Pass it on… Brew school at Welbeck Abbey!

From mother to daughter, father to son, teacher to pupil; passing on knowledge and the joy of learning and is one of the many unique aspects of being human.

There are many age-old crafts and skills which are rarely taught to our children now, be that baking, cheesemaking, pottery or woodwork skills. Here at Welbeck, there is community focussed around rekindling the passion for these crafts and passing on the skills and knowledge from Masters to the younger generation. Brewing, like baking, is one of these ancient crafts enjoying a well deserved renaissance.

Although we are a commercial brewery making up to 18,000 pints a week, we also work closely with local schools and charities to teach a little about brewing.

During Sheffield Science week, we worked with Sheffield Hallam University and Doncaster CAMRA to host 21 adults of all ages from Sheffield and the surrounding area to explore the science behind beer and brewing. We looked at the way in which brewers need to extract fermentable sugars from malted barley and then made our own hydrometers for testing the sugar content in a mystery solution of beer. We also explored what exactly makes hops smell the way they do, and malt taste the way it does. The University-grade microscopes came out too, giving all the budding scientists a look at live yeast taken from the brewery not an hour beforehand.

A question and answer session followed the brewery tour and practical experiments, and we were pleased to be able to answer questions on not only the practical and scientific elements of brewing, but also the complexities of setting up a business and dealing with the logistical side of delivering.

Not only have we hosted a number of adults on a science-focused evening, we also hosted 36 year 11 top set science students studying for their GCSEs. The students from Beaumont Leys were brought to the brewery by three teachers to learn about enzyme activity, fermentation and process engineering. Whilst I’m sure the teacher who thought up the plan may have had an ulterior motive, actually the science of brewing turns out to be bang on Y11 curriculum!

There is often a very romantic image surrounding brewing, quite probably similar to that of an artisan baker or pottery. The reality, however, is that running a brewery requires not only passion and enthusiasm for the craft, but a vast breadth and depth of scientific knowledge dosed with a hearty helping of hard graft and business sense.

That said, we all love working in the brewery and sharing that passion. Needing to bring in science, hard work, and decent business accumen makes learning and working in this artisan industry exciting, varied and ultimately a joy.

Claire Monk


About Andy Cullen

Andy has been actively involved in CAMRA since the early 2000s after being recruited to sit on a National Younger Members Task Group. Since then he has held roles on the branch committee including Secretary, Membership Secretary, Magazine Editor, Chair and now Social Secretary. Andy has also been involved with the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival almost every year since becoming active in the branch.

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