Before we left the UK, craft brewing was starting to become A Thing, thanks in part to those self-indulgent, mustachio’d buffoons calling themselves hipsters. Booze, to my mind, does not invite that level of pretension, and consequently they had no fan in me. When I head to the pub, I want a solid pint of Tennent’s lager, not a small, overpriced glass of something resembling a tramp’s sample. And I see no shame in that. Charging three times the cost of a normal pint for 3 quarters the quantity, however, is shameful and it’s no wonder we left. Schooners my arse.
Whilst I’m sure some of them may be life-long brewers, and a good IPA can be a wonderful thing, I suspect the majority are bandwagon-jumping shysters out to get in on a ‘scene’ whilst making a swift buck.
But people have been brewing their own beer for the last 7,000 years, without the assistance of striped-t-shirt-and-half-mast-wearing swindlers, and it was only a matter of time until Husband decided that this particular world tradition needed taken back to its rustic past.
Obviously I needed no convincing. But I did insist that he do some research first. Under no circumstances did I want piles of useless junk everywhere. Nor did I want exploding beer kegs or our stuff permanently reeking of yeast. I insisted he put together an informative presentation addressing storage, cost, return on investment and, crucially, ventilation. One evening, myself and the cats sat down to said presentation, and after a tense (for Husband) Q&A session I sanctioned the purchase of his first homebrew kit. I know. He’s a lucky man to have me as his mrs.
He’s also a dedicated ale-maker, and the first batch was excellent for a maiden voyage. But, unsurprisingly, there were a few details which his informative power point failed to address, specifically:
1. The spare room shall be forevermore known as The Brewery.
This happened pretty much immediately upon the equipment being set up. Referring to “the spare room” will be met with stony silence. Instead, it must be called by its actual name.
spare room Brewery will be more akin to a meth lab in a squat than a beer-brewing operation with aspirations of professionalism.
The blinds are permanently down, there are scabby old blankets and towels ensconcing vats containing lord knows what, and the countless tubes and other ‘scientific’ tools only add to the feeling that Breaking Bad really has nothing on us.
3. Without actually saying so, the whole room will be designated a No Girls Zone.
Myself, Violet and our newest cat (who counts as a girl because he’s had the snip) are on one side of the door and Husband, his brewing buddies and the beer are on the other. Honestly, I’m quite happy about this because I can get on with my own shit unhampered. But still, it’s the principle of the thing.
4. “I’m off to sniff my airlock” is not a euphemism, and will be uttered on an almost daily basis.
It’s like living in a Carry On film.
5. Bin-raking is now an acceptable undertaking whenever we walk anywhere.
I’m all for foundling furniture (One Man’s Doormat’s Another Man’s Pizza after all) but I’ve had to draw a line. Apparently items lying at the side of the road that would be useful in The Brewery include a large water-cooler bottle with the neck snapped off, a crate, a pink plastic planter thing for…I’ll never know, given that I immediately and staunchly refused the collection of all these on the basis that they were clearly pavement carrion and we are not seagulls.
So for anyone thinking of taking up ale-making, be aware that its effects stretch way beyond the occasional smell of hops irritating the neighbours. Having said that, it’s been 5 weeks since the initial purchase and the second batch of IPA is fermenting right now. There is definitely nothing ‘hip’ about our operation, but in a few weeks we’ll be gifted with 19 litres of homemade IPA, which, in the grand scheme of things, is an excellent return for living in a squat.