Stephen Jenkins watches a timer count down to the exact moment when he’ll drop a bucket of hops into a batch of what will become an amber ale.
“This one’s about nine pounds of a couple different kinds of hops,” said Jenkins, brewer for West Sixth Brewing in Lexington.
He’s perched on top of a catwalk overlooking a vat of wort — the primordial ooze that will be strained, left to ferment with yeast and eventually canned or kegged.
“It makes 40 barrels at a time, which is about 80 kegs, 80 half-barrel kegs, and we do two brews a day. So we’re going to do about 80 barrels of amber today,” Jenkins said.
West Sixth Brewing made about 2,000 barrels of beer in its inaugural year in 2011. This year, the company is on track to make 12,000 to 13,000 barrels.
Despite the brewing company’s rapid growth, it’s still a tiny carbonated bubble floating in an ocean dominated by two global breweries — Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the maker of Budweiser; and SABMiller, which makes Miller Lite.