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Beer Adventures and Brewery News

The year had started off well with both of us passing the Foundation in Beer course at the Institute for Brewing and Distilling. A really useful course to undertake gaining skills necessary when judging beer and learning about the many styles. We are going to do the Advanced course later in the year.

Whilst in the Big Smoke we undertook some research, taking in Fourpure Brewery, Mother Kelly’s Bottle Shop, Bermondsey Beer Mile, Brew Dog, Mikkeller, Kill the Cat tap and a German Beer Cellar.

Tracy and Julie at Bermondsey Beer Mile
Tracy and Julie at Bermondsey Beer Mile

At Fourpure we had a private tour of the brewery which they are constantly investing in, for instance they were the first brewery to move to 100% canning. They also have worked hard to reduce water consumption and have improved the industry standard of 10:1 to 5:1, most impressive! They also started out on the earlier version of a BrewMagic brew kit – most encouraging.

They have great beer of course – stand out ones were Bear Tooth – Imperial American Brown Ale and Nightcap – Imperial Irish Coffee Stout aged in Jameson whiskey barrels. These and others will be gracing the shelves of the Boojum Bottle Shop fridge, it’s not fair to go on about great beer and not have it on offer!

Whilst in Bermondsey we popped into The London Beer Factory for a quick one on our way home only to be overwhelmed by a choice of 24 beers on tap! It’s great that thirds are available as it allows us to sample beers and put our new skills to test. Turns out the bar manager, Alex, was at UKSA in Cowes for a couple of years and was more than happy to talk us through the beers and the barrel ageing project they are currently undertaking.

Barrel ageing beer at The London Beer Factory
Barrel ageing beer at The London Beer Factory

We made another great contact and opportunity for a collaboration brew, at BrewDog Tower Hill which has an onsite brewery, run by Sven. He gave us an impromptu tour and wants to come down to the island to brew with us! We’ll definitely follow this up.

Ales at BrewDog, Tower Hill
BrewDog, Tower Hill

On my way to Salisbury recently I happened upon Downton Brewery just south of the city. Such nice people, really friendly and great ales. You’ll be pleased to know I had the car and was able to put a few crates in for the Boojum Bottle Shop.

Downton Brewery
Downton Brewery

We stayed at the Wetherspoons hotel, The King’s Head, which was perfect for our needs and a five minutes from the Salisbury and South Wiltshire CAMRA Winterfest XXIII which I felt duty bound to visit and critique some beers. I was gutted when they wouldn’t let me in, as it was sold out, but not one to give up, 20 mins later I returned and luckily they had a ticket returned, so in I went – hurrah!

Edwina - volunteer at Winterfest
Edwina – volunteer at Winterfest

I can’t cover all the beers in this report but a revelation was Art of T by Red Cat Brewery, Winchester – Pale session ale, dry hopped with Tettnang and Earl Grey Supreme – beautiful floral fragrance and light citrus delivered a delicate yet present flavour, my notes go on to say “like a malty kombucha”

Back in Sandown, our brewery floor has been relaid and is now a fetching shade of green. Since January we have had new electrical work for the BrewMagic and vessels, heating for our customers, an art installation – bringing out the story of The Hunting of the Snark – new branded glasses, a kitted out storeroom – which by the summer will also be a kitchen and of course our new bottle shop. The project has been demanding but a real labour of love and we’re overjoyed by the support from the community.

I’m going up north soon for a week long training in brewing and look forward to practicing my new craft as soon as I get back!