Tuesday, 24 April 2012

What's a man doing?

The story continued...

"Brewing beer is neither complicated nor expensive. It's the responsibility of the brewer to make it as complicated and expensive as their wife will allow."

Due to Britain not actually making anything anymore it was down to those crazy Europeans to get the brewery started. I managed to forage some (hmm shiny!) 50 litre stainless steel cooking pots from eBay France and within surprisingly few days a delivery from those ever efficient Germans arrived (when did they sneak back into France?) - thank you Google translate!

After the excitement of the big boxes being delivered, endless jiffy bags of necessaries arrived daily to convert the big pans into a something like a brewery. Supplemented by many many visits to a large grey corrugated hell-hole known as B&Q (or Belchy & Queasy as I'm sick of the place) I was soon in full fettle. 

The first task was to fit kettle elements to two of the giant vessels. Q-Max cutters made lovely neat holes and before long I had created kettles big enough to make tea for the whole street. If the beer brewing fails at least the tea brewing will make us popular for the Jubilee. 

As I started to connect the pipework the brewery started to make sense. The brewing course fresh in my mind I tried to relate my homemade kit to the shiny industrial set-up at the college... trying to think of a witty simile here...ah, no, there isn't one... Eventually all the connections were made and the pans were officially transformed into a hot liquor tank, mash tun and kettle.

Now they had a job to do and I had a new "occupation" - brewing...

Monday, 19 March 2012

What's a Man to do?

The story so far...

Well, having now passed on the responsibility of messing up my kids to the education system, at least between the hours of 9am and 3pm the pressure is now on me to find an 'occupation' of some description. Having had 'two bricks' (look it up if you don't know) in the summer I knew there would be no more children to keep me out of gainful employment and a decision had to be made. I have always been what you would call 'career minded' unfortunately moving them from mind to reality has always been a stumbling block. I've had more than my fair-share of wilderness years (without kids to legitimise them) but once upon a time I did actually manage to turn my love of beer into a business.

In the days when you could write a business plan and get a bank to lend you money I set up Microbar with my brother Jeff, selling craft beer to the locals of 'London's Trendy' Lavender Hill. That foray into the world of low margin craft beer was curtailed by the onset of children but it didn't dent my enthusiasm for beer and I wondered if I would be able to find another business opportunity in this field. Having discovered I have 'a feel for ingredients' (it's what they say to daytime TV cookery contestants so if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me) through cooking for the family for the last 8 years, I decided that this time I fancied making the ingredients malted barley, hops and maybe a few other things too.

Two, only minor, matters had to be addressed - I needed to learn how to brew and I needed a brewery. I had barely even begun some high quality procrastination on the first matter before a brochure for Newcastle College landed on the doormat with a 4 day brewing course hidden within the science section. At the bargain price of £195 compared to the Sunderland Brewlab equivalent at £650 (and for only 3 days) I promptly signed up and waited to see if enough people would sign up to make the course viable. Fortunately I'm not the only dreamer in dreamy Tyneside and a small group of would-be brewers joined me to learn the basics of brewing in Newcastle College's very own rather snazzy brewery.

After a most enjoyable and interesting 4 days and with the knowledge fresh in my mind I was ready to build a home brewery before forgetting everything I'd just learned. As much as I would have loved a shiny Brumas (£1900 excluding postage from Deutschland) or an even shinier Sabco Brew Magic (£3800 excluding postage from Uncle Sam) economics meant my brewery would have to be a Utility Man special. Fortunately I'm partial to a bit of fettling so let fettle commence...