My last brewday of the five was with Mauldons. Assuming there was a fair chance we might end up for a few in their pub, The Brewery Tap, at the end f the day I decided not to take my car. So at 5:45am I was whisked in to Sudbury by our friendly local taxi driver Nigel (Chappel Cars: 07777 692785).
On arrival at the Black Adder Brewery, Head Brewer Steve was all ready to go. The water (or liquor as it is usually referred to in a brewery once treated) was hot and the malt was loaded in to the grist case. Steve’s been brewing with Mauldons since the early days when Peter Mauldon set up the brewery, Peter retired in 2000 and sold to Steve & Alison Sims who still run it today. Peter has now returned to the trade and can regularly be seen propping up bars around East Anglia as a Cask Marque assessor, it’s a tough job…
We were brewing May Bee, their popular 3.9% spring honey ale. Although it has roughly the same amount of honey per pint as the Adnams Diamond Ale, the honey for May Bee is added in towards the end of fermentation and not on the brewday. After the Adnams trip this was probably for the best as I didn’t fancy going to the Brewery Tap covered head to toe in honey! I’m really looking forward to comparing these two honey beers at the festival, and to hearing your views.
For the 20 barrel brew we had around 500kgs of malted barley, a mix of Pale Pearl & Lager malt. Steve had been telling me they were extremely busy at the moment, mainly fulfilling large orders for Mitchells & Butlers (my previous employer). Thankfully for my quest they were able to brew at quite short notice as they have a particularly short fermentation time. Their yeast (a Charles Wells descendant) is quite happy with a slightly higher fermentation temperature than the other breweries I’d visited, and in return only needs around 3 days to the usual 4 or 5.
By the time we had mashed in, the tranquillity of 6am was fast disappearing and the brewery started to come to life. James, the Assistant Brewer, arrived with breakfast, the phone was ringing with orders, deliveries were coming in & going out, casks were being washed & filled and amongst all of the hustle and bustle, a healthy dose of office banter. It was clear that everybody at Mauldons enjoys going to work. They get on well together, work hard, play hard, and the results speak for themselves. A great ethos for any business to have.
We transferred our wort to the kettle and added 5kgs of Saaz hops for bittering and after an hour on the boil we added 5kgs of Brewers Gold hops for aroma and set about transferring our days labour in to the fermenting vessel. During the brew we had a visit from The Suffolk Free Press- not wanting to miss an opportunity to get my mug in the local paper I donned some wellies, jumped straight into the mash tun and started shovelling…you’ll have to take my word though as they chose to use a picture of me modelling my new Mauldons Brewery fleece instead.
Mauldons were exceptionally kind to me and I left the brewery with a goody bag including bottles of beer, golf balls and a polo shirt to go under my new fleece. They also provided pizza for lunch which we sat and devoured with a few bottles of Mauldons and a rather special bottle of beer a good friend of mine had shipped me from the USA…
All the way from California, Firestone Walkers Reserve Porter. At 5.8% there was plenty of body & lovely sweet dark roasted malt flavours, very reminiscent of some of the London Style porters I’ve had in the past. This particular beer has been barrel aged which lends a pleasant, slightly sour note, this is then finished up with an exceptional searingly dry finish, presumably from the cascade hops. We all thoroughly enjoyed this beer, wonderfully drinkable, thanks Chris!
After we were all cleaned up we set off to the Brewery Tap and sunk a few pints of Silver Adder with the locals, a great finish to a fantastic day.
My five brew days have been an absolute blast. I have certainly learnt a great deal about beers & brewing from passionate and talented individuals-the sort of knowledge that is much harder to get from books. I’ve also concluded that a career is brewing is not on the cards for me. Whilst I’ve enjoyed every minute of these brew days I’m not sure I have the patience, concentration span or the attention to detail needed. I don’t know how to begin thanking the five breweries for the experience I’ve had, they have all been exceptionally generous. Hopefully the proof will be in the drinking and your enjoyment of these five special beers will be a good start.