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Blog: A Year in the Life...

Blog: A Year in the Life...


Blog: A Year in the Life...

This blog has been kindly supplied by our friends at Stone Food and Drink Festival...

Ian ‘Brad’ Bradford of Lymestone Brewery talks us through a typical ‘year in the life’ of his micro-brewery in Stone, Staffordshire...

In the run up to Christmas – as you might expect – our microbrewery is very busy. We brew 10 barrels of beer a time (just under 3000 pints) and have the capacity to brew 7 times a week although most weeks we only need to brew 5 times. Because ours is a live product, November tends to be our busiest brewing month. Beer takes a day to brew and it then spends a week fermenting. Once cooled, it’s casked and cold stored until it’s required for despatch. At the pub, the beer is then stillaged and allowed to settle before being vented and tapped. Once conditioned, the beer can be brought to the bar. In all, it’s a complicated process, some of which is beyond our control…

Although it’s not always the case, sometimes after Christmas there is a lull, an opportunity for a break and to gather our thoughts for the year ahead. With summer just around the corner, spring sees us on the front foot preparing for the coming months. We have 5 permanent and a changing range of monthly beers which ensures there’s always something fresh to offer our customers.

Currently, as well as the last few remaining casks of May’s Stonefish Mild, we have June’s Standing Stone (for the summer solstice) in stock. As part of an ongoing experiment, I’ve also brewed a watermelon wheat beer. I first brewed it on our trial plant and have now stepped up to a full scale brew. This involved the pulping of 27 watermelons! This is a challenging beer to produce. As well as using real fruit; the beer has a high measure of wheat malt (66%) and also uses a bottom fermenting wheat beer yeast. Slightly sweet with a hint of watermelon, this crisp dry beer is packed full of flavour. We want to bottle it eventually and maybe even keg it too. Exploring new markets is vital in our development.

Heading into autumn - and back toward the craziness that is the run-up to Christmas - the first weekend in October is always firmly blocked out in our calendar, as the Stone Food & Drink Festival draws the crowds into town. Every year since we launched the brewery we’ve taken a stand at the event to help promote the brand and our beers – not only do we sell draught and bottles beers throughout the Fest (often having to re-stock each evening, as we tend to sell out) but we give presentations on different topics in the Talks & Tastings tent. It’s definitely helped raise our profile, but aside from being a great platform for local foodie businesses it’s a really enjoyable way to spend a weekend.

Since the brewery’s inception in 2008, we’ve been on an incredible journey. It’s exciting and exhilarating bringing new products to market and being involved at every level of their development. We name the beer, design the artwork, brew the product and front the beer in trade at the stores and in the bar. Having our own pubs has helped refine our core brands and develop seasonal and experimental lines. Although these are challenging times for us all, we have every confidence for the coming years.

To find out more about Lymestone Brewery visit http://www.lymestonebrewery.co.uk/ - or you can follow Brad and the team on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lymestoneales?fref=ts or twitter at https://twitter.com/lymestonebrewer . The Stone Food & Drink Festival will take place on the 2, 3 & 4 October 2015 – www.stonefooddrink.org.uk