In a given week, we produce about 35,000 gallons of beer. A result of that, aside from the pretty fucking awesome end product, is between 90,000 to 138,000 gallons of wastewater.
Admittedly, there are few of us who kick back with a beer and think about how a brewery our size handles such a large amount of wastewater. It’s an important consideration, though, since that water eventually makes its way down two Maryland rivers and into the Chesapeake Bay.
So we asked Matt Brophy, our VP of brewing operations, to put on his Bill Nye the Science guy hat and explain the process to us. He made our heads spin with big words and acronyms, but we eventually caught on.
Wastewater is first transferred from the brewhouse, cellar, and packaging area to an outside pumping station that catches large particles (primarily spent grain and yeast residue). Each day, a local farmer picks up these nutrient-rich leftovers, which are then applied to farm fields to enrich the soil for the next season.
Then, the water is treated to reduce biological oxygen demand or BOD. Throughout the wastewater treatment process, we constantly monitor the performance of the plant ensuring that we are achieving our goal of BOD reduction.
From there, it’s transferred into an aeration tank where (you guessed it) the wastewater is constantly aerated to maintain microorganism growth. According to Brophy, we love bugs. These microorganisms help evaporate things like ethanol, which contributes to the overall BOD load. Just like brewers create the proper environment in wort for yeast, we provide the best conditions in the aeration tank for a vast variety of microorganisms to go to town.
After the aeration tank, it goes through a weir, which monitors the amount of wastewater going through the system, and into a clarifier. In the clarifier, any remaining particles are removed. (Eventually, those particles build up in a sludge at the bottom of the tank. Mmm, sludge. That’s actually transferred back into the aeration tank to keep those bugs happy.)
The wastewater’s last stop here at the brewery is a fixed media tank that acts as a holding vessel until it’s pumped (through a series of pipes) to the Frederick County municipal Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).
And there’s your science lesson for the day, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed getting wasted here at Flying Dog Brewery.
How many Flying Dog employees does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One.
How many Flying Dog employees does it take to package a special-edition, 750 ml bottle of whiskey barrel-aged Gonzo Imperial Porter? At least seven.
Every 750 ml bottle of Flying Dog is hand-packaged – a lengthy process that is well worth it for the liquid heaven it produces.
First, our brewers transfer the beer (after it’s aged in Stranahans whiskey barrels for at least 180 days) from the barrels into a brite tank. Brite tanks are the last stop for any beer in the brewery because this is where it receives its final quality tests prior to it being packaged.
After the brite tank, the Gonzo is transferred into a portable, 90-gallon vessel called a grundy. Close your eyes and picture R2D2. That’s what a grundy looks like.
Once the beer is in the grundy, our brewers add sugar and yeast to prep the beer for bottle conditioning. (If you don’t know what bottle conditioning is, don’t worry. We’ll revisit that in a minute.)
From the grundy, the beer goes special filler and the bottles are filled, corked, and caged by hand. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these pictures (taken today) of head brewer Bob Malone and his team:
Then, the bottles sit for at least three weeks to condition. During this time, the added yeast eats the sugar to produce a mild carbonation, as opposed to standard forced CO2 carbonation. Once those three weeks are up, the bottles are hand-labeled and (finally) ready for distribution.
One day when we were having a few pints of our Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter, we tried to figure out how many days total it took to produce this liquid heaven. That made our heads hurt. So we gave up and continued to drink.
Seventy-three years ago today, Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
A profound influence on Flying Dog founder George Stranahan’s life, Hunter and George were longtime friends in Woody Creek, Colorado.
In his recent book Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament, George describes a dynamite-and-whiskey-filled afternoon with Hunter:
One of many lady friends left her Wagoneer behind Hunter’s house; perhaps thinking it would be there if she returned…The Wagoneer stayed through more than a winter, and one day Hunter called me and barked, “Bring down some dynamite — a lot of it.”
Well, I did that, and we sat in his kitchen drinking whiskey as he spilled out his need to eliminate the Wagoneer from his view and his memory. There were fist poundings and many loud “Goddammits,” and more whiskey.
Eventually it became time to act; there is some rationality required when mixing whiskey and dynamite. Hunter hauled a twenty five pound canister of gunpowder from the war room and we went to work. Seven sticks of dynamite were placed head to toe from mid-engine to the firewall, the gunpowder placed in the driver’s seat. My fuse burns roughly ten seconds per inch, I jammed eighteen inches into the blasting cap and crimped it with my teeth.
My rule is “walk, don’t run,” and I made it down to the picnic table with about a minute of fuse left. I didn’t look at my watch, the vagaries of fuse chemistry ensure that the explosion always comes as a complete surprise, which it did.
We were barely one hundred yards from the blast and the shock wave knocked the wind out of our lungs, yet we “yeehaaed!” hugged and clapped each other on our backs. When haying that fall I found a fender that had sailed over our heads and three hundred yards further, almost to Woody Creek.
“Walk, don’t run.” That’s wisdom we should apply to all walks of life. And we think Hunter would approve.
Happy birthday, Hunter.
