The Granite Brewery uses wholly natural ingredients in its brewing process. These ingredients include Canadian 2 row barley malt from western Canada, caramel malt which provides flavour and colour and black malt (from England) which yields additional colour. Crushed Canadian wheat flour is used for head retention. Wheat malt is used in the Summer Ale only. Our beers are all grain brews, without adjuncts such as rice or corn.
Hops are added during the brewing process to add bittering and aroma characteristics. We use two hop varieties in a concentrated pellet form from Washington State. They are called Fuggles and Cascade hops. Goldings hops from England are used in Greenman Organic Ale and the India Pale Ale.
The Granite's ales are "Real Ale", meaning all natural ingredients are used as described above. It is not run through a mechanical filter. Isinglass finings are added during the conditioning stage to clear the beer. A centuries old method of filtering, Isinglass finings are obtained from the Sturgeon fish. Positively charged they react with the negatively charged yeast cell to form "flocs" which settle to the bottom of the vessel.
Since Real Ale requires hard water gypsum is added during the mashing process to achieve this.
Operation of the Brewery in Sequence
The brewing process begins with "mashing in". The grain which has been cracked in a roller mill is placed in the hopper over the mash tun. This crushed barley malt is then soaked with hot water (160 degrees F) until it reaches a porridge like consistency. The capacity of the mash tun is 1000 litres including water and grain. After sitting in the mash tun for 1.5 hours the mashing process is complete and the brownish liquid (now called wort) is transferred slowly to the Copper/Whirlpool or Brew Kettle. During this transfer hot water is sprayed on the top of the grains to "sparge" it up to ensure all the ingredients of the grains are transferred. The spent grain that is left in the mash tun makes great animal feed so it is dug out and sold to farmers.
The wort is brought to a boil in the kettle. When the wort starts to boil the bittering hops are added. The kettle is closed and allowed to boil for one hour. Five minutes before the end of the boil aroma hops are added. The wort is then recirculated to form a whirlpool for 25 minutes. It then is allowed to settle out for 35 minutes. These steps are critical to the process. The hops determine the ultimate flavour of the brew and boiling the wort is the first step in sterilization of the product.
The wort is now transferred to the fermentation vessel through a heat exchanger. The temperature is dropped from the boiling point (212 F) to 68 degrees F immediately. As the fermentor is being filled a top fermenting ale yeast is added is added to the wort. The Granite Brewery uses a 100 year old yeast strain from the Ringwood Brewery in England. The yeast produces alcohol and natural carbon dioxide with the alcohol changing the wort to beer. The fermentation process takes 7 days until the desired level of alcohol is reached and the yeast settles out to some degree.
This is monitored through the specific gravity of the beer. Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of the beer to the density of water (1000). A hydrometer is used to measure the gravlty. Peculiar has more grain added to the brew and therefore is a "denser" liquid and has a higher original (specific) gravity (1056) than Best Bitter (1046).
The beer is then transferred to the conditioning tanks where the Isinglass finings are added. The beer is the allowed to condition for one week and is chilled to 45 degrees F. The beer is then transferred to the Bright Beer tank where is pumped to the bar using a food grade gas (70% Nitrogen and 30% Carbon Dioxide). Summer Ale, Stout and the dry hopped Best Bitter are cask conditioned meaning the beer is moved from the fermentor to a 40 litre cask called a "firkin" where it is alowed to clarify with the addition of the same finings. The dry hopped Best Bitter is served through a traditonal hand pump. It is now ready to drink at a serving temperature of about 46 degrees F, warmer than the typical Canadian draught (38 degrees F) but cooler than similar ales in England (56 degrees F)!