Hi. I’m Mark. I’m the one man of One Man Beer. It was going to be one man and his dog but somehow it got shortened to just One Man (although there is a dog and I’m sure he’ll insist on getting involved anyway). For me, this really is an adventure. It’s a leap into the unknown.
I’ve leapt into the unknown before and had very mixed results but it hasn’t put me off. I bought a music shop once and closed it again after 6 months. I started a record label which notionally still exists but it makes very little money. I also started an online prescription glasses company (the very first of its kind in the UK) and it was a great success being copied even more successfully by countless others and. together with a few other online retail ventures, turned over millions of pounds. I was co-founder of the UK’s first online memorial company and found myself in the news in national newspapers, on Sky News, Radio 2, Midlands Today in the UK and countless international radio shows etc. and never made a penny out of it. I also co-founded a marketing consultancy which is happily still operating successfully today. I started a property photography company and never once did any property photography – and so on.
So the chances of One Man Beer being successful is probably less than 5 per cent. But I’m going to do it anyway because that’s the kind of person I am. (We only live once – so we need to try lots of things).
I’m 57 – so no spring chicken – but I’m a kind of young 57, if there is such a thing. I still care about fashion. I listen to lots of music. I like hanging out with younger people. Ok – so I’m a sad old bastard. But even sad old bastards can still dream. Yes?
Get to the brewing bit, I hear you ask. Right.
Here we go.
Just over a year ago, Tim, a friend of mine, offered to show me how he makes home brewed beer. I had tried Tim’s beer at his house several times before, and enjoyed it very much. (My only previous experience of home brewed beer was not so good – so my expectations were fairly low). Tim then very kindly supplied a whole batch for an anniversary party we held. All my friends enjoyed the beer too.
I asked Tim how he made it. He invited me round on his next brew-day for a ‘masterclass’. Actually, we did more drinking than brewing, but I left with a printed set of instructions, including a supplier web address, so I could have a go myself. A few weeks later I took the plunge.
My wife Sara has indulged many of my ‘passions’ and is, frankly, getting a bit tired of them and the associated costs. So I didn’t tell her and bought the stuff I needed on the basis that it’s generally easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Tim’s instructions are for a regular bitter beer using extract. What could possibly go wrong?
The yeast didn’t seem to be doing anything a day or two after pitching. So I rang Tim. He said to mix up some more yeast (with a bit of sugar) then vigorously stir up the wort (lots of new terms I was having to learn) and add the second lot of yeast. I did that and there was a bit of fermentation activity. A few weeks later, we had a small gathering and I offered my guests the 5 gallon barrel of beer. It went down very well, which was a bit of a surprise – as I didn’t think it tasted very good. I then had another go. The yeast took this time (maybe the wort had been too hot last time, I didn’t know). This was OK but nothing special. The third brew was nice. But I hadn’t done anything differently as far as I knew. The fourth brew was very hoppy so I bought some different hops for the fifth one. Then I tried using different yeast. Then I tried adding hops at several times during the brew. Then I tried American hops. Then I tried my own hops (which we’d grown in our garden). Various results, all a bit hit and miss (just like my career to date!). But I was enjoying myself. See the next blog article for the next phase.