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A client’s premiere in the Steinecker Brew Center

I’ve already reported here on the preparations for and the inauguration of the Steinecker Brew Center. Now the first client has visited it for brewing trials, and it has become very apparent what an attraction the newly opened Steinecker Brew Center is for our clients: James Abilla of the Cebu Brewing Co. in the Philippines endured a more-than-18-hour flight in order to jointly develop a new product with us in the Steinecker Brew Center.

James lives alternately in San Francisco, USA, and Cebu, Philippines. He began with a small 2-beer-barrel brewhouse as the first brewery on the Philippine island of Cebu. Encouraged by the high level of demand, James swiftly upsized his brewery to include an additional 7-BBL brewhouse, and is now, together with his son Christian, producing beer both for the Philippine market and for export to the USA. Five different types are meanwhile available, plus a succession of seasonal beers.

The first contact between Steinecker and James came about at the SEA-Brew trade fair in Vietnam. When they saw each other again at the drinktec in Munich last year, James was immediately captivated by the MicroCube from Steinecker on show there. From then on, he was adamant: “One day, I definitely have to brew a beer on kit like this!” So in his enthusiasm for the MicroCube concept, the next expansion stage is being planned: to build a complete brewery, from grain intake to bottling – with a 25-hl MicroCube from Steinecker at its heart.

In the context of this project, James took the long journey involved in his stride: “I’ve always associated the name of Steinecker with quality and innovative vigour. After I heard that the Steinecker Brew Center had been inaugurated, I was certain that I wanted to develop my recipe on this new piece of kit.” At a shared kick-off directly in the Steinecker Brew Center, James and I discussed the new beer in detail, including of course an exhaustive assessment of the malts and hop varieties to be used. In this context, James Abilla’s specific product concept and the expertise of the Brew Center team complemented each other quite superbly.

So now the plan has been finalised: it will be a light ale discreetly hopped with German aroma hops. Why this comparatively unspectacular approach? Well, the beer will later on be refined with a fruit, so as to achieve a refreshing taste. But the actual fruit involved, and how the beer will get its special kick, must unfortunately remain a secret for the time being – the answer will be revealed as from the end of this year in selected beverage markets.

The subsequent brewing day began in the early hours of the morning. James was present at all steps of the process, beginning with grist milling, and as the day went by he bonded superbly with the centre’s team. For instance, we were immediately able to image his requirements for a modern-day process control system in the BOTEC F1, with an opportunity for him to lend a hand.

In particular, the system’s high degree of automation, and the innovative heating concept using high-pressure hot water, left a lasting impression on James: “It’s great to see what process steps have been automated without eliminating the requisite flexibility and creativity in my production operations.” He was visibly impressed, too, by the trending system, which ensures optimal wort qualities and short lautering times. “On my present kit, all these are labour-intensive manual worksteps,” to quote James.

A brief introduction to Bavarian cuisine was a must, of course. The waiting time during the mashing program, for example, was utilised for a lavish veal-sausage breakfast, which provided a fine opportunity for talking shop. To complement this culinary revelation, James was invited to a Bavarian-style dinner in the evening, and on the following day enjoyed an outing to the hop gardens of the nearby Hallertau – in view of his long journey, we thought an appropriate supporting programme was the least we could do.

Following three eventful days, James flew back to the USA. He is scheduled to return in early September to sample and evaluate the jointly brewed beer – I’m looking forward to filing another report then. And James, too, was visibly satisfied: “The three days with the team of the Steinecker Brew Center were fantastic, and the experience I gained was incredibly valuable. I would like to thank everyone involved, and I can hardly wait to taste the beer!”

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1 Comment

DERICK BULKLEY at 4. September 2018

Attaboy James!

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