How to make 20,000 pints of beer.

Picture of How to make 20,000 pints of beer.
There are several projects here for small-scale home brewing.

I thought I'd find out how they do it properly.

I turned to the Adnams Brewery, and enlisted the help of their Quality Manager, Belinda Jennings, who I first met in a field in Suffolk...

Step 1: Raw materials

Picture of Raw materials
The thing about brewing is that there are no secret ingredients.

Water, malt, hops, yeast.  That's it, for a proper beer.

What affects the final flavour is the way these things are treated.

The softness of the water, how dark the malt is roast, the species of hop, the strain of yeast.

Malt adds sweetness, and provides the sugar for fermentation.  Hops add bitterness, especially to balance the sweetness of the malt, and the yeast, of course, turns the sugar into alcohol.

Most brewers (Adnams included) will happily give their recipes, but they won't give their yeast - established brewers have strains that are slightly different to other brewers' strains, and so affect the flavours.  Adnams have been using the same strain of yeast since 1945.

Edbed9 days ago
Could u also go round their distillery ;)
Kiteman (author)  Edbed9 days ago

I could now, but the distillery wasn't open to the public in 2009...

That's cool. Did you do this for a class project, or just for fun?
Kiteman (author)  Yard Sale Dale1 year ago
Ha, just for fun and personal interest.
Bazzatron3 years ago
So, the abbreviated guide would be something like....

1)Obtain brewery
2)Brew beer
3)repeat until 20,000 pints have been accumulated.
jonnybo1114 years ago
what the heck are kirkins i thought they were kegs!!! :S
If you mean firkin, it's roughly 41 liters or one quarter barrel. Also one sixth of a hogshead. (I hope I recalled those correctly) Firkin is actually the measurement and thus a common name for the container that holds said amount. Mmmm...Beer! Thanks for this one Kiteman.
t.rohner5 years ago
Very nice report (not a instructable imho...) I made at least 40000 (imperial) pints in my life, but it took me ten years ;-) Last year, our "brewery" had it's 10. annyversary. So we wipped up a little party. It was so well received, we had to repeat it this year. With some special food and enough beer. Some pics of it: http://www.instructables.com/id/Bierfest-at-the-brewery/ also not an instructable in it's pure form, just bragging...
solo.card5 years ago
 Fantastic! It's a shame you couldn't see the pasteurisation process, or indeed document canning / bottling. Quite interesting!

I toured the Fosters brewery in Manchester many moons ago, and they are interesting places. (That brewery smell is fantastic, isn't it!)

The problem with many factories (or at least the industry I am in) is that most of the process is in sealed tanks, pipes, etc, so you only ever see the final product.

the canning process is pretty simple i can explain if you want me to?
Kiteman (author)  solo.card5 years ago
Adnams don't pasteurise their beer - it's all as real as it gets.

Fosters?  Sorry, that's lager, not beer... ;-)
xproplayer5 years ago
Fyi on a small error

quote "which is more than the AA would do, despite me being a member for twenty-five this December!"

i believe you forgot an a and years.
dont mean to be a critic btw just being helpful
P.S. when i first saw this i thought you were going to make 20,000 pints of beer at home......
keep up the great work!
Kiteman (author)  xproplayer5 years ago
I didn't forget an A (I live in the UK), but I did forget the years...
Just out of interest, Kiteman, which AA would that be? ;¬)
The one most probably running your TV remote.
Kiteman (author)  AndyGadget5 years ago
The one that is supposed to collect drivers from fields, not from breweries...
Oh.....  My cousin likes to say he's the founder of AU.  
                                                                       (Alcoholics Unanimous)
At least he didn't start a face book group known only as F.U.G.U. (I did...)

