Our way of brewing is very much a hands on process. Tim the brewer carries out all of the tasks manually, so we truly are making handcrafted ale. A typical day of brewing starts the day before! The night before a brew the hot liquor tank is filled with water and treated with minerals to adjust its pH to make it suitable for an effective mash - this water is now referred to as liquor (i.e. water that will become a key part of the finished beer). The liquor is heated up to 'strike temperature' (somewhere in the region of 74-75℃) over night.
At 7 a.m. Tim arrives, usually bleary-eyed and wishing he hadn't drunk a couple of pints the night before to 'help him get to sleep'. The mash tun is pre-heated with some of the hot liquor and crushed grains are tipped in. A typical 5 barrel brew (that's 1,440 pints) requires in the region of 150kg of grain, depending on the alcoholic strength we're aiming for. This is stirred thoroughly to ensure an even mix, covered and then left for one hour and 30 minutes to allow conversion of starches to sugars. The temperature in the mash tun is around 67℃ which gives the final beer a nice mouthfeel.
Once the mash is complete the sugary wort is run off into the underback from where it is pumped into the kettle. The wort in the kettle is brought up to a rolling boil and once the 'hot break' has occurred (all the lumpy bits coagulate!) the timer is started and the boil maintained for another hour. During this hour hops are added at various points, along with a dose of kettle finings to aid clarity. Once the hour is over the heat is turned off and the wort is allowed to stand for 15 minutes before flavour hop additions are added - this is where the majority of the hops go - these are left to steep for around 30 minutes and then the hot wort is pumped through the counterflow chiller into the sanitised fermenter. Once full, yeast is added and the vessel sealed. Now Tim has to clean all vessels and the counterflow chiller so it's all ready to go for next time. The whole process is usually finished by 4.30pm.
On day 6 the fermenter is chilled and auxilliary finings are added to help clarify the beer. After a couple of days 'on the chill' the ale is casked, fined with isinglass, and placed in our store room to condition for a minimum of 7 days.