At Uley Brewery we brew in much the same fashion as William Price, who built the brewery in 1833. William Price sited his brewhouse next to one of the many springs in this valley. To this day this pure Cotswold spring water is the most important ingredient of our beers. Water is known as liquor by all brewers.
Our Malt is prepared by Tuckers of Newton Abbot, in one of the last traditional floor maltings in the West Country, and delivered to the rear of our brewhouse.
We are fortunate indeed to have a traditional tower brewery, built into the slopes of Uley Bury Hill; we can unload the maltster's lorry straight into the malt store in the roof.
We use Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt and a Roasted Crystal Malt. These crushed malts are carefully weighed into the grist case.
Hot liquor & Malt enters the Mash Tun
Checking the Mash temperature
Hot water, or liquor, is mixed with the malt in a Steele's Masher, and dropped into the the insulated mash tun where it rests for ninety minutes. We are extracting the fermentable sugars in the form of maltose. This mixture is called the mash.
The Wort is 'run off' into the Copper
The mash tun has a filter plate in the bottom to retain the husks of the barley. A valve is opened, and the wort is run off into the copper for boiling. The spent grain in the mash tun is rinsed through with hot liquor to extract the last bits of goodness trapped in the grain. This is called sparging, from the Latin aspergere, to sprinkle.
The wort is brought to the boil in the copper. Our copper, despite its name, is stainless Steel and is directly fired with three gas burners. We believe that a vigorous boil is the secret of good brewing, and this vessel designed by Chas and re-built by Richard Grant of Stroud Fabrications has proved its worth.
Skimming of the Scum
Just as the wort shows signs of coming to the boil the trub, or fragments of grain cases, are skimmed off the surface, and the First Hops are added. All our hops come from the traditional hop growing regions of Herefordshire. We use Goldings, Fuggles, and Challenger for our regular beers; once or twice a year Ken & Jody brew their own specials with all manner of exotic hops!
The heat is turned off, and the hops are allowed to settle in the copper, forming a natural filter bed.
The wort is pumped through a plate heat exchanger, which, as it cools the wort to room temperature, heats the liquor for the next mash. The wort is then collected in a fermenting vessel, or FV. We aim for a collection temperature between 17 and 19C.
We check the original gravity with a saccarometer, and pitch the yeast.
The Beer is left to Ferment
The yeast feeds off the fermentable sugars in the wort, and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This attenuation process takes between three & five days; when the required finished gravity is achieved the beer is cooled and racked into casks.
Especially the Inside
Cleaning the Barrels
It would be very foolish indeed to put prize winning beer into dirty casks! One of the humblest tasks in the brewery is also one of the most important. We do not use a cask washing machine; all our casks are individually steam cleaned and checked for contamination and damage.
The new, or green beer, is racked into casks, and rolled into our ancient cellar to condition. We use 9 and 18 gallon casks, known as firkins and kilderkins, for most of our customers, but we still use 36 gallon barrels for events such as Frocester Beer Festival.
Maturing the Beer
We brew cask conditioned beer. It is not filtered or pasteurised; it is alive, with secondary fermentation in the cask. In an ideal world we would like to leave our beer to condition for several months; however, demand exceeds supply, and we often have to let it go after only a couple of weeks
A small amount of isinglass finings is added to each cask as it leaves the brewery. This causes the yeast particles to coagulate and drop into a sediment in the belly of the cask. These finings do not mix with or contaminate the beer in any way, and the sediment ferments very slowly and imparts fresh condition to the beer.
Arriving at a Pub
The beer is delivered by the drayman into the temperature-controlled cellar of the pub, where it is stillaged, tapped and spiled, and connected to the beer engine ready to be drawn into your glass!
You now have your traditional pint of craft brewed real ale from Uley Brewery to savour and enjoy!