Otter Ale – the brewery trip

I’ve mentioned many times before that in our village we are lucky enough to have two very good pubs. Our local is the Dolphin, a fine establishment which serves great beer, good food and always offers a friendly welcome. Our family first started visiting in about 1982… just think of the numbers of pints which have flowed since then! The Dolphin always keeps a good pint, and the beer on the pumps is from Devon, from Otter Brewery.

A couple of days ago a trip was organised from the pub to the brewery and at about 5:30 we all boarded a mini-bus in great high spirits. Thanks to the wonders of sat-nav, we had a very picturesque and twisty-turny journey into the heart of the Devon countryside to Luppitt, near Honiton. It was a very pretty journey, but we were keen to get the brewery.

DSCF3027

We were greeted by Luke, who showed us round, and explained the different processes which go into making the different beers. He was excellent at explaining everything, and clearly passionate about the beer and the brewery itself. There were all sorts of lovely brewing words, worts and grists, liquor and sparge, mash tun and mash bed.

I am very conscious of human impact on the environment and I was really impressed by the efforts the brewery made to preserve the lovely countryside around, but also on a wider scale. For example, in one of the processes, cold water was pumped round the container of warm brew to cool it to the correct temperature. The water became warm and was pumped back to where it could be used at that temperature in a different part of the process. The beer was stored below ground in a huge area which was the perfect temperature for it and no need for refrigeration or additional cooling which meant no use of any energy. There was a sedum roof on one of the buildings, the company were building reed beds to purify the waste and ensure the eventual flow of water back into the River Otter was pure and clean. There are otters in the Otter so they want to keep them happy!

The Brewery makes five regular beers, Otter Bright, Otter Bitter, Otter Amber, Otter Ale and Otter Head, a beer to suit everyone! They also produce speciality beers for special occasions, such as Otter Clause, Cupid’s Otter, MacOtter and Witch Otter. They are also brewing a lager, named after Henry Williamson’s book, Tarka; now I am not a lager drinker, but I fell in love with Tarka, a beautiful, beautiful drink.

Different sorts of barley give differnt flavours to the beer, nutty or chocolatey, coffee, sweet or bitter... nice to nibble on!

Different roasts of barley give different flavours to the beer, nutty or chocolatey, coffee, sweet or bitter… nice to nibble on!Photo0266

Photo0267Hops… teh magic ingredient, they smelled sweet and lovely and are such a pretty shade of green!Photo0269 A big metal vatDSCF3031Seriously interestedPhoto0271 A selection of bottles, the beer in the tall glass was tested for something or another… I missed that bit, but a glass instrument with a big bulb on the bottom was put in the flask and showed whether it was the right whatever it was! (I’m so technically literate!)Photo0272 Pins ready to go!Photo0274 Inside the naturally cool storage areaPhoto0276 The sun shines on Otter!Photo0277Cheers! Sláinte!

At the end of the tour, we were taken into a social area where we could sample the different brews and chat to Luke, asking him more about the different processes, the distribution, the beer… he was so friendly and knowledgeable and clearly loved his work.

Back on the coach and a more direct route took us back to the Dolphin, where refreshments had been laid on, a delicious buffet!

Thank you very much, Otter Brewery, and thank you very much Alice of the Dolphin, and her mum Nicki who made the buffet! A grand evening out!

To find out more and see better pictures than my snaps, visit the Otter Ale site: http://www.otterbrewery.com

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