Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: February 2012

Thursday 9 February 2012

It's a kinda magic!

About three weeks ago I travelled to Brewster’s brewery in Grantham, Lincolnshire with fellow beer loving ladies Marverine Cole and Jane Peynton. A hectic few weeks since mean I’ve not been able to write about it yet, but actually it hasn’t made a difference to the enthusiasm and energy I felt that day- it is an experience that will stay with me; I could be writing about it in three years’ time and it would still feel fresh and exciting to me.

The three of us dreamt up the idea of brewing a beer together when we went on a beer drinking spree in Marverine’s Midlands stomping ground. It was at the Stourbridge CAMRA beer festival as we worked our way through all the dark beers on offer; through the stouts and porters, to the dark milds, that we realised a beer made by us three would be darn good beer. None of this pale, honey light-struck stuff that female beer drinkers are expected to choose.

We just didn’t ever imagine we’d actually get to make it.

I do remember drunkenly suggesting the idea to Sara Barton from Brewster’s at a project Venus launch party at The Rake and I thought no more of it. Then Jane did a bit of her schmoozing, visited Sara to discuss her beer recipe brewing competition for women and came back announcing we were making the thing! Us three! A bunch of three very different women, with very different lives and very different backgrounds, with a huge shared passion for beer.

And so we went. After 187 emails. Emails to decide on when to go, the beer style, the recipe, the ingredients, the logistics, the travel, the food on the day and of course, what to wear. But we made it, on a very drizzly, early Saturday morning in deepest, darkest January.

Thanks for letting me steal your photo, Marv. Me,
techical equipment and large vats of hot
liquids would'nt have been a good combination.
I am not going to describe all the processes and the steps involved, except to say that the whole brewing thing is genuinely marvellous. A lot of very accurate, exact skill, perfected by absolute scientists, mixed in with a huge amount of magic. Put simply, if such a precise practice can be put simply, it is alchemy.

I learnt a lot that day. All of a sudden all those terms, like sparging, wort, early hop/ late hop, finings- all features of brewing that I have heard of, know the definitions of and have seen where they happen, only now make magical sense. I can see the meaning behind the definition.

I also learnt that I could never be a brewer. I could help out, clean the mash tun, measure the malt, weigh out the hop varieties and so on, but I learnt that day that you have to be thorough, calculated, precise and patient to brew successfully. Not to mention physically fit. I am not any of these things, and watching the phenomenally skilled Sara, Rich and Sean do their own magic, I have a whole new respect for brewers.

Right now, the result of our alchemic day out is maturing in cask, letting all the exciting ingredients we merged do their full flavouring business, ready for our beer launch party at Tap East on the evening of Tuesday 6th March. We would all love to see you there, and share with you the fruits of our hard, very fun, labours.