Chester Beer Co are Low Intervention Craft Brewers
What do we mean by that?
It's simple really. It means we make Chester beer using only natural ingredients, and we don't add anything to the beer that we don't tell you about.
Isn't that what everyone does?
No, it's not. And this is a much bigger deal than most people know. Indeed, we think that if you knew what's in the beer in most pubs and on the shelves of supermarkets you'd stop buying it, and you'd certainly stop drinking it.
If you want to know more about that, and the horrible side effects of unlisted additives in beer, check this out
So we use the best ingredients of the season to make great craft beer in tiny batches. We leave out all the chemicals that the mass producers (and most craft brewers) use. This has several effects. Some of those just mean we have to work harder. We put in more elbow grease to clean out the copper. We have to be perfectionists - getting the mash temperatures exactly right. And we have to accept that low intervention Chester beer won't last as long on the shelves as supermarket beer. Each batch of Chester Beer will be small, and it won't be as clear as beers that put 'process aids' in your glass but never on the label.
But it also means that Chester beer tastes wonderful. Just like the live yeast, the flavours of the malt and the hops don't drop out of Chester beer. This means that Chester beer tastes more flavoursome than other beers with similar measures of bitterness, for example.
All Chester beers are naturally sparkling. They are live products which condition in their final container. By fermenting in the bottle, cask or can the beer makes itself fizzy. As the yeast eats the sugars, those sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 goes back into the beer in the container so it's like pouring it straight out of a cask.
So this is real ale? Yes it is. We don't filter our beer. Unless you pour very carefully, you will get hop residue and some yeast in the your glass but this is natural and though you will see it it will not effect the taste of Chester Beer.
If you'd rather it doesn't see the inside of your glass, then pour it out of the bottle or can slowly, and most residue will be left behind. Most real ale brewers use finings chemically extracted from fish scales (Isinglass) to drop out the remaining yeast. Believe me, you don't want to drink this. Many craft brewers don't fine their beer either, but many (and I think all of the bigger ones and those owned by the multiples - which, sadly, is much of what you find on the shelves) use a virtual filtering technique to spin out the yeast in a centrifuge before force carbonating the beer. Sometimes they don't get this right and that leads to bulging and even exploding cans.
This occurs because the beer is force carbonated, and fermentable sugar and yeast are both left in the drink, and as the yeast continues eating the sugar the beer becomes overly fizzy and either the can explodes and if it doesn't the texture of the beer is altered, from the conversion of sugars to alcohol and CO2.
Now, many people have said: Neil, most small brewers can't earn a living from brewing. That's true, I reply. And they ask me: Why are you doing this?
I'm doing this because I believe that people do want better quality drinks. That people do want drinks that are local and produced ethically. That people want to be cared about by those they spend money with. That people want to deal with businesses that behave equitably with all their stakeholders.
I believe that you want to spend your hard-earned money on great products with great teams. Teams like ours; people that care about each other, that want to get to know you and care about you, and the quality of the beers we serve.
And I'm doing this because the beer tastes fabulous. You can find out more about each of our beers here
Chester Beer source all our ingredients from suppliers that do things the way we do things: the right way. Our suppliers work fairly and equitably with all their stakeholders: their customers and employees. For example, all our malt comes from Warminster Maltings which makes traditional floor malts and employs dozens of skilled people to hand-turn the very highest quality, local barley into the best brewing barley bar none.
Warminster uses British grown grains from the Icknield series in England which produces perhaps the finest barley in the world. Chatting with Robin Appel - the owner of the Maltings - he surprised me when telling me that nearly all of their organic malts are exported out of Britain, and we are one of a very small number that use it in our brewing.
Why is that?
Well, it's about the money. High quality barley malt costs more than lower quality, and factory processed malt. Now, many small brewers do buy good quality malt because the efficiency of brewing with it is correspondingly better. But many won't buy the best, hand-turned malts because there isn't enough of it around and they want to brew as fast and cheaply as possible - mass producers certainly do.
Brewers costs go up yet again if they buy from a labour intensive traditional producer, and yet again if one buys Organic malt. Organic is more expensive not because it's in demand (it isn't in the UK) but because its more work in the fields for the farming community, and because it isn't available all year round.
We source all our in-season hops in the UK. We use a selection of hops in our beers. Our brewers work hard to source the freshest seasonal hops and match and blend these to bring out the desired flavours in the beer. Our brewers always reserve their right to rebalance recipes according to what has grown well in the season.
You can find out more about the hops we are using in our current batch of Eastgate Special here
If you've made it all the way down here, I hope we've whetted your appetite enough for you to try our Low Intervention beer. We hope you love it. Find out more and order from our online shop