Friday, 9 December 2011

Santa's Super Stout!

Watch out, Santa's Super Stout is about!

A rich, thick, black stout with a white head. It's smooth and creamy with roasted and burnt toffee flavours, and a hint of smoke and liquorice. Santa will be looking forward to a bottle of this with his mince pie of Christmas eve so I suggest you sample in your pub then pop to the Welbeck Farm Shop to get a bottle for him to enjoy ;0)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Spyke's Gold

Anyone who attended the Nottingham CAMRA branch meeting at the Hotel Deux earlier this year will remember the talk given by Claire Monk who is the head brewer – or brewster - at the newly opened Welbeck Abbey Brewery. Set deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, on the historic Welbeck Estate just outside Bolsover, this is a state of the art microbrewery, It is jointly owned by the estate and Kelham Island Brewery and was built with grant assistance from the East Midlands Development Agency.

Claire wanted to brew a commemorative beer for the late Nottingham CAMRA chairman, Spyke Golding to be sold at the Robin Hood Beer Festival. She kindly issued an invitation for two committee members to join her at the brewery for the day to assist her. The two lucky people were Ray Kirby and David Mason. I managed to tag along having promised to write an article about it for the Nottingham Drinker and take some photographs.

We set forth on a lovely Sunday morning in October. Claire had requested that we meet her at the brewery to start work at 7.30 am. (This seemed like a ridiculous time to yours truly, for whom Sunday morning does not officially start until the end of the Archers omnibus!) We made our way through the countryside, and managed to find the estate and then the brewery, with a lucky escape for a pheasant along the way, which nearly went under the car wheels!

Claire was waiting for us when we arrived and put everyone straight to work. She told us that we were going to be brewing ‘Spyke’s Gold’, which would be a light, tasty, golden ale, with all English ingredients and an ABV of 4%.

Having put all the ingredients through the hopper, water was added. After some worrying noises the mash tun finally sputtered into life! The mash tun (right) had its own history – previously used at the Kelham Island Brewery, it had originated from a bakehouse and brewery somewhere in Hampshire. Claire was impressed by the fact that it is older than her, but unfortunately, that was not the case for the rest of us! During this process, we got to taste hot wort – this was a sweet, and not unpleasant warm liquid, which I could imagine being very good for colds!

Once this was finished, it fell to Ray to clear out the spent grains from the tun (after the wort had been transferred to the copper). Having undertaken this heroic task, the tun then had to be cleaned thoroughly in preparation for the next brew. There followed the battle of the base plates – which Ray finally managed to get back into place!

Pictured right: David adding the fresh yeast to the wort.

It was not all up to Ray to do the dirty work – once the beer had come out of the copper, it was David’s task to clean out the spent hops!

It is certainly a rural location! As we sat outside at lunchtime eating our sandwiches (the predicted rain having held off) the background noise was that of guns from the local shoot! Ray and I sampled some of Claire’s ‘Henrietta’ from the conditioning tank (another first!). David, being the driver, enjoyed a nice cup of tea! Claire explained to us that the spent grains from the mash tun are collected by a local farmer who uses them as cow feed, and that other local farmers come and collect the spent hops which they use as compost.

Like many CAMRA members, the three of us had visited numerous breweries over the years and were familiar with the equipment and theory. However, none of us had ever observed or participated in the actual full brewing process before. Claire had said at the beginning of the day that brewing is 90% cleaning and as the day progressed, we began to see exactly what she meant. We could also see why such an early start had been required – we began at 7.30 am and were not finished and cleaned up until gone 4.00 pm (I say ‘we’ – I admit that my contribution on this front was ‘nil’). When we finally got to sample the finished product at the Robin Hood Beer Festival, we appreciated it all the more for the effort which we knew had gone into it.

It was an extremely enjoyable day for all of us and I can certainly recommend making a visit to the brewery for yourselves. Brewery trips can be arranged for groups of eight or more.

Cheers everybody!

Judith Lewis

Thursday, 10 November 2011

6 months in

Welbeck Brewery has been going strong for almost 6 months now. We supply around 70 pubs between Sheffield, Lincoln, and Nottingham, and that number is increasing week to week.

I've finally settled on a core range of 3 beers so make sure you keep an eye out for them and let me know what you think.

