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A day in the life...

Bill Scantlebury is the owner of Cullercoats Brewery, the North East's newest real ale producer, which is donating 3p per pint of its Lovely Nelly pale ale and Jack the Devil dark ale to the RNLI.

6am Today I have set aside the whole morning for the final brew before Christmas, so that both ales will be ready for distribution to pubs across the region on December 17. I first lift over a quarter of a ton of malted barley into a hopper from where it is mixed with hot water and dumped as a porridge type mixture into the mash tun, to soak for an hour and a half. This produces some fantastic aromas. The main smell is like Horlicks.

7.30am I spend an hour rinsing the malt with a spray of hot water (''sparging'') and pumping the malty solution, called wort, into the copper.

9am Once the copper is full, it takes half an hour for the wort to start to boil, the time to add Fuggle and Golding hops to create a smooth bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt. The malty tones in the air are soon replaced by pungent hoppy aromas. At the end of an hour and a half boil, I add more Fuggles and Goldings to give the beer a spicy and floury hoppy aroma.

11am I pump the wort through the heat exchanger into the fermenting vessel, where I add the yeast. Here is where a whole 40 firkins, or barrels, worth of beer is born and will stay here for seven days, while the yeast eats the malty sugars, producing alcohol and the flavours that turn the wort into beer.

Noon Brew complete, I head off to meeting with a landlord of a pub, well-known for selling a great range of real ales. With no finished product for him to try, I tell him instead about the carefully selected ingredients in both beers and the bespoke brewery in which they are being made. I have two ales to sell: Lovely Nelly, a copper coloured pale ale, and Jack the Devil, a full-bodied dark ale. I take the metal cast enamel pump clips for the two beers, as well as a handful of articles written in the local press.

2pm Back to the brewery for a quick phone call with a member of the Cullercoats RNLI Lifeboat crew. As well as donating proceeds from every pint sale to RNLI, the story behind the names of the beers themselves commemorate the rescue of the Lovely Nelly which was shipwrecked in 1861 and remembers the bowman of the lifeboat, nicknamed Jack the Devil.

2.30pm I welcome a group of six elderly gentlemen from the coast, who call themselves The Old Farts. They have been keen supporters of the brewery so far and I''m delighted to be able to show them around.

4pm VIP tour complete, I set about my final task of the day at the brewery which is to barrel up a brewed batch of beer and set it in the conditioning room.

5pm Back home, I send over some information to the designers who are putting together our new website,, and spend a little time updating my accounts and details of the pubs intending on selling the ales. I''m content in knowing that I only need to get a handful more pubs on board to account for the final few firkins.

6pm Time for a bit of family time with my wife Anna and three children. We enjoy a family meal together, and chat through the day's events.


BREWING UP - Bill Scantlebury of Cullercoats Brewery
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2011
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