Established in 2012, the company has grown from a modest 1,600-litre-a-week brewery to having a team of eight, brewing hard to satisfy the ever-growing demand for its beers.
Family-owned and managed by Tom and Jess Seaton, a brother-sister team from New Zealand, along with Welsh cousin Neil Hinchley, the success of Crate Brewery is intertwined with that of The White Building, the company’s on-site bar and pizzeria on the banks of the River Lea.
Many of the beers produced at Crate are based on American hops, which are relatively expensive to import. Brewery engineer, Sam Wright, said: “Brews such our pale ale and IPA rely on the intense citrus, pine, and forest fruit flavours of American hops. So, if your most expensive ingredient is hops, you want to get the most bang for your buck, hence the need to look at a better way of dry hopping.”
The company’s interest was stirred upon reading a magazine article about Mondo Brewing Company, in Battersea. In 2018, Mondo invested in a Hoptimiser dry hopping system with 40kg capacity that was delivering impressive results in terms of hop utilisation and cost savings.
‘You can see the level of savings in terms of processing time, all without compromising taste’
Sam said: “I have a contact at Mondo, so I went along to see it in action. We then reached out to Hoptimiser and they offered us a free trial with a DH90 dry hopping system so we could assess the effects on our beer. We changed nothing in our process in terms of the ingredients and their quantity, just the way they are added. After three weeks we performed a sensory analysis to compare taste and flavours.
“When our beers were dry-hopped at the same rate of hop addition — circulating the beer for between 45 minutes and two hours — we got similar results to those obtained previously over three days. So you can see the level of savings in terms of processing time, all without compromising taste.
The final hop addition usually has a massive impact on final product quality, and it is here that the dry hopping system from Hoptimiser, a Torqueflow-Sydex brand, comes into its own, acting akin to a giant tea bag to infuse the wort with hop flavours, in a short period of time.
Crate Brewery then tried changing the hopping rates, reducing the amount of hops introduced and assessing the effect. Closely guarded trials are ongoing but results are very positive at this stage.