All of the beers use only malted barley from traditional floor maltsters, Thomas Fawcett & Sons in Castleford, West Yorkshire. They are known for their top quality product, made in the time honoured fashion. The base malt for the beers is Maris Otter pale malt, the ‘rolls Royce’ of brewing malts. Although it is costlier I believe the premium is worth paying, the beer simply tastes better. They also contain Crystal Malt, which provides a rich biscuity flavour, and in most of the beers, small quantities of chocolate and black malt to produce a more rounded malty flavour. The stout also contains oats to give it a creamy mouth feel. Other speciality malts such as Munich Malt ( kilned while the moisture content is still quite high, about 20%) add different flavour dimensions, and we’ll be focusing on different malts (all UK sourced) in our Shipping Forecast Ales series.
Again, although frequently more expensive than other hops, the beers also use only English hops – most often Fuggle, Bramling Cross, Goldings, English Cascade and Challenger, even for bittering. These traditional English hops avoid the harsh astringent flavours of high bittering hops, and provide a more delicate, fresh aroma than the New World hops which I feel tend to dominate beers with strong citreous/pungent flavours and aromas. The Bramling Cross features in our Winter warmer and gives a wonderful blackberry/spiced flavour which works perfectly with this dark, rich beer. A different variety of Bramling Cross for the Shuggy Boat Blonde gives a more orangey aroma. We also use Endeavour and Admiral as well as several new or re-discovered hops available thorough the hop development program. Our Dry Hop Project highlights specific hops, using them heavily in the late boil stages and in muslin bags in the cask,
Our hops are sourced from Charles Faram, suppliers of English hops for over 100 years, and they provide invaluable advice when it comes to choosing new hops for a new beer.
The Yeast for all beers is traditional top fermenting yeast, selected for its ability to produce the right balance of malty and hoppy flavours, with a very smooth, mellow overall flavour. The yeast is recycled from the top of the previous brew, at the height of fermentation, which ensures a strong, clean fermentation. Brewlab, the expert brewing scientists in Sunderland supply my fresh yeast, and help with monitoring for quality control. Their input has been invaluable – keeping the yeast happy is a full time job! Son Ben (9 years old) delights in explaining how yeast gobbles sugar and farts alcohol, and enjoys the odd trip to Brewlab to check on the yeast health, down the microscope!