The Maryland and Washington, D.C. metro area was struck by a 3.6-magnitude earthquake at around 5 am this morning.
Earthquakes are very rare in this area. So most normal human beings thought they felt rumblings from a low-flying airplane.
Here are snippets from conversations we overheard this morning here at the brewery. Most of us didn’t think it was a plane:
“I’ve been having trouble with my toilet lately, so I was like ‘shit, it finally took a dump on me.’ ”
“Wait, there was an earthquake? I slept right through it.”
“I figured the guy who lives above me brought a girl home from the bar and was really getting it on. He does that a lot.”
“We thought Raging Bitch was trying to escape from the fermentation tank.”
We’re not very a very patient bunch, especially when we’re hot, bothered, and worn down from the dog days of summer.
So when that first batch of our fall seasonal, Dogtoberfest Märzen, goes into the tank to ferment for 49 days (the longest out of all of our beer), we’re a touch antsy.
But when this sleeping beast of 100% imported German hops and malt awakens from its fermentation slumber, we’re excited. So excited that we shoot video of it on the bottling line and set it to trendy music:
Break out your leiderhosen and dust off your stein, jungen und mädchen. Dogtoberfest is coming!
After hours of yelling, begging, pleading, name-calling, and bottle-throwing madness, we’ve chosen the winners of our “Why is Raging Bitch the Perfect Beer for Carrie Nation” contest.
Jaye Greene and Travis Skillings will each receive our brand new Raging Bitch t-shirt. Here’s why:
Jaye said: “Raging Bitch is the perfect beer for Carrie Nation because throughout American history, women have had to fight loudly and aggressively to be taken seriously at all. Consider the times in which Carrie Nation lived – she along with many women had absolutely NO rights or say over their own lives and unfortunately temperance/prohibition was one of the only shots many women had. Raging Bitch is the perfect beer for Carrie Nation because she earned her right to the title.”
And Travis said: “Raging Bitch is the perfect beer for Carrie Nation because its superior taste attacks your taste buds like a hatchet and like all great provocateurs they make us re-think what we thought we knew.”
[INSERT OBLIGATORY “thanks to everyone for entering our contest” HERE]
In Patrick’s Irish Pub, located in downtown Frederick, MD, there’s a little sign on the bar that reads, “All Nations Welcome But Carrie.”
That sign is referring to Carrie Nation, the infamous member of the “temperance movement,” a group that opposed (that’s right, opposed) alcohol in pre-Prohibition America.
Carrie, who was notorious for attacking bars with a hatchet (yes, a hatchet), once described herself as “a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like.” If you want to learn more about this bulldog, check out the Wikipedia article on Carrie.
About 120 years later, Flying Dog releases Raging Bitch. And we think it’s the perfect beer for Carrie. But we want you to tell us why.
In the Frederick area? Come to Patrick’s on Thursday, July 7 at 8 pm. Our Frederick-area market manager Abby Casarella will buy your first pint if she likes your answer.
Can’t make it to Patrick’s? Tell us on our Facebook page. The only rule is that you must preface your response with “Raging Bitch is the perfect beer for Carrie Nation because…” Just like 6th grade English. And kind of like Jeopardy. But in this case, you’re Alex fucking Trebek.
This week, our Cellar Queen Lisa Adams, CEO Jim Caruso, VP of Brewing Operations Matt Brophy, VP of Marketing Ben Savage, and Head Brewer Bob Malone visited Stillpoint Farm, a sustainable farm that has acres of hop fields in Mt. Airy, Maryland.
Owner Tom Barse showed them around the farm, which grows a number of varieties, including Cascade, Golding, Nugget, Chinook, and Fuggle hops. Tom explained that Cascade hops grow the best in Maryland’s hot and humid summer climate.
We’ll be getting some fresh hops from Tom’s next harvest in about 3 to 4 weeks for our firkins.
Yesterday, we got some pretty awesome news.
A panel, put together by The New York Times’ Eric Asimov, reviewed the nation’s best American Pale Ales. Our Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale was rated No. 1, beating out the likes of Samuel Adams, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, Lagunitas, and Sierra Nevada.
“Our consensus favorite, the Doggie Style Classic from Flying Dog, was one of the hoppier beers in the tasting, with a clean, crisp, almost bracing bitterness, like a pilsner,” Asimov said. “For a beer that calls itself ‘classic,’ it pushes the boundaries of the pale ale style. Nonetheless, it was fresh, balanced and a pleasure to drink.”
In addition to our individual accolade, Asimov touched on the kinds of things that get us out of bed in the morning.
“Nowadays, American brewers are among the most creative in the world, in the vanguard of pushing and transforming established styles of beer.”
He continued, “all of us were impressed by the consistently high quality of these beers. American brewers seem to have this style down cold, although we found more than a few variations on the theme…What all these beers had in common, however, was balance and harmony. You could drink them over a long afternoon in the sun, whether at a ballgame, a barbecue or the beach, and still feel refreshed and energetic.”
Read the full New York Times article. Obviously, we recommend perusing it with a cold Doggie Style in hand.