Traditionally, the brewing process is quite simple. Four ingredients are used and
the resulting process yields a fermented beverage called beer. There are two types or beer Ale — which is the result of a warm fermentation with ale yeast and Lager — which is the result of a chilled or cooler fermentation by lager yeast. Porters, Stouts, Wheat, and Belgian beers are known as styles of beers.
At The Lost Abbey, our beers are made from the four traditional ingredients — Malted Barley, Water, Yeast and Hops. But in the spirit of innovation and flavor driven beers, we will also utilize many techniques normally associated with cooking including the use of herbs, spices and proprietary processes that we have developed to ensure our beers have signature flavors.
The conventional brewing process begins with the selection of barley required for the brew. Malted barley forms the base malts from which most of the sugars needed for fermentation are derived. Other malts known as colored or specialty malts are blended with the malted barley base malt to form the grist for the beer. The composition of a grist is a closely guarded secret as many breweries believe that a well integrated grist and the sugars it produces are the foundation for a great beer.
At The Lost Abbey, we brew with the most interesting malts we can get our hands on. Malts with great flavor and names like Honey Malt, Kiln Coffee, Biscuit, Melanoidin and Special B. Each of these malts and many others come from different suppliers and allow us to create a wide range of flavors. In some cases, like our Avant Garde, we toast our own grain creating a signature flavor of fresh baked dough and bread from the oven that we are searching for.
Once the grist has been composed it is milled whereby the grain is split in half allowing our brewers access to the starches inside. The malt is then mixed in the mash tun with hot water and allowed to rest (sit) for one hour as the complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars that the yeast can ferment. When the starches have been converted into simpler sugars, the grains are rinsed with water in a process called sparging. This action of rinsing the grain with hot water is combined with another process called lautering where the grains rinsed and the sugars are collected in the brew kettle where they will be boiled.
Once all the sugars are collected in the kettle, the mixture called wort is brought to a boil. During the boiling process, hops and spices are added to the wort for flavor and aroma additions. After a 90 minute boil, the wort is chilled down and transferred to a fermenter where it meets the yeast.
The Lost Abbey beers are made from a wide array of yeasts each selected for the flavors and aromas produced during the fermentation. As part of our commitment to flavor driven and process driven beers, we also brew beers using wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces and other micro-organisms including Lactobacillus and Pediococcus in our barrel aged beers. These micro-organisms are an integral flavor component of many Belgian Farmhouse and Lambic style beers.
During fermentation, the yeast consumes the available sugars converting them into alcohol and CO2 which gives the beer its bubbles. Fermentation lasts 2-3 weeks before the beer is transferred or filtered. At packaging time the beer is dosed with fresh yeast and sugar for bottling which creates a secondary re-fermentation in the bottle producing more CO2 and a yeast flavor in the beer. This is the same process that many of the great sparkling wines of the world undergo. This bottle condition process is much more labor intensive but produces a beer of refined flavor and texture.