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Big breweries turnover rates

When I was @ New Belgium taking their tour I remember the guide mentioning (quickly and moving on to the next topic) that they turn their beers over to be ready in as little as 10 days. Having only homebrew experience I was utterly floored by the idea of this. I figured given their equipment, ability to control temps, a particular strain of yeast, experience and knowledge I guess it had to be possible especially considering their success and the quality of some of their products.

Fast forward to a month ago when I’m taking another brewery tour and the brewer said that The Man expects their beers to be ready to keg in 7 days! I don’t care how aggressive your yeast strain is… it just sounds impossible to create or expect a quality product in that time frame. Am I crazy or is this a more common practice than I understand?

it’s extremely common for big breweries and brewpubs to have fast turnovers.

At the brewery I work for (20 bbl) we usually have our beers ready to keg in 7-11 days. With no perceivable off flavors or green beer going out the door. I’ve heard the larger batch sizes and pressure on the yeast help prevent off flavors from forming. In the end it’s about money, and meeting demand for our distributors.

I still give my homebrews 3 weeks to a month in the fermenter. It seems that practices on the homebrew scale do not directly translate to practices on the brewery scale.

also, another fun fact that might surprise you: we mash for an hour - but some brewerys mash for 15 minutes
:cheers:

(edit: we dont ferment under pressure. I was talking about the physical pressure from the quantity of beer on top of the yeast)

You can get pretty close to this if you ferment under pressure. There’s a loooong tread on the topic on homebrew talk which requires use of a spunding valve. I’ve recently been doing it with this method with great results:

The fastest I’ve done with this method from grain to glass is 10 days for an average gravity (~1.050). My process is:
Day 1: BIAB/No-chill in corny
Day 2: Pitch yeast
Day 5: Cap the fermentor
Day 10: Fermentation complete, and fully carbed, ready to transfer to serving corny

It definitely helps clarity to cold crash for a day and close transfer to the serving keg on day 11-12. I have also experimented with serving from the fermentor (from no-chill to serving all in the safe vessel). It definitely works, but I pulled a few oz of trub on the first glass for about 3 days, so unless you don’t mind dumping the first little bit it’s worth it to transfer.

With the above method I’ve been running my entire homebrew operation with 3 corny kegs. I’m the only drinker in the home, so I only have two kegs on tap. I have a 3rd keg that’s my fermentor that I try to keep full of fermenting brew. When one of my serving kegs blows, I sanitize it, and close transfer into it from my fermentor. Since my keg-emptying rate varies, sometimes my closed-pressurized fermenting brew will sit for a few weeks, but it’s usually closer to the 10 day schedule outlined above.

Addendum to the above; I tested my 10-day schedule above on a 1.080 OG RyePA. It took more like 4 days of cold crashing to fully clarify, so more like 14 days until I was drinking clear beer. It fully attenuated in that time, so unless I got lucky it seems like you can pull off a quick turn around on higher gravity brews too.

THey may be kegging at 7 or 10 days but will sit for a bit for delivery or waiting for their place on the tap line etc…so I bet your talking 15 to 20 days at least before it touches a consumer
It very possible to do this on a homebrew level depending on the beer. THey are not turning all their beers in 10 days. Cetain ones that lend to a quick turnaround.

our 9% IIPA takes about 12 days. We are a brewpub, so many of our beers go on tap the day they are kegged. They taste the same as the ones that get kegged a few days later. Many brewpubs do the same. Sometimes we’ll transfer them to serving tanks that go directly on tap.

I suppose a RIS or barleywine would take a bit longer. Especially if we decide to oak age
:cheers:

Well thanks for all the reassurance guys. I felt like a crazy person, and my ignorance was definitely getting the better of me.

:cheers: damn I love posting here.

Your going to want to keep these quick turn around beers under or around 1.050. Starting getting over 5 percent or so and it can get tricky

Yeah. Like I mentioned - what works on a big system, doesn’t always work on a small system. Kinda a bizarre phenomenon.

If I wanted fast turn around for my homebrews, I’d definitely keep the ABV low

Do commercial breweries have more ability to control variables such as temperature and pitching rate than the typical homebrewer?

I’m wondering if the difference has more to do with the quality (and consistency) of the fermentation than the size of the brew.

[quote=“bunderbunder”]Do commercial breweries have more ability to control variables such as temperature and pitching rate than the typical homebrewer?

