Its All About the Fermentation – Part 1

Have you ever seen the YouTube videos of drunk monkeys?

Don’t worry—this is not a story about evolution. Or drunk monkeys. It’s about yeast.

Like mold and other fungi we see in nature, yeast is abundant. These microscopic single-cell organisms love sugar and can be found on almost every kind of plant. They gobble up sugars, farting CO2 and pooping alcohol, in a process we call fermentation.

When tropical fruits fall from a tree and begin to decompose, the yeast turn them into little “alcohol shots,” which in turn lead to YouTube videos of drunk monkeys. And when stores of grains like wheat and barley got wet, they turned into the first known beverages we called BEER.

The process of making beer involves three major steps: fermentation, Wort production, and recipe design. All are important. But to quote the slogan of our commercial yeast rancher, “It’s all about the fermentation.”

This is the first in a four-part series about how we make beer at Infinite Ale Works. We will begin with the most important step, fermentation.

Controlling fermentation has a huge influence on the finished product. Yeast produce a range of flavor influencing byproducts at different temperatures. For ale yeasts, temperatures in the range of 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit typically produce spicy phenolic flavors; temperatures in the 72-76 degree range produce fruity esters. For some styles – especially our Belgian style beers – the temperature must be adjusted during the fermentation process.

Lagers use different strains of yeast that ferment at lower temperatures in the range of 50-55 degrees for the primary fermentation. The temperature is then lowered to near freezing—where lagering takes place, creating the fine, textured bubbles characteristic of lagers and pilsners.

“Yeast ranchers” – commercial yeast producers – offer a wide range of yeast styles and can produce the appropriate quantity (cell count) for any size batch of beer. But buying a new batch of yeast for every brew is prohibitively expensive. Thus, craft breweries must become yeast ranchers, too.

Our fermentation vessels are designed to collect the yeast produced by each batch of beer, which can then be used to produce the next batch.  The yeast produced by one brew typically produces enough yeast to support several brews with each generation. Craft breweries may use a particular strain of yeast for 10 – 15 generations.

But yeast can easily mutate based on the environment. For example, it may not be desirable to reuse yeast from a beer with high alcohol content, as it may cause the yeast to be less efficient in successive generations. Thus, it is desirable for a brewery to produce several styles of beer using the same yeast strain.

We created our Infinite Trails American-Belgo Pale Ale to fill an important position in our product line and to propagate the yeast we need for our higher alcohol West Floridian Belgian Style Quad. Like many Belgian style beers, the West Floridian uses a significant percentage of adjunct sugars; these sugars allow the yeast to ferment more easily than the more complex sugars created in Wort production. Adding these sugars during Wort production can cause the yeast to get lazy, never finishing its job on the more complex sugars. Thus, we wait to add the adjunct sugars several days into the fermentation process, to prevent the yeast from laying down on the job.

If this all sounds complex, it is. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the subject of fermentation. And it is a subject that deserves more attention because making great beers is all about the fermentation. Coming soon, part two…..

Infinite Ale Works – Best Florida Beer Compition

Infinite Ale Works was named the 2018 Best Large Batch Brewery in Florida at the annual Best Florida Beer professional competition. In addition, Infinite earned five individual beer awards, including its “West Floridian” Belgian Quad being named runner up as the Best Large Batch Beer in Florida.

In total, Infinite Ale Works brought home six awards from this year’s competition:

Best Large Brewery – Infinite Ale Works
Runner Up Best Large Batch Beer – “West Floridian” Belgian Quad
Gold Medal for “West Floridian” Belgian Quad
Gold Medal for “Infinite Trails” Belgo-American Pale Ale
Silver Medal for “Raspberry Witfinite” Belgian Fruit-Witbier
Bronze Medal for “Witfinite” Belgian Witbier

Hand Bottling West Floridian and Into the Dark Roast

I’m sure everyone knows that most breweries need to package their beer in something besides kegs to be successful. For us, we have chosen 750 ml bottles and 4-packs of 375 ml bottles for our West Floridian and Into the Dark Roast. Seems easy enough, right? We have beer. We put it in a bottle. The end.

But the truth is, there are a lot of moving parts, and all of them are expensive. There are labels, caps, boxes, four-pack holders, and neck ringers. All of them must be designed, and all have minimum quantities when ordering. However, none of these things are even needed if you can’t spare the beer or get it into the bottle in a clean, relatively easy manner.

Our approach is to build a manual filler—we attach several homebrew filler heads bolted together with uni-strut pieces. It looks terrible. It’s super heavy. But it works, and it’s affordable. It’s easy to sanitize and allows us to do a pallet over the course of a day.

It took us a while to assemble all the necessary items for our now polished cases of 4-packs. While we were designing, ordering, and scraping up our pennies over the month, we experimented with bottle runs for limited distribution and in-house sales. We learned quickly a cardboard flat was not a sufficient means for stacking cases of heavy glass bottles.

