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    Craft Beer
    Southern Tier: Brewing in the pub
    Southern Tier: Brewing in the pub

      The Southern Tier Brewing Company’s brewpub in Pittsburgh has an unequivocal star.

      The Steinecker MicroCube is in full view of everyone in the room and supplies the pub’s taps directly with fresh, imaginative beer creations. Originally, the Southern Tier Brewing Company comes from Lakewood, New York – this is where the main brewery is still located. When it was founded back in 2002, the focus was on regional sales of small output quantities. Nowadays, “small” would be a highly inaccurate adjective: since March, the beers have been brewed in a 130-hectolitre brewhouse from Steinecker.

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      The concept behind the brewpub in Pittsburgh, opened early in 2017, by contrast, did not focus primarily on upsizing the production output. Rather, Southern Tier wanted an opportunity to do some creative brewing, and reach out more effectively to fans outside Lakewood. There were various factors behind the choice of location for the first “satellite brewpub” – not least the fact that Pittsburgh’s beer-drinkers have for many years been enthusiastic devotees of Southern Tier’s creations. What’s more, the brewery managed to find a site in the North Shore district that could hardly be bettered for a hostelry in a sports-mad city: precisely mid-way between the football and baseball stadiums, and thus not even ten minutes’ walk from these two epicentres of the city’s vibrancy. “The brewpub is a brewery and at the same time a restaurant as well,” explains David Harries, Southern Tier’s brewmaster in Pittsburgh. “It’s an opportunity for us to reach guests and fans who can’t get to our main brewery in Lakewood. But when they’re in Pittsburgh for a baseball or football game, or for a concert, then we’re in direct contact with them – and we can serve them a beer or a sandwich. And if they like the taste, perhaps they’ll drink a beer from Southern Tier next time they’re in their local at home.”

      The brewer’s creativity

      For David Harries, the brewpub also offers an opportunity to unleash his full creativity as a brewer. The heart of the hostelry, you see, is a Steinecker MicroCube with a brew size of ten hectolitres – the perfect quantity for some rather venturesome brewing experiments. “Since the size of the brew is so small compared to our main brewery, we can have more fun here, and also produce beers that are perhaps more speculative in nature. So before we brew 130 hectolitres, we first make just ten, and wait for the feedback.” The MicroCube also enhances the pleasures of creative brewing by allowing the brewer to deploy his manual craft skills: David Harries can rely totally on the Krones’ quality he’s used to from the kit in Lakewood, but the semi-automatic process control system supports him only for mashing, wort boiling and fermentation. For the other steps, he has to lend a hand himself: hopping, for example, is performed by hand via the manhole.

      Compact thanks to flexibility

      Both the brewhouse and the fermentation cellar were to be fully visible for the guests, but nevertheless had to leave sufficient space for the kitchen and the taproom. On the 125 square metres available, this was no problem with the MicroCube – theoretically, it could even be installed on an area of just 90 square metres. This is made possible by the great flexibility of the individual vessels: the brewhouse consists of a combined mash and lauter tun, plus a whirlpool copper. The concept also includes a two-roller grist mill for malt, and a CIP system. The six fermentation tanks can likewise be flexibly deployed: in the same vessels, the beer matures even after fermentation, and then the tanks can be connected up directly to the taps. What’s more David Harries has an option here for using a cold-hopping system.

      MicroCube at Southern Tier - Constituent parts

      So with the Steinecker MicroCube Southern Tier has found a way to make its first brewpub a genuine highlight: visually, of course, but in terms of process technology as well. Because thanks to its flexibility the compactly dimensioned system offers everything a brewer’s heart could possibly desire.

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