Alewerks Williamsburg’s Home Brew

AleWerks’ current home was a site of another brewery. They purchased the equipment and location 2006 with an initial investment of $200,000 dollars. Their first product was the Chesapeake Ale. AleWerks’ has won multiple awards including the best Virginia beer and titles at the U.S. Beer Tasting Championships.

They are the only microbrewery in Williamsburg producing 4,000 barrels and are hoping to expand to around the 5,000 barrel mark for 2016. The hardships faced by AleWerks comes from potential loss in product. If they had to dump a tank, they could potentially loss a month of product. An interesting fact in the brewing process done at AleWerks is the reuse of their yeast. Plus, efforts put forth by Alewerks involves giving local farmers feed for their cows with the grain by-products.

The highest percentage of sales comes from their on-site taproom. Their distribution network reaches Virginia, West Virginia, D.C., Maryland and is expanding with Philadelphia. You can also buy Alewerks in bottle in the Williamsburg area and can be found on draft in the local bars. Alewerks has now become an investor corporation.

During our visit, we tried six beers. The Wheat Ale was definitely a crowd-pleaser among the group with it’s citrus flavor. The Pumpkin Ale gave hints of cinnamon; one secret we were privy to was the use of Butternut Squash in their Pumpkin Ale. It is also considered one of the better ones to taste. The Coffee Stout was surprising drinkable and gave the drinker a kick given a half a cup of coffee. Their flagship beer, The Chesapeake Ale, was again all it lived up to be; smooth, refreshing and mildly hoppy. The Tavern Ale deep brown in color gave fruity notes with chocolate hints at the back end. Drake Tail citrus flavor is one to behold with the fruit finish was a great try. In the end, AleWerks is an up and coming and we can’t wait to see what they do next. They offer Year-round, Brewmaster, and Seasonal Offering.


The Brewing Process

Beer can be brewed in many different ways using different ingredients and brewing methods to make different types of beer.  However, there are some main ingredients and processes that are required to brew any type of beer.

4 Main Ingredients: 1) Malt 2) Hops 3) Yeast 4) Water


The basic brewing process follows this sequence of events: Mashing -> Lautering -> Boiling -> Wort Filtration -> Wort Cooling -> Fermentation -> Conditioning -> Filtering -> Packaging

Mashing: Malt is mixed with water and heated at specific temperatures to allow the enzymes in the malt to break down into a fermentible sugar.  This process typically takes 1 to 2 hours depending how the breweries recipe.

Lautering: This is where the liquid mixture created from mashing is separated from the remaining grain and other solids.  Once the lautering process is complete, the remaining liquid mixture is known as wort.

Boiling: The wort is combined with hops in a kettle or boiling tank to produce the beer’s bitterness, flavor, and aroma.  This process takes 50 minutes to 2 hours.

Wort Filtration: After being combined and boiled with the hops, the wort is strained again to remove the hops and other ingredients that were added during the boiling phase.

Wort Cooling: After straining the wort to remove solid particles, the wort must be cooled down before it can begin fermentation.

Fermentation: The cooled wort is placed in the fermentation tank to begin the process of fermentation.  This is where yeast is added to the wort.  The yeast interacts with the sugars that were created from mashing and releases to products: alcohol and CO2.  Once the yeast is placed into the fermentation tank, the liquid mixture is officially called beer.  Different types of yeast produce different kinds of beers and must be left in the fermentation tank different lengths of time.

Ale: Ferments at temperatures of 60 to 68 degrees which is warmer than most beers.  Ready to drink within 3 weeks of fermentation.

Lager: Ferments at temperatures of 50 degrees.  Takes months before lagers are ready to be consumed.

Conditioning: After the fermentation process is complete, the fermentation tank is cooled to near freezing temperatures which causes the yeast to stop interacting with the remaining sugars and settle.  Some beers must be left in the conditioning state for months before moving to the next step.

Filtering: Beer is again separated from solid particles through straining or other techniques.

Packaging: Most breweries have CO2 tanks that can put carbonation into the beer at the time of bottling.  For home breweries, priming sugar must be added during the bottling process to allow the remaining yeast to consume the sugar and produce CO2 for carbonation





Devil’s Backbone Review

Devil’s Backbone was founded Roseland, Virginia in 2008. They originally had a goal to produced 10,000 barrels per year and provide a world class beer for the people of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. BY 2011,  demand had grown so much for Devil’s Backbone it expanded to producing over 45,000 barrels per year.  Today, they have a secondary location as an outpost brewery and tap house in Lexington, VA. Since their inception the company has accumulated a number of world renowned accolades. By 2014 they had gained the title of the best Midsize Brewing Company & Brew Team of the Year. In 2015, the Virginia Lager won Gold at the Great American Beer Festival and Silver at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest. The Vienna Lager is Devil’s Backbone’s flagship beer and most well known among craft beer drinkers.

Devils Backbone Eight Point I.P.A and Vienna Lager. Taken at Food Lion in Hampton, VA.

Devils Backbone Eight Point I.P.A and Vienna Lager. Taken at Food Lion in Hampton, VA.

To learn more about their exceptional brewery, visit their site