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BBC2 and The Grainstore Brewery

On Tuesday 5th January, on BBC2 The Grainstore Brewery will feature in an hour long, opening episode at 8pm, of a new TV series ‘Victorian Bakers’.

Filmed at nearby Sacrewell Mill, shortly after the completion of a 1.8 million pound restoration and using their wood fired bakery, the series explores how the Victorians came by their daily bread.

Four 21st century bakers bake their way through the era that gave us modern baking as we know it – the reign of Queen Victoria. Experts Alex Langlands and Annie Gray join them to tell the incredible story of our daily bread.
Four professional bakers leave their modern businesses behind to bake their way through the Victorian era. They set up shop in 1837, when their trade is vital to the survival of the nation. Bread is the mainstay of most people’s diets and bakers are at the heart of every community.

A rural bake house has been kitted out exactly as it would have been in the 1830s. The bakers must get to grips with centuries-old methods of bread making – and that means doing absolutely everything by hand.

The first loaves are made with heritage wheat flour and brewers’ yeast in a tiny wood-fired oven. It’s bog-standard bread for Victorian rural workers, but to modern palettes it’s an absolute revelation. Fifth-generation baker John Swift gets a taste of the bread his ancestors once made, and artisan baker Duncan is in his element in this unhurried, organic world. There are no shops, so the bakers deliver door-to-door. For industrial baker John Foster who deals with customers as far afield as China, the fixed demand and lack of competition enjoyed by Victorian bakers is an utter joy.

But does the idyll last? As the bakers move into the 1840s poor harvests and an economic downturn see the price of wheat rocket, which means barley bread must be made for the poor. It’s an irony not lost on the bakers that this bread would only sell in the poshest artisan bakeries today. But it’s when they have to turn their hand to making ‘crammings’ – Victorian chicken feed – that their forebears’ role in feeding a starving nation really hits home.

The Grainstore Brewery was asked to provide our brewers yeast as we still employ traditional methods in the production of our beers including the use of open topped fermentation vessels where the yeast is ‘skimmed’ by hand in the same time honoured traditions through the years.

William Davis, Managing Director of the Grainstore Brewery commented ‘We were delighted to be a part of this fascinating and wonderful production for BBC2. It is especially pleasing as we forge deeper links with our friends at Sacrewell Farm, and we hope to be able to announce some exciting further collaborations with Sacrewell in the near future. We would encourage everyone to tune in at 8pm on the 5th January.’

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