Ottertail Country

Ottertail Country
Ottertail South

September 6, 2009

Brewing at The Dane


Almost two months ago I made a trip to Wausau to join Pete McCabe for a day of brewing fun at the Great Dane. I used to talk about Hereford and Hops in Wausau, where Rosie has worked for a few years, but now that is closed and the place was bought out by The Great Dane. The Dane is a Madison based brewpub business with a great food menu and great beer. You need to visit the Dane's website for general photos of the brew pub, as I forgot to get any general photos.....
Anyway, I went there on a Saturday to help brew up a batch of Scotch Ale, always a favorite at the Wausau Dane.
Double click on these photos for a larger view, hit the 'backspace' key to return to blog.......

It's been a while since this occurred, so some details may be incorrect, partially correct, or pretty far off the beam, but here goes. I arrived at 9:00 A.M. and we headed down to the lower level where all the malted barley grains are kept.

We sorted out many bags of various grains, included pilsen, victory, caramel 40 & 60(darkness of the roasted grains), munich, cara pils, chocolate.... I think that's all.

Otter malt?? They must have been thinking of the Ottertail Lodge when they developed this.....

We used over 1000# of the Pilsen malt, and the others were measured out in quantities from 30# to 80#. This is Pete weighing out the last of the grains

Here are a couple of views of the upper brewing area. It's enclosed by floor to ceiling glass on the West side, and it adjoins the restaurant on the East. You can see the brew room from the restaurant. To the left of the copper tanks are three big stainless fermentation tanks. There are there more on the other side of the room.

There are two large copper vessels in the center, one a brew kettle, the other is the lauter tun. The wort (pronounced wert) is produced by extracting sugars from the grains so that the yeast has something to eat. The 'yeast eating sugar' process yields two main byproducts, alcohol and carbon dioxide. This link gives a good, brief explanation of the process.

Here is a look at the little chain mechanism that carried the ground grains from the lower level grinder to the hopper above the lauter tun. It's an endless chain with little disks, each carrying a small amount of grain through the series of tubes seen here. It seemed like a strange way to do it as it took forever to move that quantity of grain to the hopper.....

Opposite the brew kettle and lauter tun was the work area for checking specific gravity of the wort, checking pH, and all the other little tasks involved. In the background you can see an empty fermentation tank with the orange hose draped over it.

Here is the main pump distribution panel. The single pump for the whole system was behind this panel and by connecting one of the 'U' shaped pipes to the appropriate valves, you can direct liquid from the sparge water tank to the tun, or wort to the brew kettle, or boiled wort to the fermenter.... or what ever. We were constantly changing these short pipes. If I had to do this on a regular basis, I would make a manifold of some sort that would re-direct the flow without taking this junk apart all the time.

Here is a view inside the tun, with the rotating rake arms. This was nearly full with grain after we slowly ran the grains in the top along with some very hot water. The rake arms kept the mixture moving and ensured that all the grain was thoroughly mixed into the water.

Here is a view of where the hopper lets the grain into the tun. We had a clog in the inlet and had to take it apart and try to keep the grain from getting away from us. A minor mess ensued and we again had the grain flowing into the tun.

There were plenty of temperature indicators, flow volume gauges, etc. This it showing the temp of the sparge water coming into the tun with the grain, 174°, and 153 gallons so far.

Yes, even a brewery has a need for duct tape and plastic wire ties...... You know, this read about duct tape is almost as interesting as the brewing story!!

Here is a view of the brew kettle partially full of the wort we have collected from the sparged grains. It had a lot of darker grains, the caramel 60 and the chocolate, so the wort was quite dark and the foam looked like cinnamon and sugar on extra pie crust........ anyone still do that with left over pie crust dough???

I spent alot of time looking into this access hole on the brew kettle. The incoming liquid looked quite yummy and soon we would turn the heat on and boil this stuff for a couple hours.

Please see the following post to complete this tale.....



Anonymous said...

This whole procedure makes my head spin!!!! Yes, I remember using left over pie crust for something good to munch on with cinnamon and sugar on the top. Would roll out the crust, put cinnamon and sugar on top and bake. Sounds like you had a good time at this brewery in Wausau. So glad to see something at the blog.


Carlo said...

I thought that even if no one reads this thing, it's a way for me to remember some things that have gone on, how this place looks at different times of year, etc. It takes some time and effort to do, but maybe after my two month hiatus I will keep at it again.....

Anonymous said...

Both posts were great! :) Nice pics, didn't know you had your camera along. Glad it finally worked out, we tried for how many years for you to get in on a brew day at H&H??? ~Rosie

Anonymous said...

I would like to see those tanks full of sour mash.

Anonymous said...

Way too technical! I'm impressed you remembered all of the details for the whole process!

Cinnamon and sugar on pie crust is a favorite in this family! Sometimes we'll use an entire pie crust that way - not just the leftovers!

Thanks for blogging again - missed it this summer!

Toni said...

I love this!!!! Seeing brewing of this scale up close is truely amazing. Thanks for posting this!