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Brew It Like Conner...




It’s good to get back to normal after my fantasy Enid Blyton-esque adventure on the lost island...

...though I may have aged considerably.

But if you thought that 'back to normal' means we can return to the comfortable mundaneness of posts about Hampshire dining pubs, I have some bad news...

...this week we have a brief departure into 'micro-brew-pub' life...

Brewing stuff...

I’ve posted on this pub before in 'another place' (not the House of Lords) - from an ordinary pub-goers perspective.

This time however I arrived at 10am on Saturday morning at one of RetiredMartin's favourite brewpub chains, Brewhouse and Kitchen - this pub being in Highfield, Southampton.



At this hour the pub was closed to normal punters, but I was here for a Brewery Experience Day (BED)...which promised the opportunity to help brew one of their beers, with food and beer thrown in for the day...(though it did involve a significant sum to grease their palms) - great 60th birthday present eh..?

Anyhow - the blurb for the BED said that I might want to turn up in waterproof shoes - or wellies would be fine - and when I saw a group of guys with beards, psychedelic tracksuits and wellies stood outside the pub - I was bound to ask them if they were here for the BED.

It turned out they weren’t - and I didn't venture to ask them what they were doing standing outside a closed pub in their weird gear...(sadly - neither did I have the courage to take their photo)...

One of the pub staff was busy wheeling a wheelbarrow full of logs into the pub and he asked if he could help me.  When I mentioned the BED he invited me into the pub brewery area...

B&K Micro brewery


 and introduced me to the pubs head brewer - Connor Higgins...

Photogenic thumbs up...

...this is Connor’s standard pose for all the adoring photos his brewery day assistants take of him.

Me and two brothers from Southampton, made up the brewing assistant contingent today - all of us as it happened, receiving our assignment as a birthday treat...
....oh - and a member of staff from the pub who was along for the ‘experience’ too...

Brewing team prepare for action...

We kicked off with a cup of tea/coffee (not in the same mug) and the safety briefing, and then signed to form to say we’d had it (the safety briefing) and if we drowned in a fermenting vessel it was our fault (or something like that).

Then Connor announced that we were going to brew about 350 litres of Christmas Porter today.  He had popped into his local Sainsburys on the way to work to empty their shelves of cinnamon sticks...
Sainsburys total stock of jars of cinnamon sticks..

...so we got on with the brewing...

Brewery assistant mashing-in, while Connor concentrates on his standard pose...
In went a sack and half of pale malt, some caramalt and chocolate malt (approximate quantities only) and mashing proceeded for the next hour while we had a bacon butty and our first beer...

A B&K murky beer...very good...

... I’m not going to give you a running list of the beers we tried during the day (too busy brewing and drinking to write them all down), suffice is to say we tried the entire range and they were all good/very good and included:

Onletisse (named after a footballer apparently)...
Toilet door description of Onletisse...

Hampton (named after a city that begins with 'South'... apparently)
Walk the Line - an IPA
...and others...

(Warning - the following includes the excessive use of brewery technical terms....)

After mashing and sparging...

Sparging (technical term for a hot rinse)...

...our Christmas Porter wort, moved on through the pipework to the boiler where it was boiled to within an inch of its life, and Columbus hops added, together with lashings of cinnamon sticks...

Connor still manages his 'thumbs up' with his hands full of hops and cinnamon sticks...

Meanwhile we put our backs into the job of shovelling out the spent grain from the mash tun...
...which was then bagged up for the local pigs - (to give them a nice beer flavour)...

Grain shovelling...
Then it was time for a burger and chips lunch, and another couple of beers, while Connor regaled us with all sorts of brewing tales, and we kept an eye on the loop of adverts for top quality beers on the TV in the corner...

A bit trickier to say than Carling....
Finally, the boil was over and the cooled Christmas Porter beer was pumped into the fermenter, while Connor made a few scientific checks and calculations and then added water, to make sure his brew wasn't too strong...