(Federation of Uber Geeks United)
i dont think they would pick you up from a brewery they would probaly think your a drunk and dont deserve to be towed......

no offense just a joke
i never noticed before but congrats on 100 'ibles
depotdevoid5 years ago
Very nice instructable Kiteman, and you beat me to the punch!  I was talking to my little brother the other day about doing an instructable a lot like this--he's head brewer at a microbrewery here in Oregon.  I think yours is probably better than mine would have been though, as his operation is quite a bit smaller scale than that of these folks and I'm not sure my writing chops are up to par with yours.  Thanks for sharing your visit to this historic brewery!
Kiteman (author)  depotdevoid5 years ago
Hey, go for it anyway - readers will be more able to replicate a microbrewing project than one on this scale, and your brother doubtless uses slightly different ingredients and processes.

As for the writing, practice makes perfect.
MrMystery965 years ago
A field in Suffolk you say? kiteman, what a dog you!
 What a milestone! 100 instructables! TimAnderson has double that, but you still have significantly more instructables than most of us.
MrMystery965 years ago
I visited a few vineyards in both canada and germany, but this was extraordinary!
Kiteman (author)  MrMystery965 years ago
Thank you!
KnexFreek5 years ago
I will make some tonight. Thankyou.

(jk im 13)
If you ever find yerself in Chattanooga  Tennessee ,   look up th' Big Bend Brewery !  It is a microbrewery/pub that serves up some of th' best "specialty" beers and ales I can remember drinkin'  ( stop snickerin' dang it ,  you know what I mean !!  ) 
skunkbait5 years ago
Good job!  I've toured a few winerys, but haven't gotten to tour a proper brewery yet.  I'll try to make it a point on my next vacation.
PKTraceur5 years ago
Very interesting 'ible Kiteman!
clark5 years ago
 wow! really neat!
Kiteman (author)  clark5 years ago
And that was a fast comment!
and a fast reply in the same exact minute!
Very cool.  I like to make my homebrew, and it's interesting to see on a larger scale.

I live in Golden, Colorado, where they make Coors.  It's definitely not my favorite beer, but on the brewery tour they claim that their copper kettles produce less of a metallic taste.  Do you know any of the reasons why Adnams would use stainless steel rather than copper for the new vats?

Yeah, copper costs like gold these days, and junkie would probably break in to steal the copper.
and maybe some beer too?
maybe something with sanitation? i know that all doctors stuff is all stainless steel.
One of the main reasons may be that SS is way easier to clean and sanitize than copper.  Not sure how it effects the flavor, but copper naturally forms a thin copper oxide layer which is dissolved into the beer by the acidic wort.  Copper reacts badly to some cleaning agents (like bleach) causing larger than usual copper oxide deposits, which when dissolved into the wort can cause serious problems.
Kiteman (author)  tashiandmo5 years ago
That is the reason - far easier to keep clean.

The new vats have no riveted joints, nowhere for bacteria to lurk, which is important when the end product does not get pasteurised.
=SMART=5 years ago
Great idea doing a tour of somewhere and making it an instructable !
really interesting to see how they go about making beer, and seeing the technology they use.
Thanks !!
t.rohner5 years ago
Although this isn't a instructable in it's pure sense, i enjoyed reading it.
You have thoroughly researched all aspects of brewing.
By the way, i have brewed 40'000 pints of beer and ale over the last 10 years...

Nice! My family and I make some pretty good beer at home.
qldazza5 years ago
Adnams is surely one of the best brewers. It rates right up there in my all time favourites.  I used to live in Diss and would make regular visits to the coast to stock my Adnams supply direct from the source.

There is a tiny little pub in Bungay called the green dragon that brews it's own beer, well worth a taste if you are in the area. www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/20/20954/Green_Dragon/Bungay

Another favourite of mine was St Peters. Did a really nice cranberry beer and a gorgeous old hall to enjoy it in. www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk/

qwertyboy5 years ago
hehe, hoppers for hops
I really liked this instructable, while it wasn't a make your own brew sort of thing, it showed the steps and the explanations were detailed.  Understanding the process of making something is a stepping stone to learn more, making one appreciate instructions later.  What you gave was a serious introduction to the process and the next instructable on making beer will be that much clearer and understandable.  Great job, and great pictures that actually showed the subject clear.
Kiteman (author)  trike road poet5 years ago
Thank you, I thought I'd try something a bit different for my 100th project.
strangebike5 years ago
I can honestly say I never get tired of looking at beer and brewing. Pity it doesn't like me as much as I like it or do they really ship all the hangovers to Basingstoke? The Ringwood brewery does a tour of their site which is a really good evening out. Well I got piddled :-)
great instructable

