There are some big collaborations in the beer world. Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head (read Zak Avery’s thoughts on that here), Brewdog and Three Floyds (Eating Isn’t Cheating’s thoughts on that here), Mikkeller and well, anyone (read Hopzine’s thoughts on various Mikkeller collabs here).
And then there was Tom from ReetGood and Fletch from Real Ale Reviews.
Every blogger in Leeds seems to be brewing at the moment, many brewing hop bombs, imperial stouts or black ipas because, well, they know what they’re doing and they want to make something that fits their own tastes.
Fletch and I were slightly less ambitious.
We bought a kit from the lovely (if somewhat sardonic) chaps at Abbey Home Brew in Kirkstall. Well, it’s kind of a semi-kit called Design a Brew. It’s from a tin, but you can pick your own malt colour (ranging from 1 – light, to 4 – dark), your own teabags of hops and then extras, like torified wheat teabags, lemongrass, dried elderflowers. You know all you need for some EXTREME brewing.
I’ve made a summer ale with lemongrass by this method before. It wasn’t an unqualified success. The taste was pretty good, the nose was alright too. Unfortunately loads of my lemongrass powder ended up in the bottles, making for quite a lumpy beer experience. Dang.
This ReetAleReviews project was not going to end up with bitty beer. We went for a simple classic, a Burton pale ale.
Armed with a bath full of sterilised water, my hobs, a big old tub, several decent sized sauce pans, a thermometer and loads of water, we went to work one weekend, sampling a few tasty examples of a friend’s homebrew (also made via Design-a-Brew) for motivation.
The frustrating thing about all this brewing is the waiting. You wait for stuff to sterilise, you wait for stuff to reach the right heat and then, when it’s all done, you wait a week to bottle, then months before you sample. Bloody rubbish.
Unexpectedly, the sampling of the beer was delayed by the early arrival of the son, but, as a kind of mini head-wetting ceremony, Fletch called round once the bottled beer was ready for sampling. We opened, and poured.
The beer was dark for a pale ale. Very dark. Like a mild.
Nevermind we thought and gave it a sniff.
Many kit homebrews have a horrible chemically nose to them, not this one. A relief.
Then the tasting. We took a few sips. ‘This, is ok,’ we agreed. It’s not life-changing, or surprising, or flavour packed, but it is a good,solid traditional ale. Smooth, easy drinking and with a hint of blackberry in the finish (god knows where that came from), this was a decent sup. We’d both bought worse from pubs before.
This last reflection was enough for us to brand this brew a success. Hurrah!
There might still be a name, and a label to come, who knows. And hopefully, diaries permitting a second collaboration before 2012. We’ll keep you posted.