How to make perfect craft beer!

The team at Loddon Brewery certainly know how to make brilliant craft beer, like their Best Bitter, Hullabaloo and their multi-award winning Ferryman’s Gold, both of which we have available in the bar. We were lucky enough to spend the day with Master Brewer, Jake, to find out exactly how Loddon make the perfect craft beer and specifically Hullabaloo.

Q: So, how does the life of Hullabaloo start out?

A: The first step for us is mixing all the malts together. We have worked very hard on getting perfect combination of malts in the perfect quantities for each brew and these all need to be mixed together first.

In terms of malts, we use Maris Otter as the base malt. It is highly sought after and seen as the standard in British Malts. It is light, fresh and gives a premium base flavour. We then add a medium crystal malt as this produces some unfermentable sugars which means they don’t convert to alcohol and gives the beer a touch of sweetness to balance against the bitter hops.

We also use Brown malts for a touch of nuttiness and caramel malt…for caramel flavour surprisingly.

I have also tweaked the recipe of Hullabaloo to add a few more wheat malts which just give the beer a little more body, helps with head retention but too much and it will turn the beer hazy.

Q: So now all the malts are all mixed together, what do you do with them?

A: We mash them up…but precisely.

We mash them for exactly 70 minutes at 68 degrees Celsius. Those two variables allow for total conversion of the starch to sugar. If the temperature is too low then no conversion will take place; if too hig

h conversion will happen but they will all convert to unfermentable sugars. Lighter beers are mixed at a slightly lower temperature (around 65), dark beers slightly higher (69-70) but 68 is perfect for Hullabaloo.

Q: Is it time to add hops yet?

A: Almost. Water first, and the brew is boiled and the hops are added. We use predominantly Fuggle hops as they are earthy, dry and have a touch of spice. Hullabaloo is quite a hoppy beer which means the hop gram per litre of final product is fairly high. We then cool it and it goes to fermentation where the yeast is added.

Q: This is where the magic happens?

A: Absolutely. We use our own house yeast which is English style, fruity and highly fermenting which means it eats through a lot of sugars. The result is a fairly dry beer. For any brewing geeks out there, the gravity or sugar rating for a standard beer is 1.010 where anything lower is considered dry. Hullabaloo has a rating of 1.009 so slightly dry. It might sound like a tiny difference but it does alter the flavour a lot as well as the ABV.

Q: How long does fermentation take?

Well, day 1 the yeast is really just waking up. The pH levels start to drop and a few sugars are eaten. By day 2 the yeast is really going for it, so to speak. You start to see a yeast head appear, a bit like a fluffy white cloud, but if you have overfilled the fermenter and it overflows you won’t be smiling as yeast is a nightmare to clean up! By day 3 we are at the final stages of fermentation with everything slowing down. My job is to know exactly when it is ready for cooling.

Q: What does the cooling do?

A: It just drops any remaining protein and dead yeast. It takes a couple of days and you really don’t want any of that stuff left in the beer. We cool it to 8 degrees to ensure no more fermentation takes place.

Q: Is it ready to drink yet?

A: You could drink it at this stage, but we don’t want you to. We now put it into casks and try and leave it for a week to mature and take on more body and flavour. We store it in casks here in the brewery at 12 degrees.

Q: Is 12 degrees important?

A: Yes. It allows for a tiny bit of secondary fermentation. When we cool it to 8 degrees all fermentation stops but this secondary fermentation adds body to the beer as well as making it last longer. A by product of fermentation is CO2 and in the cask it has nowhere to go so it purges all the oxygen. The effect is almost like a vacuum for beer and means it will last for a few months rather than a few days.

Now it is ready to go off to be enjoyed. We do roughly 2,700 litres of Hullabaloo in each brew so plenty for the beer lovers to enjoy!

Q: We have the bottles in The Leafy Elephant, any difference in the process to this?

A: A few. You will notice that Hullabaloo in bottles is 4.6% whereas in cask it is only 4.2%. Higher ABV beers are considered more flavoursome but the bottling process removes flavour, so we brew it to a higher ABV to compensate this.

We also don’t need to cask and cool it as it all goes into a giant cask before bottling.

The secondary fermentation works even better here which is why your bottled beer will easily last up to a year.

Q: Anything else I need to know?

A: Only that you can enjoy it in The Leafy Elephant for just £5.

Good answer!

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