The craft beer revolution started in America in 1980 with Ken Grossman and his hand-built brewhouse. Ken's enterprise became the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Against all the odds, Ken shook up the American brewing industry with his Cascade hopped Pale Ale, and craft brewing took hold.
So why are we telling you this? Because that first Pale Ale of Ken's - the one that changed the world - was brewed with the best quality local malts, and Cascade hops. And this is exactly how we've made our first Chester Beer, Eastgate Special.
Eastgate Special is very special. We're inspired by our home, Chester, in the same awe inspired way that Ken Grossman was by the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. We've been inspired by the early Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and, just like Ken did, Chester beer is as local, as fresh, and as sustainable as we can make it.
Chester Beer is made using the very best grains we can afford from Warminster Maltings and, by doing so, we and you are supporting the traditional and most sustainable method of brewing in Britain. And we are supporting the employment of skilled people doing their traditional jobs with good pay and prospects for their futures at Britain's oldest Maltings.
Chester Beer's Eastgate Special Dry Hopped Pale Ale is made primarily with whole grain Maris Otter barley grown in the Icknield series. This part of Britain is recognised as being where the soil grows the finest brewing barley bar none. Chester Beer selects grain malted on the floors at Warminster by hand. This is done in exactly the way it has been for hundreds of years before we get it in the Mash tun.
Maris Otter barley gives a consistent, pronounced flavour to Chester Beer and we find it mashes in well at any temperature. Chester Beer mashes in in the mid sixties centigrade range for Eastgate Special.
To this Chester Beer's skilled brewers add a selection of crystal and amber malted barley grain, and a small amount of flaked maize, which brings with it complex sugars that our yeast cannot break down creating the distinctive mouth feel of Chester Beer, and the smoky aroma of Eastgate Special Pale Ale.
Given our inspiration, what could we use but whole leaf Cascade?
Just in case you're wondering: Eastgate Special is brewed by Chester Beer with whole leaf Cascade.
We brewed Eastgate Special with Cascade hops but with the British Cascade variety rather than the American. Cascade hops were developed in 1971 from Fuggles in the US long before they were introduced this side of the Atlantic. The distinctive flavours of the British hop variety are the same as the originals from Oregon but - like the English - more subtle.
British Cascade hops bring an intense yet rounded citrus, lychee and floral aroma and a smooth integrated bitterness to Eastgate Special Ale. These are the same flavours as would be delivered by the US hop variety but more subtle, that is, slightly less intense.
Both British and US Cascade are dual purpose hops (meaning they can go in at the beginning or end or both ends of the boil) but we looked for a hop to pair with the Cascade for bittering, and we chose Pilgrim for its higher alpha acids.
Pilgrim was developed in Wye and first made available in 2000. We've found Pilgrim to be a fantastic hop to pair with Cascade. It's bitterness brings a greater level of Britishness than is typical of craft beers, and gives a well-rounded and full-bodied character that complements the darker malts we chose for mashing in.
The flavour notes from Pilgrim are those of honey, cedar wood, and spice and it imparts a hoppy aroma from its high levels of Silinene and Humeline.
We use Pilgrim primarily for its bittering qualities while Cascade is a late addition, and we also add a whole lot more of those cones to the fermentation vessel to dry hop it.
Eastgate Special is fermented at ale temperatures after pitching in the yeast in a flat bottomed tank - just as Ken Grossman used for Sierra Nevada's early brews. Next, Chester Beer is held in a conditioning tank at low temperature for ten days before packaging into cans and casks where it continues to condition for an extended period before being released only when it is approved by the founder of Chester Beer - Neil Chesters.
Eastgate Special Ale is not filtered at any stage of our brewing process so it undergoes a secondary fermentation in the cask, keg, can or bottle you get it in. It carbonates itself at this stage. All Chester Beers ferment in this way because we believe it is the right thing to do. Most beer drunk in the UK and world emits carbon dioxide which is wasted and the brewers buy additional CO2 produced through chemical processing to force carbonate their drinks. Chester Beer doesnt do that. Our approach is more sustainable, and fits with our low intervention craft brewing approach.
We do not add finings such as Isinglass, nor do we prime with added sugars. Chester Beer is never adulterated with any additives, and work-arounds used by many brewers. Our natural approach to carbonation, for example, brings a smoothness to Chester beer. Expect a lower level of fizziness than beers that have been charged with CO2 from a tank on the production line.
If you've got this far you can see that Eastgate Special is not a copy of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It's simply a homage in style, approach and inspiration.
We hope you love it.
Our first commercial batch of 650 litres was brewed with a target ABV of 3.9%. We targeted 3.9 as a moderate, typically British beer ABV in line with our ethos for this beer.
We canned this batch into 330ml cans with a mobile canner on 31 March 2021. Fermentation took four weeks, and the beers were made available for sale from April 26. It's like drinking from a freshly opened cask.
If you'd like to get some, have a look here to see what beers we have available:
Our brewers endever to create consistently flavoured batches of our beers but always reserve their right to amend the recipe according to the availability of the best quality natural ingredients.