Tuesday, 12 February 2019

How to make Britain's most popular beer

Industrial lager may be in decline, but a lot of it is still sold. So it was interesting to see Roger Putman give some details in the IBD magazine of how Carling, Britain's best selling draught beer, is made.

The image on the Carling beer mat did get me thinking they're playing to the home crowd but I'll leave that for now
He starts by informing us that raw barley is hammer miller into the grist case with the malt. For those not familiar with hammer milling it means grinding the grains to a powder which helps to get the very high rates of extraction of fermentable materials found in mash filters.

Very high maltose syrup is used in the kettle to give 20% of the grist. For those not familiar with high gravity brewing very high maltose syrup is important because it reduces the amount of esters produced during fermentation, something which high gravity brewing raises.

The beer has a dimethyl sulphide specification of 50ppb, giving it a characteristic taste.

The Original Gravity is 1.068 and the yeast is pitched at 14°C and allowed to free rise to 15°C where it is held until half gravity when it is allowed to free rise up to 20°C. Higher temperatures also increase ester production so the lower initial temperature helps restrict it.

Green beer conditioning is carried out in the Fermenting Vessels until the diacetyl level is in spec. [not stated, but I guess it's something like less than 30ppb]. The beer is then crash cooled into "maturation" tank at -1.5°C to hasten formation of haze forming protein-polyphenol complexes so that only 24 hours storage is necessary before filtration, dilution and carbonation.

It's not in the article but I did hear Carling is fermented to 8% ABV, which would give the base beer a Final Gravity of around 1.007.  We do know for certain though that it's cut to 3.7% ABV at packaging. High Gravity Brewing is really something I should get round to doing a post about, but basically it's making more efficient use of brewing vessels by brewing beer to a higher strength that it's sold at and diluting it with De-Aerated Liquor (water with a very low oxygen content to prevent stale flavours developing) prior to packaging. It's not to be confused with liquoring back which is the process brewers use to hit target Original Gravity in which wort (unfermented beer) is produced slightly stronger than required and then cut (diluted) to the required strength prior to fermentation.

A few more details would be nice, and it might take a few goes to get it right, but if you're interested in making a beer that sells over 3 million hectolitres (528 million pints) a year I think that's a good starting point.


  1. I've heard some of the big US craft have been moving this way. Like many other practices which were initially damned as processes used by the big bland brewers by US craft such as using processes hop products for IBUs and canning, it seems that such practices are becoming explained as being advantageous for quality-related reasons. They do not tend to mention that most of these techniques also help the bottom line....

    1. I must admit the current fashion for using amyloglucosidase did make me raise an eyebrow.