Saturday 29 January 2022

A visit to Curious Brewery

For the IBD section AGM I got to visit Curious Brewery in Ashford. It seems to have followed the same business model as West Berkshire Brewery: fill a warehouse with expensive brewing equipment and a restaurant bar, then go bust. 

I was on the sausage when this one was being built so did consider enquiring about jobs, but in the end I didn't fancy working in rural Kent again so didn't bother. So I felt slightly sheepish when I found out it's actually next to a major railway station and surrounded by main roads. Oh well, things have worked out OK.

Around £6 million was spent on the brewery, another 50hl (5,000L/30bbl) five vessel system. 

For those unfamiliar with such things it goes:

1. Mash Conversion Vessel where the starchy grain is mixed with hot liquor (water) and the enzymes in the malted barley convert the starch in the grain to sugar. 

2. Lauter Tun where the sugary liquid (wort) is separated from the grains.

3. Holding Vessel the wort runs into.

4. Copper (kettle) where the wort is boiled with hop pellets.

5. Whirlpool where the hop and other debris (trub) is separated from the wort. 

The slowest step is the lautering and having the holding vessel allows the lauter tun to be used whilst the copper is full of wort from a previous brew. 

They are currently brewing twice a day three or four times a week.

They can't dry hop in tank so have a hop rocket for adding post-fermentation hop flavour. 

Packaging capacity seemed a bit lacking to me, consisting of a manual two head keg filler and a new 1,500 bottle per hour bottling line. Canning equipment is on its way. No beer was packaged as god intended. 

As I was driving I had a couple of halves of their weakest lager over the course of the evening, which was perfectly fine. Disturbingly they didn't feed us, which is not what I joined the IBD for. But shortly before I bogged off to get a pasty at a petrol station my big boss bought dinner so all worked out well. 

Not sure what's going on here but I approve