Sunday 23 January 2011

A trip to Shepherd Neame brewery

On Monday I went to the IBD SE AGM at the Shepherd Neame brewery. After the business part there was a talk on 'the Green Agenda' which, being sat on an uncomfortable chair, went on a bit longer than my arse was happy with. The chairman must have sensed the audience was getting restless as he ruled out anyone asking any questions after the talk and finally it was on to the networking.

As I was driving I couldn't really have a major networking session so I opted to go on a brewery tour whilst waiting for the buffet to arrive. Sheps wasn't quite what I was expecting. As they brew a number of lagers under license I thought it would be very modern so coming across a wooden mash tun built in 1914 was a surprise. It was still in use for making ales too, though for both the ales and the lagers they now have a PDX wort heater which "uses direct steam at supersonic speeds to atomize wort components stripping off volatiles and providing the necessary surface for the boiling reactions to take place", which I think counts as very modern.

Though I've never been a huge fan of Sheps I have drunk a lot of their beer in my time. When I was a Wetherspoons regular Spitfire was going for £1.29 a pint so it would have been rude not to. I have noticed more recently tastier short run beers from them like "4-4-2" which I suspect have come from the four barrel pilot plant I got to see on the trip round the brewery. I know for a fact the very drinkable Amber Ale I had that night was from the pilot plant because I was chatting to the bloke that brewed it. I don't think Shep's main brands will ever excite me, as I've a suspicion that "supersonic steam" doesn't make as good a beer as an old fashioned rolling boil does, but I hope they continue to make good use of the pilot plant.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are right about the "supersonic steam" process Ed. Shep's mainstream beers do nothing for me, and haven't done for 20 years or more. Prior to that, they definitely used to be worth seeking out.