What’s the most important ingredient in a pint?

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There’s a lot of debate about what makes the perfect pint in the brewing world. For some it’s the hops, others claim it’s all about the malted barley while many swear blind it’s down to the yeast!

We take a look at the essential ingredients in the perfect pint. We’ll reveal the real reason why they are used and what makes each one so special.

Water

Water is the most underrated ingredient of beer but it has a profound and surprising effect on the taste of your pint. The composition of water depends on the area it comes from and when it comes to ours, we like to keep it local.

We start with fresh Cornish water and for brewing a best bitter we would add minerals in a process known as Burtonisation. The name comes from the town Burton-on-Trent which once had several very successful breweries owing to the local water quality which brought out the flavour of the hops.

Malted Barley

We select the finest barley from the best farms in the U.K. It’s then turned into grist – that means milled malt to normal folk! This involves cracking the grains to germinate them so it starts producing sugars that ferment into alcohol.

Once cracked it’s then roasted in a kiln – the way it’s roasted dictates what type of beer, ale or lager it produces. Turn up the heat to deeply roast a malt and you’ll make a dark and black beer like a stout or porter. Keep the heat low to lightly roast it and it will produce a very pale beer like our golden amber ales. So when it comes to the colour, strength and character of a brew it’s all about the malted barley.

Hops

Hops are perhaps the most famous ingredient in a pint. These flowery fellows can be added dried, fresh or in pellet form but believe it or not, hops aren’t essential to making beer! Hops are used to give beer its balance, depth and aroma. Conveniently hops are also a great preservative which extends the shelf-life of a beer too.

Anyone who’s given a handful of crushed hops a good sniff will tell you they release an unmistakable aromatic but bitter smell. Brewers have been experimenting with them for years  – putting them in at different stages of brewing to carefully craft different styles and flavours of beer. Add them at the beginning of a brew and they create an unmistakable bitterness whereas putting them in at the end will create a beer with a beautiful hoppy aroma.

It’s too windy to grow hops here in Cornwall so we use a variety of different types from America, New Zealand, Slovenia and the UK. At Skinner’s we love to use whole flower hops to make sure they’re as fresh as can be. We also dry hop some of our beers using pellets. By dry hopping our ales during fermentation stage, it intensifies the taste and gives it an extra hoppy aroma – just like you’ll find in our delicious Sennen IPA.

Yeast

We keep the Skinner’s yeast under lock and key – it’s so precious we store it in a yeast bank. And there’s good reason to keep it safe: even though there are thousands of different yeasts used to brew beer, each one creates a unique brew as it acts a little differently when it’s used in the brewing process. Our yeast was originally from Stones Brewery which was founded in 1868 so it has good lineage!

Now using yeast well requires skill – luckily something our brewers have in plentiful supply. They make sure the temperature and pH levels of the brews are just right. Once the yeast gets to work it turns the liquid from a sweet, malty substance into beer. Some of the sugars are turned into carbon dioxide and alcohol. This process takes about three days and it’s watched closely by our brewers who stop the fermentation at the optimum moment by ‘crashing’ the temperature from 19°C down to 12°C.

So now we’ve taken your on a tour of the bare ingredients of our beer but which one gives Skinner’s its unique flavour? Well it’s all down to the handling. The Skinner’s brewers combine their skills and expertise with the finest ingredients to produce the perfect pint.

Book on to a Brewery Tour, discover our secrets and watch our brewers in action!