Built into the flanks of Uley Bury on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment lies Uley Brewery, a traditional tower brewery. It was originally built by Samuel Price in 1833 on the site of the lower village spring outlet. This was during William IV's reign, when Uley was filled with woollen mills, a dusty, thirsty trade with a huge appetite for beer. An 1840's map shows the thirteen beer houses in the village.
Brewing and malting continued under the aegis of the Price family and later the Ayliffe family until the collapse of the woollen mill trade at the end of the 19th century.
The brew house and cellars went on to have many uses, mostly agricultural but it was also used as kennels until Chas Wright, a local beer wholesaler, was given the opportunity to re-open the brewery in 1984. After a winter of building and re-fitting, with stainless steel vessels designed by him, made locally and still used today, Uley Brewery was ready to open in 1985. The first Uley pint was poured on the 1st March 1985 in the Red Lion, Arlingham, which still serves Uley beer today.
At the end of 2018 Chas handed over the reigns to Martin Brooks, who continues to develop the brewery in line with it's traditional heritage.
We are Genuine Cotswold Brewers
Uley brewery is built on top of a natural Cotswold spring which provides all of the water or 'liquor' for all of our beers.
We use a strain called Maris Otter. This is soaked and spread out on the malting floor at Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire, and then kilned. It is then distributed to some of the leading traditional craft brewers in England.
Using mainly Pale malt, we add small quantities of crystal, or caramelised malt to add flavour and darken the colour of some of our beers.
Fuggles and Goldings are our main hops, the one for aroma and the other for taste.
Hops are also a very fine preservative, and keep the living beer clean and fresh.
The live ingredient! All authentic English beer is top fermented. This means, strangely enough, that all the vigorous fermentation takes place in open FVs or fermentation vessels, not in vast enclosed conical bottomed tanks. Top fermentation is now almost exclusively an English process, and we use a strain called sacchormyces cerevisea.
Malted Maris Otter Barley is delivered to the malt store on the top floor at the rear of the brewhouse and is dropped into the Mash Tun with heated water, or liquor, which we have the advantage of sourcing from our own natural Cotswold Spring. Liquor is the greatest part of beer, both in quality and quantity.
The resultant wort is run off from the mash tun into a gas-fired copper, and boiled with Herefordshire Goldings, Fuggles and other Traditional Hops. The wort is then cooled and collected in fermentation vessels, yeast is pitched, and after around seven days primary fermentation the finished beer is racked into casks and rolled into our vaulted cellar for conditioning.
The Spring Water, or Liquor
At Uley Brewery we brew in much the same fashion as William Price did, 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.
The Malted Barley
Our Malt is prepared by Warminster Maltings, Wiltshire, 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 hopper.
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 extract the fermentable sugars in the form of maltose. This mixture is called the mash.
The Run Off & Sparge
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 Boil & Hopping
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.
Just as the wort shows signs of coming to the boil the trub, or protein & fragments of grain cases, are skimmed off the surface, and the First 'Bittering' 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; a few times a year, we brew specials with all manner of exotic hops!
The hopped wort is boiled for over an hour, and Second Hops, for aroma, are added.
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 cools the wort to room temperature and heats the liquor for the next mash. The wort is then collected in a fermenting vessel, or FV. We aim for a collection temperature of between 17° and 19°C.
We check the original gravity with a saccharometer, and pitch the yeast.
The yeast is then pitched into the Fermentation Vessel onto the cooled wort. It feeds off the fermentable sugars in the wort, and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This attenuation process normally takes between three & five days, during which time, the gravity and the temperature are checked at least daily. A sizeable crop of yeast will be taken off the top and placed in the fridge ready to pitch on the next brew. Human intervention is sometimes required to ensure the fermentation process proceeds as wanted. When the required final gravity is achieved, the beer is cooled and racked into casks.
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.
Racking, or Barrelling-up
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.
Maturing the Beer in the cellar
We brew cask conditioned beer. It is not filtered or pasteurised; it is alive, with secondary fermentation taking place in the cask. The beer is then aged for a month in the cellar before the first pint is poured.
Despatching the Beer
A small amount of isinglass finings is added to each cask as it leaves the brewery. This causes the yeast particles to form a sediment and drop into 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.
The Pub ... At last!
Delivering to the pubs
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!