Beer production can be broken down into three main stages:
This is an essential stage in the beer making.
Before brewing, the raw ingredients are combined. They consist of various barley malts containing starch, which are stored in malt silos. In Champigneulles, the brewing room carries out the various stages automatically under the watchful eye and the responsibility of a master brewer. The process produces 8 loads of 100,000 litres each i.e. 800,000 litres of sweetened juice per day. The system can operate seven days a week, without a break.
The malting stage consists of:
- Pouring hot water onto the raw ingredients that have been milled into a type of flour to make it easier to extract their starch content.
- Conducting several malting processes and heating the mixture to turn the starch into sugar (lautering tun, ingredients and soaking).
- Filtering the mixture to separate the malt husks from the sugary juices known as wort (this is done by the filtering tank).
- Boiling the wort at approximately 100º, adding hops for more bitterness and flavour (the purpose of the hops boiler).
- Cooling the wort by a series of exchangers to between 10º and 20º depending on the characteristics required for the beer.
The wort, or sugary juice, leaves the brewing room and is poured into fermentation tanks.
At this stage, beer yeast will be added while the tanks are being filled. The yeast turns the sugar contained in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide and develops the beer’s flavours. It is important to control the temperature and pressure inside each fermentation tank correctly. This stage of fermentation, when the sugars are turned into alcohol, lasts for one to two weeks depending on the type of beer being made. The beer will then be stored for a few days after being cooled to 0 degree to let it settle and acquire its full flavour. In Champigneulles, the fermentation area contains 19 vessels known as “TODs” (Tank Out Door).
A fermentation vessel has a capacity of 600,000 litres or 1,000,000 litres.
This means that it takes more than a day’s brewing to fill a one million litre tank. When all the fermentation tanks are full, there are 15 million litres of beer waiting to be drunk, the equivalent of 60 million 25cl bottles or one glass of beer for each person living in France being drunk at the same time!!!
This is where the beer undergoes its final adjustments before being packaged.
The filtration process is used to correct the beer and give it the characteristics and specifications required in the end product. The result is a gleaming drink free of any particles and yeast, perfectly saturated with carbon dioxide and containing the correct level of alcohol.
It is also here that various flavours, liquid hops, sugars etc. can be added.