The Sandrock - Real Ale Pub & Restaurant, Farnham

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A Simple Guide To Brewing

Menu PictureVery simply, British real ale is normally made from water *, malt, hops and yeast, although many other cereals have been used (instead of malt barley) in the past and are still used in many countries. Sometimes additional flavours are added near to the end of the process for characteristic flavours e.g. Spices, herbs, fruit, honey etc.

The malt is crushed and mixed with hot water in an insulated vessel and boiled for one to two hours and about 65 degrees Celsius. This stimulates the enzymes in the malt to convert the starches in to sugars. The resulting liquid is then strained through the malt husks and water is gently sprayed over the malt grains to extract all of the goodness. The liquid (called the wort or sweet wort) is then transferred to a large boiling vessel (called coppers).

Menu PictureHops are then added and the wort is boiled for another one to two hours to extract flavours and bitterness from the hops and it also removes any unwanted protein and it kills any contaminant microorganisms. Some breweries also add extra hops after boiling for aroma.

The wort is then moved to the fermenting vessels, yeast is added and then both are mixed thoroughly, fermentation starts after about 12 hours and continues for four to twenty one days, depending on the strength of beer required and sugar content required. When the sugar/alcohol content target has been reached the beer is cooled below 5/6 degrees Celsius (which is the yeast activation temperature) and the yeast is allowed to settle to the bottom of the fermenting vessel (the time allowed for settling depends on brewer preference). The beer is then transferred (without the sediment) to conditioning vessels where the yeast will continue to settle and the beer matures. Several days later when the beer is ready it is then transferred to barrels (casks) or bottles.

To see the brewing process for yourself why not go on a tour of our local brewery. Our friends at The Hogsback Brewery who will be happy to show you around, explain all and give you a taste of their fine ales as you go. Brewery tours cost £8 and includes a souvenir glass. You can book a tour by calling the brewery shop on 01252 784495. Why not start your tour, and line your stomachs , by filling up on Saturday Brunch and a selection of our ales, at The Sandrock. Ring ahead to book and you will receive a Sandrock souvenir glass as well!

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A History Of Brewing

The oldest brewery in the world still in operation is believed to be the Bavarian State-owned brewery Weihenstephan, found in the German city of Freising, which can trace its history back to 1040 Although the Zatec brewery in the Czech Republic claims it can prove paying beer tax in 1004.

Pictures below, left; 16th Century Brewery and right; Hogsback's stainless steel fermenting vessels.

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The Industrialization Of Brewing

Beer, in some form, can be traced back almost 5000 years to Mesopotamian writings describing daily rations of beer and bread to workers. Before the rise of production breweries the production of beer took place at home and was the domain of women, as baking and brewing were seen as "women's work". Breweries, as production facilities reserved for making beer, did not emerge until monasteries and other Christian institutions started producing beer not only for their own consumption, but also to use as payment. This industrialization of brewing shifted the responsibility of making beer to men.

Early breweries were almost always built on multiple stories, with equipment on higher floors utilized earlier in the production process, so that gravity could assist with the transfer of product from one stage to the next. This layout is often preserved in breweries today, but mechanical pumps allow more flexibility in brewery design.

Early breweries typically used large copper vats in the brewhouse, and fermentation and packaging took place in lined wooden containers. Such breweries were common until the Industrial Revolution, when better materials became available, and scientific advances led to a better understanding of the brewing process. Today, almost all breweries are made of stainless steel.

Major Technological Advances

Menu PictureA handful of major breakthroughs have led to the modern brewery and its ability to produce the same beer consistently.

The Steam engine, vastly improved in 1765 by James Watt, brought automatic stirring mechanisms, and pumps into the brewery. It gave brewers the ability to more reliably mix liquids while heating, particularly the mash, to prevent scorching, and a quick way to transfer liquid from one container to another. Almost all breweries now use electric-powered stirring mechanisms and pumps. The steam engine also allowed the brewer to make greater quantities of beer, as human power was no longer a limiting factor in moving and stirring.

Menu Picture Carl von Linde, along with several other people, is credited with developing the refrigeration machine in 1871. Refrigeration allowed beer to be produced year-round, and always at the same temperature. Yeast is very sensitive to temperature, and if a beer was produced during summer, the yeast would impart unpleasant flavors onto the beer. Most brewers would produce enough beer during winter to last through the summer, and store it in underground cellars, or even caves, to protect it from summer's heat.

Most importantly, the discovery of microbes by Louis Pasteur was instrumental in the control of fermentation. The idea that yeast was a microorganism that worked on wort to produce beer lead to the isolation of a single yeast cell by Emil Christian Hansen. Pure yeast cultures allow brewers to pick out yeasts for their fermentation characteristics, including flavor profiles and fermentation ability. Some breweries in Belgium still rely on "spontaneous" fermentation for their beers (see lambic).

The Modern Brewery

Breweries today are made predominantly of stainless steel, although vessels often have a decorative copper) cladding for a nostalgic look. Stainless steel has many favorable characteristics which make it a well-suited material for brewing equipment. It imparts no flavor in beer, it reacts with very few chemicals, which means almost any cleaning solution can be used on it (concentrated chlorine bleach being a notable exception) and it is very sturdy. Sturdiness is important, as most tanks in the brewery have positive pressure applied to them as a matter of course, and it is not unusual that a vacuum will be formed incidentally during cleaning.

Heating in the brewhouse is usually achieved through pressurized steam, although direct-fire systems are not unusual in small breweries. Similarly, cooling in other areas of the brewery is typically done by cooling jackets on tanks, which allow the brewer to precisely control the temperature on each tank individually, although whole-room cooling is also common.

Today modern brewing plants perform myriad analyses on their beers for quality control purposes. Shipments of ingredients are analyzed in order to correct for variations; Samples are pulled at almost every step and tested for oxygen content, unwanted microbial infections, and other beer-aging compounds; and a representative sample of the finished product is often stored for months for comparison when complaints are filed.

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The brewing room at Hogsback Brewery

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