As the months ticked by, we were finally able to get our case boxes and cardboard 4-pack holders designed, printed, and delivered. Just in time, too. We had our first major order of 125 cases of West Floridian Belgian Quad and 75 cases of Into the Dark Roast Imperial Coffee Stout, shipping out the next day. (If you hadn’t thought of this already-and you probably have- provide a hyperlink for these brews to open a new tab to take readers to the description page)

In preparation, we had filled and stacked several pallets to be restacked in our high-end professionally printed boxes, just in time to get them on the truck. That’s when the reality hit that things were going too smoothly.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Into the Dark S’mores

Bourbon Barrel Aged Into the Dark S’mores. Lately it seems like the names of craft beers keep getting longer and longer. This brew is all about rich flavor—a big, dark chocolate stout with bourbon and s’mores flavors. Even though it sounds over the top, it’s the perfect blend of decadence. With a 9% ABV and a warm residual taste, this beer was aged in bourbon barrels for six months and then hand-bottled.

This special release will be sold in our tap room only, starting March 17th at our 4-year anniversary party. There will also be limited draft pours the same day. This unique blend is the perfect night cap to close the day. Or even better, as a great chaser for a St. Patrick’s Day Jameson’s shot. Maybe we’ll take a bottle to O’Malley’s Alley and start the holiday off right! Be safe out there and say no to green beer!

Belgian Quadruple Ale

One of our favorite styles is the Belgian Trappist inspired Quadruple Ale, or Belgian Quad. Our version goes by the name West Floridian . It follows tradition by being a dark crimson ale that pours with a nice lingering head. The aroma is sweet with hints of dark fruits, such as plums, raisins, and figs. The flavor follows the aroma with a very mild bitterness that complements the rich, dark fruit character. It has a medium body with a slight creamy character and finishes with some residual sweetness.

This style can be intimidating for a newly-converted craft beer drinker, but rest assured, it’s an easy sell. There is one caveat—they are higher alcohol brews. If properly balanced, the alcohol is hidden in the rich flavor. When we are converting a light beer drinker in our tasting room, we’ll start at both ends of the spectrum. Crisp and clean to big and bold. A West Floridian would be the big and bold end of the spectrum. Very few decide it’s too much for them.

Now that you know what a Quad is, when should you order one? Unless you are dying of thirst from a hot Florida afternoon, you can order a Quad at any time. Cooler evenings or happy hours are my favorite time to drink a West Floridian. Belgian Quads are excellent dinner companions, pairing well with red meats and most desserts. Since it is a heavier beer, plan on slowly enjoying it. This allows time for the beer to warm up a bit, unlocking additional flavors. Enjoying a couple of West Floridians with friends will lead to philosophical questions, bad jokes, and the best of times. The most important thing is to try one!

Belgian Witbier

This is a staple at Infinite Ale Works. Our Belgian Witbier, lovingly nicknamed Witfinite, is light, clean, and crisp. We balance our flavors with a touch of hops, citrus, and coriander notes.  Brewed with wheat, it has a slight haze. When a light beer drinker comes in wanting to try something new, this is usually where we steer them first.

Wit biers are perfectly simple in nature. It is a go-to any time, any place. I can have several without having trouble finishing the last few ounces in a pint. They are usually average to low alcohol content, which allows someone to have a couple before reaching the point of having too many.

Also, look for variations to the style. Several breweries—including us—apply different fruit treatments to a wit bier. We take it a step further and offer a kettle-soured version, but we’ll cover that in a later post.

Once you have had a few of these, you’ll be able to pick out the things you like most in the style. We recommend having a couple outdoors, preferably in the fall or spring. The perfect day for us is when the air is crisp, the warm sun is shining, and a refreshing Witfinite Wit Bier is in our glass.

New Seal Designates Independent Craft Brewers!

Declare Your Independence!
The Brewers Association Launches New Seal to Designate
Independent Craft Brewers

Here’s what we know: Independence matters. It matters to America’s 5,300+ small and independent brewers, and it matters to the people who drink their beer.

In an effort to inform beer lovers about which breweries are independently owned, the Brewers Association today launched a new seal that aims to provide clarity in the marketplace and celebrate America’s independent craft brewing community.

The seal’s upside down bottle captures the bold, risk-taking spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while also letting beer lovers know they’re choosing a beer from a truly independent craft brewery.

What Ales Ya Podcast

“What Ales Ya” is a one-hour podcast hosted by Brian Quain & Jeff Brennan, who visit top breweries around Florida. Their focus is on Florida, beer, and brewers, and they recently stopped by IAW for a chat. Take a listen behind the curtain of IAW through a conversation with our very own Tom and Craig, with some appearances by Travis, Kyle, Sam, Andy, and Juan.

Check out the podcast here!

Ales For ALS!

This summer, IAW is participating in Ales for ALS, a charitable program that raises money for the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, MA. As part of the program, IAW is selling a unique, limited-edition brew made from the blend of experimental hops donated by B.T. Loftus Ranches and YCH Hops. We crafted a special American pale and dubbed our brew, “Experimental Pale Ale.”

Since 2013, Ales for ALS breweries have raised over $1,250,000 for ALS research taking place at ALS TDI. “The breweries participating in Ales for ALS and the people who come to sample the beers are funding the necessary scientific efforts and providing real impact on the research here at the ALS Therapy Development Institute,” says Steve Perrin, Ph.D., CEO and CSO of ALS TDI. The institute and its scientists actively discover and develop treatments for ALS. It is the world’s first and largest nonprofit biotech focused 100 percent on ALS research.

For more information about Ales for ALS, participating breweries, festivals and events, please visit www.alesforals.com.

 

Hats & Tees!

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