British rock legends IRON MAIDEN and independent family brewers ROBINSONS have revealed a brand new Belgian style beer: HALLOWED.
This new ale follows on from the success of the original TROOPER, which has sold over 15 million pints since its launch in 2013, and previous limited edition beers TROOPER 666 and RED ‘N’ BLACK.
Once again, the dynamic duo of ROBINSONS’ Master Brewer Martyn Weeks and IRON MAIDEN’s lead vocalist and ale aficionado BRUCE DICKINSON have teamed up to create something very special for beer and music fans alike.
BRUCE DICKINSON explains: “What makes this brew pretty special is that we’re adopting a Belgian yeast for the first time. I’m a big fan of Belgian beers, so I jumped at the chance to brew my own. While I get very excited about experimenting with new formulas and ingredients, the thing about Belgian beer is that it’s as much a way of life as it is a drink. We’ve tried to bottle that philosophy in HALLOWED, albeit with a British twist.”
At 6.0% ABV in a 330ml bottle, HALLOWED is a Belgian inspired beer that’s brewed in England. It is also one of the first beers to be brewed by ROBINSONS Brewery that uses Belgian yeast. ROBINSONS haven’t changed the yeast used in their beers since 1942, which makes HALLOWED even more special.
Martyn Weeks, Head Brewer at ROBINSONS Brewery, continues: “It’s all in the yeast. Belgian yeast yields a very distinct taste and presentation. You can sniff out a Belgian beer simply from its aromas: fruity, spicy and earthy. Belgian yeasts withstand higher alcohol levels, they attenuate well and create an array of phenolics and esters… put simply, this means more flavour and I think Hallowed drinkers are in for a treat.”
HALLOWED’s innovative bottle label pays tribute to Belgian beer, presenting IRON MAIDEN’s iconic mascot EDDIE, robed in traditional monk’s clothing: a nod to the Trappist monastic brewing tradition in Belgium.
HALLOWED will be available from October 2017 for a limited period of four months. Information on exactly where the beer will be available will be released on Iron Maiden Beer’s and Robinsons Brewery’s social media accounts in due course.
TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black, the third beer from IRON MAIDEN and ROBINSONS BREWERY, has been released worldwide through import partners and at selected Morrisons stores nationwide in the UK. The beer will also be available in cask from selected Robinsons pubs and through national listings.
The limited edition beer, designed once again by Iron Maiden vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s; a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain.
At 6.8% in bottle or 5.8% ABV in cask, TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black Porter is the first dark beer in the TROOPER ranks and the strongest beer in the range to date.
Bruce Dickinson said: “It’s exciting news that we will be exporting this porter, a uniquely British ale style, to beer drinkers around the world. It’s a great tasting drop, even if I do say so myself, and the name chose itself when we saw it in the glass.”
John Robinson, Brands Manager for Robinsons Brewery said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with a third beer in the TROOPER range. Iron Maiden have some of the most passionate fans in the world so the opportunity to create another beer and expand the ranks of the TROOPER beer range is one that we jumped at the chance to do. We hope that this beer will be a great introduction to new drinkers into a darker variety of beers.”
TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black in bottle is available to purchase at selected Morrisons stores in the UK from September 5th and online at http://www.robinsonsbrewery.com for the UK and select countries.
Red ‘N’ Black will also be available in cask at 5.8% ABV at selected Robinsons pubs and through national listings with Molson Coors, Mitchells and Butlers, Heineken, Enterprise, Carlsberg, Admiral Taverns, Greene King and J D Wetherspoon.
Red ‘N’ Black Porter is the third beer in the TROOPER range following on from the stunning success of TROOPER and last year’s limited edition TROOPER 666.
The beer, designed once again by IRON MAIDEN vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s; a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain.
At 6.8% in bottle or 5.8% ABV in cask, TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black Porter is the first dark beer in the TROOPER ranks and the strongest beer in the range to date.
Named after a track from the latest Iron Maiden album ‘The Book Of Souls’, the red and black colour comes from the blend of chocolate and crystal malts which gives this full bodied beer a roasted malt and caramel backbone. The special Robinsons’ yeast provides hints of both liquorice and honey character to create a delicious warming brew.
