Our Quest for Ancient Stamford Yeast


Press Release Jan 2017:

Stoney Ford Brew Co, is searching for ancient bottles of beer that still survive from old Stamford breweries in a quest to reactivate ancient yeast strains.

The Ryhall-based brewery has been successfully supplying local pubs and hotels since March last year, and hopes to develop more beers based on the local brewing Heritage. The name Stoney Ford comes from the  Roman name for Stamford, and the brewery aims to be as true to its home town’s historical roots as possible and reinvigorate the brewing culture of Stamford. The historic breweries  and inns of Stamford have shaped the character of today’s Stamford that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

“We want to represent Stamford in our beers and restore the proud tradition of brewing that Stamford once had” said Tim Nicol, co-owner of Stoney Ford. “Our current ales are made from all-English ingredients, with the malts from Lincolnshire and Norfolk, and all the hops are from Kent and Herefordshire rather than from the USA and New Zealand.”

Simon Watson, co-owner and Brewer feels equally strongly about the local nature of his beers. “We want to use ingredients even closer to home wherever possible. For example, we brewed a special winter stout in November with added blackberries, which we picked locally, and it went down incredibly well. We have also experimented with an unknown variety of hops that we found on a farm in Belmsthorpe. Now we want to go further. We know that it’s possible to take an old bottle of beer and re-activate and grow the yeast that was used, even if centuries old. We would be delighted if we could recreate a historical Stamford ale as well as use such a yeast strain in the design of other more modern beers.”

“Last year, a 220 year old bottle of beer was recovered from the wreck of a British trading ship off Australia and a beer called “Preservation Ale” was recreated in Tasmania using the reanimated yeast that had survived in good condition in the unopened bottle. In Denmark, Carlsberg have recreated a beer from a 100 year old sample, so it is technically possible, if we can find a sample and if the yeast can be reactivated” said Simon.

Stamford’s breweries of old include: Hunts, and St Martins, (later Philipps), both on Water Street; St Georges, on Wharf Road; the West St Brewery; Lowe, Son and Cobbold (St Michael’s) on Broad Street/North St; and All Saints, later Melbourns, on All Saints Street. Many  produced beers in bottles as well as draught in barrels.

Tim continued; “No doubt collectors will have some of the old empties as the bottles themselves are collectable and ornamental, but what we are after is the contents”. If anyone has such a relic of Stamford’s brewing history they are asked to get in touch with Tim or Simon via tim at stoneyfordbrewco.co.uk or call 01780 753747.

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