Derventio Brewery, Derby
Tilly and J gave me a rather unusual birthday present - a guided tour of the Derventio micro brewery in Derby. And they didn't stop at a look around - they insisted on a fair amount of imbibing to test their wares.
These tours are pretty popular with about 30 people passing through in the morning and a dozen of us in the afternoon. It all cracked off with a half pint of what we fancied - a glass of heady Barbarian Stout for myself and J, and a lager ale called Venus for Jeff and Tilley. The porter was strong in the style of Black Sheep and the Venus was la bright and tasty brew which was as refreshing and the porter was heavy.
The brewery has been operating singe 2006 and employs its two partners and an apprentice running about four brews of 900 gallons each week - gradually expanding its range as successful new lines are identified.
We were walked through the grain used, the production of the liquour and the wort as the bitter hops and flavouring hops were added to taste before being boiled up and then transferred to the fermentation vats. This move saw us move from the chilly main process area to aroma rich warmth of the fermentation room, where the yeast is added, the temperature raised to 23 / 26C and then after acting for two to three days, the vats are chilled and the fermentation process brought to a standstill.
Most of the beer is sold by the barrel, but recent innovations includes a bottling plant which extends the shelf life from 6 weeks to a year and vastly increases their sale options.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing was to see just how similar the process is to the homebrew cycle we use. The brew master admitted that he is an unqualified amateur who cut his teeth on homebrew so I guess that there is hope for all of us.
These are difficult lime for breweries but its good to see the growth of small artisan micro breweries like Derventio filling a gap in the market and offering some different tastes to satisfy the needs of discerning beer drinkers.