Kiteman (author)  strangebike5 years ago
Thank you!
ecohun5 years ago
Excellent Instructable, makes me want to add beer making to my cider making. Would I be able to use my old oak wine barrels or is this courting disaster.

As far as i know, unless you were brewing a very very strong flavoured beer then the oak/wine flavour can be over-powering, especially if the barrels are not full sized. smaller barrels have a higher oak/liquid ratio which makes the problem worse. Of course you can re-season a full sized oak wine barrel and then use it. Then you have to try and brew enough beer to fill the barrel. which won't be as much fun as trying to eympty it with friends! most home brewers who are looking for an "oaky" note in their beers seem to put oak chips in their glass fermenters.
gjm5 years ago
This is fantastic, thanks for posting it.
I was in England in the mid eigthies (I was in the airforce) and a friend and I wandered up to visit the Theakston brewery. Of course it was the weekend and they were closed but we met a cooper who worked there at a local pub and he had keys to the place and gave us a private tour.
It was amazing; at that time they were still putting their beer in wooden kegs.
This instructable reminds me of one of the best times I had when I was there.
gmjhowe5 years ago
An excellent job. I think the best bit, is how great the people were, to let you go around and take pictures etc.
Kiteman (author)  gmjhowe5 years ago
I did, unfortunately, miss one great shot - as I walked into the sample room, Graham and Colin were mopping the ceiling, having just opened a particularly lively barrel.
Ha ha, that would have been a conversation starter.
Guy at a party "hey guys im gonna go get a barrel of beer *loud explosion from kitchen* um i think were gonna have to drink from the floor...."

Don't worry, we got another keg! Just hold your cup out!


el greeno5 years ago
You can't beat a nice cold bottle of Adnams Explorer.
Not that I've been able to find any in Thurrock (Essex) for a while...

Loving the blonde ales lately.
Sorry for the double post, but thought I'd add that my shift partner at work is a coppersmith by trade.

He has had to move into this job (work for Ford) as all the breweries and sweet companies in the area have closed down years ago...

It's a shame all the good beers have gone and we now import crap lagers from abroad.

Can't beat a good ale brewed on site though!
Gjdj35 years ago
Nice job on #100!
PKM5 years ago
You had a small Womble incident on the way to the brewery?  :P

Very informative, and a fitting "centenible".
Bartboy5 years ago
Hmmm, I think this is better than what I was expecting for #100.....
Kryptonite5 years ago
Very nice to see the finished Instrutable, great job!

And what did I tell ya, featured!
congrats on 100th ible!!
mdwalters5 years ago
Just one typo: " Yeast adds bitterness" should be "Hops add bitterness"

Good job!
More than just one typo, this one took me a couple reads to figure out, "Hops and bitterness, flavour and aroma to a beer."
Regardless, AWESOME Instructable. I'll have to put one of these together some day.
Kiteman (author)  mdwalters5 years ago
Woops!  Thanks for catching that!
Jayefuu5 years ago
Awesome. I love breweries and the processes. If you ever come to Surrey, be sure to go to the Hogs Back brewery tour, it's really good and you get LOADS of free ale to sample as you go round. Don't think it's as large scale as Adnams either so everything's more.... by hand and interesting I guess.
lemonie5 years ago
I was wondering about this, super!

Kiteman (author)  Lithium Rain5 years ago
Thank you!
Joe Martin5 years ago
Brilliant kiteman, A very interesting read! 5*

And a big well done for your 100th Instructable!!
Kiteman (author)  Joe Martin5 years ago