Nine hardy club members visited Independent Breweries on 17th August, and in the middle of the worst snow storm for decades, to hear and see how Mates beers are made. Having rugged up to for the night, breweries are not the warmest place, and with a sample in our hands we heard how the grain is cracked and added to water to start the mash. We saw the process through the mash tank, onto the lauter tank where the wort is sparged with hot water and pumped to the kettle. Hops are added with more boiling and then pumped to the fermenter where the wort is cooled and the yeast added. Another top up of the excellent product and we heard how the ferment is tracked with hydrometers. At the required S.G. the beer is chilled and left for the yeast to remove any off characters. We were then taken to the conditioning room (0.6 degrees) and learnt that the beer is stored on the yeast for several weeks. The beer is then filtered and bottled. Another top up and then onto the bottling, capping and labeling processes.
A very interesting visit and well worth venturing out into the stormy night.
Our thanks to Howard, the brewer, for giving up his fireside chair and coming out on such a rough night.