Stable Craft’s Brewing Process: A Labor of Love

Malted barley waiting for the mill.

Stable Craft Brewing just expanded its market by over 50% and can now be found in a local Virginia retailer near you. Take a look behind the scenes, as we talk about our brewing process.

Craft breweries are incredibly popular, especially in Virginia, but few may know the actual extent of what it takes to make beer. Fortunately, Chris Fann, head brewer at Stable Craft Brewing, possesses a wealth of knowledge and is willing to share it.

Fann has been the head brewer at Stable Craft for over a year, but his experience in the industry goes back almost five years. He started by cleaning kegs and worked his way up to brewing beer. Fann now makes all of the recipes for Stable Craft, which has 16 beers on tap in the brewery’s tasting room with a new small batch release every other week. These beers are also available in restaurants, bars and taverns and, just recently, in bottles at grocery and convenience stores.

Chris Fann starts the brewing process off by measuring out various malts and adding them to mill.

Chris Fann adding various malts to the mill.

I like tasting the nuisances in craft beer and then creating those nuisances myself, Fann said.

The brewing process starts at Stable Craft when Fann and Issac Peglow, assistant brewer, fill the mash tun, a device used to convert starches from crushed grains into sugars for fermentation, with water being added until the water level in the machine is above its false bottom. Once the false bottom is covered, Fann adds malt to the mill.

Malt is a germinated cereal grain that has been dried. The specific type of malt used in the brewery’s Appalachian Divide, an easy drinking ale, is sour malt.

The mash tun – hot water is added to the malts here.

As the malt enters the mash tun, it is sprayed with water via the mash hydrator. Fortunately, Stable Craft operates on well water and is not required to go through the extra steps city water requires, such as chloride filtration.

The mash rake, which looks like an enormous fork, rotates in a perfect circle to mix the grain evenly in the mash tun. The rake prevents “dough balls” that could otherwise form, Fann said.

Once mashing is finished, the brewer rests the product for 20 minutes before moving onto the next stage, known as vorlauf. Vorlauf is when the wort, or liquid extracted from mashing, is clarified. In practice, vorlauf simply looks like the mixture is recirculated with the mash rake.

After vorlauf, the next stage of brewing is sparging, and it takes about an hour and a half to sparge the beer. For sparging, water is added to the top of the grain bed, and, subsequently, the wort is gravity fed into the kettle. The brewer adds hops to the mash in the kettle.

Katherine Hensley taking notes on the brewing process.

Ten minutes before the boil is complete in the kettle, Fann also adds a yeast nutrient and Whirlfloc, an Irish moss blend, which acts as a kettle fining agent by pulling trub, or unwanted sediment, to the bottom of the kettle.

The mixture goes through a 10-minute whirlpool after boiling. This is when the Whirlfloc does its job and pulls unwanted materials to the bottom of the kettle. The mixture rests for 20 minutes after the whirlpool.

Between boiling and fermentation, Fann runs hot water to sanitize the heat exchanger. The fermentation tanks have already been sanitized beforehand and are ready to go. A blow-off tube is placed in a bucket filled with water beside the fermentation tank for the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast during the fermentation process.

The wort is pumped from the bottom of the kettle into the heat exchanger and then, lastly, into the fermentation tank. Fermentation takes about a week for Appalachian Divide. During this time, the yeast will convert the sugars in the wort to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

After fermentation, Appalachian Divide is filtered and moved into a bright beer tank where it stays for about a day. The level of carbon dioxide is adjusted in the bright beer tank with a carbonation stone.

The final step is bottling or kegging Appalachian Divide and distributing it to Virginia’s craft beer drinkers.

appalachian Divide

The finished product, ready to enjoy.


What Are We Smoking?

(Why a fresh array of meat, of course)
Stable Craft has been taking full of advantage of the smoker located right outside our taproom. Nothing warms the soul or whets the appetite more, than the delicious aroma of meat smoking. And there is that joyous feeling of smelling your dinner cook; while you kick back and enjoy that farm fresh brew – nothing can be more relaxing.
 
smoker
 
At Stable Craft Brewing, we keep the fresh smoked pulled pork on our menu daily for your enjoyment…but then, Friday rolls around, and we shake things up a bit. (Except beer, that is no bueno!)
 
The rotation is never the same and we are always looking for suggestions on what to smoke next so don’t miss the next fun and exciting smoker night! Currently in our rotation: (Let your taproom server know of if you have a favorite suggestion to add to our line-up…let’s have some fun with this).
 
 
prime-rib
Fresh Smoked Prime Rib
Just one question..is there really anything more stunning than a perfect cut of Prime Rib delivered to your table? It is possible that here at Stable Craft, we may have found a way to one up that wonderful feeling of joy when your Prime Rib is within sight. We, at Stable Craft, have teamed up with McNette Angus Beef Co., from right down the road, to bring you locally-raised farm fresh Angus beef, quite possibly the freshest cut of Prime Rib, you could ever dream of. When enjoying this Prime Rib, you will be introduced to a heavenly smoked flavor on the skin of this Prime Rib, followed by a delicious, melt in your mouth pink center. Barley fed, medium rare, locally-smoked decadence.
 
 
smokedwings
Smoked Chicken Wings
We’ve figured out a way to make your favorite all-time snack food even better. Stable Craft slow smokes large chicken wings to juicy perfection. Our wings are served up with that evening’s variety of scratch-made dry rubs, buffalo or BBQ sauces. We serve up these delectable wings with our own secret recipe chunky blue cheese dip and a side of crisp celery to complete the entire smoked wing experience.
 
 
brisket
Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
There is this little rumor that brisket can be a tough cut of meat. Here at Stable Craft, we challenge that notion. We’ve figured out that brisket is perfect meat to slap on the ole smoker. Homemade BBQ sauce, plus hours of low-heat smoking, make this a luscious, tender cut of meat – fit for a king (or queen, or even your little prince and princess).
 
 
screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-1-59-51-pm
Smoked BBQ Ribs
One of life’s greatest pleasures is a rack of ribs smoked to pure perfection. Stable Craft has gotten the science of smoked ribs down to the bone. Of which the meat will fall right off, of said bone. These ribs are smoked all day to give them the flavor your taste buds crave and desire. Once these ribs are pulled, we sauce them down and serve them up- just the way you like. Served with a sweet bbq sauce to complement the smokey flavor of these ribs!
 
 

The Farm Fresh Fixins’
To accompany whatever we may be smoking that day, our in-house chef, Gary, makes all the sides from scratch – to pair deliciously with the main course of the day. Gary is constantly trying new flavor combinations and this keeps things fresh and appealing. Scratch-made mac & cheese with gouda, spinach and tomato, or perfectly stuffed twice-baked potatoes are just some of Gary’s creations. Fresh mixed greens with scratch-made dressings round out this one-of-a-kind dining experience and add a bit of healthy green to that dinner plate.
 

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