Brewing process

Brewing processes have barely changed for hundreds of years and there remain four simple ingredients that go into crafting a perfect pint of Abbot Ale plus a lot of care, skill and experience.

Four simple beer ingredients make Abbot Ale

Greencore Maltings, Bury St Edmunds

We only use malted barley, water, yeast, hops. Malted Barley provides the major source of sugars, which are fermented by the yeast to make the alcohol. Malt is made from barley by soaking the barley grain in water to start germination. The sugar in a barley grain is stored as starch. Before a barley grain can grow the plants own enzymes have to be produced to break down the starch into soluble sugars. Germination is then stopped at a critical point, before too much root and shoot growth occurs, by a process called kilning. Malt also gives beer its colour in the case of Abbot crystal malt produces an enticing amber mahogany as well as its rich malty taste. The sunny climate and the fertile soils of Suffolk and the nearby East Anglian countryside produce the best malting barley in the world – and we take full advantage of having it right here on our doorstep.

Yeast - an amazing living organism

Yeast carries out the fermentation reaction which changes the sugar to alcohol. Yeast is the catalyst in the brewing process, the brewing yeast for beer is called Saccharomcyes Cerevisiae. Each strain of yeast gives different characteristics to a beer.

Water – pure, natural and essential for brewing

Water (or liquor as we call it) provides the liquid essential for the fermentation process. On the roof of our brewery sit two green tanks of water or liquor, as brewers call it, each tanks holds 300 barrels of liquor, which is pumped from the 3 bore holes below the brewery, the deepest is 200 feet. Liquor is of great importance as the combination of mineral salts and calcium sulphate help give Abbot its distinctive flavour.

Hops- we use only the best hops from Kent and Worcestershire

Hops provide the characteristic bitterness and the aroma of each beer. Each beer has its own recipe of hops – some hops are used for bitterness and some are used for flavour and aroma. In Abbot Ale and Abbot Reserve we use First Gold, Challenger and Fuggles.

Malts are passed through a series of rollers

The malts are passed through a series of rollers where it is crushed thus releasing the starch from the pale malt and the flavours from the roasts. This crushed malt is called grist from the mill.

Mash & Wort

The grist is mixed with hot water to form a porridge-like mixture called mash which is pumped into the Mash Tun. The mash tuns are all made from copper and stainless steel. This is where the starch is turned into soluble sugar and the colours and flavours are drawn out of the roasted malts. Mashing takes place between 63C and 65C, this produces ‘sweet wort’ that drains through the grains, which act as a natural filter, into the copper.

Hot liquor is sprayed (sparged) across the grain

To ensure that no sugars are left behind sparging takes place, hot liquor is sprayed (sparged) across the grain. In total mashing lasts around 3 to 4 hours. Once mashing has finished the spent grains or Brewer’s Grains are taken away as animal feed.

Boiling & Whirlpool

Once the sweet wort is in the Copper it is at this stage the hops are added. Once the sweet wort and hops are boiled together for about 1 hour in the Copper the ‘Wort’ is then put into the Hopback/Whirlpool. Some beers are late hopped in the whirlpool to increase flavours, however the role of the whirlpool is to filter the wort before it is cooled and put into a fermenting vessel.

Fermenting Vessels the wort is mixed with oxygen

On the way to the Fermenting Vessels the wort is mixed with oxygen, yeast needs oxygen to start fermentation. Yeast is added or ‘pitched’ into the Fermenting Vessel, where it will convert the sugars into alcohol as well as producing carbon dioxide. Abbot is fermented for longer to give it its distinctive full flavour and 5% ABV The yeast also replicates so at the end of fermentation time the excess yeast is sent to on to make Marmite and the resulting liquid is, at last, beer.