Brewhouse & Kitchen Brewery Experience Day (Part 2), Portsmouth, £85, 10:00-17:00 Fri or Sat
The fact is, I have to drive home at the end of the day, so I sadly refuse some offers of ‘a bit more beer’.
Oli uses a laptop and some software to keep tabs on the brewing process. The recipe is stored here, but there are also notes to be taken on how things pan out in practice. This strict record-keeping helps ensure a consistent final beer, but also allows for small adjustments to be made when required.
Once the boil is complete, a heat exchanger is used to bring the temperature zooming down from 100°C to 21°C and the wort is transferred to one of the four fermenting vessels, which has already been thoroughly cleaned and sprayed with sanitiser – from here on we want to avoid contamination of the wort with anything except the yeast.
At this point, Oli extracts a sample for me to drink. This is still wort, not beer. The malt is very sweet, the hops are somewhat brash and it’s flat, but I can see where it’s heading. The sugar will become alcohol and carbon dioxide (fizz), and I presume the hops will blend and mellow, like the flavours in a soup.
He takes another sample and adds yeast. After a few minutes it begins to froth up, like some powdery zombie brought back from the dead. Back into the fermenter it goes.
Now it’s all about the cleaning up. We dig out the grain from the mash tun and the hops from the kettle and put them back in their sacks. Later they’ll be picked up by a local farmer and used as animal feed.
Everything gets hosed down and I give Oli a hand polishing his beloved vessels.
After a few days the liquid will be ‘dry-hopped’ by putting some Chinook into the fermenter. Apart from that, it’s just a case of waiting. ‘Brewers make wort; yeast makes beer,’ Oli says. All that’s left is for nature to work its magic and turn the tank of liquid we’ve prepared into 572 pints of ale.
The day was great fun – recommended to anyone who wants to experience a day in the life of a micro brewer. It costs £85, but by my calculations over half of that is accounted for by food and drink. Included are coffee, breakfast, lunch, half a pint of each of the five beers brewed on site, plus a mini keg of beer (five litres; just under nine pints) to take home. You can opt for a keg on the day, but I’ve gone for the other option: waiting a couple of weeks and taking home some of the beer I made. Let’s just hope I didn’t screw anything up …
Written by Richard Salsbury