All real ale fans need to do to be the first to get their hands on this new beer is follow this link, click the buy now button and we’ll have Red n’ Black on your doorstep from the 1st September or as soon as possible afterwards.
We get asked all the time about when TROOPER Red n’ Black will be available to buy in pubs and shops – we are of course working on this as well! Don’t worry, we’ll soon be letting you know via the website and social media exactly where and when you can get your hands on Red n’ Black in pubs and supermarkets… for now you can guarantee your beer delivery for 1st September by pre-ordering your beer order online.
Fans looking to buy the beer from USA can pre-order the beer via the following links:
Iron Maiden and Robinsons Brewery have announced ‘TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black – a new limited edition beer from their award-winning TROOPER* range – which will be available worldwide from September 2016.
TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black Porter is the third beer in the TROOPER range following on from the stunning success of TROOPER and last year’s limited edition TROOPER 666.
The beer, designed once again by IRON MAIDEN vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson along with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, takes its inspiration from a very early Robinsons recipe which was first brewed in the 1850’s; a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain.
Bruce Dickinson explains: “I like tasting outside the box. Stouts and porters were virgin territory for me so I just went by feel. Martyn and I hope we have created a new take on a classic beer and one which I hope will tickle the taste buds of ale fans in a pleasantly unexpected way.”
At 6.8% in bottle or 5.8% ABV in cask, TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black is the strongest beer in the range to date.
Taking its name from both the colour of the beer, which glows red when held up to light, and the song ‘The Red and the Black’ from Iron Maiden’s critically acclaimed 2015 album The Book of Souls, TROOPER Red ‘N’ Black uses a blend of chocolate and crystal malts which help give the beer a roasted malt and caramel backbone. Robinsons yeast, the same strain which has been used in the Stockport brewer’s beers since 1942, provides hints of both liquorice and honey to create a delicious warming brew.
John Robinson, Brands Manager for Robinsons Brewery said: “With millions of pints sold in 55 countries worldwide it’s safe to say that TROOPER remains a phenomenal success. Last year, we released TROOPER 666 at the request of the fans and this year we are happy to be releasing another limited edition beer that broadens the TROOPER range in an ever evolving and vibrant beer market.”
Robinsons have been taking global trade pre-orders from the beginning of March, to try and ensure that the limited edition bottles will be available simultaneously in local outlets in as many countries as possible around the world by autumn.
Information on pre-orders for fans will be announced on Iron Maiden Beer’s and Robinsons Brewery’s social media accounts.
*TROOPER has won the BBI (British Bottlers’ Institute) Gold Medal 2014, 2015 in their annual blind tasting sessions.
In 2013, at a time when so called “celebrity brews” were popping up with increasing frequency, nobody knew what to expect from Iron Maiden’s plan to create a Premium British Beer with Robinsons; family brewers since 1838. But, as the beer celebrates its 2nd birthday, TROOPER is fast becoming a serious contender in the global beer market.
Just as beer needs the right ingredients and conditions to thrive so too does a brand collaboration and the people who nurture it. Born from vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s energetic enthusiasm and intimate knowledge of real ale, Iron Maiden’s worldwide reputation for passion and integrity, and Robinsons brewing knowledge (passed down from generation to generation), TROOPER had all the right elements to produce an award-winning recipe.
Every detail, from the selection of hops and brewing technique with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, to the choice of name and label design, through to the marketing direction were made in close consultation with Bruce and members of his management team. Bruce was adamant that care should be taken to market TROOPER as a Premium British Beer for the taste and quality. No gimmicks, just solid foundations growing, layer by layer.
Now two years on TROOPER has leapt ahead of the competition, picking up a Gold Award at last years’ BBI Drinks competition and has just been singled out as the second best New Product Development launch of the past 2 years.*
Abroad, TROOPER has become Sovereign’s (Robinsons official export partners) biggest brand in their export business, establishing solid business in 42 international markets.
David Davies, M.D. of Sovereign Beverage Company commented: “We are the largest exporter of ales and cider from the UK. Unlike many British beers which struggle to compete internationally, TROOPER has maintained its stunning export success with repeated high volume orders across some of the world’s leading importers. As international demand for British beer continues to grow, I am confident that TROOPER will continue to be the fastest selling and largest volume ale for British sales globally.”
