Most of St. Peter’s beers start their lives 100 metres below the brewery itself with pure water from the brewery’s own deep well. This water, or liquor as brewers prefer to call it, is ideal for brewing and is naturally filtered through a deep chalk layer. It has an excellent balance of minerals but virtually no nitrates – qualities which are very important throughout the beer-making process and which contribute to the full taste and pure character of all St. Peter’s beers.
Locally grown barley is used in pale, wheat and coloured forms and these malts are carefully blended together according to the individual beer recipes and milled to create the grist. In addition, other more exotic malt types are used to make some of our speciality beers.
The grist is then gently mixed with heated liquor (i.e. water) to produce the ‘mash’. Control of temperature is critical here as it affects the beer all the way to the glass. The mash is next left to stand for one and a half hours while the starch and proteins from the malt are broken down to form sugars and other nutrients that the yeast will need during fermentation.
The nutrient-rich liquid which is produced is called ‘wort’, is separated from the solid components of the mash by a process similar to coffee percolation, hot liquor is sprayed over the mash surface and clear wort is drawn through the bed of grains and collected in a vessel called a copper. Once all the wort has been washed from the mash it is brought to the boil in the copper.
From this point onwards hops are added at various stages to produce the characteristic hop flavour and aroma of St. Peter’s beers. Challenger hops, grown in Kent, provide a strong, typically English flavour while Goldings give a rich and fine aroma. Cascade, and Fuggles hops are also used along with Suffolk Grown, 1st Gold, Soverign, Boadicea.
Once boiling is complete the wort is separated from the hops and cooled on its way to the fermenters. Here yeast is added and the hopped wort is left for four days during which time a small miracle takes place, the sugary wort is turned into green beer.
The yeast used at St. Peter’s and which creates this miracle, was hand-picked from a collection of over 350 different strains held by the National Collection of Yeast Cultures based at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich. Our chosen strain gives all St. Peter’s beers their unique character while the combination of yeast, malt, hops and water all help to create beers of the highest standard, full of English character.
The brewery itself has been constructed to the highest possible specification to ensure quality and consistency while still maintaining traditional brewing methods. Its design allows a variety of traditional ales to be produced, as well as some new styles exclusive to St. Peter’s.