Saturday, 11 June 2011

Something's Brewing

Barks Brew
June 2011

I was very taken with Barry's home brew set up on nb Northern Pride. I always thought that home brew was something for the anorak brigade and hadn't realised that the results could be so palatable.

The last 2 litres from batch one

Call me a heretic, but I have little interest in wine. White wine is ok in small doses and whilst I love the taste of a good red, more than half a glass and I am ill the next day. But I do like a good pint, especially when we are out and about on the boat. The trouble is that even if we imbibe a couple of pints a day, which is more than possible, the daily cost is over a tenner - more than the cost of a days diesel.

Belle hatched a plot with her side of the family and lo and behold I received all the essentials to start Bark's micro brewery for my 50th birthday. 

The first kit was aptly called Wherry Bitter, a Norfolk ale with a watery theme to it. In went the cans of treacle like goo, the water and the yeast and we were off. Within hours the fermentation bin was bubbling away as the yeast turned all the sugar into alcohol. This carried on for four or five days till the gravity stabilised and then I siphoned it off to the cask, added some extra sugar to trigger a secondary fermentation and left it for 10 days. 

All this put me in mind of my tea total Grandfather who used to brew ginger beer from a living yeast plant he propagated. He was a local preacher and had no idea that his innocent looking ginger beer was actually highly alcoholic, or he wouldn't have poured half pint glasses of it down my throat every time he saw me! Because he didn't appreciate that fermentation was taking place, he stored it still fizzing in old glass Lucozade bottles, which exploded with monotonous regularity. I dint know how my family kept the truth from him.... 

Now comes the snag, and a pitfall most home brewers fall into. I wanted to drink it too soon. Belle and I were out on a "just the two of us" trip to Stratford (blog posts to follow) and we just had to take some of my beer with us. I drew off 8 litres of the nearly clear brew leaving the rest in the cask at home. We kept it cool in the front locker and really enjoyed its refreshing tang on demand.

Batch No 2 - not discharge from Harecastle Tunnel!

Disaster happened when I got home. Half of the remainder had gone, vanished - but where to - the house was locked up?. Realisation dawned when I noticed a very brewery like smell in the back room and a wet foot when I walked near the cask. I hadn't screwed the tap in properly and it has been seeping out for 10 days. I quickly bottled the remaining 6 litres and made ready for the next batch. Dont worry about the colour of this lot, I know it looks like the water coming out of the Harcastle Tunnel - I am assured it will clear.

Yours truly!

These kits can be had for about £20 from Wilkinsons and make up 40 pints of beer - thats 50p per pint. The end result is a beer I wouldn't turn my nose up in a pub, and it allows us to enjoy a tipple whenever we want. What is more, like repairing your own boat, there is a certain sense of pride in having made it myself.

Now I cant claim to be in Barry's league, he had a still set up in his boat, but its a start. If you see us passing give us a shout and grab a glass of Barks Brew.

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