Brewing the Black Sheep way...
True to its name, Black Sheep stands out from the crowd. From the beginning, we invested in traditional brewing equipment and only the very best raw materials; this ensured we could create something truly special and of real quality.
The way we do things sometimes makes for a more expensive process, but we know this gives Black Sheep beers their moreish, distinctive tastes.
- 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
Seasonal & Small Batch Craft Brews
We love our traditional roots here at Black Sheep, but we aren’t ones to shy away from trying something new either. We have invested in 5 barrel micro-brewing plant, aka Little Lamb, which allows us to bring you an ongoing series of exciting, dynamic tastes to match the seasons and try some great craft brews for our ever-growing flock of fans.
Some of our seasonal ales go on to be firm favourites; like the stunning Velo which you embraced with open arms during the Tour de France. This is now becoming a fully-fledged member of the Black Sheep family.
When we have milled the malted barley and wheat, we mix them in hot water (or liquor if you are a brewer..) in the mash-tun to create the mash.
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 which contains the sugars that will be fermented by the 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 by Yorkshireman Timothy Bentley, 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 days. In this time most of the yeast separates from the beer 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.
Worth the wait
Our beer takes at least two 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 even until the 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 bottlers, where they are chilled and stored for 10 days before being bottled. We filter our bottled beer rather than pasteurize as we think it gives a better, more natural flavour. It's then labelled and packed ready for distribution.