Home   Sudbury   News   Article

Subscribe Now

See inside Mauldons Brewery, at the Chilton Industrial Estate in Sudbury, which recently took home the SIBA Independent Beer Awards bronze medal for Best British Bitter





SuffolkNews was treated to a tour of an ever-expanding town brewery, which recently took home a national prize for one of its beers.

Mauldons Brewery, based at the Chilton Industrial Estate, Sudbury, won the bronze medal at the SIBA Independent Beers with its Suffolk Pride in the Best British Bitter category.

And now, SuffolkNews has taken a look inside where the magic happens and been talked through the process by head brewer Steve Birch.

Mauldons Brewery, based at the Chilton Industrial Estate, is ever expanding. Picture: Alexander Parnell Photography
Mauldons Brewery, based at the Chilton Industrial Estate, is ever expanding. Picture: Alexander Parnell Photography
Customers can take a tour at Mauldons Brewery themselves. Picture: Ross Waldron
Customers can take a tour at Mauldons Brewery themselves. Picture: Ross Waldron

With the company for over 40 years, Steve has a huge wealth of knowledge to impart on those who visit the brewery, from explaining why certain ingredients are used in the way they are, to the stages of the brewing process and the importance of cleaning to a good product.

“The first part of the process, before we can do anything, is the barley needs to go through the malting process,” he said. Mauldons, a part of the Nedging Hall Estate, uses barley from the farms in the grounds to make its beers.

The barley is prepped in the brewery to go onto the ‘mashing’ phase, where it is combined with treated water, known as liquor, in a mash tun.

The mash tun at Mauldons Brewery, which is where the process begins. Picture: Ross Waldron
The mash tun at Mauldons Brewery, which is where the process begins. Picture: Ross Waldron

Steve also explained how malts can be prepared in different ways to provide a different end flavour, from lighter and softer to flavours to those which are more hard and intense.

From an hour in the mash tun, it moves to the kettle. Steve explained how, using 5,000 litres of water and 750kg of malted barley, they end up with 3,500 litres of product. Spent water and hops from these processes are then recycled locally, with the water used at allotments and the grain for local red pole cattle.

After moving into the kettle, the solution, which at that point is fairly sugary and sweet, is boiled with hops to balance the sweetness with bitterness. “We boil it in the kettle for an hour to sterilise it and precipitate proteins, while we also use whole hop flowers to extract more bitterness,” Steve said. He also mentioned this process is somewhat similar to making a cup of tea, albeit on a much larger scale.

From the mash tun, the solution moves onto the kettle, which head brewer Steve Birch said is where the hops are added to bring bitterness and aroma to the product. Picture: Ross Waldron
From the mash tun, the solution moves onto the kettle, which head brewer Steve Birch said is where the hops are added to bring bitterness and aroma to the product. Picture: Ross Waldron

In this part of the process, the material is heated at a temperature of around 103/104 degrees celsius and must be carefully maintained to ensure the best possible outcome. After this, before moving onto the fermentation phase, it must be rapidly cooled, which Mauldons does by passing it through cooling pipes with water at eight degrees.

The cool water used for this part is recycled from other parts of the brewing process, aiding Mauldons in its goals to be as environmentally friendly as it can and ultimately reach carbon net zero. The product, once it has made it down to 20 degrees, can then move to the fermentation vessel.

“Temperatures, timings and cleaning are the hardest bits,” Steve said, but he also stressed their paramount importance to the process. The fermentation vessels Mauldons use are cleaned just before the product goes in to ensure it is in the best situation it can be to then brew.

Steve Birch, head brewer at Mauldons, with a batch of Black Adder fermenting in the fermentation vessel. Picture: Ross Waldro
Steve Birch, head brewer at Mauldons, with a batch of Black Adder fermenting in the fermentation vessel. Picture: Ross Waldro
A batch of Black Adder fermenting at Mauldons Brewery. Picture: Ross Waldron
A batch of Black Adder fermenting at Mauldons Brewery. Picture: Ross Waldron

At this point, yeast is added to create the alcoholic content of the product, and it is carefully maintained between 20 and 22 degrees over a period of two to three days. Steve said Mauldons uses these processes to maintain the most natural form of product, but also to retain its traditional practices, which Steve has learned over his years with the brewery.

From the fermentation process, the product is crash cooled and then conditioned in a cold room next to the brewery, one which bears Steve’s name, for a period of seven to 10 days. After this, it is ready to go to trade.

Steve reflected on how much the brewery has expanded in his time, explaining that in the beginning it was difficult to get free houses to take their beers due to monopolies in the market, to now where national businesses, including Wetherspoons, are taking on their product to sell in their pubs.

Mauldons now has a cold store next to the brewery, which has allowed it to double in size. Picture: Ross Waldron
Mauldons now has a cold store next to the brewery, which has allowed it to double in size. Picture: Ross Waldron
Mauldons now has a cold store next to the brewery, which has allowed it to double in size. Picture: Ross Waldron
Mauldons now has a cold store next to the brewery, which has allowed it to double in size. Picture: Ross Waldron

The business is also diversifying, and on April 9 is set to try its hand at lager for the first time. ‘Mauldons Lager’ as it will be known, will be available from the summer.

He also mentioned what he sees as the hardest and perhaps most pivotal part of the brewing process is, which could be a surprise for some.

“Cleaning,” he said. From the kettles to the casks to the fermentation vessels. “The biggest control measure is cleaning. Making sure your casks are clean is so important.

Mauldons Brewery, based in the Chilton Industrial Estate, Sudbury, now also has a bottle room where customers can come and shop its produce. Picture: Alexander Parnell Photography
Mauldons Brewery, based in the Chilton Industrial Estate, Sudbury, now also has a bottle room where customers can come and shop its produce. Picture: Alexander Parnell Photography

“Good housekeeping is key. If you get it wrong, you’ll get found out very quickly.”

Tours with Mauldons can be booked directly with the brewery and cost £120 per slot, which caters for a party of up to 12 people and also includes beer tasting in the price.

And SuffolkNews readers are being treated to an exclusive with Mauldons this month. Throughout April, using the code SUFFOLKNEWS online or in the bottle shop will save customers 10 per cent on the brewery’s ales.