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Beer is added to Welbeck Abbey’s family of yeast creations

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Welbeck's First Brew, a British beer with an American twist

I cannot think of what is more mysterious – the stories which abound about Welbeck Abbey or the enigmatic, elemental lifecycle of a yeast cell.

One of the most curious tales of the Welbeck estate, which has a history that goes back at least to the year 1200 when the house that we see today was built and part of the grounds were landscaped.

Home to the Portland family, the fifth Duke was as mad as a box of frogs. A mid 19th century coal baron, he was something of a recluse, somewhat akin to the American billionaire Howard Hughes.

Under the grounds of the extensive stage, he used his miners to dig an extensive and elaborate network of tunnels so he could travel the estate in his horse drawn carriage unseen. The tunnels still exist and are in perfect working order, though all most visitors see are the glass skylights, which can be seen in the road like pools of rainfall on a spring day.

The family owned estate is also home to the School of Artisan Food, which includes a bakery and cheesemakers. Bakers, cheesemakers, and their students tease yeast into life to make the most glorious creations. The breads are so tasty and crunchy they are best eaten on their own, without the need for butter. A range of organic, hand made cheeses are made including an unpasteurised Stichelton cheese, made from organic milk from a herd of Holstein-Friesian cows at Collingthwaite Farm on the estate. All the produce is sold in the farm shop.

In June, to the Welbeck Estate’s family of yeast-derived products is added a brewery. Housed in a converted former carriage workshop, it has been developed by one of the country’s best brewers, Dave Wickett the founder of the Kelham Island Brewery and owner of the legendary Fat Cat pub in Sheffield. Here can be seen the brewer’s art and craft. The brewer takes such simple natural raw materials – malted barley, hops and water and with the magic of yeast turns them into a symphony of tastes and colours, that we call beer.

And Welbeck’s first beer? Brewed by Welbeck’s creative brew-mistress Claire Monk, it’s great, a modern British beer, spiced with an American hop. And already other interesting brews are pouring out of the fermenting vessel. I look forward to the second and the third….


Parts of this entry was first posted on the excellent Drink Britain website http://www.drinkbritain.com/visits


Written by timhampson

August 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

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