Water (brewing liquor) is pumped from our well
Brewing begins with the water (brewing liquor) being pumped from the Knowle Spring which sits beneath the brewery. A natural artesian well, it provides a constant supply of pure Pennine spring water, unique to Taylor’s. Knowle Spring water is naturally soft and very pure; it is said to taste like melted snow. Its consistency is one of the reasons we can produce beers of such reliable quality and flavour.
Milling the malted barley
Next, comes the malted barley. We primarily use Golden Promise in our beers, a high-quality barley often used in the production of malt whisky. Not only that, we have a tight specification such that not just any Golden Promise crop will do. The mill consists of rollers which are set to remove the husk and break the kernel into just enough pieces to enable us to extract all the sugar. A good crush is one that produces little flour, breaks the kernels apart, and does not shred the husks.
The grist hopper
The grist hopper holds the milled malted barley prior to mashing. Cold water (liquor) then travels from the cold liquor tank into the hot liquor tank where it is heated to about 160°F in preparation for mashing with the grist.
Under the watchful eye and constant scrutiny of one of our five fully trained brewers, the crushed malt is then slowly released from the grist hopper which sits above the mash tun and the hot liquor is added. Once fully ‘mashed in,’ it spends about five hours in the mash tun with different techniques used to ensure the liquor extracts all the available sugars. For example, the last stage is the use of a rotating sparge arm to distribute the liquor over the bed of the mash to maximise the extract. The resulting liquid is called ‘wort.’
The copper and whole-leaf hops
We’re one of the last brewers in Britain to exclusively use whole-leaf hops. They are an expensive and difficult to handle ingredient, but we think they’re vital to achieving the depth of flavour of our beer – just like using fresh herbs in cooking. Our expert brewers use a unique blend of hop varieties that has been perfected over the many years since 1858 when Timothy Taylor founded the brewery.
In the hours it takes the wort (the liquid extracted from the mashing process) to run off the mash tun, the copper is gradually filling and coming to the boil. Our chosen blend of hops is then added in stages to the copper as it boils. This process allows the careful balance of spicy aromas, floral and slightly fruity notes with a subtle citrus to be extracted from the hops – the heart of the Taylor’s taste.
The hop back
After boiling, the contents of the copper are then dropped through to the hop back which contains additional whole leaf hops. This is done to transfer delicate hop oils and aromas that would otherwise be boiled off in the copper. Not many breweries regularly use a hop back, but it is integral to producing the subtle aromas and flavours that give depth of flavour to our beer.
At the heart of Timothy Taylor’s beer is our own unique yeast strain called, appropriately, ‘Taylor’s Taste.’ It is over 2,000 generations old (we re-pitch it each week) and has particular qualities that allow the flavours and aromas of our hops to come through, resulting in a well-balanced beer with a ‘polished clarity’ that is clean and crisp with a quenching finish.
Our yeast is added to the collected wort in our open top fermenting vessels (a process called ‘pitching’) and fermentation then commences. During this process sugars from the malt will be converted into alcohol by the yeast. Gravity and temperature are checked throughout the process by our brewing team to monitor and control the speed of fermentation. During fermentation the top yeast is hand-skimmed and then removed in order to be stored and reused for the following week’s brew. In terms of timing, fermentation usually takes six to seven days with a further three to four days of conditioning; so about 10 days in all.
Finally, the beer is run into casks, a process called racking. Within the cask we add an additional small amount of sugar which stimulates the yeast and gives us a vigorous secondary fermentation; adding to the character of the beer. This extra conditioning results in a cleaner and crisper beer, so that you can enjoy a great pint the next time you visit your local.
Other elements that go into that Taste of Taylor's
It may seem a little excessive, but we check every individual cask with what we call our ‘lightsaber’ which is an LED light strip used by our brewing team to inspect our casks for absolute cleanliness. Only when it has passed this test is a cask considered worthy of becoming home to freshly brewed Taylor’s beer.
Good beer needs to travel well. So, to ensure our beer is delivered to pubs in perfect condition, we designed our own lorries that always keep our casks at cellar temperature, whatever the weather. They keep our beers between 10 and 12°C, allowing for the correct conditioning that gives Landlord its clean and crisp flavour. So however near or far from the brewery you are, you’re always going to get that taste of Taylor’s.
Our cask beer is a living product that needs a bit more looking after than most beers due to our vigorous secondary fermentation. This means that where some cask beers can be ready to serve in as little as three hours, we recommend a minimum of 48 hours to condition the beer before it is ready. As part of our commitment to giving the best service to our customers, all our Sales Team are Cask Marque-accredited in cellar management and we offer to train any pub’s staff as part of the service we provide.
What on earth have lightsabers got to do with brewing beer?
It may seem a little excessive, but we check every last cask with what we call our lightsaber. But it’s not from a galaxy far, far away. It’s an ultraviolet light used by our brewing team to inspect our casks for absolute cleanliness. Only when it has passed the lightsaber test is a cask considered worthy of becoming home to 72 pints of freshly brewed Landlord. With a beer as finely balanced in flavour as Taylor’s, coaxed from the purest Pennine spring water, aromatic hops and finest barley, we can’t help being just a little picky.