Monday, 30 November 2015

We Brought Homebrew

It’s been a little while since we posted anything on the blog. That’s because we were busy planning our three week US beer odyssey (of which, more later) and when we returned from our trip we had some physical and mental recovering to do.

The other thing we’ve been doing is launching a new homebrew club at We Brought Beer in their newly opened shop in Clapham Junction. They don't just sell beer, they sell homebrew ingredients too. At Clapham they have a dedicated event space upstairs which is the perfect location for beer lovers to gather and get excited about brewing beer.

We held the first meeting on Tuesday 17th November and we were surprised to see such a great turnout. It’s hard to know where to start with providing an ‘introduction to brewing’. Distilling a complicated subject down to its essence is always tricky. You could give a three hour lecture on malt and still not cover everything: but you have to start somewhere. The idea was to provide an overview of brewing ingredients, process and equipment, with separate sections on sanitation and temperature control. We might not be expert brewers but we are experienced and having made a few mistakes along the way we are happy to share what we've learned with people who are just starting out.

On Saturday 21st November we did a live brew in the shop. This was the first time we had done an extract brew in three years. In fact it was only the second extract brew we’ve ever done*. The idea of this session was for people to be able to drop in and see what is involved and ask any questions they have about any aspect of homebrewing. We expect to do further one-off sessions on Saturdays in the future, and it’s likely the next one will feature all grain brewing.

Next month’s meeting is on Tuesday 15th December, where we’ll be looking at recipe design and the use of specialty grains (within the context of extract brewing). In the New Year we’ll move on to more advanced topics such as the science of mashing in all grain brewing and critical appreciation of beer. Each session will start with a presentation before moving on to tasting beers. Further content will be guided by what club members would like to see. We're also looking forward to getting our brewing friends to come along and share their knowledge too, we already have a few of them pencilled in for future sessions (including judging beer, brewing imperial stouts with adjuncts, and making the move from homebrewing to professional brewing).

The club is aimed at novice brewers – those who are yet to brew their first beer or who have only been brewing for a little while. Although we are of the opinion that one should never stop learning, even if you're an expert. The club aims to provide a forum where we can all exchange knowledge and opinion (and our beers too obviously). The joy of homebrewing is in discovery, learning and discussion. 

For more information on the homebrew club and other events at We Brought Beer follow them on Twitter for updates: @WeBroughtBeer. Any questions, queries or suggestions from club attendees can be sent to:

*We popped in to dry hop the beer yesterday (it's a standard pale ale brewed with Centennial and Equinox). We should be able to package it next weekend. No idea how it will taste but we're curious to find out!


Anonymous said...

"The joy of homebrewing is in discovery, learning and discussion." Too true!

Interesting to see something so facilitated and organised. My local club is much more of the 'bring your beer, drink it and talk about it while getting drunk' variety.

When you say you'll taste beer as part of every session, are you talking about sampling/feeding back on each other's homebrew or more about drinking commercial beer and learning from that?

Anyway, sounds great. Hope you convert some newbies... the more, the merrier, eh?

Emma said...

Thanks for commenting. It's been fun to organise and take part in so far.

The main drive behind a homebrew club is to exchange beers with each other and learn about what you've done right/wrong/differently. Obviously there is an educational aspect to that sampling. But you have to start somewhere with a club and the intention was to appeal to people who are totally new to brewing, so we had to explain a bit about what was involved. Having a short presentation on a different topic each month is just a way for everyone to learn a little bit more each time (whoever does the presenting will be learning as they prepare for the session). Hopefully it will segue into the tasting part. :)

The tasting of beer will be predominantly homebrewed beer as you say. But there will be the odd session where we drink commercial beer for educational purposes too.

KevHead said...

Sounds great... hopefully as these new people get into the swing of it and start brewing themselves, there will plenty of sampling to be done.

I may have done our one (organised by Brewstore in Edinburgh) down a little. This time last year we made a list with a different brewing challenge/beer style for each month, so people could - if they wanted - have a bit of notice and brew to that theme. I guess about a third of the beers tend to be on theme, whereas the rest are made up of whatever people have been doing off their own backs. We have feedback sheets out and vote for best beer of the night... works pretty well for us.

Anyway, all the best with it. Should be a lot of fun.

Emma said...

Thanks, Kev. Yes, that's pretty much what we have in mind for this club - and it's what I think all homebrew clubs should be about. We just have to cover the brewing basics first and get into gear before we reach that point. I'm looking forward to seeing it develop. :)