MICRO-brewery owner Emma Bell is proud of the fact that South Holland has such a good reputation for food and drink production.
Emma, who has been running Bluebell Brewery at Whaplode St Catherine for the past four years, has discovered that other people share her enthusiasm for locally made produce.
She says: “People are passionate about real ale and I am very proud to be a Lincolnshire-based brewery.”
Although Bluebell Brewery was not represented, it was people like Emma, producing food and drink locally, who were being celebrated in the South Holland Food Festival at Ayscoughfee Hall.
The brewery began life 12 years ago, started by the then landlord of the Blue Bell Inn in Whaplode St Catherine, who subsequently sold off the pub and the brewery separately.
With head brewer Pat Sage, Emma produces about 5,500 pints of traditional bitter a month, ranging in strength from 3.7 to 5.1 per cent ABV. They use eight different recipes, one of which – Old Honesty – is sold in the Red Lion Quarter food hall in Spalding as a bottled beer.
Old Honesty and Flight & Pheasant are two regular ales, but there are others, including special brew Ingle Dingle, made for the Blue Bell Inn in the village.
Emma says: “Some local pubs take the ale but a big part of it is private sales for garden parties, weddings, Christenings and barbeques. In the last 12 months the private sales have taken off.”
Emma and Pat start their brewing day at 8.30am with a mash of hot water and malt, to which hops are added for flavour and aroma. That is then left to ferment until it is put into a barrel, the entire process taking a week. There are three brews a month producing about 1,800 pints from each.
Emma admits it’s hard work, but says: “It’s fantastic, I really enjoy it. It’s hard work but it’s satisfying and it is wholesome because only pure, natural ingredients go into it. It’s a long brewing process and a long day, but when you have 1,800 pints in your fermenting vessel you feel you have done a good day’s work.”
Visit Emma’s website at www.bluebellbrewery.co.uk or contact Emma on 07813 819746.