Here at Experience Days, we are very excited to be working with a new experience provider – Brewhouse and Kitchen. They very kindly invited us to take part in a brewing session in one of their 5 stunning locations, to collect footage, check out how the day works, and see what they are all about.
On Sunday 22nd February, leaden with GoPro cameras, both Poppy and I arrived at the Islington Brewhouse and were welcomed into the spacious, warm pub area by the friendly face of our expert brewer, Pete. We were shown to the brewing area, and offered tea or coffee to set ourselves up for the day. Being instructed that the process ran on a fairly strict time-scale, we made our introductions with the other participants, and began brewing.
The process started with the Hot Water Tank, which had already been fired up the previous day, and set to the optimum temperature. This released an exact amount of water into the Mash Tun, which was to be mixed with the grain. Chief Brewer, Pete provided us with an in depth explanation about the importance of the type of malt grain, and the effect that this has on the type of beer that is produced. Having explained that we would be brewing a Pale Ale, members of the group were encouraged to help Pete empty the sacks of malt into the Mash Tun, ready to be mixed – at the right temperature, this would break down the grain, and release the sugars to be fermented.
Then it was time to start tasting beers! Pete took us round to the bar an explained the difference between the cask ales and how each was made, whilst we sipped on various Craft beers to our heart’s content. We each picked a beer, and he poured us a large drink to enjoy at our own leisure.
Returning to the Mash Tun, it was time to drain off the ‘wort’, and then remove the ‘spent grain’. Unafraid of getting her hands dirty, my trusty colleague, Poppy offered herself up to help with this part of the process. As the numerous sacks were filled, Pete explained how the spent grain was donated to local allotments and gardens, to help the community.
Then we learnt all about hops – how the different types and the quantities would affect the final flavour of the beer, and why some types were more popular than others. The dried hops were added to the Copper or ‘kettle’, where they are boiled with the wort from the mash.
Then it was time for lunch…and what a choice we were presented with – every item has been carefully matched to a complimentary beer. We were told that we could choose any item from the wide menu – this was not an easy feat. However, having seen the roast dinners leaving the kitchen all afternoon, both Poppy and I elected for the roast beef. It certainly did not let us down. This break also allowed ample time for getting to know our fellow ‘brewers’ much better. Being the social drink that beer is (and having been asked repeatedly throughout the morning and afternoon if we would like another) the conversation flowed easily and added to the experience as a whole!
Getting back to ‘work’, the liquid was separated from the hops, passed through a heat exchanger, and into the fermentation tank to cool. This is where the yeast was added, and the sugars are gradually turned to alcohol.
Throughout the day our chief brewer, Pete, was able to explain all aspects of the process, both at a scientific level, and in simple terms (for those of us who didn’t understand all of the molecular science) and had a wide understanding of historical and cultural brewing processes. He enjoyed being asked questions, and seemed to relish sharing stories from his South African roots and his history as a brewer.
As if we hadn’t had enough to drink throughout the day, upon leaving, all participants were welcome to take home a 5 litre keg of beer…for no additional cost!
We left the Brewhouse & Kitchen, feeling highly educated in the art of craft beer making, and perhaps a little sleepy.
This tour is perfectly suited to anyone with an interest in beer – be you a ‘ticker’ (beer drinking enthusiast), a home brewer, or even a complete novice such as myself, this experience is perfectly suited to all. Pete’s friendly and laid back attitude is infectious, and you are guaranteed to have a great day, from start to finish. The beautifully trendy, yet traditional surroundings are a brilliant added bonus.