At home, TROOPER’s success has grown the Cheshire Brewers Free Trade business by 27%**, doubled their sales force, secured a 20% uplift in On Trade routes to market from global brewers to local wholesalers and put Robinsons firmly on the world map. CGA stats also highlight that TROOPER is in heady growth (60% up in the last 12 months and the third fastest growing beer in the market).
Robinsons M.D. Oliver Robinson comments “We’ve had a terrific journey. It’s a great pleasure working with Bruce and his team and we have strategic plans to continue expanding the TROOPER legacy. Considering the Premium British Ale market is flat, and we don’t have huge marketing budgets, TROOPER has exceeded expectations. It is testament to the quality (and taste) of the liquid and I think this growth illustrates how important it is to believe in your product and, most importantly, the people behind it. On behalf of the Robinsons family and the entire TROOPER team… we would like to say a big thank you to you the fans of both the beer and Iron Maiden for supporting us and picking up a pint of TROOPER. Here’s to the next two years!”
In recognition of the importance of the support from the On Trade, Robinsons have selected 50 special and intimate venues across the UK to join the celebrations of TROOPER’s official 2nd Birthday this Saturday 9th May, with exclusive bunting, drip mats, bar runners and collectable badges to everyone buying a pint or bottle. Click here to see the list of pubs.
Rocker-cum-brewer, Bruce Dickinson, has every music accolade under his belt worth having, but this is his first in the brewing industry and the fact that it was awarded in a blind tasting, which saw TROOPER unanimously voted best in class by the prestigious panel, makes this victory all the sweeter for Bruce.
This year the BBI competition, which first began back in 1953, attracted a record number of entries. Ed Binsted, BBI President, commented: “This year TROOPER was an outstanding entry. It was marked as the clear gold winner in that class by ALL the judges, I can’t remember this happening before. We set very high standards when conducting the blind tasting, none of the judges know the products they are tasting, as all labels, printed crowns and embossing on the bottles are removed, so the results reflect purely the quality of the products taste. Summing up I would say very well done to TROOPER.”
Commenting on his first beer award for TROOPER, Bruce Dickinson said: “As a dedicated ale drinker myself, I’m very aware of the many great beers available and the extremely high level of competition we face. For TROOPER to have grabbed people’s imagination and taste buds right from the very start has given us all a real sense of satisfaction. But winning our first award just months after TROOPER’s first birthday is the perfect icing on the cake and a great start to our second year in the beer game.”
John Robinson, Robinsons Brand Manager, is delighted with TROOPER’s first beer win: “It really has been an incredible journey and one which we are very proud of – from the initial beer tasting with Bruce, through the excitement of the launch, to now distributing TROOPER in just under 40 countries, quadrupling our export sales, brewing over 5 MILLION pints in its first year, and engaging a whole army of new beer fans – this award makes all the hard work worth it. And the fact that the accolade came on the back of a blind tasting just emphasis what we – and the fans – have been saying since TROOPER was first launched – the beer tastesgreat!”
The medals and certificates will be presented at the annual BBI dinner being held on Thursday 23rd October at The Vintners Hall, City of London.
As a result of TROOPER putting its beery head above the parapets and achieving huge global success over the last 12 months, Bruce Dickinson has been asked to announce the winner of the much-coveted ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ award at the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) in London tomorrow (Tuesday 12th August) at 3pm; organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Colin Valentine, CAMRA Chairman, commented: “CAMRA are hugely proud to have Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden announcing the winner of the Champion Beer of Britain competition. He is a true real ale lover and has brewed his own beer with Robinsons Brewery called TROOPER which we are going to be selling at the festival.”
The unique flavour of TROOPER ale has proved hugely popular and will certainly be a must-try for many ale enthusiasts at this year’s festival.
The Great British Beer Festival will see over 55,000 thirsty beer lovers attend the week-long event, which will feature over 900 different real ales, ciders, perries and international beers across a total of 29 different bars. Robinsons’ TROOPER beer will be available while stocks last on the ‘Stilt Walker’ Bar (B10).
Robinsons Brewery today announced a new supermarket listing for their fastest selling ale: Sainsbury’s will be stocking TROOPER nationally in just under 300 of their stores across the country!
