Good Brewing

Experiments in Craft Beer

The two storey macrocarpa clad building attached to The Laboratory houses our 600 litre brewery.  Professor Dodsworth (aka Martin Bennett) brews weekly and the products of his labours (experimental, one-off and varied) are sold over the bar at The Laboratory – and nowhere else!

Many of the brews are cask conditioned, although the odd ‘fizzy’ turns up from time to time.  See below for the run down on cask conditioned ales and what makes them special.

Prof Dods enjoys collaborative brews with friends, brewing mates and ‘celebrities’ from our local community.  Be it Woolston Brass, Gladfield Malt or the local homebrew club – the end result will flow from the handpumps and taps at The Laboratory brewpub alongside Twisted Hop beers and guest beers from all over New Zealand.

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Mashing-in at the Laboratory
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The malted barley is skillfully mixed in with the hot water to form the mash

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Crushed malted barley is mixed with hot water

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Measuring the specific gravity of the wort prior to fermenting

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Shovelling the spent grain from the mash tun, it wil be collected from The Lab by a local farmer to feed his pigs!

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9 imperial gallon stainless steel barrel or firkin (40 litre approx) for cask conditioning

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Filling the real ale firkins ready for cask conditioning

Cask Conditioned Beers Explained

Cask conditioned beer, or Real Ale as it is known in UK, is brewed at The Laboratory in the traditional English manner. Using Canterbury malt and New Zealand Hops, the beers undergo their final fermentation in the barrel that they are served from. The beer is fresh and alive when it reaches your glass. Our beer is best served dispensed by hand-pump, to produce a creamy head that will last to the bottom of the glass. The carbonation is entirely natural being a by product of the ongoing fermentation. The beer is best served at 10-12°C.

So what….. does that make them better? Not necessarily, but it does make them different.  Lower carbonation (though not flat), served not so cold (but not warm) and often through a handpump as no gas is used.

Cask conditioned beer undergoes its secondary fermentation in a 40 litre (72 pint) stainless barrel called a firkin.  The firkin is stored in our conditioning room in a cool environment around 10-12degC. The beer still contains live yeast and may lose condition (fizz) if it gets too cold and the yeast goes to sleep.  Before serving, the firkin is transferred to our barrel room and must be racked and 'spiled' with a porous wooden peg to vent it, then it is allowed to settle for 24 hours.  Finally a tap is hammered in to the firkin and the ale can be served straight from the tap or have a hand pump connected (as at The Laboratory). 

A firkin of real ale, once conditioned for a week, will last a couple of months if left untapped. Ideally the barrel should be consumed within 4 days of tapping.  Good cellarmanship is somewhat of a lost art in New Zealand but we take a pride in just that at The Laboratory.

The  handpump at the bar, with or without its sparkler, will give the beer a nice creamy head – fresh, local, lovely real ale!