Starting our journey of The GreatRailroad Brewing Company

Starting our journey of The GreatRailroad Brewing Company

Beer is very simple to make, we only use Malted Barley, water, yeast and hops

What started off as a hobby, is now a fully-fledged craft beer microbrewery in Shaka’s Head on the Dolphin Coast just outside Ballito. We are currently producing eight international favorites. Ursula and her husband Gary Wilby left the corporate world to start The Great Railroad Brewing Company, now renamed to Ballito Brewing Company which they opened in August 2015.

“We have always been keen home brewers and decided to take a risk and turn our passion into a business. The name was inspired by the nostalgic romance of an old train,” said Gary, who is an analytical chemist. “We have had some fun setting up this brewery, especially when it came to figuring out the Chinese instruction manuals, which were not well translated into English.”

Beer style on demand

The brewery is now working at full pace and Gary said they can make any style beer on demand. “We have eight different styles: Our Czech Dark Pilsner, German Marzen lager; Bohemian Pilsner, a classic Pilsner with a twist; German Weiss beer; Irish Red Ale; Strawberry Ale, a Belgian Witbier (made with bitter orange peel and coriander), Ballito Belgian Ale, and our latest being a Shakas Impi Lager.

Brewing the beer is quite a delicate process.

“You start off by milling the grain through the mill to crack the husk. The grain is then mashed (to produce wort) followed by lautering (filtering) and transferred to the kettle, where it is bought up to 100 degrees, this is where the hops is added for the bitterness, flavour and aroma. The resultant “liquor” is then boiled for 75 minutes or so following which it is rapidly cooled to 20 Degrees via a Heat Exchanger on the way to its fermentation vessel where yeast is added, and the vessel closed.

Fermentation process

The yeast then “digests” the sugars, resulting in by-products of Ethyl Alcohol(ethanol) and CO2. The beer stays in the fermenters at different temperatures and periods depending on the type of beer produced, e.g. A lager/Pilsner will ferment at 12 degrees taking approximately 14 days, whereas a typical Ale will ferment at 18 degrees, taking 10-12 Days, Weissbier is fermented at even higher temperature resulting in an even quicker fermentation period (typically 7 days). “Chilled water (at 1.8 degrees) is continuously pumped through the cooling jacket of the fermenters in order to maintain consistent (preset to within 0.1 degree) fermentation temperatures, which is a CRITICAL control in maintaining flavour consistency.

Once the beer has fermented and the “trub” dispensed of, it is conditioned at 5 degrees for a minimum of 14 days, during this time CO2 produced by the process is reabsorbed back into the naturally Carbonating it………….It is then ready to be either bottled or Kegged.

This article was written by

The GreatRailroad Brewing Company