Sunday 9 June 2013

At Brains, or enjoying a brief holiday in other people’s working lives

Three Cs being added to an FV
It was Thursday morning at Brains, and I was helping to brew a saison on the brewery’s pilot brewery, which, as I tasted later on at the Great Welsh Beer Festival, has produced some gorgeous beers including Coopers Reserve, a 10% barrel aged beer that has so much depth I half expected to find the Titanic at the bottom of the glass. You can see me talk about it here.

The grist was pretty simple — lager malt and wheat, which means that it should be light in colour and hopefully slightly hazy. No spices were used but three hops — Centennial, Citra and Columbus — were added throughout the process with a handful going into the FV. With the aid of Brains’ head brewer Bill Dobson, I wanted to get the flinty, spicy, near-austere character of a saison (we used saison yeast), but also wanted to give it a bit of an aromatic kick. From what I remember I think it’s going to have over three weeks of fermenting and lagering before it goes out into the world. Oh and it’s called Three-Cs-son. If you try it I would like to know what you think.

My time as a journalist has always seen me parachute into other people’s working situations. I have been out with the oyster fishermen of Falmouth, gone up in the air on a Hercules for a piece on female RAF pilots and been backstage with a band about to go on at the Albert Hall. It is the same with brewing when you become very briefly part of a team, though I always know that I wouldn’t last two minutes in reality (I have a chemistry and general science deficit). For a moment though, on a morning like the one I had in Brains there is a sense of a different path I could have taken. But on the other hand I think it’s the fact of this holiday taken in other people’s lives that I have always enjoyed in journalism.

Philosophical musings over I went along with Bill and a couple of lads from the production team to the Great Welsh Beer Festival and enjoyed beers from Brains, Otley and clean sweepers Tiny Rebel. What did I learn? Not to drink a 10% Belgian Pale like it was cola and then run to catch my train.

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