Belikin Beer brews anew brewmaster
Belikin is the king of beer in Belize. And to keep the local brand in its top form, the company sent one of its employees to Europe to become skilled in a treasured art. Nolan Michael is Belikin’s new brewmaster. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
For many the satisfaction of an ice cold local beer begins and ends inside this dark brown bottle or, alternatively, inside the shorter, green one. Both are products of Belize’s flagship brewery, a company that has been in existence since 1969. Though it has been forty-two years since it became the drink of choice for most Belizeans very little is known about what goes into the process of fermenting this libation.
Nolan Michael, Brew Master, Belize Brewing Co. Ltd.
“We’re sitting in a state of the art brewery installed probably about ten years ago and is still one of the most modern breweries in this part of the world. As such it allows us very complete control of the entire process. Any single little alteration of the process can result in a different flavor being developed in your beer.”
The many stainless steel boilers collected across this sprawling facility here in Ladyville are indeed a quantum leap in the business of beer making. Thirty-six year old Nolan Michael is among the youngest brew masters to sit at the helm of the operation, the first Belizean to ever do so in the history of the company.
“For the entire previous years, those forty plus years for the most part we have had German brew masters. They have been the pioneers, one of the leading pioneers in this industry, in the brewing industry. What we are endeavoring to take place right now we want, Belikin is already associated completely with, [it’s] a completely Belizean product. It’s one of those few products out there that people recognize as a completely Belizean product. People feel proud whenever they consume a Belikin Beer, they know it was produced here.”
Despite production locally, the Beer of Belize, is made of ingredients such as hops and yeast which are imported from as far away as Bavaria, in southeastern Germany. The primary component nevertheless is shipped in from Canada.
“That malt is received here at our system. It’s stored in our storage silos, automatic storage silos. From there it’s sent to, whenever we need to produce a particular style of beer according to a specific recipe, it’s sent to our mill, our variomill. Again [it’s a] completely automated process where it’s milled and from there that milled malt is sent into our mash tun which is extraction fraction of fermentable extracts from that actual malt. That process uses water, heated water to extract those fermentable extracts namely carbohydrates and proteins.”
From there the sugary liquid, known as wort, is combined with yeast and hops in the next stage of the process.
“The wort, what we call wort is actually transferred to a whirlpool where any un-dissolved solids are separated from the liquid. That liquid is then chilled and passed via, again, through an automatic transfer system to our fermenters where along that route we inject, we aerate that wort and add yeast. Subsequent to that the beer spends at least twenty days or so in our fermenters where yeast is basically converting that wort into beer. That process is, to say the least, one of the most important parts of actually ending up with beer.”
As mentioned earlier much of what happens in and around the brewery is overseen through an advanced network of computers manned from the brew house control room. It’s German engineering at its finest but it’s no substitute for personnel on the ground.
“We endeavor to deliver the freshest quality product and the best tasting product to all our customers consistently. This is the biggest difference, we can be extremely consistent with this new brewery but for the most part it still involves quite a bit of monitoring that requires human input. There is sensory evaluations that need to take place. There is a different analytical test that needs to take place. All of this combined together results in the final end product, in us delivering the best quality end product to our customers.”
…and the end results which come rolling down the production line at the bottling plant will be expanded in the upcoming months to add another unique twist to taste flavor of Belize.
“You’ll be seeing new flavors coming out from us that are, I would say, based on traditional, local Belizean flavors. It’s a new and exciting time for us and we hope that the Belizean people will join us and enjoy all of our products that we will be launching.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.