Welcome one and all to the next chapter in our Brewdyssey… thus far our heroes have laid the foundations for their reasons to brew, quested through the mighty lands of extract brewing and have returned triumphant not once but twice… with two quests, yielding the heads of four metaphorical dragons, under their belts it is now time for the adventure to plunge into more dangerous, more perilous and potentially more rewarding realms… LET THE BALLAD OF THE ALL-GRAIN BEGIN…
What-ho internet folks; just to say I started typing an actual ballad idea and then swiftly realised that would disenfranchise a bunch of you folks… and Bif might slap me (Bif – I would. I still might just because you considered it…). I do not want to get slapped by Bif.
So here we are… we’ve got some beer brewed from extract under our belts and have been happy with the results; Dwalin Espressoshield II (aka, my father) even approved of the output of the second brew. Indeed I think he felt a little embarrassed as the beer actually tasted better than his… he didn’t say as much, but you could see it in his face.
Both Bif and I had been surprised at how easily we had managed to create our beer, particularly in relation to the pre-hopped can kits that we had seen used before. This definitely got us wondering; surely all grain couldn’t be that much harder?
By this point I’d read a lot more of the Palmer book and, well, I really felt that if we stepped up our brewing methods we could make A) even nicer beer. B) get more control over what kind of beer/flavours we were getting out. C) brew more styles of beer. D) reduce costs more considerably. E) Feel even more like our beer was our beer. Taking control over all the processes we could felt akin to making that switch between using a pre-packaged bread mix, and crafting a loaf from ingredients yourself. As Bif and I both make bread (and sourdough…) I really, reaaaaaaalllllly, knew that this was for us.
Bif, however, needed a little convincing… he had not read Palmer by this point and, as he has been sorting a shed load of the wargaming aspect of our mutual bromance (yeah, that’s right, I’m gonna fucking name it right here) wasn’t fully au fait with how simple it actually looked. He was still in that position I was in a few weeks before.
Additionally a lot of what’s available online casts all-grain brewing into a realm of unparalleled complexity, involving copious amounts of sizeable and expensive equipment. As Bif has been the custodian of our brewing due to the limitations of my abode he, very rightly so, had reservations about this. As we’re both poor as well and as a lot of what we’re aiming for is ensuring we are cracking into brewing in a cheap and accessible manner (read as Ghetto) this seemed to be outside of our grasp… and then fate stepped in.
I had been on a bus travelling home when I passed a place by Crofton Park train station that looked like a mighty fine establishment for beer drinking. It’s name; Late Knights.
A swift Google of this establishment told me that in actuality it was a drinking hole owned by a small brewery called, wait for it, Late Knights…. and, oh my lucky stars, this brewery was perilously close to Bif and I.
A thought spiralled into my mind; would these guys let us see their brewery?
At this stage this was nothing to do with the brewdyssey, this was more to do with just being a big fat nerd, a big fat nerd that was also super excited to try and see what someone was doing in our local area. Tribal pride, and all that.
A quick email was sent and a quick email was received; Bif and I were told we could pop in to have a look at the operation but that it would be extremely busy there and it may not be the most fulfilling experience. I was told that the head brewer had been cc’d in and he would be our guide when we arrived.
When we arrived we introduced ourselves as the two random hairy guys that had got in contact to have a look around and said head brewer dutifully guided us through the brewery. What’s more is he gave us some astounding advice; don’t be scared of all-grain. It’s simple and the equipment can be as simple as slotting a bucket in a bucket (well, with a couple of additions anyway). He told us his history of home brewing and how this had led to him now being a professional brewer…. he was what Bif needed to feel like we could do this. We could go all-grain and be successful.
We planned out next brew date and prepared….
See you next time beer-o-nauts!!!