Manchester’s first official homebrew meet

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Yesterday was the first official meet organised by the guys behind @Mancshomebrew (also here: http://mancshomebrew.blogspot.co.uk/). As I mentioned before, I have a great interest in well crafted beers, interest equally shared by Miss Mash (which means it is really hard to keep a healthy diet in these cold days as we both easily reach out for something comforting be it a nice dinner, a good wine or a flavoursome IPA…in fact, all three often make their way to our table in the same evening).

There is undeniably an increasing level of interest for good quality ales and the unexpectedly high attendance at the first home brew session in BrewDog Manchester yesterday is indeed very encouraging. Although this project is still in its infancy, I believe the idea is to have a brief presentation on a specific topic about brewing, delivered when possible by someone credible in the field, and then sample the beers of those who have actually been busy experimenting with malt, hop and all sorts of crazy ingredients.

So far we have just been keen, enthusiast drinkers but recently, a friend came up with the sordid idea that we should have a go at brewing our own stuff. I could not find any reason to discredit it so…hell yeah, let’s have a go! Round about the same time, the homebrew meet was announced so we thought it may be worth holding fire and use the opportunity to ask practical questions on the best way to get started. I have to admit I felt a bit embarrassed because we have never actually brewed anything and did not have a mash to show for. It was however a wise choice because we now have a better idea of what we should aim for and where to get the right information, material and ingredients…and who to call for help!.

For the first event, the bar has been set pretty high already as the guys secured the attendance of one of the North West’s best brewers: Dominic Driscoll from the acclaimed Thornbridge brewery, based in Bakewell. @ThornbridgeDom gave us a quick presentation on water quality and water treatment for beer brewing which may have seemed boring and useless to many but was actually very instructive and I believe critical to a quality end product. I think there were about 25 people there and about two thirds of them had brought along the product of their recent experiments for us all to taste. The current trend seems to be about Imperial Stout and flavours ranged from coffee, toffee, caramel all the way to an attempt at making a Dr Pepper stout (!!??). I don’t really like Dr Pepper – or any fizzy drink for that matter – and was not particularly keen on the beer, but considering the 100km list of ingredients and the effort put in, I must say the brew delivered. There were also a couple of IPAs kicking about and I would have been happy to buy a pint of the stuff afterwards. In fact, I would happily pay for any of these beers at a bar, it’s always going to be better than Carlsberg. Whilst it may sound daunting for us newbies, it’s great to see what you can achieve by brewing your own beer at home and Miss Mash and I are well motivated to brew ourselves a good IPA.

The next meet should be around January/February and the brewing “challenge” is for everyone to use the same type of hop…which has to be readily available so it should be decided soon. Not sure what the “lecture” will be about but I reckon ThornbridgeDom will want to come back to talk about his favourite subject: yeast.

Our home brewing journey will definitely be featured on this blog so keep your eyes peeled 😉

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