This announcement follows the recent breaking news that Robinsons have now exported over one million pints of TROOPER worldwide; now taking the total number of pints sold globally to over 2.5 million pints since its launch on 9th May.
As UK beer in general struggles to raise the bar, with sales dropping by nearly 5 per cent this year, worldwide demand for TROOPER ale has both stunned and delighted regional family brewers Robinsons.
Robinsons Managing Director (Beer Division) Oliver Robinson commented: “Establishing a new beer in the UK alone is a long and difficult process but we feel that with two national listings in two of Britain’s favourite supermarkets, and export orders with over 30 countries worldwide, in just six months, we are off to a great start.”
According to Peter Walshe, global Brands Director at Millward Brown, there are three things that drive a brand to be successful: being meaningful, salient and different… TROOPER is certainly a brand that ticks all three of these desired boxes; having a healthy mix of both emotional and rational appeal, being perceived not only as unique but as somewhat of a trend-setter, and most importantly it meets the consumer needs.
Robinsons Director of Marketing, David Bremner, explains why he thinks TROOPER is succeeding where others miss the mark:
“Distinctiveness and authenticity is really important for us. If you look at the British beer market generally, it can be quite homogenous; although things are starting to change. TROOPER has more to it than just taste it has its own unique character and personality that fans buy into, and this has been backed up by a complete marketing strategy utilizing tools such as social media to really drive interest around the brand. TROOPER not only appeals to fans of Iron Maiden, it is appealing to a new group of customers who will try traditional British beer perhaps for the first time. On top of that, rather than appearing gimmicky, we are raising the profile of Robinsons and perhaps all traditional British brewers.”
TROOPER can be found on Sainsbury’s shelves as of today!
TROOPER Beer Driving 14% Sales Swing for British Pubs
Three months after launching a new 4.8% beer with Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, Robinsons Brewery and its pubs are already seeing the effect that TROOPER and its loyal fans can have on beer sales… a 14%+ effect to be exact.
“When we launched TROOPER we decided to give 20 Robinsons pubs an exclusive VIP cask night ‘ahead of the rest’” explains Robinsons’ new Operations Director Dave Harrison. “The feedback from the pubs was phenomenal- they found that as soon as they put the ‘coming soon’ message on A-boards, posters and websites locally, word spread rapidly and we genuinely had the trade of a busy bank holiday on the 9th May.”
Since then, the impact has been even more noticeable. Recent results show that within the Robinsons estate beer sales of the pubs that have listed this beer are 14% ahead of those which have not. “This has focussed our attention to say the least,” continued Dave, “we need to make sure that when a pub has at least 4 hand-pulls on the bar that one of them is TROOPER. The ironmaidenbeer.com website then shows the pub on a stockist map and we use Facebook to tell the fans where to find it.
TROOPER dominated Facebook as ‘No 1 most liked beer’ and already has well over 60,000 followers making it one of the most followed ales in the UK.”
At a pub level some of the feedback is astonishing. “We had one customer fly over from Canada to drink the beer at The Castle in Manchester and then fly back,” Dave explained.
“People are making a conscious effort to get off trains near our pubs like the Black Horse in Preston to drink the beer before getting back on to continue on their journey from London to Glasgow. We’ve had customers travelling from Devizes to drink the beer and liking it so much they have booked a holiday near our pubs and dozens more stories from our licensees- astonished at how one beer can make such a difference.”
The beer has also had a great impact on demand at the brewery. “In short we are brewing twice as much beer as we were before TROOPER was launched on May 9th and our new £5m brew house is coping nicely,” commented Managing Director Oliver Robinson. “We have never been busier in terms of brewing in our 175 year history. And it’s making a real difference to our pub sales which is fantastic.”
“The beer itself is really very good in terms of quality and taste and hence repeat purchases are high. It is the fastest selling beer Morrisons have ever listed and we now have distribution in Carlsberg, Heineken, Enterprise, Spirit and Punch as well as our own customers.”
Robinsons’ message to potential customers is simple: “TROOPER beer is great and the brewery to – pubs just need to list it and most importantly tell their customers about it – in the pubs, via www.ironmaiden.com and Facebook. The results are pretty consistent- as a licensee you’re going to do well. In fact, 14% better than the rest in our experience.”
