Thursday, 1 December 2011

Home Brew

To celebrate the fact that a bunch of sterling chaps in Leeds have formed a homebrew club I thought I'd open a couple of bottles to see what the potential of the homebrew scene can offer.

Homebrew is pretty big in the US and so very, very many brewers started in the kitchen with a pan and some plastic buckets. This, the romanticised genesis of plenty of breweries has so many possibilities and has been something I'm happy to encourage whether it's saving bottles for eager homebrewers at North or actually getting a kit myself.

Homebrew in the UK is a due a bit of a revival so here's a little rundown of some beers I've tried recently - I hope it reveals some of the possibilities out there and shows you where home brewing can take you!

Red Room by @GhostDrinker is a hell of an attempt for a first time brew, it's a red rye ale, quite strong and quite complex too. Really interesting on the nose with quite a pear like quality and a touch of boozier deeper fruit. The rye's there too, cereal notes and that tell tale sourness that I love about anything that's got rye in. In profile it's got a lot of similar qualities to a rye whisky - which is a good thing - plus more pear and a nice toasty, slightly boozy finish. Very good indeed. Poltergeist is also excellent, full bodied and robust for an amber ale, it tastes to me to be somewhere between an alt and a brown ale - with a lovely hop bite and lingering bitterness.

Konstruckt had been mentioned by a bunch of Leeds bloggers recently, all to do with the fact that @cheeseboiger is part of the prolific Leeds fraternity (and it is a fraternity, not a woman in sight) and the same chap is also firmly behind the reigns of the world famous Roosters brewery in Knaresborough. As we await what's going to happen in this most brilliant brewery with a complete change in management there's a drip drip of interesting beers popping up.

pic nicked from the lovely, wonderful Real Ale Reviews

Konstruckt is intriguing, an Imperial Dark Ale which doesn't really give you too much clue as to what's going to be in the bottle. I was expecting an imperial stout what with the Russian inspired label and imperial moniker but that it ain't. It's a riot of nutty flavours, lovely feeling in the mouth and certainly lighter in body that I was expecting. It's quite reminiscent of oloroso sherry - a lovely drink that is very cheap indeed, if you haven't tried it you should. Nice sharpness and good length to boot - it probably could pass as a doppelbock, something that British brewers should attempt more. So... Very good indeed.

Another local chap who looks like he's going on to great things is Andy Smith, now brewer at Redemption in London and happily brewing some extremely good brews, and helping redemption head up the burgeoning London micro brewing revival. But alongside his day job Andy produces some of the most extreme homebrews I've ever had the pleasure to taste.

Mephistopheles is a bruising quadruppel ale that comes in around 15% - really powerful stuff but delicious and balanced with it. Andys christmas ale was also obscenely strong but went down an absolute treat. His coffee imperial stout has also blown off back doors during Andys brief visit to North for our London beer festival.

So there's the rub - one top blogger brewing dead interesting stuff, one guy starting out at a great brewery, one guy who's well in to what looks like a sparkling career. I've been chatting to various people recently and everyone is in agreement that the UK beer scene is some way off peaking yet, in spite of shit all help from the Government. Whether you want to get a job in brewing or just want to have a bit of fun, get some kit and have a crack.

Want on opinion on your brew? Pop by North Bar, we have some of the best palletes in the business and we'll give you a straight opinion on your brew, we'll also save you bottles in return, and I'll try and blog about as many as possible.

NB. I've just taken part in Andy's competition to win a case of 24 home brews, I won a case and I'll be drinking the majority of them over Christmas, I'll post my notes HERE.


  1. Nice write up Matt, thanks, glad you enjoyed them. (more where they came from soon...)

  2. Would you be up for some swapsies Ghost? I'm in Leeds over christmas and plan to spend a large chunk of it in North.