Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house

This is what you’ve been waiting for. A peek inside the room where the alchemy occurs. The brew house.

It sounds like a pretty grand affair:

The Brew House.—The brew house, designed for a nominal output of 3,000 barrels per day, is arranged on the infusion method of mashing, the main plant consisting of six mash tuns arranged in line on the south side of the brew house, with four boiling coppers in line on the north side. Each brew requires about 20 hours to complete from the commencement of the mash to the running of the last worts to the fermenting house, which permits of only one brew per day.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

20 hours is long time for a brew in Britain. There were plenty of breweries that could get more than one brew a day through their kit. Guinness were known for having large mash tuns and 500 barrels certainly counts as large. Interesting that they had six mash tuns, but only four coppers. Which means that they couldn’t have been brewing at exactly the same time in all the mash tuns.

I believe something similar to this was true of many breweries:

“Normally, the six mash tuns are worked five days out seven, leaving two days for maintenance and adjustments, although during the war, they were worked 13 days out of 14 over long periods. This resulted in a heavy deferred maintenance programme to be dealt with after the war and which is only now nearing completion.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

A combination of heavy use and delayed maintenance and upgrades, left many breweries in urgent need of investment by the late 1940’s. It’s one of the reasons many breweries sold up in the 1950’s: getting the plant back into good order was too expensive. Easier to sell up and cash in.

Here’s a quick overview if their kit:

“Before dealing with the plant in detail, perhaps a brief description of the operations in the brewhouse will be of interest. Malt is transferred from the malt store by belt and delivered into a chain-link conveyor running above the six mash tuns. Each mash tun is a unit complete with its own weighing machine, whole malt hopper, malt mill, grist hopper and Steele's masher. The chain-link conveyor delivers the malt to the automatic weighing machine, the malt passing over a magnetic separator for removing pieces of iron and steel. From the automatic weigher, the malt is fed into a malt hopper large enough to take the requirements for one day's brew for one mash tun. Below the malt hopper is arranged the malt mill delivering the ground malt into the grist hopper below. The grist is fed into a Steele's masher, where it is mixed with the mashing liquor before being fed into the mash tun.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

Steele’s mashers are still popular in British breweries. It must be one of the oldest bits of specialist kit still in use, originally being developed in the 1850’s. Fullers have one on both of their mash tuns, for example. It’s a very efficient way of thoroughly mixing the grain and water on their way into the mash tun. I’m amazed when I go to shiny, modern breweries and see they have internal paddles churning away inside their mash tun. Or, even worse, manually do the mixing with a wooden paddle (as Stone Liberty Station does). It seems like a step or two backwards.

Ah, this is how they got around having fewer coppers than mash tuns:

“The worts are run off from the mash tun from underneath the false bottom plate and delivered to the underback from where wort pumps deliver it either to the coppers, or if no copper is available, to the upperbacks. After the addition of hops and the usual boiling off in the copper, it is struck off into the hop back from where the worts are pumped up to wort coolers arranged at the top of the building. After the usual standing time, the worts are run down to the fermenting house.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

Upperback is as new term to me. Come across plenty of underbacks. And isn’t that interesting? They were still using open coolers. (Note the use of the correct term for cooler rather than the ridiculous coolship translation.)

Next we start looking at the same kit in ridiculous detail.

1 comment:

StuartP said...

Ooo, Hot-Side Aeration!
Their beer must have tasted terrible.
No wonder they had to demolish the brewery.