Our Brewing Process

People often ask about our brewing process, so rather than spare you the gory details, we’ll assume you’re an aficionado.

For starters, great beer requires the marriage of three elements:

  • Expertise
  • High-Quality Ingredients
  • Careful Craftsmanship

If any of these is missing, your beer will broadcast it.

Expertise

Smoky Mountain Brewery enjoys the distinction of being the original craft brewery in East Tennessee. But don’t be fooled: We may be the oldest, but we’re always looking for ways to innovate and keep our taps fresh.

In brewing, strict recipes and in-the-trenches experience are everything because consistency is everything. You have plenty of choices in beers and in restaurants, so our job is to pour a great brew every time, no exceptions.

High-Quality Ingredients

At Smoky Mountain Brewery every beer starts with the highest-quality malts available.

Our lagers then get the finest German hops, and our ales derive their flavor profiles from the best English and American hops grown in the Pacific Northwest. We also use several proprietary hop varieties to brew our Brewmaster Special Limited Edition Series on the rotating tap, and changes from month-to-month.

Several of our hop varieties we procure directly from small hop farmers who have the same eye for technique and detail that we do.

As for the other primary ingredient, we use only liquid ale yeast.

Careful Craftsmanship

At Smoky Mountain Brewery, we use single-step infusion mashing techniques. Here are the steps of SMB’s brewing process from grain to glass:

Malting

Our maltster takes care of this off-site.

Milling

The mill process cracks the husk of the grain kernel and thus prepares the grain for mashing and lautering.

Mashing

We add hot water to the freshly-milled grain.

Mash Conversion

(also known as, “Saccharification”) – Starches from the grain become fermentable sugar.

Vorlauf

We clarify the wort, or pre-fermented beer, by drawing it from the bottom of the mash, and re-circulating it back into the mash.

Sparge

We separate the solid grain from wort (the liquid product) while spraying water over the top of the grain bed. This process extracts the fermentable sugars, which transfer via gravity to the kettle.

Boil

We heat the wort to a boil and add hops. Certain hops varieties add bitterness, and the longer these hops boil, the more bitterness they impart. Other types of hops create aroma. We sometimes add these hops at the end of the boil, or when we’re dry hopping, we add the hops to the fermenter at the end of active fermentation.

Whirlpool

“Spinning” the product in the brew kettle help to manage trub (that is, sediment at the bottom of the fermenter) as everything cools.

Cooling

We drop the temperature rapidly from 212˚F degrees down to the appropriate yeast-pitching temperatures for lagers (48˚F) and ales (68˚F).

Pitching Yeast

While cooling the wort, we add liquid yeast directly to it and oxygenate the product at the same time to keep the yeast vital.

Fermentation

The yeast uses the oxygen and consumes the fermentable sugars inside the fermenter. This process creates alcohol and carbon dioxide, which naturally carbonates the beer. When the fermentation reaches “terminal gravity,” no fermentable sugar is left in the beer.

Conditioning

Prior to filtration the beer ages at cool temperatures (40˚F for lagers and 55˚F for ales), and carbon dioxide saturates the product. Three days before filtration, we drop the temperature in the fermenter to 32˚F.

Filtration

We push the beer from the fermenter through a filter into a bright tank, which is a serving vessel for bright or clarified beer. Filtration removes the cloudiness or haze that the yeast creates.

After we filter the beer, we put it in kegs and bottles. It is now ready for you! Want to try some SMB beers?

#SmokyMtnBrewery