They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Home Brew Boys!

Over the past couple of months I have seen an upsurge in the amount of people who are making there own personal drinking supply lately. Now I'm not sure if these people have just started brewing or if it has become cooler to talk about, but the big theme has been the notion of sharing! The 'if I try yours will you try mine?' idea is a great one for many reasons, many of which are to do with the furthering of the notion that beer is great, and needs to be shared.

Now the home brewers I speak of, in our quiet little corner of far Headingly aren't your average 'bath tub hooch boozers', there methods are a little more modern professional than that. With so much information available on making beer today, and with technological  innovation matched with some of the best ingredients available to man, it's no surprise if you put in a bit of hard graft you can make really good beer. Everyone also seems to be brave enough to really experiment with what they want to make. New ingredients getting involved, new beer styles, if it works great if it doesn't, try something else (just look at Stuart Howe from Sharps Brewery and his 52 brews project).

Working where I do I've been blessed with the gift of home brew from 3 different generous sources. Matt Lovatt, Zak Avery and Tom Fozard have all been kind enough to share some of there own creations with me to try out, so I know will tell you all about them!

Matt's Beer;

Matt had a difficult task with his beer (well it sounded difficult to me!). From what I understand the brew was a homage to Orval, and to make it that little bit extra special he collected and cultured his own strain of Orval yeast from what I presume was left in the bottom of his Orval bottles. The beer came in at a hefty but understandable 6%abv and gave off a nice golden amber hue in the light. The beer came across the nose with quite a bit of straw and a lot of 'sour fruitiness' quite like a few gueuze beers I've had recently. Initial thoughts on the flavour; I thought it was bone dry and super moorish. There was a little malty sweetness in the body which lead to a big lemony bitter sourness. You get a good Belgian dryness in the carbonation coming from the yeasts. The sourness is not that overpowering after a few sips, and it leads to some of that nice brett straw/hay flavour. Very good beer overall I'm sure Jean-Marie Rock would agree because it must be difficult to get a beer like this right.

Zak's Beer;

Avery's ale has brought quite a bit of attention in the blog and twitter world, especially whilst he was in the initial production of the brew. It comes in at around 6% and again has a great amber hue with a slight lacing of chalky bubbles. Initial aromas abound of lychee and lemons. There was also a big aroma of gooseberry crumble that I couldn't get out my head. Taste wise you get a nice initial sweetness, followed by a nice fruity malt body, then a drying citrus aftertaste. There is some amber malty-ness in the body but overall I think this is a good pale ale with dry hints of hoppy sherbert, mixed with a big orange zest, which leaves a nice bitter finish. A beer at 6% but tastes around 4%, good or bad? probably best I only had one for its drinkability. When asked, Zak said the beer had a bit of a confused style as there was a big citrus aroma, but a lot of fruity malt. To me though, it was the melding of two great worlds. A deep fried mars bar is a bit confused, doesn't stop it from tasting great.

Tom's Beers;

Tom was kind enough to give me two different beers he'd made. Also being a bit of a design fiend, he named and labeled the beers he produced.

The first beer - 'Fifty-Third and Third' is an American pale ale coming in at 6% (I'm seeing a little pattern in these beer strengths!) It comes across the nose with a big candy citrus aroma with big hints of dry wood-chips. Initial flavous are again very dry with a sort of dusty woody body coming from the big hops, leading to a bitter fruity aftertaste. Orange and some pear, a little lemon bitterness too. Everything about this beer says U.S.A. to me apart from the fact that it 'was made in a bathroom in Kirkstall' according to Tom!

The second beer 'Admiral Nelson' was a liquorice stout coming in at 5.3%. A devilishly dark concoction with a huge rich aroma of liquorice, (duh) some creamy mint and Bassets sweeties. It's a thick beer with lots of warming dark heathenism. Liquorice and spicy dark malts  all the way down. A full of flavour beer that really delivers on the name. Tom knows I'm not too keen on liquorice and to be honest I did struggle a bit with the last of this brew, but it's testament to his abilities to produce a beer exactly what he wanted too. This is liquorice stout all over, and it didn't go too badly with a mince pie either!

There you have it then, 4 beers, 3 different makers, and I can say in all honesty they were all a lot better than my first attempt! (really, mine was like vinegar) So cheers to the home brew boys, it was a really nice experience. My only suggestion to Zak, Matt and Tom would be next time you brew, make them around 4%. Those 4 beers last night were more than enough for one sitting, but hey I love it! The more people we can get into the H.B. scene the richer we'll be for it, so go forth..... make beer, drink beer, and be merry!!


  1. Orval use one yeast for the main fermentation and then centrifuge the beer to remove this first yeast before adding a different (Brettanomyces type) yeast strain for the bottle re-fermentation.

  2. True. I used a different yeast in primary. It then sat on some hops for a couple of weeks and I added the Orval brett at bottling. My kitchen doesn't have a centrifuge, sadly.

    See, I may not be as good a brewer as you but I'm equally capable with google.

    Will you ever do Crown IPA again btw? It was loveley.

  3. I LOVE Tom's labels - fantastic stuff.

  4. Mark - Tom says "very kind of you to say thanks Mark" and "I take commissions!"