This was my first visit to a microbrewery and the first impression I got was that the scale of the set-up was larger than I had expected. A large mash tun and kettle was surrounded by six large fermenters, two of which were being used as bright tanks. Other equipement included a heat exchanger, hot liquor tank, filter and of course a large boiler.
The equipment had been sourced second hand in the US and looks to be top quality. It was interesting to hear about the brew day problems that Thom (on the left in the picture above) had encountered, very similar to home brew headaches that would be experienced when using unfamiliar equipment. Stuck mashes were a current problem to be figured out as was the ability to get consistantancy in the batches.
|ICB members desend on Trouble's brewery|
As would be expected from a group of homebrewers with aspirations to one day follow Trouble's lead, there was a plethora of questions for Thom to answer, which he duly did. One interesting comment he made to me was that if you are an all-grain brewer then what they do is no different, it's just a matter of understanding the scale and getting used to the equipment.
From L to R, Thom (Trouble Brewing), Sean and John (ICB)
Discussing the brewing process for Ór, Thom gave us an insight into the ingredients for their flagship beer. Maris Otter pale malt is the base malt, also included is Munich malt. The hops are a combination of Northdown, Challenger and Cascade, while the yeast is US-05 dry yeast, incidentally the same yeast I use for the majority of my homebrew batches. While this sounds like an average ingredients list for a homebrewer, where the difference lies is in the scale. In each batch Thom pitches 1kg of dry yeast, while the hops come in 1kg bags.
|Slighty Larger than my Mash Tun at home|
On the bus journey home, I am sure I was not the only ICB member to be digesting the days events and thinking of how I could transform my homebrew hobby into a commercial enterprise. For most of us it will only ever by an unfulfilled aspiration, however it would be fantastic for more homebrewers in Ireland to make the leap into commercial brewing, I for one will be sure to be supprting them every step of the way.
Trouble Brewing's Ór is currently available in a select number of pubs, including a regular rotation on the guest tap in the Bull & Castle in Dublin, go on, why not get into some Trouble!