Connor shines his torch to show that lovely Porter hue...
Then the yeast was added to start the fermentation...

GH (accomplished home brewer) adds his jug of yeast...

Brew day successfully completed, all that was left to do was clean out the brewing kit (Connor's job)...

Quality murk in the bottom of the boiler...

...and drink a final complementary pint of a beer of our choice...

Connor gets stuck into cleaning while his assistants take a well earned beer break...

...and pick a 5 litre mini-keg of our favourite B&K beer to take home (Hampton for me - a 4.8% American Pale Ale).

All in all - a thoroughly enjoyable day which I would definitely recommend.

The expertly brewed Christmas Porter (pump clip name not decided at the time) will apparently be on sale at B&K Southampton from the 29th November (that's what Connor said anyway)...

...it's bound to be popular so hurry over there...!

Comments

  1. "...though I may have aged considerably."

    At our age one has to pace oneself. :)

    "great 60th birthday present eh..?"

    As long as the palm greasing was done with some of your birthday money then, yes!

    "(sadly - neither did I have the courage to take their photo)..."

    Totally understand. :)

    "Brewery assistant mashing-in, while Connor concentrates on his standard pose..."

    LOL, I was going to mention that. :)

    "Onletisse (named after a footballer apparently)..."

    Just read his Wiki.

    "Connor still manages his 'thumbs up' with his hands full of hops and cinnamon sticks..."

    He's got that down to a fine art!

    "GH (accomplished home brewer) adds his jug of yeast..."

    So... just on a grander scale then?

    "All in all - a thoroughly enjoyable day which I would definitely recommend"

    Yup. Though, in my case, I'll tag along with my youngest sometime for free (he's the brewmaster at a small brewpub in Edmonton).

    "...it's bound to be popular so hurry over there...!"

    You'll be there surely! And let us know how it turned out? :)

    Cheers

    PS - Happy (belated) birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Russ !

      Amazing that your son is a brewmaster - no doubt you'll be taking the time to visit him regularly..! Surely he can employ you as 'Head Beer Taster'?

      Yes slightly larger scale than my brewing, but I wouldn't be able to drink it all anyway ;)

      I was definitely meaning to go and taste the B&K beer but haven't managed it yet.

      I heard a story about the above mentioned footballer who had the beer named after him. Apparently he was invited to the pub to taste the beer named in his honour - but he wanted money - so that was the end of that....

      Delete
    2. My son lives in Edmonton, about a 90 minute flight from where we are, so we don't see him as often as we'd like but we definitely hit the brewpub when we do (and he's been known to send me some samples in the mail, usually around Christmas). :)

      For what it's worth, here's a short (3 minute) video of someone talking to my son about his beer and the brewpub it's in:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLkFPr8Nu54&t=87s

      Cheers!

      Delete
    3. Excellent Russ - hopefully your Christmas 2018 beers will be on their way soon...!

      I've watched Brandon's video - really good, and note that he started out as an enthusiastic home brewer - if only I was younger!!. Amazing beard too - mark of a true craft brewer.

      Do the other UK pubmen know that you have craft brewing expertise in your family...?
      :)

      Delete
    4. Thanks GH. :)

      The part about being a home brewer is what made me think of you.

      And yes, he definitely has that bearded hipster look down pat (his mother hates his beard!). (LOL)

      I've made mention of him a few times in my posts on other pubmen blogs. I'm actually quite proud of him, though I too find the beard a little too hipsterish. :)

      Cheers!

      Delete
    5. Rightly proud too - I hope his craft beer brewing career goes from strength to strength...

      As parents I can understand your thoughts on the beard - but I think it suits him well...

      :)

      Delete
  2. Happy Birthday -may you live long enough to see Doom Bar in every pub in Britain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Martin - at the current rate of Doom Bar's progress, I may manage that without too much trouble :)

      #Prophet of Doom(bar)

      Delete

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