The water used for brewing is known as ‘liquor’ and we draw ours from an artesian well deep beneath the brewery.
Faversham sits on a layer of chalk which acts as a natural filter for rainfall. It takes years for that water to filter into the aquifer beneath the town. This certified mineral water is then drawn into our historic brew house where it is heated and combined with crushed malted barley at the start of the brewing process.
The building blocks of any great beer, there is no compromise when our maltsters select the finest British barley for use in Shepherd Neame beers. Barley corns are germinated before being gently kilned to develop the spectrum of colours and flavours specified by our master brewers.
Delivered to our brewery daily, the malt is then crushed to grist in our historic mill which works around the clock.
Hops are delicate, cone-shaped flowers that are synonymous with our home county of Kent. Oast houses and hop gardens are icons of the garden of England, with hop poles and wirework evoking nostalgia among those who remember the hop picking heyday of the 20th century.
Today, Kent is one of only two major hop-growing regions in the UK, with brewers from across the world prizing the Kent’s spicy, peppery varieties. In particular, our signature hop, the East Kent Golding, has PDO protection to safeguard the character imparted by the terroir.
Hops are added at various stages of the brewing process. Hops added at the start of the boil to impart bitterness, while ‘late hops’ added at the end of the boil impart aroma. Hops can also be added during maturation, or to cask, to generate additional aroma.
Harvested over three weeks in late August and early September, hops are dried to 10% moisture in oast houses, before being vacuum packed to preserve their freshness.
More than 80% of the hops we use are sourced from Kent. Humulus lupulus (the botanical name) contains more than 1,000 complex compounds in the form of resins and essential oils. These add bitterness and aroma to beer, which each hop variety imparting a range of different characteristics to the final brew. They also serve as a natural preservative.
In 2007, Shepherd Neame provided land as a home for the National Hop Collection at Queen Court Farm. The Collection contains almost two hundred historic varieties of hops, which are not only preserved in this ‘living museum’, but are also being used to breed new varieties for commercial production.
FLAVOURS ASSOCIATED WITH FIVE POPULAR HOP VARIETIES
- East Kent Goldings: spice, citrus
- First Gold: spice, citrus and orange peel
- Challenger: floral, spicy, some fruit
- Fuggles: earthy, grassy
- Cascade: lemony citrus
Beers brewed by Shepherd Neame
A brewery’s yeast is the heart and soul of its beer. Our own strain dates back generations and requires strict management by our in-house team of microbiologists to keep its character pure. Typically a UK brewer will keep two or three yeast strains at most – Shepherd Neame uses six, meaning our management processes have to be second-to-none to keep each strain separate. Each batch of yeast will be used 8-12 times before it is replaced with a fresh culture, drawn from the national yeast bank (yes, really!) or from our brewing partners across the world.