Crushed malted barley is mixed with hot water as it pours gently into the mash vessel. This oatmeal looking porridge is called the mash. The mash is allowed to rest, while naturally present enzymes convert starches in the barley into soluble sugars. The sugars leach away from the grain into the water, and can be drawn off into the kettle. This liquid mix of soluble sugars is called wort.
The dense sugary wort is drawn off the bottom of the mash vessel, and pumped into the kettle. In the kettle it is brought to a vigorous boil. The boil fixes the sugar profile of the wort, sterilizes it, and causes all sorts of caramelizing reactions to occur. Hops are added throughout the boil, adding bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Spices are also added to some of our beers, usually towards the end of the boil.
The boiled wort is then pumped through a heat exchanger, which rapidly cools it to fermentation temperatures. (Most of our yeasts ferment between 65 F and 75 F.)
After the cooled wort is transferred into the fermentation vessel, yeast is added. We employ open fermentation vessels, a very traditional type of vessel that allows for the fullest flavor development of our ales. Special brewing yeast work their wonders, creating alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a whole host of complex flavors in the process. At the end of fermentation the yeast is harvested off the top of the fermentation vessel and stored for re-pitching into subsequent beers.
At Jolly Pumpkin we use very traditional methods to mature our beers. These methods may take longer, and be more labor intensive, but we feel they are well worth the effort. While most other breweries mature their beer for relatively short periods in giant stainless steel tanks, we mature our beer in oak casks. We feel this contact with the wood gives our beers unmatched depth of character, and subtleness of flavor.
After oak maturation our beers are bottled, re-yeasted and allowed an additional time to develop natural carbonation in the bottle. This bottle conditioning, often called bottle refermentation, leaves a fine sediment of yeast in the bottle and results in further complex flavor refinement in the finished beer.
Every step of the process at Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is carefully considered to bring about the most complex and refined beers imaginable. As a result of our dedication, most of our beers will continue to mature and mellow for quite some time when cellared at home. Enjoyment for today, and for tomorrow!