The Steak & Co Operations team came up to me during service one mid-afternoon and said, ‘Adrian, I want you to visit Hepworth Brewery and let them show you all the hard work that’s gone into our Steak & Co lager. Take a team with you, and see our brewery and try our beers against others and learn the brewing process and its ingredients.’
This lager had only been introduced to me a few days earlier with immense hype and excitement, my immediate thoughts, oh, cool our very own beer, how did they keep this secret for so long?’ I didn’t see this coming.
We opened it up for a taste, and we have shared all round nods of approval. Is this where we are going?
But is it just a bottle of beer that has our own label on it? Or is this really a beer? I turn the bottle to read the label..Organic, Organically grown hops, gluten-free and suitable for vegans all catch my eye. So of course, I was excited to lead this expedition.
An introduction to Hepworth Brewery with his background in microbiology, he decided he preferred yeast to viruses and while his partners include two engineers and another master brewer.
Hepworths First brews were in 2001, Their aim was to build a brewery that would develop beer that would outclass other breweries. Their aim is not to sell to the world’s masses but to produce for those who appreciate top-quality beer with locally sourced ingredients and make it work but combining the best of tradition and modern technology; they have developed a brewery like no other in the UK. http://hepworthbrewery.co.uk
The skilled traditional craft beer is brewed to environmentally sound principles . The ingredients, hops, barley, yeast and water are natural and only produce fine beer when they are healthy and treated with respect.
Fine farmers are a speciality of Sussex; expert selection of crops is a key. Hepworths are skilled traditional brewers; good beer is naturally a result. Hepworths only buy the best. Organic barley from the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex and award winning hops from Bodiam in East Sussex. As a Sussex brewer and independent, Andy shows tremendous pride to source locally and is very aware of the environmental implications. Lower food miles, even before the beer is produced!
Andy explains that having planned and built their purpose-built brewery, they could factor in many energy efficiencies – double glazing, emphasis on natural lighting and insulation were made into the building specification.
Solar panels provide electricity and excess is dispersed to the National Grid. Reed beds recondition waste water and feed it back into the river Arun, with the approval of the Environment Agency. Waste with higher protein levels is purified by an anaerobic digester, producing new energy. Water with a high yeast level is taken off site for use as a soil conditioner.
After use, hops and spent grain is sought after by local farmers for use as animal feed.
Broken glass tansported for recycling; cardboard is compacted and recycled.
Heat, a waste product from beer chillers, have been captured and thoroughly heats the offices and visitor centre.
But their green credentials are significantly enhanced by their latest development, genuinely innovative, designed in-house, and currently constructed from parts from domestic appliances!
By these means, heat is sourced from the fermenting beer and re-routed to heat water for the boiler, starting the brewing process. In effect, the fermenting beer contributes to its own continuance. They have the world’s first beer source heat pump!
This process is new. But the very best proof of the recyclability of beer lies in the product – down a pint, and you will recycle it yourself.
Hops are from Bodiam, where the grower, Chris Daws, is himself a recipient of many professional awards. Andy can even specify from which part of the field the crop is harvested to take advantage of sunlight and drainage. Even the water may need to be ionised differently for different styles of beers. Simple ingredients, but they need to be handled with skill.
In the traditional process to brew Steak & Co’s lager, the gluten is primarily broken down thanks to the triple filtering process that follows the beer.
This means that whenever they can indicate that steak & Co beer is GLUTEN FREE, this has been achieved through a natural brewing process and not through the addition of any de-gluttonising agent.
Other brewers use sulphites as antioxidants; here at Hepworth, they take great care not to allow their beers to collect oxygen and therefore, consequently, there is no need to use sulphites or preservatives.
Isinglass is a clarifying agent used in the vast majority of commercial beer producers that are also not used by Hepworth, diversifying once again for quality, traditional products. People following a vegan diet may prefer to avoid beers treated with isinglass finings.
As we walk through the traditional brewhouse, Andy demonstrates to us the rigorous process in which temperatures and weights are accurately recorded. Each temperature taken through each stage of the brewing process requires a 2ndperson from another department to double-check accuracy and traceability.
Each brew gets processed through their onsite laboratory and then those samples get sent to a off site lab for a 2nd analysis where they wait a further two weeks for comparative results.
The result is a superlative, artisan, natural and best product for detachment from the total beers on the market.
Hepworth also produces beer that’s is at a standard good enough to chill on the shelves on Marks & Spencer. Their brewery is maintained at such a standard that it is ready for any unannounced inspection for of their customers.
Hepworth produces our Steak & Co lager, which is to be admired by connoisseurs; the process they use results from thousands of attempts, trials and errors; for this reason, they have succeeded in creating a product excellent and superior to the competition.