Home Brew Bloggers’ Style by Angela Caldin

My fellow blogger, Emily, works in an office situated just opposite a shop selling home brewing supplies and equipment. She is a lover of beer and, gazing out of her office window one day at the array of beer kits displayed across the road, her mind began to turn to the possibility of brewing her own. The thought then struck her that our other fellow blogger, Trevor, is also a connoisseur of beer and, as his birthday was fast approaching, she hit upon the notion of buying him a beer-making kit as a present. He needed a project, she thought, and this one would mean that he could put in all the home-brewing effort and she could benefit from the end result.

Sterilising the fermenter

Trevor swirling the FU

No, it Goes Here!

It turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. For a start, Trevor is blind, so reading the instructions was a bit beyond him. For another thing, his wife, Pam, was none too thrilled at the appearance of such a large package of equipment in her living room, requiring systematic assembly. It was therefore agreed that Emily and I would go round one Sunday to help him get it set up. Simple and straightforward, the man in the shop had said breezily to Emily, but if I tell you that the instructions were more complicated than those accompanying an IKEA flat-pack, you will understand that the assembly of the fermentation unit, or FU, as Trevor wittily dubbed it, took some considerable time, with a great deal of shouting, reading the same thing over and over again, countermanding each other and generally getting quite hot and bothered. When we had finally got the plastic tap fitted, the large plastic FU had to be cleansed and sterilised. An energetic swirling motion was recommended in the instructions for this crucial process and Trevor took to this like a duck to water, swirling away merrily in the garden. We had started at 11.30 am and finished at 2.30 pm after much laughter, squabbling and failure to see how the various small additional plastic parts fitted together. Stage One saw us get the malt and the yeast into the fermenter plus 23 litres of water and, after a further period of puzzlement, we managed to get the thermometer and the air lock in place. We three bloggers felt triumphant, while Pam was none too pleased to have her kitchen reduced to a watery chaos while she was trying to get on with some work at the kitchen table.

Fermentation and Beyond


Checking the specific gravity

The assembled FU was wrapped in a cosy blanket and installed in a corner of the kitchen on a small table. We then had to wait five days for Stage Two when another vital ingredient, which I now can’t remember, had to be added. Then it was just a question of waiting a couple of weeks for the fermentation process to run its course. So it was with great excitement that we all foregathered with our respective partners for Stage Three – the bottling process. Amazingly, the beer was not overly cloudy and we somehow managed to master the hydrometer which showed it had reached the required specific gravity. There followed a monumental tussle with something called a sediment reducer whose mechanism defeated us for some considerable time, until the bottlers-in-chief, Susan and Hugh, decided that a bit of sediment never did anybody any harm and let the beer flow freely and joyfully into the thirty waiting bottles. Proudly, we fixed on the sticky labels and stored the bottles back in their boxes ready for consumption. Emily pronounced the whole intricate operation to be a magnificent triumph and a fantastic joint effort. ‘Next time, we’ll get a wine-making kit!’ she exclaimed, flushed with success. ‘Not in my kitchen you won’t,’ opined Pam and gently but firmly insisted that Emily take the FU and its attendant paraphernalia home with her.

Labelling 4

Bottling, labelling and sampling

I’m a teetotaller myself, of the opinion that alcohol in all its forms is the devil’s brew, causing untold misery, but I felt that on this special occasion I must relax my abstinence and try a centimetre of this distinctive potion in the bottom of a small glass.

I know you’re itching to hear the verdict, dear reader, and I’ll tell you now: it was excellent beer, rich, tasty, perfectly fermented and the source of a great deal of fun.

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