I’m wondering if the difference has more to do with the quality (and consistency) of the fermentation than the size of the brew.[/quote]

I suppose we have better control than the average homebrewer. We have glycol jacketed fermenters that keep and regulate our fermentation temperature. We are familiar with how much yeast we need per batch - but we don’t do cell counts every time. We also ferment a bit warmer than what’s recommended from homebrewers - although we dont get the off flavors that would happen with the same temps on a homebrew scale (I think this is where the batch size makes a difference). Our fermentation temperature certainly helps the turnover rate. As do our familiarity of our yeast strain, and system.

Keep in mind this is all from the system I work on. Other breweries have slightly different practices.

[quote=“S.Scoggin”][quote=“bunderbunder”]Do commercial breweries have more ability to control variables such as temperature and pitching rate than the typical homebrewer?

I’m wondering if the difference has more to do with the quality (and consistency) of the fermentation than the size of the brew.[/quote]

I suppose we have better control than the average homebrewer. We have glycol jacketed fermenters that keep and regulate our fermentation temperature. We are familiar with how much yeast we need per batch - but we don’t do cell counts every time. We also ferment a bit warmer than what’s recommended from homebrewers - although we dont get the off flavors that would happen with the same temps on a homebrew scale (I think this is where the batch size makes a difference). Our fermentation temperature certainly helps the turnover rate. As do our familiarity of our yeast strain, and system.

Keep in mind this is all from the system I work on. Other breweries have slightly different practices.[/quote]

I’ve heard that breweries are able to get away with slightly higher fermentation temps due to the pressure of such a large batch. Even if they’re not intentionally fermenting under pressure, the yeasties toward the middle/bottom of the fermentor are bound to be under quite a bit of pressure due to the quantity of beer sitting on top of them. As I understand it, pressure allows for warmer fermentation without producing off-flavors.

This is the idea behind fermenting under pressure on the homebrew level. Since we’re only doing small batches, we can gain the benefit of the large batch by allowing a little pressure to build. There’s somebody (I think on that HBT thread) that ferments lagers at room temperature in a just weeks by using the pressure method. Interesting stuff.

indeed, that’s what i’ve heard as well.

[quote=“CliffordBrewing”]You can get pretty close to this if you ferment under pressure. There’s a loooong tread on the topic on homebrew talk which requires use of a spunding valve. I’ve recently been doing it with this method with great results:

[/quote]

Wow - I just read through the pdf you linked, and it really sounds worth a try. I’m the only one drinking my beer at home, so I could easily scale back my batches a bit to just under 5 gallons and still be happy.

I like how the beer is naturally carbed as fermentation finishes. That would really save on CO2. The best thing I see here is that the beer is ready so much faster. I’m definitely giving this a try. I’ve been leaning more towards lower-gravity beers, and this sounds perfect for that. I’ve been wanting to try a no-chill beer too, so this should work great. Thanks for the link.

:cheers:

[quote=“El Capitan”][quote=“CliffordBrewing”]You can get pretty close to this if you ferment under pressure. There’s a loooong tread on the topic on homebrew talk which requires use of a spunding valve. I’ve recently been doing it with this method with great results:

[/quote]

Wow - I just read through the pdf you linked, and it really sounds worth a try. I’m the only one drinking my beer at home, so I could easily scale back my batches a bit to just under 5 gallons and still be happy.

I like how the beer is naturally carbed as fermentation finishes. That would really save on CO2. The best thing I see here is that the beer is ready so much faster. I’m definitely giving this a try. I’ve been leaning more towards lower-gravity beers, and this sounds perfect for that. I’ve been wanting to try a no-chill beer too, so this should work great. Thanks for the link.

:cheers: [/quote]

Yep, it’s been working pretty slick for me! What’s funny is that when I talk to my brew buddies or to people at the LHBS about how I’ve been brewing, they’re first response is; “No, that won’t work. The yeast will die under pressure, so you won’t fully attenuate, plus your beer would be way too cloudy to drink!”. My answer to them is; “Oh, okay. Thanks for clarifying that; I’ll be sure to inform my last 15+ fully-attenuated, crystal-clear beers about that when I get home…”

Having said that, I have noticed that any beer with flaked grains is a little harder to get clear, but I think that’s true of any fermentation method. I had a rye that finally cleared after about 3 weeks, just before I emptied the keg.

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