It takes 5 key ingredients to make great beer - malt, hops, water, yeast and imagination. We're never short of any of these.
The first step is the hardest. What do we want to brew? Whilst we have a regular run of our most popular real ales and craft beers, we're always experimenting. We seek inspiration from our local environment and listening to our audience. Whether it's infusing herbs from the Pig Restaurant's garden for a bespoke ale, or experimenting with combinations of the latest hops to satisfy the craft beer movement's hunger for intense hop flavours.
Once we have a plan, we set to work. Bringing water up to temperature, mashing the malt (and other grains), then sparging the grains to provide the sweet and flavoursome wort. Next, we bring the wort up to the boil and add the bittering hops. Later in the boil, and as we chill the wort, more hops are added for aroma.
Once the wort is chilled, we add the yeast - this brings the beer to life. We use a variety of yeasts, depending on the style of beer. After a few days of initial fermentation, the beer is racked off the yeast and taken to a secondary fermentation vessel to mature. At this point, additional hops and other additions (such as herbs, fruit or spices) can be added to expand the character of the beer.
Our craft beers are small batch brewed - typically owing to the experimental nature and complexity of the brewing processes we apply. We love to experiment in a kind of 'skunk brew lab' - testing and exploring flavour profiles many wouldn't dare. When we hit gold, we scale it up a bit. But all of our craft beers are still brewed in small batches.
Another key difference between our craft beers and real ales is the presence of yeast in the final product. Real ales condition further in the cask or bottle - so we don't filter all the yeast out of them. This produces a more subtle carbonation, but requires care when pouring to avoid tipping the yeast into your pint!
Craft beers are often served colder than real ales, so the carbonation can be a little higher - keeping things punchy at the lower temperatures.
The time to brew varies massively between beer styles. One of the key influences is strength - the stronger the beer, the longer is needs to condition. Some of our real ales can be ready to serve within 3 weeks from brewing, whereas an oak-aged porter can take many months to create.