When Pete Brown, Mark Dredge and I went up to BrewDog to brew our eponymous beer, I spent a good chunk of the drive from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh talking to James Watt about how I wanted to start a homebrew school in Leeds. Basically, have a very small plant (say 25 litre) that people who were interested in brewing, but didn't know where to start, could come and brew under supervision, leave the beer to ferment, and then bottle it themselves. I have to admit that my constant blathering was mainly help to keep my mind off how hideously hungover/drunk I felt, but sadly the idea never got off the ground.
I started homebrewing as a way of understanding the process and pitfalls that go to make up the finished product. It was sort of an academic interest, just without any academic rigour - hence me tipping away 35 litres of infected homebrew this evening (note to self: obsess more about sanitation). It also helps that, if everything goes right, you end up with a few cases of beer at the end of the process. By virtue of it being (a) really fresh and (b) the fruit of your own labour, you usually get something pretty enjoyable out of it too.
I've been given quite a bit of homebrew lately, and there are two questions that these precious bottles raise for me. Firstly, should they be judged at all, or just silently drunk (or poured away)? And secondly, if they are to be judged and evaluated, should they be judged against commercial beers, or should we cut some slack?
Going back to a point that I made in my previous post, I'm quite happy to give polite, honest feedback to anybody, as I'm sure plenty of brewers will know by now. So I was wondering if there was any mileage in starting a group blog, based in Leeds, for homebrewers to post recipes on, and then meet quarterly to try the beers that they are brewing?
In fact, to take it a step further, I've created a blog around which to base the idea - Leeds Homebrew (we can change the name later) - and I've posted my first ever homebrew recipe on there. The format of that post is what I hope will be a standard format for recipes posted - if you want to add liquor treatment, or any other details, then please do. But recipe first, comments second.
If you'd like to get involved, and think that you can meet once a quarter, and bring some homebrew along, then why not get involved? The only stipulation is that the beer brought along has to be made at home. Commercial brewers are welcome, but you can't bring beer that you've made on your big shiny kit at work. If you want to contribute, email me and I'll add you as an author on the blog - zak(at)thebeerboy.co.uk.
But to get back to the original point - are these homebrews for drinking or review?
(Bottles pictured (L-R) - @GhostDrinker - "Red Room", Dean @MrFoleys - "Suspicious Minds", @cheeeseboiger - "Construkt", Craig (I thought it was @craighall, but it isn't, sorry - please get in touch!) - "Resonance Cascade", @thebarleyswine (missing in action) - "Saison Brett" & "Transcontinental Shit Mix", @iamlonewolf - "Arctic Stout"