Bob Brewer answers your questions about the world of craft beer and brewing.
Bob: The easy answer is when they’re ripe. Hops usually ripen, if that’s the proper term, in late summer/early fall. The plant is a fast-growing perennial that dies back every year. The cones are ready for harvest when the vine, technically called a “bine,” has reached its maximum growth and the cones have a readily discernible fragrance, as well as a slightly sticky feel. They should also be harvested before the plant begins to turn brown and begins its annual die back.
Anthony: How much faster is your new plate and frame filter than the old one?
Bob: It’s not necessarily any faster than the old one because the pumps, centrifuge, and pasteurizer still run at the same speed. The big difference is that there is a lot more filter surface, which means that we can run much longer and filter more beer between filter pad changes. This saves the time it takes to shut down, change out, and restart the system in mid-run. We also eliminate the beer loss associated with priming the filter after every pad change, which can be considerable. What we have gained is greater efficiency, rather than greater speed.
Joe: What do you do with the spent grains?
Bob: A dairy farmer purchases the spent grains for use as cattle feed.
Linda: What do you do during “maintenance?” Scrubbing or mechanical?
Bob: Both. We like to keep things really clean, and we also like to keep up on routine mechanical things so we don’t have any breakdowns during operation.
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