels. One of these vessels is used for porter brewing, for which this firm has a local repute, the others for pale ale. The hop-back room is underneath, and contains a copper hop drainer with gun-metal draining plates, holding forty barrels. At a lower elevation we observed two open coolers of the ordinary type, holding ninety barrels, wherein the wort is cooled by central circulating fans; and on a platform above a refrigerator of a peculiar type. This unique cooler (invented by the firm) consists of a cast-iron frame or box 90 feet long  by 4 feet wide, and contains 150 tubes the entire length of the frame, made of pure block tin, and the total measurement of the tubes is 13,500 feet.

The beer is forced in at one end of the pipes by a powerful gun-metal three-throw pump, and cold water introduced at the other end of the box; consequently the beer goes off at about the same heat as the water comes in, and the water goes off at about the same temperature as the beer comes in. This refrigerator cools sixty barrels per hour, in summer weather, down to 55° or 56°; and in the pipes through which the beer is pumped from the hop-back are numerous fine strainers, to free the wort from every particle of sediment."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 110 - 111.
It would be tempting to assume that the Porter copper was the domed one. That's certainly the type most London brewers used. And I know from other accounts that many Pale Ale brewers preferred open coppers. Perhaps that is how they were used, but, as the text isn't specific, that's just speculation.  I'm surprised that they were brewing enough Porter (I assume the word is being used generically here to cover both Porter and Stout) for it to be worthwhile having special equipment. It had never been that popular in Scotland and had lost found by the 1890's.

The size of the coppers and coolers tallies with a maximum batch size of around 300 barrels. As there would be two at least worts run off, boiled and cooled separately, this kit only needed to be about half the batch size.

The cooling set up is typical for the late Victorian period: open coolers to start off, then a refrigerator to finish the job. 55° or 56° seems to have been a typical pitching temperature for Scottish beers at this time.

That's enough excitement for now. You'll have to wait to learn about the tuns and flatteners.

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