Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mini Josie visit a Brewery in Houston, TX

Today my host took me to visit the Saint Arnold Brewery! They're a local brewery that makes craft beer in this building downtown. 

This is the mural of Saint Arnold himself from when you first walk in the door. Did you know he is the patron saint of brewers? It's because back in the day, water wasn't sterilized before people drank it so often times drinking the water made you sick. But Saint Arnold who was a Bishop back then walked around and told people to drink beer instead. The reason beer didn't make you sick like water is because part of the process to make beer involves boiling it, which kills off a lot of the bacteria and microbes, making it sterile and safe to drink.

Onward to the beer hall!

No beer beyond this point? But this is a brewery! It's filled with nothing but beer! Apparently it is against the law to have beer in the brewery part of the building (aside of the stuff being made). 

Every visitor to the brewery received this cool beer glass with some drink tokens at the bottom! More on that later. I was so awesome the lady behind the counter gave me a glass for my very own. 

This is the first room and first step of how beer is is made. Basically you need 4 ingredients to make beer: Water, Hops, Yeast, and Malt (which is basically a grain like wheat or barley which is heated and dried). In the first step they mix the malt with the water and heat it into a mushy paste until the sugars are all released. 

Hops are then added to the mix. Hops are these funny small, green cone like things that grow on vines. They're what give beer it's flavor, and used to add bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the sugars. If it was me, I wouldn't add any! Why would you make beer bitter when you could drink sugar water? But the tour guide said it also acts to preserve the beer and make it last a long time.

After that, we went to the next part of the process. If you thought the giant boilers were big before, check out these! This is where the mixture comes after the hops are added. It's cooled before the final ingredient, yeast is added. That's because if it's too hot, the yeast will be killed, and yeast is what actually converts the sugar to alcohol. The beer sits in these giant tanks to ferment until it's ready.

The fermentation process can be anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks depending on what kind of beer they want to make. Light beers are more bitter and ferment for a shorter period of time. Another thing... this room was HOT! There was no air conditioning because if the yeast got too cool, they wouldn't be able to work, so instead, they had a giant fan. 

When it's ready, the beer can be stored in bottles, cans, and barrels, like this one! Hi-ho! A pirate's life for me! Shhhhhh! I'm sitting where the plug is supposed to be.

Each of the giant fermenting tanks are named. Some are after actual saints, and some are named after people who helped start the brewery, and they even raised the money for one of the fermenting tanks by auctioning off the name to the highest bidder on eBay! Geez, you can buy anything these days. 

There were so many of these fermentation tanks! Saint Arnold makes 67,000 barrels of beer each year. Sounds like a lot right? Well get this, Budweiser makes over 6 MILLION barrels of beer a year! 

This is the room where the beer is packaged and put into bottles and prepared for shipping. We couldn't go in here because it's got to be a sterile room after all. 

After the tour, we went into the big drinking hall of the building and it's exactly what it sounds like. Since you can't legally have beer in the brewery or sell beer at the premise, this is where those drink tokens come into play! What the brewery technically does is sell tickets to tour the brewery and they give you 4 tokens for drinks afterwards in the drinking hall. 

The tokens have the name of one of the ingredients for making beer on them. Do you remember what they were? There were 2 beer dispensing stations serving different types of beers and you give the person there one of your tokens and tell them which type of beer you want to try. My host said she couldn't drink 4 glasses of beer so she said I could have these to take home! Maybe Lissie can turn them into chocolate tokens.

Saint Arnold was originally thought up by a college student at Rice University who brewed beer in his dorm room and decided to turn it into a business. Genius comes in all forms!

And that's the tour!

To see more of Josie’s adventures, click here to view her Travel Log!

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