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We like to follow traditional brewing methods, and feel we have developed sound recipes for our core brands and a balanced portfolio of ales.
We only use the best ingredients available on the market, and just the four basic ingredients in our brewing – that is malt, hops, yeast and water. None of this would be any use at all of course if we didn’t follow our meticulous cleaning regime.
Brewing malt starts its life in the fields as barley, which has historically been the crop of choice in brewing in this country. Specialist maltsters trick the barley into thinking it is spring by steeping it in warm water, and so it starts to germinate. At a certain point, the grains are cured in huge kilns to stop the germination process. The nitrogen contained within the grains will provide the food for our yeast cells later in the process.
When treated the barley is known as “brewers malt”, and comes in to us in crushed form. The brewer is looking for starches and enzymes from the malt, which break down the cell walls and make it easier to extract the sugars which will form the basis of the “sweet wort”. This is often known as the brewer’s breakfast, and it is always a treat to taste the brew at this stage! It beats milk!
Most of the malt we use is a pale version of Maris Otter. For darker beers we add roasted malt in varying degrees. Coventry Bitter uses Crystal Malt for a darker colour and sweeter flavouring. Our Urban Red contains (among other things) a touch of Black Malt, but not too much, as it can be quite bitter. Adding a touch of wheat malt will help with head retention later on.
The malt is added to treated water which becomes known as “brewer’s liquor”, once treated, to get the acidity levels right for brewing. Untreated water has a pH level which is too high for brewing ale and it needs to be lowered (known as Burtonisation) through the addition of brewing salts. Brewing salts ensure the correct balance of chloride and sulphate for beer flavour and mouth feel.
The liquor is mixed with the wort in the mash tun to create the “mash“, which resembles a big bowl of porridge. The mashing lasts for 90 minutes at 66°c. Filtration is important now to ensure the wort extraction is as free from malt bits as possible. The mash is sparged in order to extract the right amount of the sugary liquid at the right rate, and to stop the chemical process so we don’t get too many bitter tannins in the wort for example.
The sweet wort is transferred to the kettle where it is boiled for 90 minutes. At this stage we will add the hops. We use a variety of hops from the UK and abroad to give us the characteristics we are looking for in a particular beer. We use the whole hop flower which gives better results. Hops can be used for bittering, aroma or flavour, or a combination. They can be added at varying stages in the process, or even added to the cask during the racking process. We need to extract the essential oils from the lupulin glands of the hop flower, which help preserve the beer later in the process.
Boiling also sterilises the beer and removes a large amount of protein which occurs naturally in the malt husks. A certain amount of protein helps head retention, but too much will make the beer cloudy.
After the boil the “bittered wort” is cooled when transferring to the fermenter. At around 22 degrees another pH reading is taken (the original gravity) and the correct amount of good, healthy yeast is pitched into the wort. The robust and voracious yeast will feed on the sugars in the wort and convert the sugar to alcohol in order to make the potential gravity a reality.
Fermentation takes place over around 6-7 days until the (now alcoholic) beer has reached its final gravity. At Byatt’s we use our own live yeast culture which gives our beers their own individual characteristics.
Once the beer has almost reached its target ABV, we transfer it into sterile casks
Preparing casks for filling which will go into cold storage for a couple of weeks before distribution into the trade. Our casks are individually numbered for quality control purposes.
This is live beer in the cask. The yeast continues to work and convert sugars to alcohol. This also produces a natural amount of CO2 which helps preserve the beer.
Two types of finings are added to the beer to encourage the yeast and protein to flocculate (grouping together in large clumps) and in doing so leaves a bright and well polished beer in the cask above.
You can look forward to a nicely conditioned pint, evidenced by a thick, creamy lacing down the glass, urging you to go back for more!
Our spent grains go off to a local farm as cattle feed and our spent hops are used as fertiliser. The yeast is harvested for the next brew and the steam from our kettle is redirected to provide heat to our office area.