OVERVIEW OF BREWING, DISTILLING, & WINE MAKING
Michigan is currently seeing a rapid increase in the popularity of craft & microbreweries, wineries, vineyards, distilleries, Apple orchards, and hard cider manufacturers. The local watering hole has undergone a massive transformation recently, with craft beverages being readily available just about anywhere. Cities such as Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids have more craft breweries than just about anywhere in the U.S., while West Michigan hard cider production is quickly growing, and the wine growing regions of Leelanau, Traverse City, Fenn Valley, and Southwest Michigan seeing increased popularity.
This rapid increase in craft beverage manufacturing has resulted in a substantially increased demand for brewing, distillation, and wine making equipment. Regardless of the scale of your operation, from the smallest nano-brewery to the largest mass production winery, RMS Pros has extensive experience in the beverage manufacturing industry. We have installed microbrewery cooling systems throughout West Michigan, as well as several distillery chilling systems in Grand Rapids, MI.
BREWING, DISTILLING, AND WINE MAKING EQUIPMENT
Brewing, distilling, and wine making require strict temperature regulation during fermentation, adequate chilled water supplies, the ability to quickly chill the wort or mash tun, and specific temperature requirements for wine ageing and storage facilities. In addition to specific chilling requirements, RMS Pros is also experienced with the complete line up of beverage making equipment. Some of our experience includes the following equipment.
- Malt mills
- Brew kettles
- Fermentation tanks
- Filtration equipment
- Bottling/canning equipment
- Hot water tanks
- Cold water tanks
- Glycol cooling systems
- Brewery Wort Chillers
- Brewing kettles
- Fermentation tanks
- Stills (distillation)
- Ageing equipment (barrels)
- Bottling equipment
- Wort heat exchangers
WINERY EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
- Grape crushers
- Fermentation tanks
- Ageing tanks & barrels
- Winery glycol chillers
THE BREWING PROCESS
The beer brewing process is complex and filled with intricacies. Every craft brewery has its own unique steps, secret ingredients, and specific process. The basic overview of brewing is as follows:
- Mill & malt grain - This creates the base of the beer, and is the source of the sugar that the yeast will consume to produce alcohol and carbonation.
- Mashing – Next the malt grain is mixed with water where it is then boiled to create the mash. The heating of the mash results in chemical reactions that create the easily digestible sugars such as maltose.
- Lautering – In order to create a more palatable liquid, the solid parts must be separated from the liquid, sugary substance. Lautering removes these spent grain solids, resulting in the creation of a foamy substance known as wort.
- Boil – After the wort has been created, it must be boiled for a period of time, depending on the type of beer being created. This results in a completely sterile liquid ready for the introduction of yeast. The wort is an extremely sweet substance, so in order to counteract this, hops are added, which add bitter and other aromatic notes. Hops may be added in different varieties, quantities, and at different stages, depending on the desired effect.
- Ferment – The most important step is turning the sugar water into a carbonated alcoholic beverage! In order to accomplish this, the wort must be cooled to a highly specific temperature at a precise rate. Cooling the wort too fast or slow could result in undesirable flavors. Not cooling the wort enough could kill the yeast when it is introduced. Temperature regulation is of the utmost importance at this stage. Once the desired temperature is reached, the wort is transferred to a fermentation tank and yeast is added. The yeast digest the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide as the byproducts.
- Conditioning – The conditioning stage is an optional cooling stage that begins to slowly deactivate and remove the yeast.
- Filtering – At this point, the beer is very near the finished product. Depending on the desired product, various amounts of filtering may be performed to create clarity.
- Filling – The finished product is then either added to barrels for ageing for some varieties, or can immediately go into bottling, canning, or added to kegs.
THE DISTILLATION PROCESS
Creating distilled spirits and liquor is quite similar to the beer making process. You begin with a sugar-rich fermentable substance, such as grain, vegetable, or fruit juice. The distillation process simply removes excess water, resulting in higher alcohol contents and very different flavor profiles. The process is as follows:
- Brew and Ferment vegetable or fruit juice. Similar to brewing, the liquor version of the wort, the mash tun, must be cooled to the correct temperature at the correct rate.
- Distill to remove diluting compounds such as water. During the distillation process, the alcoholic liquid is boiled and the resulting steam runs through a condensing unit, which cools it, resulting in a higher alcohol content liquid.
- Distilled spirits such as Bourbon or whiskey are then often aged in wooden barrels, or clear spirits can go straight into bottling.
THE WINE MAKING PROCESS
The wine making process relies almost exclusively on grapes, but can also utilize cherries and apples. The juice is extracted from fruit and then fermented with either naturally occurring or added yeast. For red wines, the red grapes enter primary fermentation with their skins intact. White wines require the removal of the juice and separation from the skins. During primary fermentation, which lasts approximately two weeks, the yeast digests the natural sugars of the grapes, creating alcohol. Next, a malo-lactic conversion occurs, converting malic acid to lactic acid by bacteria, which softens the wine. Finally, the wine may be aged in wooden barrels to develop different flavor profiles and add the tannins of the wood, or bottled directly.