Metrohm Applikon is Brewing Something Up …
In honor of the Metrohm 75 year jubilee, Alyson Lanciki, one of the employees at Metrohm Applikon in the Netherlands has taken it upon herself to homebrew six different styles of beer for a marketing giveaway. Her so-called «femto-brewery» creates several styles and unique flavors of beer which her coworkers at Applikon and Metrohm International Headquarters always get to try first as the guinea pigs of the process. This is the first in a series of posts about different facets of brewing beer, so don’t forget to take the SURVEY!
METROHM APPLIKON AND THE DIY SPIRIT
Metrohm Applikon is known for its wide portfolio of online, inline, and atline process analyzers under the brand name of Metrohm Process Analytics. Quality, precision, accuracy, and robustness are our hallmarks. Located in Schiedam, the Netherlands, we have been manufacturing chemical analyzers for more than 40 years.
I have worked at Metrohm Applikon for more than five years now, and working here has inspired and encouraged me to be more creative in my life. At first I joined as an application specialist for ion chromatography, developing methods for different customers and purposes. This was really enjoyable work, always providing a different challenge to crack. We have many talented employees from several departments interacting closely on a daily basis, and as a small company, hobbies and ideas are shared around. Working in the research and development department exposed me to other chemical techniques and unique solutions to challenges we encountered.
TRY, TRY AGAIN
After moving to the Netherlands a few years ago and developing a taste for dark Belgian-style beers, I found it difficult to find a selection that was at an appropriate price. Then I realized I could just make my own beer, knowing several other chemists-turned-brewers. There was a failed attempt during a summer heat wave, but afterwards the first viable beer was created and a mad scientist was unleashed. Over the years there have been several improvements to the procedure and the system, and this ties well with my current position at Metrohm Applikon (marketing process analytics to industrial sectors). Researching intensive chemical processes and the factors that optimize and inhibit them is a key part of my job, and therefore learning about the brewing process was no different.
My husband and I control the entire process, from designing a recipe and milling the grains to sanitizing and bottling the finished product. We enjoy being able to develop the exact bitterness, sweetness, mouthfeel, and alcohol content for each batch we brew. Until now, we have only dared to create ales. Over the next few months, I’ll introduce you to the different parts of the process and the history behind this ancient beverage.
LAGERS VS. ALES
There are two primary classes of beer: lagers and ales. Some differences are detailed in the graphic above, but the major contrast between lagers and ales is the type of yeast used for the fermentation process. Lagers must be fermented at colder temperatures, which lends crisp flavors and low ester formation. However, colder processes take longer, and so fermentation steps can last for some months. Also, if you do not live in a cold climate, it can be difficult to regulate the ambient temperature for fermentation. One way to overcome this is to build your own temperature-controlled refrigerator, as we have!
Ales have a much more sweet and fruity palate of flavors, and are much easier to create than lagers. The ambient temperature range is easier to find in temperate climates, and therefore many home brewers will use a spare room or even a space in a garage or shed for the fermentation steps.
Diving a bit deeper, there are several styles of beer, from light pilseners and pale ales to porters and black imperial stouts. [ What kinds of beers do you like? Take and share my SURVEY HERE! ] The colors and flavors all depend on the grains used during the mash, which is the initial process of soaking the milled grains at a specific temperature (or range) to modify the starches and sugars for the yeast to be able to digest. The strain of yeast also contributes to the final flavor, whether it is dry, fruity, or even sour. Taking good care of the yeast is one of the most important parts of creating a great tasting beer.
BUSINESS MEETS PLEASURE
Stephanie knew about this particular hobby of mine, and asked to join in a brewing session when she visits the Netherlands this April. The idea developed, and now I am making six different styles of beer with about 7.5 % alcohol in each to celebrate the Metrohm 75 year jubilee. Each month I have been fermenting a new style of beer, beginning last November for some of the darker styles.
The result of all of this work will be several 6-packs of «Metrohm-inspired» beers for marketing giveaways, for those who choose to participate. I am happy to share my hobby with the world, and thankful for the opportunity by Metrohm Applikon to fulfill this crazy idea. Stay tuned for the next topic (Hefeweizen history, in February) and some results from the survey! Cheers, Alyson