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db brews a craft beer at Wadworth

db was invited to the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes to take part in the fifth Brewer’s Creation brew, a small run, elderflower craft beer. Here’s a look at how the day went.

It all started before 7am, with the malt going into the mash tun. In total 180lbs of malt was used, this was a combination of milled crisp pale ale malt and milled Munich malt.

The malt goes into the masher with hot water, and it is now important to keep the temperature at 75C. This crucial temperature helps to develop the fermentable sugars that are needed for the beer. If this mash is too hot then there will be none of these sugars and the beer will be too thin and alcoholic if the temperature is too cold.

The mash tun fills up with malt and water, the ideal consistency at this point is similar to a good thick porridge. Once all the malt is in the mash tun it will sit for around 90 minutes to help develop all the enzymes and sugars that are needed for the beer.

Once all the malt is in the mash tun, it is all about getting the right breakdown of sugars for the beer. More water is added to help keep the temperature at 75C and also to help drain off more wort, which is the basis of the beer. Again the temperature and consistency are crucial at this stage, in order to get the right sugars for alcohol.

Eventually it is time to start draining off the wort from the bottom of the mash tun. Around 10lbs of sugar is added to the wort at this stage, before it heads into the copper for boiling. It takes around two hours to slowly drain the wort from the mash tun, and the malt needs to be kept at 75C during this process. Once all the wort is drained off the malt is done with for the brewery, but it is not wasted as it is used for local cattle feed.

Now the wort is pumped into the copper, where it will boil for around one hour. This is a crucial part of the brewing process. It helps to sterilise the beer, stop the enzymes working, get the bitterness from the hops into the brew, removes undesirable smells and joins the polyphenols and the proteins together, which helps to get them out of the beer.

Once there is enough wort in the copper the steam is switched on and the boiling process can begin. The steam makes it tricky to get a clear photograph.

While the brew was boiling in the microbrewery, db was taken on a tour of the main Wadworth brewery. This picture shows one of the main coppers that is used in the process, and you can see how much bigger this is than the one that we used for the Brewers’ Creation.

The beer is boiled in the big copper as it is in the microbrewery, although this state-of-the-art copper has been designed to be more energy efficient than in the past. Around 30,000 pints are boiled in each tank and this new copper means that less beer is lost in the steaming and boiling process.

After the wort has been boiled for a while some of the hops are added to help give the beer more bitterness.

At this point the brew resembles a large-scale tea as the wort and hops combine and flavours develop.

Some of the other ingredients in our craft beer included “Grains of Paradise”, which are like peppercorns and needed to be bashed. These are the spice that is needed in the beer to balance the sweetness of the elderflower. A good old fashioned piece of kit was used for this process.

This second round of hops also included orange peel, elderflower and Styrian golding leaf.

Once the boiling is done and the hops are all added, the brew is cooled and heads to a fermentation tank. For our small brew just one of these fermenters is needed (number one in case you are wondering).

The brew is now transferred into the fermentation tank, it will stay in this tank for three days before some extra elderflower tea and yeast is added.

A few days after the yeast is added the beer has a coating over the top, which is formed as part of the fermentation process. This layer helps to protect the ale as it develops.

In comparison this is one of the main fermentation tanks used in the brewery. This big tank holds around 29,000 pints of beer.

And here is the finished product. A well-rounded beer with good bitterness that you want from an ale, but a good level of sweetness and floweriness that comes from the elderflower and fruit that was used in the brewing.

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