A beer is brewing that will forever be associated with the Observer’s 125th anniversary.
Sara D’Arcy has read the Accrington Observer for most of her adult life. Now she is making a beer to commemorate the paper's 125th birthday which will run throughout our January 2012 editions.
Sara was a long-time resident in Great Harwood before upping sticks to Ramsbottom to run Irwell Brewery Works recently.
The 51-year-old mum-of-two said: "We know the Accrington Observer 125th anniversary drink is going to be a best bitter – 4.3 per cent and we are putting aside 200 bottles for it to go in. But that’s about all we know at the moment.
"It is being made now and I’m really glad to be involved because I have read the paper for donkeys years and still do now."
Sara, who moved to Accrington aged 23 before later living in Great Harwood for 17 years, said: "We don’t want to give away our secret recipes and are no different than any brewery in that respect, but the beer for the anniversary should be very nice and appropriate for the occasion.
"There is a lot going into it and it will be ready for the party. We just hope someone can come up with an appropriate name."
Great Harwood’s Peter Booth is the beer scientist at Irwell Brewery Works.
Peter and Sara’s partner Keith run the microbrewery jointly from the building formerly occupied by Irwell Steam Tin Copper and Iron Works in Ramsbottom - built in 1888.
Sara, a former lorry driver and factory operative who was on the staff at The Royal Pub in Great Harwood, explained a step-by-step guide to how they make their products.
"It all starts with the grain," she said. "It goes into the mashtun, a fermenting vessel, where it is mixed with hot liquor from a 70 degree hot liquor tank.
"Water then gets mixed in and circulates around the top of the vessel so sugars and proteins are rinsed out of the grain.
"That becomes the wort – the liquid extracted from the mashing process containing sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol. After it is transferred to the kettle and boiled vigorously for 90 minutes."
Sara said hops, or flavouring, is then added at various stages. And then it goes through a heat exchanger and hot liquor goes back into the hot tank. Cold worts then go into the fermenting vessel and cold water is added appropriately.
She added: "Yeast is added to the mix, which is at 37 degrees room temperature, and comes to life by eating all the sugars – transferring it into alcohol. After four days the yeast is skinned off the top of the mix and it is all but ready for casking." Finings are then put in the cask so when beer is added it clears it of yeast and protein.
The final step involves placing the cask in the cool room and hoping someone orders it within six weeks of its shelf life.