The likes of Sony and Google had humble beginnings and were started by all of two highly motivated, brilliant people. Make that three in the case of Apple and Mattel. In less than five years from now (give or take), you’re going to be able to say that about Great State Aleworks, too! This Pune-based budding production-only microbrewery is shooting for the stars, and is already halfway there.
I happened to chance upon a brewery tour they were conducting so they could educate the masses about craft beer, and fell in love with their DIY-ish setup, the brews, the brand and the people behind it all. There’s a few reasons for this, the foremost being the sincerity with which they brew – these guys are the real deal. They love experiments, they’re bold, they’re crazy, and their reach is on point with popups, microparties, festivals, and now – permanent taps at carefully selected restaurants like Ales, Brews and Ciders and Mr. Rabbit’s Bar and Burrow.
A bit on the tour and the brewing process, then –
Any alcoholic beverage is made by fermenting sugars into alcohol (and a byproduct; like Carbon Dioxide in the case of beer). Take wine for example, the sugar comes from the grapes. In the case of beer, the sugar comes from the malt – the most commonly used malt being barley. The grain goes through a process called malting (germinating the grain and then roasting it at different levels to give different types of malt with different characteristics).
This is then crushed or ‘milled’ on-site (because the resulting powdery mixture has a short shelf-life) and added to hot water in a process called mashing, inside a huge vessel called a mash tun, so that naturally present enzymes can convert starches to fermentable sugars (here’s your eureka moment – this is where the sugars come from!).
Next in line is a process called lautering where spent grain are separated from the sugary mixture and a clear, sweet ‘wort’ is transferred to a brewing kettle. Here’s where the wort gets boiled with the bittering and aroma agent – the hops.
Fun fact – the hops also play the part of a preservative!
Once boiled together for a calculated amount of time, at a pre-determined temperature, the hops are separated and the resulting liquid is brought down to a temperature suitable for fermentation inside the large stainless steel fermentation vessels you see in the very first photo.
Here, yeast converts the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide (some of which gets dissolved in the beer) and the output is often matured for final conditioning before kegging or bottling. How long do you ferment it? Till you get the desired density of the resulting liquid (measured in terms of specific gravity). As the sugar is ‘eaten up’ by the yeast to produce ethanol, the density reduces, and when it reaches the desired level, you stop the process. There you go! Easy peasy! 🙂
Here’s some of the kickass brews they’ve brewed and had us sample as part of the tour (and as part of some other beer tasting events I’ve additionally attended) –
(Please click on the photos to open a new window for tasting notes)
They keep experimenting as I’ve already mentioned and keep coming up with unique beers in small batches to keep the excitement levels high! 🙂