One of the pub and brewing industry’s ‘best-kept’ secrets is out in the open thanks to Master Brewer Alex Barlow, of Sheffield’s Sentinel Brewing Co.
The expanding Shoreham-street based “theatre of beer” – which serves its own-brewed artisan beers and a selection from other brewers – this week launched beer served directly “fresh from the tank”, giving drinkers the chance to enjoy something usually only tasted by brewers.
Sentinel, which opened in May, hand-brews British, Continental and American style beers to Barlow’s own recipes. It’s a brewhouse, tap and eatery all in one, and from this week serves its popular Summer Gold “fresh from the tank” having invested in little-used, cutting-edge technology so drinkers can enjoy even fresher beer.
“One of the best kept secrets in brewing is that the best tasting beer is in the conditioning tank in the brewery before it goes into packages,” says Alex, adding “but very few people get to taste it. What we are doing is giving everyone the opportunity to taste our beer at its best and freshest.”
It can be a transformative – even enlightening – experience, Barlow adds, “I’ve got a list as long as your arm of great places I have drunk beer. For instance, the sample cellars underneath the Staropramen brewery in the Czech Republic – people would be prepared to die down there if they were given a glass and a key to the vessels to drink from. Fresh from the tank beer is absolute nectar, but it’s something that most drinkers just don’t have a chance to experience.”
What damages beer’s taste and freshness, says Barlow, is “moving it around, and risk of exposure to oxygen and microbes when it is dispensed from tank to barrel. By serving it fresh from the tank, and not exposing it to all those things it has got to be better.”
The system is sometimes used by beer halls and larger pubs to serve European lagers such as Pilsner Urquell and Budvar, but very few have the interest or are prepared to make the investment in the system Barlow has installed: “The beer comes from the fermenter into a steel tube which contains a double-walled sterile bag. It’s pumped gently into the bag from the fermenting tank…and kept under constant pressure, with the compressed air never coming into contact with the beer – so the beer is unpasteurised, unfiltered and brewery-fresh.
“Hardly any pubs have the ability to offer this – we’ve invested a lot of money into the system. And it’s no accident that our brewing tanks are right next to the bar, meaning our beer travels the shortest possible distance to our customers.”
Sentinel’s launch of the product comes as the brewery takes on three new staff with an ambition to cement it’s growing reputation, professionalise the business administration and grow sales outside the brewhouse bar.
Sent by Jamie Veitch of Keep Your Fork Ltd on behalf of Sentinel Brewing Co. Please call Jamie on 07904 272 200 with any queries or to request interviews with master brewer, Alex Barlow.
Images (higher-resolution versions available on request) – Alex Barlow in Sentinel Brewing Co. Photo: Jamie Veitch.
Notes to editors:
1. Alex Barlow, Sentinel’s founder and director, was once the youngest ever Master Brewer and the first Englishman to manage a Czech brewery. His mission to educate people about beer has taken in the award-winning ALL BEER guide, principal of Sheffield University’s micro-brewing MSc course, and he is The Beer Academy’s Director of Training. “With uncompromising standards and an emphasis on quality and flavour, Sentinel defends your palate from the bland or downright poor.”
2. Shoreham Street-based Sentinel Brewing Co opened in May 2016. It serves its own artisan beers fresh from the brewery tank, unfiltered and unpasteurised, via hand-pull, tap or in growlers to take away.
Sentinel hand-brews outstanding British, Continental and American style beers to owner Alex Barlow’s own recipes from specially selected, top quality ingredients.
3. Sentinel complement its own beers “with a selection from brewers we respect, and we will always have another Sheffield brewer’s beer available from cask.”
4. The 25 Hectolitre SK plant turns out 4400 Pints per brew which customers can enjoy from one of 4 different Sentinel branded glass shapes and sizes, specially selected to enhance beer flavour.
Head Brewer & Managing Director
Sentinel Brewing Co., 178, Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1