With seven awards behind him, reporter Gemma Sherlock speaks to the man behind the Borough Brewery to find out the secret to his success.
Down a quiet lane behind closed garage doors lies a very important task for us Lancastrians – beer making.
To a passerby the place looks like a common storage shed but inside one man is hard at work making award-winning ales.
Rory Walker has spent the past four years producing ale for our thirsty town and we certainly drink a lot of it.
With a beer festival and its own ale trail under its belt it’s not surprising Rory has had no problem shifting his homemade brews in Lancaster.
Since starting out in 2013 Rory has set up the Borough Brewery, relocating from The Borough pub cellar to a site off Aldcliffe Lane.
Over the years Rory has made more than 250,000 pints, equalling 2,520 pints per brew and 7,560 pints a week.
“I love making a product that people enjoy, whether it’s for a celebration or a pint on Friday night,” said the 30-year-old.
“Brewing is a simple process and yet it’s complex at the same time.
“There is always something to improve or something new to think about. Beer has a fantastic history and it’s wonderful to be a part of it.”
Rory’s passion for ale began at the age of 21 when his dad bought him a homebrew kit from retail chain Wilko’s.
He unsuccessfully made his first batch of ale.
Then in 2010 the idea Rory began to look into starting a brewery with friends.
It wasn’t until he moved to Lancaster and began to work behind the Borough bar that the idea sprang to life.
“I was homebrewing with friends and trying to get a brewery off the ground, but for one reason or another we couldn’t make it happen,” he said.
“During this time I was pulling pints at The Borough and asked [owner] Hannah Horner for full time bar work, Hannah’s reply was ‘lets start a brewery.’
“We started from scratch in January 2013 and by November we had our three core beers on the bar at The Borough.”
Today those beers include a Pale (3.7%), Bitter (4%), a seasonal dark, Summertime Dark (4%), a Wintertime Dark (5%), Golden and an IPA (Indian Pale Ale ).
Whilst customers may reach for their favourite ale behind the bar, Rory could never possibly decide.
“That’s like asking a parent to chose their favourite child,” he said.
“I’m proud of them all and they’re all special in their own unique way. I drink hoppy pale beers, so you will most often find me with an IPA style in my hand.
“I am making things I enjoy, it is a really nice reward to get to where I am now.”
The recent growth in UK breweries and the craft beer boom have added to the vast offerings of specialist brews.
So much so that the Borough Brewery – which is part of the Borough Pub brand – is hoping to launch an IPA and lager in August and in the coming months will open their premises up to the public.
To cope with demand Rory is also looking for a brewery assistant. To apply send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More people are trying their hand at making their own beer and the area is home to many award-winning breweries including the Borough, Lancaster Brewery and Cross Bay Brewery.
They all offer their own range of unique ale flavours.
When asked for advice to give to future brewing enthusiasts Rory replied: “Do it with friends, it is a nice hobby to share with people.
“Cleaning and temperature control are key. Enjoy and share your results.”
Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients which usually include malted barley, hops water and yeast.
The ingredients are then matured by fermentation in the container, maturing as it continues to ferment in the cask.
The Borough Brewery have an eight barrel brew kit, which significantly increases beer making capacity from 10 casks a brew to 35.
Here is a brief outline on the Borough Brewery making process:
*Liquor treatment is added to the mash bag (containing crushed malted barley grains).
*The mash is mixed with hot water in the mash tun (a large tank that gets filled with barley to be ‘mashed’ or made sweet). Rory describes this like “making a cup of tea, letting the tea bag infuse the flavour of the water.”
*The barley grain is mixed in with the water which is at the “magic temperature” of 67 degrees.
*Mixture will be stirred regular to make sure there are no lumps as it sits in the mash tun.
*Torrified wheat will be added to the mixture (goes into all of the Borough Brewery pales and bitters, adds body to the beer and helps with head pretention).
*Mixture is left in the mash tun for an hour and a half (it will begin to take colour and sugars from the malt).
*Mixture is then transferred into a copper tank.
*Dehydrated hops will be measured out, some will be put in at the beginning of the boil and some towards the end of the boil (for flavour and aroma).
See lancasterguardian.co.uk for a full behind the scenes video on the Borough Brewery ale making process.