1. The Grist
Each beer recipe is known as the Grist. Paul and his team come up with the recipes, using over 20 years experience between them they work out the perfect blend of malts, hops and other ingredients. The night before a brew, the appropriate amount of malt(s) are milled and pumped up into the Grist Case, which is a large hopper above the Mash Tun.
2. Liquor (Water)
The quality and type of water is of major importance in brewing. The Nethergate Brewery brew team vary the mains water composition in one of the two Cold Liquor Tanks to suit our particular needs. The water used in the actual brew is only a small proportion of the total amount we use. Approximately 8 pints of water are used to produce each pint of beer, the remainder being needed for heating, cooling and washing.
3. Mashing In
The malt is mixed with hot liquor (water) in the Mash Tun which is a large round stainless steel tank with a perforated floor, to form the mash. The malt contains natural enzymes that convert the complex starchy sugar to maltose and dextrins. The mash is rinsed with water at 80°C to remove the sugars out from the grains. This process is called sparging.
4. The Boil
After approx 1.5 – 2 hours, the wort is run off under gravity to the Underback from where it is pumped up into the Copper. Here the wort is boiled to sterilise it and also denature the enzymes in the wort. Pellet Hops are added to the copper early in the boil primarily to provide bitterness and flavouring and leaf hops are added later on to provide aroma. We use hops from across the world but most come from Kent and Sussex.
5. Cooling
The wort is cooled quickly via the paraflow on its way to one of seven fermentation vessels in readiness for yeast addition. The paraflow is a heat exchanger made up of many plates with chilled liquor on one side and hot wort on the other. The large surface area allows the heat from the wort to heat up the liquor thus cooling the wort itself.
6. Fermentation
The yeast is added to the cooled wort and eats the simple sugars. Alcohol is created as a by-product of fermentation which also produces heat. The fermentation takes approx 2 days and the beer is then chilled and remains in the fermentation vessel for a further 5 days in order to condition, where yeast drops out of suspension and astringent flavours are softened.
7. Racking
Finished beer is then hand racked into casks for further conditioning before delivery. At this point finings are added which help remove proteins and other organic compounds in suspension in order to improve clarity and adjust the flavour or aroma of the beer. The casks still contain a small amount of live yeast which provides the secondary conditioning once vented and tapped in the cellar.
8. Monitoring Quality
Each brew is continuously monitored throughout its maturation. Samples are examined in the laboratory at regular intervals. The vital Ingredient All of the above is done with the love, care and attention of brewers that take the art of craft brewing very seriously