Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Brit's Backyard Booket Brew

Backyard Brewer in action
"I was young, stupid and poor," said Paul Edwards when explaining how he got into homebrewing in his native England. "I liked beer, but was too young to buy it, and I had no money anyway. So I began making it myself."

He shared this tidbit with me while drinking an English IPA he and girlfriend Nancy Sapanara had made in August, and while watching over a five-gallon batch of what will become a Belgian Wit a few weeks hence.

Edwards had rigged up his own nano-brewery in Nancy's Warren backyard, and with a firepit going full bore to ward off the chill, Edwards, clad in shorts, put to work a brewkit he had purchased online. "It's really not very difficult," he said in his classic British accent. "Besides the ingredients, what you really need to make beer is just bookets."

Which is "buckets" to us Americans. He also used a chicken fryer to heat the water that would become wort after he put in his giant teabags of grain. Hooked up to a propane gas tank, it worked perfectly for not just one, but two batches of beer to be brewed on this sunny, but chilly, day. The chill clearly did not affect Edwards, but the rest of us sidled up to the firepit or the wort kettle occasionally to catch some warmth, or to inhale the smell of the sweet wort or to watch chestnuts exploding in an open fire.

The English IPA he had crafted previously was stored in one-gallon kegs, kept cold by lying in the snow just off the patio. It was damned good and very smooth. He and Nancy put out some excellent food for a select group of friends that had been invited over for what was called Black Friday Brewing, and I learned that Edwards was as good in the kitchen as he was at the kettle. His perfectly seasoned British Sausage and Peppers were outstanding, and the pierogies he brought from a Polish guy near his Passaic digs were equally so after he got done preparing them.

After adding the hops and extra ingredients, he ended the boil while carefully monitoring the temperature of the wort, using the only item that didn't come with the kit-- a separately-purchased wort-chiller--which Edwards claimed to be a boon to the process.

Nancy and Paul at work
He pitched his liquid yeast and carted off the "booket" to the cellar. And no sooner was the first beer safely stored, OG numbers dutifully recorded by Nancy, than the naked legged brewer and good beer fancier began another--an Oatmeal Stout this time.

Guests brought over a wide variety of beers, planting their gifts in Nancy's snow-covered garden. The more guests that appeared, the larger the "Biergarten" grew.

Edwards' beers will be ready in a little over two weeks, and when they are he will keg them. And hopefully invite everyone over again to sample the fruits of his labor. I shall sacrifice myself to report on the final product.

The PubScout has attended backyard homebrewing sessions in the past, but never in winter temps with snow on the ground or with chestnuts exploding in an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at my nose.

But it was surely a great day.
Bookets and all.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great day. Sorry I could not make it.