The launch of a product can sometimes have little or no fan fare, but one that can break landmarks is a launch worth talking about. A collaboration between Robinsons Brewery and Iron Maiden has done just that, creating an unheard of demand of 300,000 pints pre-ordered. So much so that for the first time in Robinsons history they had to brew three times a day, six days a week! You don’t half become intrigued to find out more when you hear facts like this. Luckily, I was one of the select few to be invited to the launch on Thursday within the Robinsons Brewery and their new visitors centre. Around 100 brew trade representatives not only from the UK but also from countries such as the USA, Sweden and Germany descended upon the Iron Maiden branded bar to see lead singer Bruce Dickinson pull the ceremonial first pint.
Not before he gave a personal tour first.
Walking through the brewery, he explained his vision and collaboration step-by-step, finishing in himself receiving his own hand pull, complete with the Trooper pump clip with the bands mascot ‘Eddie’, awarding the ‘Fastest Ever Selling New Robinsons Beer’ once back in the bar. After Bruce had given a short acceptance speech (so to speak), the first pint of Trooper was pulled amidst cheers and applause. Being 2pm, we were a full hour ahead of the specially selected 30 Robinson pubs that would be able to sell Trooper to the public, creating the event just that little bit more special.
To finish the launch, a VIP question and answer session was conducted in a cordoned off bar where we were able to ask Bruce questions regarding his motives, inspiration and future.
The collaboration started with a meet in London between Bruce and Head Brewer Martyn Weeks. A blind tasting of 10 bottled beers gave Bruce his first inspiration into the style and finish he was after, whittling it down to three and opting for Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops. Using his idea of creating a beer that you can enjoy time and time again, and going off the repeated visits to the bar by most of the crowd, I’d say Bruce is onto a winner with Trooper. He even hints that this may not be the last as he mentions that he’s found the experience most enjoyable.
Would be a talking point seeing ‘Fear of the Dark’ being added to the portfolio!
Back to Trooper itself, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Fresh, soft malt with citrus dicing through near the end. Well-balanced onto the palate, edging more onto the malt, creating a mouth-watering effect that lingers with subtle hops. Long.
A great ale, one that really hits Bruce’s idea of a sessionable beer. It’s being rolled out to all the Robinsons pubs as we speak, with it also available online and soon in your locals.
I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses when it comes to the bar scene, whether its fresh fruits, farm-house preserves or interior decorators. But one aspect I always try to achieve is to collaborate with a local brewer. Being located in the North West, I’m fortunate enough to have many a name on my door-step, from micro-breweries like Prospect, Dunham Massey and Tatton to the more established like Daniel Thwaites, JW Lees and Hydes. But one that, I have to admit, has become a firm favourite with me is Robinsons. I’m an ale drinker and will always give others a try, but there’s just something about this Stockport based brewer that makes me want to learn just that little bit more about it. So I did, and hears what I found out.
Today, the brewery stands upon the foundations of the Unicorn public house. A pub that back in 1826, began the legacy of William Robinson and his tenure as landlord. After 12 years at the helm, William Robinson purchased the pub from owner Samuel Hole, but after 11 years, moved to Heaton Norris after remarrying. William left the pub to his son George who in his time started to experiment with the brewing process – the first signs of Robinsons brewery. Once 1859 rolled around, William’s younger son Frederic took over from his brother George and expanded the brewing process by purchasing a warehouse located at the back of the inn. With this expansion, Robinsons ale were able to distribute to many pubs and inns in and around the Stockport area. To further control the output of their ale, Frederic bought twelve inns between 1878 and his death in 1890, all stocking Robinsons to the best possible standards.
Heading into the 20th Century, Robinsons now had Frederic’s grandchildren joining the ranks. Their grandmother Emma (the widow of Frederic) owned the business after Frederic’s death and formed the Frederic Robinson Limited shortly before her death. With this, John, Cecil and Frederic joined Head Brewer Alfred Munton and their father and Emma and Frederic’s son William in building the company. In fact, as soon as William became Chairman, he had bought 7 pubs only 4 days later.
