Subject: Anderson Valley brewpub visit
Date: 1992-03-30 23:44:21 GMT
I visited the Anderson Valley Brewery in Booneville, California, this Sunday
(3/29/92). Here is a review and a description of their brewing process, as
described on a tour of the brewery.
The brewpub is excellent, serving their beers (natch) and terrific food. They
had all the ingredients for their brews posted on the wall next to the bar. I
can provide a list for anyone who's interested.
They store their 2-row pale malt in the 25 K-gal tank out front, and funnel it
in for brewing as needed. A batch is either 310 or 620 gallons. Their brew
kettles and fermentation vessels are 400 and 900 gallons, for single and double
They begin mashing at 5 PM, and allow the mash to sit at temperature all night.
The next morning, the brewer begins the drain/sparge, which takes about 90
minutes. The sweet wort is transferred to the brew kettle, where it takes about
30 minutes to bring 310 gallons of wort to a boil, using a propane burner that
provides 880 KBTU per hour. The hops are added every 30 minutes, and the boil
itself lasts 90 minutes. They filter off the whole hops as the wort comes out
of the kettle. The wort is cooled with a fancy counter-current heat
exchanger and oxygenated with bottled oxygen.
They use Whitbread ale yeast to ferment all their beers. They buy it in 1-kg
foil-wrapped blocks, use it for 15-17 generations (5 batches per generation),
then buy fresh again. Fermentation takes place in a cool room with
freon-jacketed fermenters. They are roughly cylindrical, with cone-shaped
bases and a valve at the bottom to drain off the trub/yeast sediment. Primary
fermentation is at 65F, then the sediment is drained and a 55F secondary begins.
They use blow-off tubes which lead to 5-gallon buckets of bleach water. All
four fermenters were going full blast while we we were shown around, and one
even had thick brown foam surging all over the floor from the blow-off bucket.
After the secondary, the beer is chilled to 2F and run through a
horizontal-plate diatomaceous earth filter to reduce chill haze. The tour
guide stressed that they do not sterile-filter, which they feel would remove
too much color and flavor.
The filtered beer is transferred to a refrigerated room into conditioning and
maturation tanks, where it is carbonated under pressure with CO2 tanks. They
use a neat device called a "Zahm-meter" (sp?) to test for proper carbonation
level. It's a little canister with a pressure gauge on the side that you fill
up with beer and then shake for 5 minutes. You check the thermometer and the
pressure and compare the readings to a chart to see how well-carbonated the beer
The beer for the pub is fed directly from the cold room to the taps upstairs.
They bottle using a 1946 vintage 12-head counter-pressure filler, which one of
the owners picked up while visiting Milwaukee for a brewing convention. He
saw it sitting outside one of the big breweries and bought it for a song. It
has allowed them to go from bottling 56 cases per day to a max of 215 cases per
day, although they still use a hand labeler, so to label 215 cases takes two
more days .
Their beer is distributed to most of CA, and also NC, RI, VA, NH, NY, DC and
recently, CO, NV, and WA. They just shipped their first 750 cases to Colorado
in a refrigerated truck from...Coors! It had just dropped off a load of Silver
Bullet in the Bay Area and took back 26 pallets of Anderson Valley brew. Hmm,
I think Colorado got the better deal, somehow.
The gift shop sells t-shirts and stuff, but also a couple of books on brewpubs:
"On Tap: The guide to US brewpubs," by Steve Johnson (WBR Publications,
Clemson) and "Brewery Adventures in the Wild West," by Jack Erickson (Redbrick
Press, Reston, VA). You can also get a copy of "Boontling: An American lingo,"
by Charles C. Addams (U. of Texas Press). This book will help you figure
out what the weird names of AV brews mean. "Boontling" is a peculiar local
jargon which the locals have used in the past to confuse outsiders and now use
as tourist material. For example, their "Barney Flats" oatmeal stout refers to
the Hendy Woods Redwood state park nearby, and "Poleeko Gold" pale ale is
named after Philo, the next town down the road ("Poleeko" == Philo in "Boont").
-Jerome Rainey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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