Vignette #10: Steve Barrett (Samuel Smith's)
Brewer vignettes feature quotes from brewers I picked up in my travels around the world.
“It’s a very flocculent yeast and it has a natural tendency to float to the surface of the beer. That can be a mixed blessing during the fermentation, because the yeast is so flocculent it does want to do that at a fairly early stage in fermentation. So the approach taken to encourage it to ferment right to the end is to carry out rousing. The rousing effectively means that we pump from the bottom of the tank up and around this circular [inaudible]--a fishtail/fan arrangement that screws onto the pipe and that throws out a fan of recirculated beer into the top--and that pushes the yeast back down and it keeps the whole thing in a dynamic state.”
“It’s quite unusual to do that during fermentation. You wouldn’t expect to be throwing your yeast through the air. Now this whole thing produces CO2 during fermentation, so for the most part there is protection by natural CO2. It’s absolutely relevant to the beers we’re producing that whatever’s happening to the yeast in the process is having an impact on the flavors we’re getting. Typically, a very robust, complex, full-flavored beers.”
“It’s tradition. The brewery’s been here since 1758 at least and it’s still owned by the Smith family and they’re really, really heavily keen on maintaining traditions in everything. Traditional hand-crafted beer, and deliveries, the cooper making wooden barrels. It’s very much about history and tradition, really.”
Steve Barrett retired shortly after I visited and was replaced by Colin Carbert in 2012.