Despite the 1904 Licencing Act that closed many pubs, rapid expansion dominated from 1908 with bottling commencing from a new building, new offices in 1913 and a new brewhouse in 1929. In February 1926, Robinsons also acquired Portland Brewery from Ashton-Under-Lyne and with it 42 pubs, 11 of which are still under the Robinsons banner. They also acquired Kay’s Atlas Brewery in Ardwick (which incidentally was sold 7 years later) which came with 86 pubs (13 still in the Robinsons name), 40 off-licenses and a number of Thornycroft waggons.
Despite Williams death in 1933, and the outbreak of war, Robinsons never stopped and grew into Wales for the first time by naming The Black Lion as a Robinsons strong-hold in 1943. A knighthood in 1958 for John Robinson for his political and public services in Cheshire brought attention to the Robinsons on a wider scale, resulting in a new bottling and packaging centre in Bredbury in 1975. During this time, the 5th generations of Robinsons have joined as Robinsons bottle ales went worldwide with Old Tom and Unicorn leading the way.
These days Robinsons are proud to acknowledge that there 6th generation is at the helm as there new Visitors Centre is opened alongside the new Brewhouse and worlds largest hopnik (strains and maximises aroma and flavour). They have a strong hold of 360 public houses across Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Wales, Stoke and Cumbria and continue to offer up to nine draught names, seven seasonal, eleven bottled and six speciality.
To create their impressive portfolio of beers though goes through a process like any other. The following is taken directly from the Robinsons website as i found that the process would be better understood as they have written it.
Brewing Process Stage 1
Water used for brewing is drawn from one of two brewery boreholes up to 180 metres (600 feet) deep. This water is well suited for brewing but we make some adjustments to it for different beers, including reducing some of the hardness. After this has been done we refer to it as Brewing Liquor which is usually shortened to ‘Liquor’. Some borehole water is used directly for cooling (attemperating) the fermentations.
Cold Liquor Tank
This vessel holds 54,000 litres (11,900 gallons) of brewing liquor and supplies the whole of the brewhouse.
Hot Liquor Tank
This vessel holds 54,000 litres (11,900 gallons) of hot brewing liquor and supplies the whole of the brewhouse. The heating is provided very largely by recovering heat from the brewing process. The two main sources of recovered heat are the vapour condenser (recovering energy from the vapour given off during boiling the wort) and the wort cooler, which uses cold brewing liquor (which is thereby heated) to cool the wort prior to fermentation.
Malt is made mainly from barley but also from several other cereals, especially wheat. The malting process mimics the natural germination of the grain in the field. Barley is steeped in water and then spread on floors until the shoot and rootlets start to emerge. It is then dried (kilned). The grain looks somewhat unchanged at the end of this process but a lot of the starch has been converted to sugar and the grains are more friable (crumbly). The extent of the kilning determines the colour of the malt and hence the beer, as well as influencing flavour.
To some brews sugar is added. This may be done for flavour reasons or to increase the fermentability of the wort.
We have the option of using unmalted “raw” cereals although currently these would only be used by a contract brewing customer who particularly requested it.
Brewing Process Stage 2
Robinsons use a wet milling process. Malt is first sprayed with a small amount of water to soften the husk. After a predetermined and adjustable time lapse, the wet malt passes through the mill where it is crushed before mixing with more water at a carefully controlled temperature. The resultant mash is pumped to the mash vessel.
This vessel can be used for two completely separate duties. Unmalted cereals can be cooked before pumping the resultant cereal mash into the mash vessel for mixing with the malt mash. Alternatively, the vessel can be used for dissolving sugars before pumping the resultant syrup into the copper.
The Mash Vessel
The mash vessel has dimpled heating panels in the walls and a patented system for vibrating the mash to increase the extract yield from malt and reduce oxygen levels. Very important changes take place in this vessel. Almost all the remaining malt starch is converted to sugar as a result of the naturally occurring enzymes, present in the grain. Also proteins, which would otherwise cause hazes and other problems, get broken down. Precise temperature control is very important.
The lauter tun is a vessel to separate the liquid sugary wort from the solid remains of the grain so it acts like a filter. There is a slotted base through which the wort flows. Brewing liquor is sprayed onto the top (sparging) to rinse out all the extract.
Spent Grain Tank
This tank stores the spent grains until a whole wagon load has accumulated. Spent grain is a valuable and economical source of food for cattle and in winter, demand can exceed supply in some areas of Great Britain.
