In order to be successful in any market it's important to understand the customers. That's why we sent our MD (Tim Guest) to work for a day in Salford based Seven Brothers Brewery.
At Zoedale we supply many industries but have recently seen a real increase in enquiries from Craft and Micro Breweries as demand for these fresh hoppy beers continues to grow. I spent the day brewing at one of our customers - Seven Brothers Brewery based in Salford close to The BBC in Media City.
Their current 10 barrel brewhouse makes a range of beers including an IPA, EPA, a Stout, a light Session Ale and a mellow Watermelon Wheat Beer. They also make smaller batches of beers for differing tastes including a Ruby Red Cask Ale which was what I helped to brew.
By the time I'd reached the brewery the Mashing process had already begun, they had added a selection of different Malts to the Mash Tun and this was left for just over an hour at about 75C. Work in a Brewery never stops and this time was used to Keg some IPA that was due for delivery that day. I helped to entertain Marley, the Brewery Dog.
When the mash was ready it was then pumped into the Brew Kettle at a controlled speed to avoid too much solid going in. At this time warm water was sprinkled on top of the mash (Sparging) to get the maximum amount of flavor from the malts. While the mash was being transferred I was put to work emptying the mash tun, hot and humid work!
When the mash was all in the brew kettle it was time to start adding Hops. As I love the smell of Hops I volunteered to accurately weigh out each different Hop variety which was added to the kettle at various stages so the aroma of the hops came out without too much bitterness. We used various Hops from The UK and North America.
The Hops were added slowly with a large amount of all the hops being added near the end of the circa 90 minute boiling cycle.
While this was going on the fermenting vessel was thoroughly cleaned using a mix of Peracetic Acid and Caustic then thoroughly rinsed through. The guys at Seven Brothers take hygiene very seriously and use an ATP Hygeina device to check for any nasty bacteria. This reading is recorded in their production system. When this reading is low enough they begin the transfer from the kettle to the fermenter via a heat exchanger. This cools the liquor to a desired temperature whilst oxygen is added to help the yeast activate.
The final stage is to add the yeast to the fermenter then wait. This Ruby Red Ale will stay in the fermenter for around 4 days before being casked.
We sell valves and pumps to lots of breweries including the big players where it's all automated. The process in these smaller craft brewers is very manual and labour intensive but they add one extra ingredient - Passion! It's clear to see this isn't just a job for the guys at Seven Brothers, it's about crafting exceptional beers that will be enjoyed and savoured by people. I really enjoyed my day and I'm looking forward to trying some of the beers when the Seven Brothers Bar opens in Manchester later this year.