The 6 stages of brewing

The taste and quality of Dartmoor Brewery cask ales depends entirely on our recipes, the careful selection of high quality ingredients and the skill of our Head Brewer, Mike Lunney.

Watch the video (on the left) to view the 6 stages of brewing.

Finest Ingredients

Sparging

We are fortunate to have a rich source of quality ingredients on our doorstep and we work closely to ensure all the ingredients in Dartmoor Brewery ales are sourced as locally as possible. We use Dartmoor and Devon grown barley, English hops and, of course, pure Dartmoor water. For the authentic malted barley taste in our real ales, our barley is sent to Tucker's Maltings in Newton Abbot, one of only four remaining traditional floor maltings in the country.

To produce malt the barley is soaked in warm water, steeped, before the grain is drained and collected into special wheelbarrows. It is then spread evenly over the maltings floor and left to start growing with periodic turning to ensure even germination. When it has reached the correct stage of growth it is removed from the floor and collected, ready to have the little shoots and roots removed, before being sprayed evenly over the floor of the kiln where the Pale Malt is collected and put in bags for delivery to the brewery.

Other types of malt, important for flavouring and colour, can be produced by treating the barley slightly differently with different levels of kilning.

We only use English hops in our traditional cask ales. The varieties we use add a wonderful hop aroma and taste giving our beers a unique Dartmoor flavour.

Dartmoor has an abundant rainfall, which filters through the rock to produce the pure Dartmoor water used in our beers.

Mashing

Mashing

Malted barley is milled and added to the mash tun (a dedicated vessel for mashing) with Dartmoor water, mixed and heated to 65°C to create the mash. The mash spends approximately an hour in the mash tun while the starch in the malt converts into sugars. The sweet wort (liquid in the mash tun) is then drained to the boiling vessel.

Sparging

Sparging

To release all the extract from the mash the grain must be sparged by adding more hot Dartmoor water to the top of the mash. These are washed through again with the wort to ensure maximum extraction of the sugars. This is called sparging. Once all the liquid extract has been drained from the mash, the grain that is left is termed spent grain and used for cattle food.

Boiling

Boiling

Once all the sweet wort is collected in the copper, it is boiled with a mix of hops particular to each beer. This sterilises the now 'hopped' wort and extracts the strong aromas and flavours from the hops, giving each beer its distinctive taste. After boiling, aromatic hops are added and the wort is then transferred to a hop separation vessel. Here the hops particles, having given up their flavours and aromas, are removed leaving clear hopped wort which is cooled for fermentation.

Fermentation

Fermentation

When the wort is transferred to the fermentation vessel, Dartmoor Brewery's unique strain of yeast is added. The yeast ferments the wort, converting the sugars to alcohol and producing carbon dioxide which naturally conditions the finished product, beer.

The fermentation process is temperature controlled to ensure the correct level of alcohol and taste is produced in each beer. After a 4-day fermentation process, the beer is cooled to separate the yeast which has grown, so it can be removed before racking to casks.

Racking

Packaging

Finished beer is sent for bottling or is racked into cleaned and sterilised stainless casks in the brewery. At this stage a special liquid protein called finings is added. The finings are critical reacting with the yeast causing it to settle at the bottom of the cask in the pub cellar delivering a high quality, crystal clear pint of real ale.