Rhanna Turberville (Lerwick Brewery)
What is your Brewery name and where did it come from?
Our brewery, the Lerwick Brewery, is so called as we are based just outside Lerwick in Shetland.
What is your brewery capacity?
Our current brew length is 2000 litres or 12 barrels, with the ability to hold 22000 litres of beer at different stages at any one time.
What is different about your brewery?
Whilst not the only brewery based in Shetland we do offer something a little unusual to the market. Our water in Shetland is very soft and in combination with the mild winters and cool summers it creates the perfect atmosphere to create our lagers and beers.
How long have you been brewing for?
I came into the job with very little knowledge of brewing apart from a few attempts at home brew an avid interest in the processes involved. I have now been brewing with the Lerwick Brewery for just over a year now and thoroughly enjoy the work involved.
How did you get into brewing?
I have always had a keen interest in sciences. I completed a degree in Forensic Science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, a few years ago and went on to work in the hospitality industry and for the local NHS lab services. As I wished to stay based in Shetland, a career brewing beer didn’t even come into consideration until this opportunity came up. Since then I have realised just how much a career in brewing has to offer.
What beers do you brew regularly?
We currently have two flagship products which we regularly brew. 60̊ North at 4.8% is a Pale golden Lager, bittered with Perle hops and flavoured with classic Saaz. It has proven to be popular with customers and critics alike and has already been shortlisted for two awards. Skippers Ticket, our second offering at 4%, is our take on a pale ale. It’s a rich amber beer with spicy and fruit notes finished with a light carbonation. Looking to the future we have recently brewed our first stout which we will launch onto the market soon.
What special/seasonal beers do you brew?
We have been very lucky to be involved with a number of bespoke beers. Our first saw our lager and beer take on the ‘Buddie’ name and St Mirren Football Club badges to create ‘Buddie Beer’ and ‘Buddie Lager’. The buddie beer partnership not only helped promote both our brewery and the team but it also saw 20p from each bottle sale go back to the St Mirren youth development programme. Other bespoke beers include ‘Chapeau!’ a lighter lager make for Thomson Cycles in Paisley and ‘The Sheep are on Fire’ a fun beer made for Two Aberdeenshire Shops to celebrate the successes of the Aberdeen Football Club. Our most recent venture has been ML6 a lager made especially for the Airdrie Supporters Trust, similar to the ‘Buddie’ set up gives back money from each sale the trust’s causes.
Where do you think the future of brewing lies?
I am always interested to read about the new innovations in the brewing industry. There is a great number of very talented people working on new brewing techniques and styles. I personally would like to see more beers available for those with dietary restrictions. Currently all of our beers are suitable for vegans and I would like to spend more time looking into producing beer suitable for people with Celiac disease and other intolerances.
Do you bottle/keg/cask your beer?
All of our beers are available in 330ml bottles and Keykegs. Onsite at the brewery we have a semi-automatic miniblock filler and a labeller which operates at around 420 bottles per hour, with Cairngorm brewery contract bottling for us during busy periods. In the next two months we will be launching 50L steel kegs to the Mainland Scotland market. Our remote location has meant that steel kegs have previously been unviable, however with the Cairngorm brewery helping to keg our beers these markets are now within our reach.
What is you proudest moment in brewing?
I think my proudest moment in brewing was the news of our first award short listing in the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards. I gave me a confirmation that we, as a brewery are achieving our aim of making products that people really enjoy.
Do you have any brewing regrets?
As I have only been brewing for a short period I am lucky not to have any regrets yet, although the incident where I accidently sent one of the vessel lids through the ceiling wasn’t my finest moment.
What is your brewing ambition?
My brewing ambition is just to create really good tasting beer that people want to drink. It’s a simple aim, however here in Shetland there is a culture of only drinking the big name, mass produced beers. I would like to challenge this and show people there is more to lagers and beers than they perhaps might think.
What was last beer you drank?60 deg and Skippers
The last beer I drank was a bottle of our newest lager, I like to take our trial brews out events to get feedback from the general public. Any feedback good or bad is so important to us.
What is your favourite hop and why?
My favourite hop is Perle, we use it as a bittering hop in a few of our beers and I think that is such an underrated job. It seems that bittering hops are boiled to death for their alpha acids and forgotten about. However I love the smell of it and think of it as being the little unsung hero of our beers.
What is your favourite beer/food combo?
Beer and curry has to be a worldwide favourite and I completely agree. Anything with a good kick of spice and a nice beer is a good combo in my books.
Do you have a Brewing hero/inspiration?
I take inspiration from all the other UK breweries that are doing so well. Strictly we are competitors, however this industry is more like a big extended family and it is good to see others doing well.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t brewing?
I have just passed my motorbike licence so most of my evenings are spend out touring the roads around the Islands. I am also a volunteer for committee member at my local village hall.
If you could have one superhero superpower what would it be?
I think if I was to have a superpower it would have to be the power to levitate. My 5 foot 2 stature can make working with some of our bigger vessels a bit of a challenge and I’m sure that it would cure my fear of heights.
The Brewing Process:
Step 1 – Mashing
Malted barley and hot water are mixed into a big vessel called a ‘mash tun’ at around 67°C, and the barley is allowed to soak for about an hour and a half. During mashing, this is where the literal “brewing” takes place. The starch in the barley is broken down into smaller, sweeter sugars by enzymes already contained within the barley itself – this resulting liquid is called the ‘wort’. When the mashing time is up, the sweet wort is drawn off through a filter, which leaves the barley solids behind, and transferred to the next stage in the process.
Step 2 – Boiling
The filtered wort is then heated to boiling point and simmered for about an hour in a vessel traditionally called a copper. Once boiling hops are added to sterilise the wort and to impart bitterness, aroma and flavour into the final beer.
Step 3 – Fermenting
DSC_0080 - crop After the boil the wort is very hot, so it must be cooled before yeast is added to it. This cooling is achieved using a heat exchange, which brings the temperature of the wort down to yeast’s working range (about 10-20°C, depending on the type of beer we are making). Next, the yeast is added to the wort in a fermentation vessel where the yeast starts to convert sugars to alcohol. After fermentation, the yeast is removed by settling – at this point, the mixture can be called beer. Fermentation takes around 4 days for our beers like Skipper’s Ticket and Tushkar, and about 10 to 14 days for 60° North Lager.
Step 4 – Conditioning
Bottling line When the beer is newly fermented it has quite a harsh taste, and it benefits from slowly maturing in a process known traditionally as conditioning. To achieve this, we transfer it to vessels called conditioning tanks and leave it to mature until it is perfect. For 60° North, the conditioning takes longer and is carried out at very low temperatures, using a refrigeration system. This long, slow, low temperature conditioning is known as lagering (which is where the word lager comes from), and is one essential part of what differentiates a lager from other beer varieties.