Wort is held in this vessel until the previous brew has emptied out of the copper and from which much energy in the vapour has been recovered to the Energy storage plant. On transferring from holding vessel to copper, this energy is used to heat the next brew to just under boiling point.
Sometimes referred to as the Wort Kettle but we prefer the traditional name. Hops are added here to impart bitterness and other flavours. The wort is boiled which sterilises the wort, coagulates protein, extracts the useful components of the hops and evaporates off some unwanted flavours.
Brewing Process Stage 3
Hops in UK are mainly grown in Kent, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. In the copper we use mainly hops from these areas. Hops provide bitterness and other flavours and assist in extending the keeping qualities of cask conditional beer. Hops used in the Hopnik provide particular flavours and aromas which come from varieties grown all over the world including the UK. Each variety has its own individual flavour profile. Sometimes a blend is used, sometimes just one variety, in order to produce a beer of the desired character.
This is a recently designed vessel and Robinsons are the proud owners of the largest hopnik in the world! It is a very specially designed huge strainer which allows us to extract many of the great flavours from “leaf” hops that in conventional breweries get boiled away rather than finishing up in the beer. This is especially important in ales. The plant is designed so we can use it or not as we please, so existing beers can be brewed to existing recipes whilst new beers can be brewed using particular hop varieties to impart distinctive and exciting flavours and aromas.
These can be used to dig into the soil and are popular with allotment holders and gardeners. They are great for improving the tilth of the soil and retaining moisture in the summer. They only rot down slowly so the benefit is long-lasting.
This is a circular vessel, the wort entering tangentially; thus the wort rotates. During boiling, proteins coagulate and these and the remains of the hops move to the centre of the vessel as a result of centripetal force. The bright wort is drawn off, leaving the solids, known as ‘trub’. As this is protein rich, the trub is saved in a small tank and ultimately mixed with the spent grain.
This is a counter current plate heat exchanger. Hot wort passes through alternate spaces between stainless steel plates, in one direction. In the intervening spaces, cold liquor is pumped in the reverse direction. Thus the hot wort emerges cold and the once cold water emerges hot. This is recovered for use in the next brew. This saves energy and water and reduces waste water.
Yeast is now added to the cooled wort. The vessel is only about three-quarters filled as during the next five days or so, the yeast multiples rapidly forming a large head. When complete, almost all the sugar in the wort will have been converted to alcohol and at last we can now call the product ‘beer’. However it is still very cloudy due to the yeast.
In cask beer, the addition of finings will cause the yeast to settle out. For all other forms of packaging, the beer will be chilled, matured and filtered before kegging or bottling. Old Tom is supplied to some pubs in cask, but is also available in distinctive bottles in both pubs and supermarkets.
An extensive look at the brewing process that Robinsons undertake (one that you can look at first hand on their brewery tour), apologies if it gets a little technical too, but to decipher a brewing process can sometimes be a hard task, and a well deserved ale is needed. Speaking of which, I’ve been lucky enough try many of the Robinsons range, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Old Tom – 8.5%
Recognised as one of the most famous strong ales in both national and international worlds, receiving Gold for the award of Worlds Best Ale at the third annual World Beer Awards. They also won at the same ceremony the recognition of the World’s Best Dark Ale, The World’s Best Strong Ale and the Worlds Best Barley Wine. It also boasts awards from CAMRA as the Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain three times at the National Winter Ales Festival.
Aromas of fresh malt hit your nose straight away following by an instant mouth-watering effect of the rich malt that combines with a deep, almost port-like flavour. A well-balanced after-taste of bitter hops and dark cherry fruits gives it a lasting flavour.
Old Tom Chocolate – 6%
Developed by Robinson’s with the renowned chocolatier Simon Dunn. Aromas of chocolate dominate the nose and upon taste, a sweet and an almost fresh chocolate palate. A hint of hops and a slight roasted malt flavour linger.
Old Tom Ginger – 6%
A combination of Robinsons Old Tom and Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, which uses a traditional recipe dating back to 1900. On the nose, a soft ginger aroma with a slight fresh malt following close behind. The ginger becomes a base figure on the palate and presents itself in a slow burst of flavour. Hints of cherry fruits with a slight sweet yet more bitter balance of the hops follows until a smooth ginger after-taste that leaves a slight tingle in the back of your throat.
