Monday, 10 October 2011

Prospect Brew Day

With the beer and food festival this month, we wanted to brew our own beer to bring to the event. I rang Patsy from Prospect brewery in Standish and discussed the idea. This brewery are never shy of trying different styles and agreed to try a new beer for the festival. So the idea was born and on 10th October, the beer was brewed.




Camper Van Beethoven
Not only did we want a signature beer, we wanted to be there along the process of brewing it as well. So early Monday morning I fired up the ever reliable Beethoven and drove to an industrial estate in Standish.






The mash tin

My knowledge of brewing is almost zero, all I know is it creates beer, so I had a lot to learn. The process is started by adding hot water (liquor) to malted barley and wheat in a large metal tanker called a mash tin. This process produces the sugars that will eventually become alcohol. With the maltiness of the barley, it smelt like a cup of Horlicks. With all the sugars extracted, this liquor is filtered into a whirlpool (or keep safe) which removes any other proteins.





The next stage is the boiling. This is done in another metal vessel called a copper. The liquor and malt (called a wort) is brought to the boil at which point the hops are added. The hops give the beer it's bitterness and adds more flavour. The 3 different hops (Amarillo, Centennial and Stella) are added at different intervals, so the flavours travel.

Adding hops
The copper
Then came our next ingredient, not usually used in brewing, basil. The idea was to produce a citrusy, strong IPA with a hint of basil in the after taste. When all the flavours had been extracted from the hops, the wort is then passed to the fermenting tank. This was one of Prospect's original tanks and was featured in Oz Clarke's and James May's programme : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZm1C5hrpGs&noredirect=1
At this point it all got a bit technical. Patsy took a sample from the wort to check the gravity (which defines its alcohol content,)the yeast was added and the tank sealed.

Fermenting tank


 
Adding the yeast
This is then left to ferment for a week, before it is racked (put into barrels) and dry hopped (more hops added at the barreling stage.) At this stage, you taste the wort, it's not a great job, it is very sweet (because the yeast hasn't broken down the sugars yet) and also very bitter (due to the hops), but gives an indication of the finished brew. You could just pick out a slight basil after taste which was what we wanted to achieve.

The final stage was my least favourite, the cleaning. To stop each brew contaminating the next, you had to thoroughly clean the apparatus. This meant, a shovel, a scourer, caustic soda and elbow grease.

Scrubbing the mash tin

Clearing out the used hops

My finished work (I'm quite proud)
This was a really great way to learn about the processes behind beer making, also it was nice to see the birth of our beer. Patsy is a skilled brewer who is passionate about the quality of the product, this is why I picked her for our beer. Although don't think for a minute she let me get away with not working. A lot of skill and hard work goes into each beer brewed and this gave me a better appreciation of this. Best of all I received my wages at the end of the day.