With the new year came new changes to the Rahr Technical Center (RTC). As the first of the equipment arrived to start the RTC tank expansion, so did Kain Escobar, the Rahr Technical Center’s new Manager of Brewing Research and Operations.
Before Rahr, Escobar “brewed by education” at UC Davis and an internship before landing a job at MillerCoors in Fort Worth. Starting in quality control, he soon found himself in the “Black Ops” of the company, working with new products at a pilot brewery up in Wisconsin. That’s where Rahr found him, and brought him aboard. “My first day, I walked up and the tanks were sitting there, ready to be installed,” said Escobar. “Rahr scooped me up, and I landed running.”
Life at the RTC got busy quickly with CBC looming on the horizon and the brewery in full-swing expansion. What was previously 16 tanks became 29, with four varying sizes; 13 tanks of 1.5 hectoliters, 7 tanks of 3.6 hectoliters, 6 tanks of 3 hectoliters, and 3 tanks of 6 hectoliters. “Right now, it’s running like a large-scale brewery,” Escobar explained. With CBC came the preparation of nine different beers. One such beer was the Minnesota Sunrise, which previewed at CBC with a new hop from the Public Hop Breeding Program. While the hop hasn’t been officially named yet, it currently goes by its nickname, 007.
“The goal is to be able to make the same beer day in and day out, and have it be exactly the same,” said Escobar in regard to the purpose of the expansion. In working with and testing the new tanks comes flexibility, higher throughput, and the collection of data, and according to Escobar, that data is important in establishing the brewery. “We need to back up what we put out.” He detailed how creating standardized wort streams was needed to establish quality control as well, so that they have a stable known control when testing, and can readily find what needs adjusting and the effects of what is being trialed.
Developing and stabilizing the brewery on top of the numerous projects running through the RTC means long hours for the new Manager of Brewing Research and Operations, but it’s all with a dream in mind. “We want to be a world class brewery in three years,” Escobar declared. With this dream comes further additions of a CO2 bulk supply system and a semi auto bottle filler/crowner to the RTC. The CO2 bulk system will aid production and consistency, and save on yearly CO2 costs for the RTC. The filler will provide the ability to package 12oz, 16oz, and 22oz bottles from tank and kegged product, which allows shelf stability and ingredient stability tests with packaged beers to be carried out. On top of everything, the brewery now has the capability to brew high gravity product, another step towards the world class brewery goal.
Right now, Escobar looks forward to getting things stabilized. The tank expansion is nearly complete, with the new tanks currently in use for projects. At the start of May, the RTC gained another new addition as Sean Tynan became Assistant Brewer, bringing the brewery back to full staff.