Henrietta 3.6% Golden Bitter

Low in strength but absolutely crammed full of wonderful hop character. There's a good bitter note from Challenger hops which balances the citrus and grassy nose from Willamette and Hallertaur Brewers Gold.

Ernest George 4.2% Deep Ruby ale

This deep ruby ale is packed full of a careful blend of dark malts for a whole drinking experience. A dark spiced fruit nose is balanced with an initial smooth chocolate flavour which develops into a warming rich roasted coffee note.

Portland Black 4.5% Black beer

A rich and smooth black beer - all the flavour of a porter without the weight. This beer is all about the dark malts, giving a very smooth drink with smoke, liquorice and burnt toffee flavours and a distinctly vanilla nose.

Each month I’m brewing a special – something a little more adventurous, or topical. Last month I brewed ‘Spyke’s Gold’ with Nottingham CAMRA. I’ll be putting a piece up about that with their article and photos so you can have a read.

This month’s special brew is ‘Cavendish’ a 5.0% Blonde ale. I’ve really showcased Cascade hops in this beer, using only Maris Otter malt and making it a higher ABV to balance the strong hop character. It’s a well rounded beer which I’m quite chuffed with really! It'll probably make a reappearance next Summer so don't panic if you've missed it.

Monday, 10 October 2011

What have we been up to?

The new Welbeck Brewery has been going from strength to strength, now supplying around 60 pubs as a regular guest beer. We’re now on the SIBA DDS scheme which has opened the doors to many more pubs and we hope to step up production to supply to those pubs in our area which can use the SIBA list.

The Welbeck Farm Shop are now a superb destination for real ale drinkers, selling around 80 bottles of our bottle conditioned beers every week. They also have a cask on at the weekend which visitors can fill their 4-pint carry kegs with. There are always at least 4 different bottle conditioned ales available, giving you a great variety to choose from. Also available in the Farm Shop is a *NEW* Welbeck Abbey Brewery Real Ale Chutney. This is produced by ‘Poachers Preserves’ using seasonal apples and ‘Ernest George’ (4.2%), our deep ruby ale.

Now that we’re in full swing, brewery tours will be available for groups of 8 or more.

· When: Tues/Fri evenings 7:30pm – 9:00pm

· How much: £5/head (includes a free pint)

· How: Call Claire 01909 512539/email: (pre-booking is essential)

October sees not only the superb Steel City Festival, but also the Robin Hood beer festival in Nottingham. We’ve brewed ‘Spyke’s Gold’ especially for the week of the festival - a 4.0% English Pale Ale brewed with all English ingredients for a refreshingly British pint. Thanks to those CAMRA members who helped us brew it, and I hope it’s enjoyed at the festival.

Forthcoming events:

November: 26th-27th Christmas market at Welbeck where you’ll be able to buy some crafty Christmas gifts as well as sample the ware of Welbeck’s team of brewer, baker, cheesemaker, and chocolatier!

December: 4th 2-4pm Cheese and Beer tasting at the School of Artisan Food with Claire (brewer) and Lee-Anna (cheesemaker) To book, call the School of Artisan Food on 01909 523171.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Beers galore

It's been a very long time since I updated you with a blog, so here's whats been happening.

I've been experimenting a little with new beers, having 4 regulars is one too many, but the feedback has been good about them all. I have tried brewing one called 'St. James' 4.0% lighter ruby ale which was potentially to replace both Ernest George and Red Feather. It's brewed with a mixture of black and roasted malts and crystal malt for sweetness (I'm a fan of the crystal, incase you'd not noticed). I've used English hops to make this a really very English beer. It's an easy drinking, slightly nutty, roasted bitter which has received very positive feedback, so look out for a repeat performance.

In a totally different fashion, the monthly special for August was a highly hopped 4.7% pale ale which used New Zealand Moteuka and American Cascade hops which give it a really citrussy hit. The major flavour notes are lemons limes and grapefruits. I called it 'Fruit Arcade', which was a giant greenhouse type affair on the Welbeck Estate which they grew tropical fruits in.
The general feedback was that hoppy pale ale fans absolutely loved it, but those darker or more subtle session beer fans thought it was a bit too much. Let me know what you think if you had any.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Portland Black

The newest beer at Welbeck Abbey Brewery is Portland Black. This is a 4.5%ABV black beer, pitched somewhere between and dark mild and a porter. I don't really do the whole 'beer styles' thing, I just enjoy brewing tasty beer which people like.

