Friday, 5 August 2011

Brewstered In Leyton

WARNING: before you read any more, please note that I have included the full name of a new beer, and it might be offensive to you. If you object to use of strong swearwords, click away now. Thanks.

To Brodies on this inaugural International IPA Day to record a gathering of brewsters. I'm not sure if it's a first in London, but I think it's the first time that a gathering of all-female London brewers have been at the controls. If I'm wrong, somebody will tell me. There's a couple of LABers, one Barleys Angel, some curious newcomers.

Meet the 'family': Lucia, Hazel, Jeanette, Laura, Jonny and Karen, with Charles Manson at the back;
2nd pic, the same but with Lizzie Brodie (holding Alexandra)

The small brewhouse is packed to bursting. I'm met at the door by Stig (@TheHappyBat) who has devised the recipe using five different malts and three different hops. She has synthesised various smoked beer recipes, ruling out the more extreme ingredients (liquid smoke? Don't they use that in barbeques?) to come up with a beer with the working title of Absolute Cunt.

Lizzie Brodie is in charge, backed up by brewery team Eric Lanouilh and Jon Queally, looking even more like Charlie Manson in his sopping wet Brodies hoodie. Mashing in is sort of taking place as I arrive, with a huge quicksand of chocolate malt and wheat sitting on top of the mash while Eric purposefully works it over with a shovel in the style of Kirk Douglas fighting the giant octopus in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Yarr!

Looking on, @MrsBeeryMatt, @shoozographer, @hackneyhaz, @lucia_murphy, @JonnyBright and the unTwittered Jeanette from Lebanon all realise that the sun is over the yardarm on this wet August day, so while the mash is resting it's into the William IV for a livener. I'm on the Brodstar. It could do with a bit of carbonation from the cask (I hear there is/was some keg), but the hopping is lovely - full of fruit with a nice finishing citrus kick. My pint is gone in a few minutes.

Stig has to leave, so the rest troop back to the brewhouse after a while to help with the sparge and runoff. First hops are chucked into the copper (Hercules?) as the wort transfer starts. With so many hop monkeys, the shitload of Chinook hops are readied in record time. I've said before that I enjoy the 'no-limits' approach Jamie takes, and Lizzie is the same, it seems. There's as much malt here as you'd find in some batches double the brewlength, and in some cases, five or more times the hopping. Later on, the transfer to the FV will be described as 'like treacle'.

Jeanette, Laura and Karen are today's hop monkeys;
Karen covered in Chinook stickiness

Eric is watching the runoff so it's back to the pub. Lizzie and Jamie are generous hosts, and Lizzie has laid on a cracking buffet lunch. I'm working my way through Hackney Red IPA and Brodies IPA to support #IPAday, then it's on the bottled lager.

Over lunch I'm pondering the attraction of good beer. Sure, social lubricant and all that, but to give up time to stand in a tiny brewhouse stirring the equivalent of a hundred thousand bowls of Ready Brek for 10 minutes or getting your hands sticky with hops is different to meeting your mates for a pint. Hazel and Jonny, who discover they have the Forest of Dean in common while chatting - scary when you consider that it's also Demon Brewer Don Burgess's stamping ground; Laura, a Glaswegian with 'a Napoleon complex and a Kodak Brownie'; Lucia, formerly behind the bar at the Jolly Butchers and now homebrewing. All ages, all backgrounds, all here. I might have met all these people in one of our better London bars, but it's the brewers that are proving to be the tie that binds. This new wave of London brewers seem happy to let nosy buggers wander round or get their hands dirty. The next wave of London brewing will be cutting their teeth on the beer that Brodies, or Kernel or Redemption are brewing while they were in the brewery.

Trick of the light?: Queally is disturbed by the new batch of Hackney Red; Maddy, Karen and Laura aren't...

By the time I'm ready to leave, our brewsters are working in shifts on Lizzie's daughter's colouring book, and plans for a big birthday bash at the pub are being firmed up. Absolute Cunt should be making its debut during the Brodie's Birthday Bonanza fest at the King William IV during first weekend in September.


rabidbarfly said...

I see Laura is doing the 'boreing a hole in something' stare again!

Tandleman said...

Nice name. Not.