Our Brewing Process
All of our Black Sheep beers are brewed from traditional, high-quality raw materials. These superior ingredients are a bit more expensive than those you’d find in your average beer - but then a Black Sheep beer is anything but average.
- Crystal clear Yorkshire Dales water from our own well
- Maris Otter malted barley for extra flavour
- Some wheat to fortify our Beer’s natural head
- A little roasted malt for colour and flavour
- Generous amounts of whole English hops which make our beer so refreshing
First, we mill the malted barley and wheat before mixing them with hot water in the mash-tun, creating what’s known to us brewers as ‘liquor’.
The resulting mash is allowed to stand before the wort is run into the copper from underneath. Wort is a liquid extract from the brewing process and contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
We then boil the brew with the hops which provide a variety of complex bitter flavours and a wonderful blend of aromas. The boiled wort is then strained in the hop back to remove the hops, before being cooled on the way to the fermenting vessels.
We use the Yorkshire Square fermenting system. This traditional and unusual method of fermenting was developed in Yorkshire over 200 years ago and yields beer with a distinctive bitterness and silky mouth feel.
The cooled wort is fermented by our special yeast in a shallow chamber which is 6 feet 6 inches (two metres) deep. Above the chamber is a walled deck which collects the yeasty head when it separates from the beer.
In the first stage of fermentation, the fermenting wort is pumped regularly from the bottom of the chamber over the yeasty head to ensure the yeast is thoroughly mixed in. This process is called rousing. We then stop mixing and allow the fermentation to continue undisturbed for a few says. In this time most of the yeast separates from the beet and rises on to the deck. This means we can save some of the yeast and use it for subsequent brews.
Conditioning & Racking
Beer straight from the Yorkshire Square vessels has a very bitter flavour which mellows over time. Residual yeast will ferment any remaining sugar in the beer to produce a little extra alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide dissolves in the beer, producing a wonderful balance of natural tingling carbonation, taste and aroma that only cask beer can offer.
A Taste Worth For
Our beer takes at least 2 weeks to condition. The process begins in closed tanks at the brewery and after the beer is racked (poured) into casks, and continues during cask storage both in the brewery and pub cellar.
A little isinglass finings are added to our beers at racking. This miraculous natural product helps clarify the beer by helping the yeast settle in cask, producing a beautifully clear pint.
Beers for bottling are drawn from brewery conditioning tanks and transported by road tanker to our friends at Robinsons Brewery in Stockport where they are chilled and stored for 10 days before being filtered and bottled. At the end of the bottling process the bottles can be pasteurised, labelled and packed ready for distribution.
Take a Tour of Our Brewery
You can have a look around now with our brewery tours.
Ewe Tube Videos
Brewer Phil Douglas explains the Black Sheep brewing process