If you read my earlier post you’ll realise that, so far, this whole brewing lark has been a bit of a sporadic hobby for me. I was making approximately one brew every month or so and having mixed results.
Earlier in 2017, I went (courtesy of Secret Santa – who I suspect was my son Jak’s partner in life, Melissa) on a brewery tour at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick in London. The tour started with tasting the beer and then went on to describe the process. At Crate, they also make a range of speciality beers and are constantly developing their offer. What was really interesting, though, was their attitude to craft brewing. It was completely rebellious and as far from corporate life as it can be. The premises are set in a rough looking industrial estate. They have to move regularly as they keep outgrowing their space. It’s busy. They run a bar (that also does food) and a nightclub there too. The staff are encouraged to make things that get used in their bar (like light fittings etc). The staff also come up with their own recipes. If everyone likes it, it can go into production. It all looks like a lot of fun. And it’s a business – which, presumably, is making money.
I came back enthused. By this time I have made quite a few brews using extract and so I became keen to try using grain. I’d like to make a beer that doesn’t taste like home-brew. I started researching all-grain brewing and found lots of options in terms of equipment. I also read (several times) that I should buy equipment with as much capacity as I could afford – as people who start doing this seriously nearly always have to upgrade their equipment very quickly in order to increase capacity. So I started looking for a small kit to use at home for a few hundred pounds and quickly found myself looking at huge brewery systems costing more than my first house. Then hesitation and procrastination set in. Do I really want to do this? Is it going to be just another fad hobby and I’ll get bored of it? Am I really prepared to sacrifice my photo studio (in my garage) and turn it into a small brewery? And, most obviously, if I make lots of beer, who is going to drink it? What would I need to do if I wanted to sell it? If I made enough to sell, what kind of brand would I want it to be? It felt like me versus the world. One man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. One man with a dream. Oh heck, One Man Beer….
That’s the point I reached a few weeks ago. And I’ve been stuck there ever since. Until this weekend. By chance, I met someone else who is a keen brewer. He has offered to let me borrow his Grain Father so I can try all-grain brewing. I’m collecting it on Wednesday. I’ll let you know how it goes!