Here at the Lerwick Brewery it is important to us that we only use the finest barley, select hops and the most consistent yeast source to compliment the pure Shetland water we use to create our beers.
Typically, water comprises over 90% of the beer. One of the most important ingredients in our beers is the Shetland water we use. Our water source is soft, clear and fresh perfect for producing beautifully unique beers and lagers.
Barley, more specifically Malted Barley, provides the sugar our yeast need to produce alcohol. Malt is not only there as a food source, it is available in a variety of different styles. Created by a range of kilning and drying methods, they impart distinctive flavours and colours to the beer.
Hops are the female flowers of the Humulus Lupulus or hop plant. Grown within certain latitude bands across the globe, our hops come from all over the world. With hundreds of varieties and a wealth of different flavours, aromas and styles, selecting our hops depends on the specific characteristics we want to produce in our beer.
The final factor in creating our beers is the yeast we use. The main job of these micro-organisms is to convert the sugars gained from the malt into alcohol, but they also contribute many of the flavours naturally associated with beer. Yeast require certain conditions to thrive; temperature, pH, nutrients and time are all important in ensuring that the yeast create the perfect beer every time.
The Brewing Process:
Step 1 – Mashing
Malted barley and hot water are mixed into a big vessel called a ‘mash tun’ at around 67°C, and the barley is allowed to soak for about an hour and a half. During mashing, this is where the literal “brewing” takes place. The starch in the barley is broken down into smaller, sweeter sugars by enzymes already contained within the barley itself – this resulting liquid is called the ‘wort’. When the mashing time is up, the sweet wort is drawn off through a filter, which leaves the barley solids behind, and transferred to the next stage in the process.
Step 2 – Boiling
The filtered wort is then heated to boiling point and simmered for about an hour in a vessel traditionally called a copper. Once boiling hops are added to sterilise the wort and to impart bitterness, aroma and flavour into the final beer.
Step 3 – Fermenting
After the boil the wort is very hot, so it must be cooled before yeast is added to it. This cooling is achieved using a heat exchange, which brings the temperature of the wort down to yeast’s working range (about 10-20°C, depending on the type of beer we are making). Next, the yeast is added to the wort in a fermentation vessel where the yeast starts to convert sugars to alcohol. After fermentation, the yeast is removed by settling – at this point, the mixture can be called beer. Fermentation takes around 4 days for our beers like Skipper’s Ticket and Tushkar, and about 10 to 14 days for 60° North Lager.
Step 4 – Conditioning
When the beer is newly fermented it has quite a harsh taste, and it benefits from slowly maturing in a process known traditionally as conditioning. To achieve this, we transfer it to vessels called conditioning tanks and leave it to mature until it is perfect. For 60° North, the conditioning takes longer and is carried out at very low temperatures, using a refrigeration system. This long, slow, low temperature conditioning is known as lagering (which is where the word lager comes from), and is one essential part of what differentiates a lager from other beer varieties.