I never thought the day would come. But after months of planning and years of dreaming the moment had finally arrived. With the sounding of my alarm on Monday morning I was ready for the first of 52 jobs: Thornbridge Brewery. My possessions for the next year were ready and waiting neatly packed into a single bag — "Mr. Blue." I had a feeling we were going to get on very well.
When I first started this blog it was obvious I was going to need of some help. After a few emails back and forth I came across Refold and their designer James who had created the artwork for my favourite watering hole — North Bar (a must destination for any discerning beer drinker). James kindly agreed to assist with the blog design, for which I am extremely grateful, and as an added bonus helped me secure, through North Bar, my first job.
Thornbridge are relatively new to the beer world. Founded in 2005, their rise to fame echoes the growing popularity of craft beer here in the U.K. Although we may think of Americans as Bud/Coors Light gluggers, we owe a great deal to them for revitalizing the beer sector. Beer slowly became in vogue and everyone from fashionistas to foodies started sipping away at craft brews. Four years after their founding and with more than 200 brewing awards to their name, Thornbridge were in a position to open a second, larger, state of the art facility two miles down the road. This presents them a rare opportunity to brew using both traditional and modern techniques. I hoped if I worked hard I’d get the opportunity to shadow a brew at both locations.
First day at a brewery and where better to start than at the beginning of the process — the Malt house. Malt is one of four key ingredients in the brewing process, the other three are water, hops, and yeast. Not only does the malt contribute to the flavor and color of the beer, but the malt’s starch content is later turned into sugar, which is later turned into alcohol (although a certain amount of residual sugar remains to give the beer texture and body.) Malts can vary across producers; an English malt is different from a German malt, for example. They can also be manipulated in various ways to create certain taste profiles, for example dark roasted malt will give the coffee like taste used to make stouts and porters. If you ever get a chance to go to a brewery, ask to taste their malts. Just don’t go eating a handful of black malt — that stuff is potent!