By Kia & David
We were incredibly excited to be invited to help Dean brew last week, even more so when we found out we would be brewing Jentacular which is absolutely one of my favourite B13 beers. One out of about 20, obviously! Dave and I have been on a lot of Brewery tours between us but nothing is more exhilarating than actually making your own beer. Well, Dean’s beer. And, one of the Bakers Dozen beers that we chose to have at our wedding!
I had advance warning that brewing is messy work and so rocked up, bright and early on Tuesday morning to the Brewery in Ketton, in my quick dry walking trousers and a shirt and fleece that I was quite happy to destroy in the name of spectacular beer. I had my sturdy work boots, a spare change of clothes and enough food to get me through the day. Dave bought himself and literally nothing else, meaning that he had to go home after the mashing to get his work boots and food, though this was a good opportunity to send him on a coffee run.
The first part of the process is measuring out the malts as this gets mixed with the hot liquor (water) where it is mashed by hand for around 30 minutes to make the wort. I managed about 7 minutes in total (three attempts) and was unable to lift anything heavier than a teabag for three days afterwards. The mash is held at 64°C for an hour, before it is transferred into the Copper while hot liquor is flushed through the grains to get all of the delicious sugars out of the malt.
The transfer takes around an hour and then the wort is boiled with bittering hops which takes another hour or more; so we got to spend some time playing with hops and taking photos. We were lucky to be able to measure out some Citra hops for this brew (for those not in the know, Citra hops are like Unicorn Poop) and in comparison to the other hops used in this beer (Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe), the Citra hops were incredibly sticky and resinous and the aroma was to die for, a combination of citrus and Summer. Not all of the hops go in at the same time, a combination of bittering hops went in at the start of the boil to create, well…bitterness, and the majority of hops are added at the end of the boil to create the flavour and aroma.
While the wort and initial bittering hops are on the boil, it’s time to start cleaning out the spent grains left in the mash tun. So we dig ourselves a hole, jump into the mash tun and start shovelling out the malt. This delicious boiled malt (tastes like creamy porridge, no wonder the cows love it) is shovelled into rollable bins which a local farmer collects and takes away to feed to their cows, creating a nice circular economy around the Brewery and decreasing waste. Once the solids are out, the mash tun needs rinsing, cleaning, rinsing, cleaning, rinsing and cleaning again. We’ve been on a lot of Brewery tours and have never really appreciated just how much cleaning goes on in a Brewery!
In this time, the wort and bittering hops are close to the end of their boil and the flavour/aroma hops are added into the top of the Copper. We climb a ladder, open the lid of the Copper and the most amazing smell fills the Brewery, made even better with the addition of more hops and the Citra hops.
Buckets of measured hops are passed up and poured in, stirred throughout the wort and left to boil until it is time to transfer the wort through the heat exchanger to cool it down before it enters the fermentation tanks. This is done to ensure that the wort is at 20°C before the yeast is added.
The Copper drains and there is a little more downtime while we wait for the hops left in the bottom of the tank to cool down, before transferring them to used malt bags for use at a customers allotment, again ensuring that waste is kept to a minimum and there is a further use for all of the ingredients used in this batch of beer. The hops cool enough to be shovelled out and then it is time to get into the Copper, with the pressure washer, and bathe in hops. It’s messy. It’s wet. You get covered in hops. And you’re playing with a pressure washer. What’s not to love?
And the process repeats again. Rinsing, cleaning, scrubbing, rinsing, cleaning scrubbing. Until you think, and I stress think as by this time there are probably bits of hops stuck to your corneas, that every bit of wort and hop has been removed from the Copper. Then it’s time to send the hard core sterilising cleaning stuffs through and you lay on a pallet of malt, soaked to the bone and covered in hops, wondering how long it will be before you get to taste the beer you have just made. Before nodding off and dreaming about hops and beer and beer and hops.