MM columnist and Drinks Enthusiast, David Marsland, explores Prospect Brewery... a classic example of how to realise your dreams, in a tough environment which could have gone either way.
Patsy Slevin began her dream during her days in the child care industry way back in 2007 and caught the bug of being a brewer after volunteering at Bolton based Bank Top Brewery.
Using Patsy’s mother-in-laws garage as their base, they acquired the equipment needed to produce 6000 gallons in their first 12 months of production, with Pioneer their first brew.
These days they produce 50,000 gallons a year, with a range of around 17 beers brewed.
But how does Patsy produce her award-winning beer?
First she has to decide how strong her beer will be i.e. the more grain in a set volume of water, the stronger the end result will be.
Most of the grain used in Prospect Brewery is pale ale malt, which is added together with coloured malts (for example, chocolate malt which is present in their Big John).
This gives the beer its desire colour and flavour. Once it enters the mash tun, combined with hot liqueur (water), it is left for an hour and half, the optimum time to get the best out of the ingredients used.
At the end of the hour and half, she starts to draw off the liquid (wort or sweet water), which is then sprayed with more hot liqueur for two reasons.
The first is to have as much sugar as possible being produced, and secondly to raise the temperature so that she can get different enzymes from different sugars, a process that takes an hour and half to two hours.
It is then pumped into a copper kettle and boiled, after which hops are added to both sterilise the wort and extract the bitterness from the hops.
Yeast is then added and the resulting liquid is cooled down quickly by being pumped through a heat exchanger. It is then transferred to a fermenter. Fresh yeast is pitched at this point starting the fermentation process where it produces CO2 and alcohol.
At the end of fermentation, determined by its specific gravity, is then chilled down and then barrelled in stainless steel casks and stored for one week.
So after all this, what does Patsy’s Prospect Brewery range offer? Well I’ve been lucky enough to try three on my last visit, so below I give to you my tasting notes –
Silver Tally - 3.7%
Their best selling beer, caramel and grassy hops on the nose, short but fresh and light on the palate with lemon, barley and hints of pine. Dry and slight bitter finish.
Big John - 4.8%
Lots of liquorice and smoke on the nose with a smooth, rich bitter aftertaste.
Blinding Light – 4.2%
Won bronze at the Wigan Beer Festival 2008. On the nose theres soft, light hop aromas, with a light and refreshing flavour of citrus on the palate. Slightly dry but long.
As mentioned, Prospect Brewery has won many awards in its short history including Whatever! winning silver medal at SIBA North beer competition 2011, Nutty Slack won Gold SIBA North regional beer competition 2010 and Big John won the ‘best beer and cider’ category at Fine Foods North West competition 2010.
They were also the main sponsors of Wigan Beer Festival last year and have only recently opened their very own pub named The Silver Tally in Shevington Moor, Standish. Prospect and Patsy have also been TV stars when back in 2008, James May and Oz Clarke visited the original site on their ‘Drink to Britain’ tour.
Not bad for five years of production! Who said dreams were hopeless?
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