A rich and smooth black beer - all the flavour of a porter without the weight. This beer is all about the malt character, brewed with a good dose of black malt, balanced with smooth chocolate malt and a hint of roasted barley for a bite.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Our fourth beer to be brewed is Henrietta - named after one of the Portland family. Henrietta is a 3.6%ABV light golden ale. She's low in strength but absolutely crammed full of wonderful hop character. There's a good bitter note from Challenger hops which balances the citrus and grassy nose from Willamette and Hallertaur Brewers Gold.

After perhaps a little recipe tweak, something like this may become one of our core beers. If you've tried it, let me know what you think please.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The beers of Welbeck Abbey Brewery

It's been a while since I updated you, so here's what's been going on...

After several teething problems we managed to produce a cracking first beer. This is a summery golden ale brewed with Willamette, Cascade and Chinook hops from North America. It's got a zingy punch and is incredibly moreish!

The second beer we have got out into your local is a deep amber bitter. 'Red Feather' is brewed with all English ingredients, with plenty of crystal malt to give it a sweet caramel flavour balanced with English hops.

The name comes from the Welbeck logo, a pair of red feathers which are used on everything Welbeck, including our pump clips.

Currently fermenting and due to finish soon is 'Ernest George' at 4.2%ABV. This is a very deep brown ale is packed full of chocolate malt, black malt, and roasted barley to give it incredibly intense rich flavours. These flavours a cut through with a good rounded bitterness from English hops, and an undertone of sweetness from crystal malt. It's not heavy drinking like a porter, but a more than satisfying pint.

Sir Ernest George was an architect during the early 20th century. He repaired much of the abbey after a fire in one of the wings, and designed several of the other small buildings on the estate. We think it's an appropriate name for a good, traditional English bitter with lots of dark and smokey character!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The launch of Welbeck Abbey Brewery

Welbeck Abbey Brewery Launches!

Tuesday 24th May saw the new Welbeck Abbey Brewery officially opened for real ale production. Bryan Jackson, Chairman of the East Midlands Development Agency, cut the red ribbon on the day. EMDA kindly provided a grant for the purpose-built building under the Rural Development Programme for England which has enabled the joint owners, The Welbeck Estates Company and Kelham Island Brewery, to design and build this state of the art micro-brewery.

(Above: Bryan Jackson, Chairman of EMDA, cutting the red ribbon)

Directors Robin Brown and David Wickett both spoke of their enthusiasm for the new venture, particularly as the real ale industry is booming. This is the newest addition to the rapidly growing ‘Welbeck Project’ which aims to establish a sustainable community in this historic rural estate, centred around the Arts, creative business, rural diversification and education.

We welcomed almost 100 people on the day, including a 50’s double decker bus full of guests from Sheffield which added a great sense of atmosphere and excitement to the day. After the official opening of the brewery, we headed to the Harley Gallery to sample the very first beer – ‘First Brew’ at 4.3%ABV, accompanied by fresh sandwiches from the Farm Shop. It was also Mr Wickett’s birthday, so we shared a very appropriate beer-related cake which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Claire ran two tours of the brewery to explain just what happens to make that delicious amber drink, both of which were well attended by the interested guests.

The beers which are brewed at Welbeck are made purely with Welbeck water, malted barley, hops, and our own fresh yeast. We do not use any refined sugars or artificial preservatives. The recipes are unique to this micro-brewery and are designed by head brewer Claire Monk, who was taught to brew at the award winning Kelham Island Brewery after studying Microbiology at The University of Sheffield. All the recipes and names are inspired by the deep and fascinating history of Welbeck Abbey.

Now that the Welbeck Abbey Brewery is fully up and running, the ales will be available in pubs between Sheffield, Lincoln, and Nottingham from the start of June. If you would like to try some at home, Claire will be hand bottling a small number for the Welbeck Farm Shop each week.

To get in touch and follow the progress of the brewery, you can contact Claire through Twitter: WelbeckAbbeyBry, Facebook: search for ‘Welbeck Abbey Brewery’, or Phone: 01909 512539. (Thats me on the right!)