Brewing your own beer

11 Jul 2016

 

 

Beer is something that has always passed me by. From sneaking a cold stubby out of my dad’s fridge as a young teen, to sipping pints with friends my mid twenties, I honestly found the taste of beer, well, boring…..

 

Drinks are expensive when we go out and settling on a vodka and coke just isn’t in my DNA. But it seems I just couldn’t find a beer to suit my taste either. It was gassy, it made me feel bloated and there was too much choice of very average trash. I would find so much more satisfaction in a nice glass of wine, a handmade cocktail or a nice neat spirit on the rocks. 

 

Yes, at the end of a scorching hot 16hr shift in a kitchen, that first sip of an ice cold beer is the closest I’ve come to finding my own slice of hop based heaven. But, each sip after that it just gets increasingly dull. 

 

In recent years, the craft of drinks has spread beyond cocktails, mixology and boutique spirits and returned back to beers, ales, ciders and even soft drinks. 

I started to see these craft drinks seeping into my work places and I was intrigued! Upon trying a few, it becomes like any quest of mine, what is the best, who is making it, what ingredients do they use and how are they doing it?!

 

After searching online through my normal paths of natural research, I started to form a very basic recipe of how craft beer was being made and I started to believe that I could actually do this and make my own beer! 

 

I had recently tried a Japanese white beer called Hitachino Nest (you can buy it at Waitrose and quality bars like Telfords Warehouse stock it too), which in my opinion is still the greatest beer I have ever tried (Japan is really pushing the envelope with drinks at the minute, their whiskey and beer are some of the best in the world). Their beer is delicious, subtle, layered with complexity and it used a flavour combination of coriander and orange…. wow. 

 

At the time, we were working on a unique menu for some of our regular clients. They had a relation over from America who was back for their birthday and they wanted food that was ‘nostalgic and typically British but with a modern twist’. Looking at what was in season and available locally, one of the dishes we devised a pairing of wild garlic and slow cooked beef pie served with a homemade beer of local nettles, orange peel and dried coriander seed… I had put it into print, I now had to put it into practice!

 

After gathering all the gear I needed to make it, I devised a basic recipe, made it and I was astounded to find that it actually tasted as amazing as I’d hoped! I had started to come round to realising that beer is an even better pairing to some foods than wine is.

 

 

my first batch of nettle, orange peel and coriander seed beer, results below...

 

After making this, as with any recipe, I tweaked it a touch to make it a little more to my own flavour profile. We wanted to make a new beer for another menu we had coming up, it is this recipe we will publish for you below, its an updated yet basic recipe for you to follow. You will find your own way to make it to how you want it to taste with practice in the future. 

 

Ok, so to start you will need the following:

  • Copper finings (this helps clarify the beer)

  • Large plastic fermenting tub with a lid (sterilise before use)

  • Swing top glass bottles (sterilise before use)

  • Sachet(s) of beer yeast

(numbers 1 - 4 can be bought at Wilko's or online, fairly cheaply. Once you own them, they will serve you for a long future of beer making!)

  • 4 small to medium organic lemons

  • 400g organic sugar 

  • Cream of tartar 

  • 5 litres of water

  • 1 kilo of your chosen natural flavouring 

 

Step 1 

Put your 1 kilo of flavouring into your pan. If you can’t fit it all in, divide it up equally per litre of water. 

 

In this recipe we used mango, a little orange peel and some toasted fennel seeds (equalling 1 kilo).

 

Put your water in and bring it all up to the boil and let it stay on a rolling boil for 15 minutes. 

 

 

Step 2 

Pour your hot liquid through a strainer into your plastic fermenting tub. Using the strainer again to squeeze the lemon in to stop the pips going into the solution. Add your sugar and let it cool to where it is just about warm/room temperature. Once it is to temperature, add your yeast, cream of tartar, copper finings and give it a quick but gentle stir. Cover and leave it for 3 days.

 

 

Step 3 

Over the past 3 days its been building up a natural bit of fizz, knocking it all out now will give you a flat beer. I have found that taking a bit of the fizz out is good for my own personal taste but if you like it fizzy, be careful when siphoning it into your bottles.

 

Over the next week, pop the lids every 2 days to release the head of steam out the bottles and reseal. It will be ready to drink in a week and will keep in your fridge for up to 2 months (trust me, it won’t last as you will drink it and you’ll be dishing it out to all of your friends!)

 

I have found that my own recipes have been around 6% ABV. Also, be aware that there is sediment at the bottom of the bottles so leave about 1cm of fluid at the bottom when drinking!

 

 

There you go, easy peasy! Let us know of your concoctions and results or leave a message if you need any further help.

 

This recipe can be easily multiplied to produce a bigger volume, just scale up in equal proportions.

 

We will post our cordial recipe in the coming days followed by an amazing one pot wonder to wow all your friends with next week!!

 

 

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