I find, in many walks of life, that in order to appreciate something you have to understand it. Granted, we will all have a basic knowledge over where many things come from, how they are made or how they are sourced but few will have an in-depth and extensive knowledge for a lot of these. For me, it is the brewing process and how several bags of malt and hops are transformed into a beer that will be appreciated by hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Of course, I have seen the process in action and have a brief idea of what goes on from visiting tap rooms and breweries, but getting hands on has given me a greater appreciation for craft beer. Even on the scale which we have started with, it is a fair amount of work for a small output of beer…
First of all a bit of context; my brother has a decent level homebrew kit in his basement which has sat untouched for a while now. The last couple of beers he brewed weren’t up to standard but now, with a little R&D and a back-to-basics approach, he decided to start again. With an appreciation for all things beer, I thought I would join him along the way, with us currently brainstorming other ideas that revolve around beer (watch this space for further ideas). For the time being, the beer is taking centre stage.
Now owning our own brewery, bottle shop or tap room is nothing but a pipe dream right now and is very unlikely to happen, but that doesn’t stop us from producing our own craft beer and sharing with others along the way. You never know; someone might take a shine to it and we may be able to make it on a larger scale one day! But my main intention with getting involved, beyond trying the end product, was to get a better understanding of how beer is made, the intricacies involved and what exactly puts the ‘craft’ into craft beer.
The saying that patience is a virtue is very prevalent when brewing as it’s not something which can be done in a couple of short hours, then you have to wait for it to ferment. Plus, when it comes out the other end, it may not even be what you were expecting or even be drinkable. Perseverance is a must, as is experimentation and the art of perfecting a recipe and being able to reproduce something time and time again. The time taken for some of the big guys to get their recipes straightened out must be immeasurable, considering the scale they brew on too, as the adjustments you can make are almost infinite.
After much deliberation over what we should brew, we settled on an American IPA sticking to the back-to-basics approach, before starting to experiment with other styles and brewing methods. Then there’s the whole naming question; do we name the beers and if so what do we call them? Also, what are we? Are we home brewers? Are we brewers? We certainly aren’t a brewery, but we’re somewhere in limbo between all three I think.
Whilst we’re a work in progress, we have a name for ourselves (whatever we may be classed as right now) which I will reveal in due course as it may change but we both seem to be happy with it for now. In the meantime, the beer is currently sat fermenting away before some hops are added in around 10 days time, with the aim that the process will be finished in 14 days time. It all lies in the hands of the fermentation process right now, then we look to keg it.
We will continue our brewing adventures in part 2…