In May of 2009 I had a chance to visit the Magic hat brewing company in South Burlington Vermont. That’s one of the perks of being a journalist covering the malt beverage industry. Visiting breweries and brewpubs and meeting the brewers in the folks they work with makes my profession truly enjoyable. Very early on I found out that brewers not only enjoy brewing beer they enjoy talking to people about it. Understanding what you are writing about naturally involves seeing how it’s made.
Most of the brewing process is not terribly exciting. For starters the process of grinding the malt and mixing the different malts together is a less than dramatic. Mash tuns are basically cauldrons filled with boiling malted barley mush. Brew kettles are similar in appearance and, other than watching the brewer add hops every once in a while, there is little of interest to see. Chilling the beer before it is sent to the fermenter involves the excitement of watching the beer pass through the clear glass tube.
For real excitement nothing beats an open fermentation. The following video clip shows the open fermentation area at Magic Hat. These yeasts were particularly enthusiastic. As you can see, the assistant brewer has to maintain discipline.