Here is the 3rd instalment in the meet the brewery series, this time round thanks to Steve from Beer Nouveau from Prestwich answering the questions and also the added bonus of a recipe, I’ll have a go at this one soon!
What was your first brew & how did it go?
An old Boots brew-in-the-bag kit. You basically poured hot water into a canvas bag, hung it on the back of a door and waited for 2 weeks before pouring beer out of the tap at the bottom.
I wouldn’t say it was awful, but it was pretty close.
What equipment did you use to begin with?
A bag and a kettle. After that I moved onto extract kits though, which swapped the bag for a bucket and a large plastic demi-john I used to use for wine-making. That meant that once I knew what the kit was supposed to taste like, I could start adding my own hops, fruit, herbs and spices to it to produce different beers.
How long have you been brewing before setting up the brewery?
About 24 years. The brew-in-the-back kit was a present for my dad when I was 16, but he never used it.
What was the story behind you going into commercial brewing?
Procrastination. I quit the day job to finish writing and publish a book I’d been fiddling with for close to twelve years, and then I started procrastinating while writing the sequel. When we realised I was spending more time brewing beer than writing, we decided to convert the garage into a brewery, build a slightly bigger kit, and licence the whole thing.
What batch size did you start with commercially?
Forty two litres. Nine gallons. It’s England’s smallest commercial brewery, and I know homebrewers with bigger and better kit than I have. But producing good beer isn’t about how much you can spend on your equipment, if it was there’d be a lot better beers coming out of some of the larger breweries.
What would you change if you could start over?
Not sure I would change anything. I think what I did, experimenting with kits, was the right way to start, then moving onto all-grain clone recipes, again knowing what they should turn out like, meant that if something went wrong I knew it was with the process, not the recipe, I think that’s the right way to go.
What I’d like to have been able to do was join a homebrew group, but they just didn’t exist back then as they do now. Now you can go along to a group like the Manchester, Chorlton or Macclesfield groups and get great help and advice from other homebrewers who’ve been through the same problems you have, and who like to mess around with what you can do with beer.
Favourite beer brewed?
Probably Satanic Mills. It’s a really easy to drink stout porter, smooth, light body with a sweet chocolatiness.
Mash Liquor: 12.6 litres
Sparge liquor: 18.6 litres
Total Liquor: 31.2 litres
Maris Otter: 3900g
Chocolate Malt: 800g
Challenger: 25g – 60 mins
Yeast: S-04 11g
Total Brew length:21 litres
Heat the strike water to 70 C then add to your mash tun.
Mash the malts for 90 minutes at 67 C then sparge at 77 C with the remaining liquor and extract the wort to the boiler.
Boil the wort for 60 minutes with the hop addition at boil.
Steve will be putting homebrew versions of all the house beer recipes up when he gets around to it.
Too hard. Because I like pretty much every style of beer, my favourite changes each time I’ve had a good one. Really enjoying New Zealand beers at the moment because we’re getting some very fresh ones over here. But a particular single beer, that’s too hard to nail down.
Any tips for budding home brewers?
Join your local homebrew group. Go, keep going, and keep brewing! Oh, and make sure you don’t skimp on cleaning everything. Most problems with homebrewing is rushing things and not cleaning things properly.
Thanks again for your time Steve and looking forward to trying the stout recipe out!
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