Designed by Manchester band Elbow. The nose enjoys a slight bitterness with fresh hops mellowing their way down. The palate gets a slow burst of sweet fruit with only a hint of bitterness on the tongue. A fresh, slight citrus note, lasts long on the after-taste with malt flavour staying on your lips.
Dizzy Blonde – 3.8%
Inspired by the use of Amarillo hops from the States. Fresh malt nose with a high aroma of zest that follows soon after. Rather light on the palate with the zest coming through and creating a crisp yet slightly dry ending.
Brewed since 1896. A slight dark malt on the nose with hints of spice making a presence. Soft on the palate with a smooth offering, but changes between a slightly bitter and sweet flavour profile.
Hoptimus Prime– 4.1%
Seasonal offering. Fresh and light on the nose with the fruity hops dominating. A light malt flavour on the palate, the fruity hops coming through soon after to develop a crisp finish.
Unicorn’s younger brother. A combination of malt, roasted nut and caramel on the nose allowing a sweet palate of the three with a rather hoppy, dry end.
Cheshire Chocolate Porter – 6%
Brewed for Marks & Spencer in conjunction with chocolatier Simon Dunn. Caramel and deep chocolate aromas on the nose with a slight sweetness following. Nice kick start on the palate with the bitterness mellowing into a milk chocolate and smooth vanilla that lingers slightly.
Frederic’s Great British Alcoholic Ginger Beer– 3.8%
Lemonade citrus and fresh ginger dominate the nose and palate, with lots of fiery ginger coming through near the end. Very hoppy, although a low carbonation.
Cheshire Brown Ale – 4.7%
Brewed for Marks & Spencer. Toffee, dark fruits and fudge aromas on the nose, with a scent of sweetness following. Well rounded flavours of the toffee and dark fruits that result in a smooth offering with a slightly roasted after-taste.
Cheshire Black – 4.1%
Treacle aromas dominate the nose with fruits and malt making there way through slowly. Rather rich on the palate with dark chocolate and roasted coffee presenting themselves. Slightly burnt feel with a dry finish.
A limited edition expression which is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s.
Rich hops on the nose with a thick, toasted note coming through. Soft, sweet flavours of caramel on the palate, with subtle cocoa resulting in a thin finish of honey.
A golden lager, the nose gave a ripe, fresh lemon aroma whilst the palate enjoyed a crisp, sweet flavour with a lingering freshness. With Kashmiri butter chicken curry, it became very smooth with a crisp tingle on the tongue and a slight dryness near the end. Lemon lingers both times.
A ruby red ale, a rich roasted aroma on the nose with hints of dried chocolate slowly following. The palate enjoys a very light, rather hoppy feel with fresh citrus flavours. With Jim Beam marinated rump steak (medium rare), the malts blended well with the Jim Beam bourbon flavours, and created a long flavour profile of chocolate and toffee, with the citrus creating a slight sharp ending.
A golden ale, a rather soft corn scent on the nose, but develops into a zest dominated finish. Instant fizz on the palate, light with a crisp refreshing finish. Slight bitterness. With chicken pieces drizzled with mushroom and onion sauce, the chicken developed more flavour alongside the citrus zest, with the bitterness slightly counteracting the sauce to create a well-balanced feel.
A rather extensive portfolio they have, and I’ve only personally gone through around half of it. I still have names such as Double Hop and Hartleys to sample and hopefully enjoy.
Robinsons cover all aspects of the consumers idea of an ale. From award-winning and high strength in their Old Tom, to roasted stoat in Cheshire Black, Golden Zest in Dizzy Blonde to the premium Unicorn and the future of beer and food matching with ‘A Beer To Go With . .’. With this, my love of ale can sometimes be centred around one name, and almost a fail safe to an extent. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I will always try something new, especially if it is local, but when you have a brewery who ticks all the boxes, and has a hell of a family history to match, sometimes familiarity can get you the furthest.
You can purchase the majority of the Robinsons beer range here as well as in selected supermarkets.
Check out the rest of the photos of there new visitors centre and brewery via my Facebook page. You can also find photos of the ale’s themselves here.