A Day in the Life of a Brewer
Who said that insurance was all pens and papers, answering phone calls and e-mails and stuck at a desk from 9 till 5? Well they couldn’t be more wrong! I was very kindly invited to work alongside Preston’s famous Beer Brothers David & Phill to brew for the day!
I was told to be there for an early 8am start ready for mashing! With the trains being cancelled and delayed, I was worried that I wouldn’t make it in time. Luckily, my hubby came to the rescue – I was on my way not knowing what my day had in store for me. To say that I was excited would be an understatement!
Meeting the Brothers
We arrived in Preston a little earlier than expected, but as I waved my hubby off to work, I turned around to see this beauty!
I was already in love with their aesthetics and the design of their kegs! I did think ‘Hmm will they let me take one home with me as a souvenir?’ I realised they probably wouldn’t but hey a girls got to ask!
First to arrive was one of the brothers David in his lovely BMW, with nothing other than Punk Rock blasting out of the windows. I could tell already that this was going to be a good day! David introduced me to Jake who deals with all of Beer Brothers marketing; although for some reason I called him Luke all day (Sorry Jake – maybe it is time for a name change!). One amazing brewery tour with punk rock music echoing throughout and a few glugs of coffee later, it was time to get to work!
Down to the Nitty – Gritty
David explained that we needed to make sure the Brewery was completely cleared, as we would need the space for the day’s events. Not only were we going to brew but there was also a brew ready to be put into kegs, in which the equipment needed cleaning and sterilised before the new brew could be transferred across.
We started out by moving all the benches outside. It was such a beautiful day so it made sense to move them outside: punters were soon flocking around the benches, whilst enjoying some of the ales on tap and the giant pork pies on offer!
Phill soon arrived and after a couple of introductions and discussions on music choice, we finished clearing the brewery. It was time for another brew… “Luke put the kettle on!!!”
David then got to work on cleaning and sterilising everything in sight! Whilst he did that, Phill explained that cleaning and sterilising was a huge part of brewing and we talked about how important this was – Serious talk!
I must have opened about 30 bags and you have no idea how tricky they are to open! It was definitely a ‘scissors to the rescue’ moment.
Whilst Phill started a line clean on the bar (ready for the punters to start arriving around noon), David started lugging the different bags of malt up to the equipment, where we would add it when ready. The water was added, in which we then needed to wait until it was hot enough before adding the malt.
A little bit of Science: The malt is mixed with hot water to allow the starch to be converted into sugar by enzymes. The temperature here is crucial.
Once the water was hot enough, David poured each bag into the water, one at a time, whilst I then wrote down the different batch codes.
Now if this was a scratch and sniff blog you would be going crazy! The smell was absolutely amazing: it was like a mixed scent of Hot Chocolate and a smell which reminds me of my childhood, sat in front of the fire on a cold snowy winters night – Ovaltine!
WOW, I just couldn’t get over the smell making its way around the brewery.
This was the first part of the brewing process now done, in which we left the equipment to work its magic for about 2 hours!
So, we now had a couple of hours to start transferring the already brewed IPA into kegs. Obviously, we needed to sample it beforehand, so here it is, at 9:30am! Never too early right?
David finished sterilising whilst Phill finished the line clean, the equipment for the kegs was set up and David explained that we should be able to get it all done quicker if we had a little system going, he passed down all 36 kegs down to me and I stacked them up ready. Meanwhile, Phill sorted the music!
So, the system was:
- Phill sterilised and rinsed the kegs, adding the Isinglass then passed to David.
- David filled the kegs with the beer, banged a cap in and rolled to me.
- I rinsed the kegs with the hose and rolled the keg to the other end.
Time for some more science trivia: Isinglass is a substance which is produced from the swim bladder of a fish! This gives clarification or is used as a fining agent in beer. Nice Ey! You can imagine my expression when I was told this (ha).
Back to the Brewing
In the meantime, look what was happening…
It had been 2 hours and the sweet liquid, which is called the Wort, was now ready for the Hops.
My job then was to start weighting the different types of Hops…
There were 2 different types of Hops and some pure liquorice added into the bucket. The bags of hops are very compact, so we needed to bash the bags with a mallet! Luckily, we didn’t take a picture of me doing this but it’s great to release those bad energies haha!
During this time, we had some customers!!! It just so happened to be when I’m bent over adding hops into the tub, weighing and bashing – what a lovely sight! Both myself and a lovely customer tasted the liquorice and it tasted amazing. I love liquorice anyway, but this was a taste sensation!
Ok, now it was back to business! We were ready to add the first load of the hops, at boiling point, into the kettle! These were added at boiling point for bitterness, in which cocoa powder was added, followed up by the second stage of adding the hops…this I believe gives the beer its aroma… If only you could smell the brewery at this point!
The punters were flocking in and out of the brewery throughout the day, purchasing beers and eating pork pies. During this time, I was able to have some lunch and a quick coffee break before we started on the cleaning and sterilising of the tank, that had been previously used to transfer the ready beer into kegs, so that we could get it ready for our new beer!
Here you can see David and Phill in action!
Ok…so the hops were in and the kettle was working its magic. This in all took around 90 minutes in total.
Once the 90 minutes were up and the boiling was complete, the wort was cooled to around 20°C through a heat exchanger and then through to the fermenter; this took roughly an hour or so.
In this time, we cleaned, sterilised and mingled with the punters.
Once the beer was in the fermenter, Phill added the yeast – this will ferment the wort and turn it into beer! How exciting!
This is what we were left with so David handed me the shovel and I got to work!
David needed to get inside to shovel out the last few bits. You would not believe how hot it is in there! Thankfully I wouldn’t fit through the hole, so I got away with that.
At 5pm, the farmer came to pick up the spent grain and was taking it back to the farm to feed to his cows. Our Brewing process was now complete (well apart from the cleaning up)…
And here it is – brewed by me (and with a little help from the Beer Brothers ha)!
And I couldn’t be prouder…. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any made earlier for me to try so they very kindly poured me one of their Gold Ales, made from Saaz, Admiral and Goldings Hops … very refreshing after a hard day’s graft – well deserved!
Beer Brothers Gain a Sister
WOW! What can I say, I had the best day! And I tell you what, those boys don’t half graft! Whoever said brewers spend their days sampling and drinking beer couldn’t be more wrong!
I can finally say that I now understand the brewing process and I have learnt so much. David and Phill made me feel very welcomed and very much part of the team, I will be forever grateful.
If you would like to purchase one of their amazing beers, you can find them here!
So, what’s next? Well, do all breweries follow the same brewing process? Watch this space for my next Brew Day at a different brewery.
Cheers to that!