Do My Job: Southern Barrel Brewing Company - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Do My Job: Southern Barrel Brewing Company

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Daybreak Traffic Reporter Alexandra Vitale stepped away from the studio this week to take on other jobs around the Coastal Empire. On tap Friday: craft beer. 

Alexandra worked as a brewmaster at Southern Barrel Brewing in Bluffton. 

"Okay, so Walter, I understand this is where all the magic happens in the beer making process," I said.

"Absolutely, this is brewery all the beer from scratch two guys out, what a coincidence. You are going to see brewing, transferring, kegging, a lot of sweat from both you and everyone here," said Walter Trifari, Southern Barrel Brewing.

"Alright, so we have a lot of work to do!"

Before the work of canning, I had to get a crash course on the beer making process which involves four raw ingredients: water, yeast, hops, and malts.

"I just wanted to show you a cross action of malt that we use. Malt is going to be barley, rye, or wheat; any kind of cereal grain. What you will notice is the barely is going to come from a field and be malted at a malting facility. What they are doing is, you notice all the little white specs here? That is all natural starch and that was created during the malting process, comes to a brewer, we expose the starch by cracking the grain and with the introduction of water, the enzymes create starch to sugar," Walter said.

Walter gave me a step by step tour of the brewing process.

"The grain falls in; this is where we create a mash."

The brewing side of the operation is impressive and hot. The stainless steel kettles generate a lot of heat.

"After 90 minutes of boiling is over, we spin the beer around, we get all the hop particles to settle, we send the beer out, but it's really hot and we can't let it be exposed to yeast. Yeast can't tolerate temps over 90 degrees, so it's 200 from boiling, so we go through something called a heat exchanger that is going to drop the temp to 68 degrees and from there it runs through red hoses and is introduced to fermenters.

Right now we have the door open one of our beer makers Matt is cleaning it out so this point on everything gets cold everything has to be clean and sanitized no questions asked.

Beer making is not a fast process. It takes days and even weeks before it's ready to drink. I learned fermentation takes time and cold temperatures. The yeast cell is then going to take in the sugar created then takes in sugar and when it does, it gives off two bi products; one being alcohol and one being CO2, hence, the fermentation. Once two or three days of fermentation chilled to be cold. 

We left the brewery side to take a break in the freezer.

"Alright, so this is where beer is kegged and served here in the tavern, but it’s also where we have an opportunity to keep the beer cold before it's delivered to a retailer or distributor," Walter said. 

I also got a quick lesson on hops, which Southern Brewery stores in the freezer.

"The hop cone is a female flower off a perennial vine. Put some in your hands and rub them together, give them a good sniff. They smell so good, very tropical. "These are Citra hops, the newest coolest hops out in the last five or six years. They put out some tropical notes to a beer. They do process them to a pellet because they break up to a slurry and they are very easy to use in a machine," Walter said. 

"You notice the stickiness on your hands," Walter asked. "Those are the oils that create a bitterness in the beer. These hops can be added later on and that's called dry hopping."

"That is so neat and smells so great," I said. 

"You know we talked about all the raw ingredients, we talked about the process...are you picking it up," he asked me.

"Yeah! I think I am learning a lot, that's for sure, I am ready to go drink a beer maybe, well drinking is after we do a little work," I laughed. 

Time to get to work! First up, helping Walter unload 55-pound bags of grain on to wooden pallets. My next task - the assembly line, catching cans, passing cans on a belt to be put in a freezer.

"I am keeping up! I am impressed! Maybe you can hire me," I laughed. 

The automated canning process was very cool to see in action. Empty aluminum cans ended up full of locally brewed craft beer. Those full cans don't stack themselves. We loaded them up on pallets and used a jack to get them back into the cold.

"There ya go! Alright, not too bad," Walter said.

"Now, I am one of the crew! Are you going to hire me now,' I joked.

"I don't see why not! You did a great job today," he said.

"Thanks! Alright, now we get to do the best part. Cheers!"

Of course, the Southern Barrel Brewing Company is just one of many locally-owned brew houses in South Carolina and Georgia.

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