Saturday 10 May 2014

Recipe for

Busy days, busy days. I had an hour in departures this week with no wireless and a useless phone so my 150 e-mails per day couldn’t find me. During my cold turkey I was motivated to write a blog post. As usual my motivation was annoyance/anger/incredulity at something a few people with more mouth than trousers believe as fact and broadcast with an authority without foundation.

One of the simplest things you do as a proper brewer is write a recipe. It’s a simple mathematic exercise using yields and a bit of experience and reading to predict how a beer will come out and through a number of iterations, getting it to taste how you want it to given the characteristics of your process. For the some it appears to be of the most fundamental importance. That is because they are not brewers and do not brew for a living. 

Why is there this misapprehension in some of the drinking public? It’s because brewing isn’t as simple as most people want it to be. A good analogy is cooking. Great chefs don’t do a great deal of cooking. They like great brewers design a process which brings their ideas to fruition. They procure equipment to their design, they assemble, train and manage their team, they set the specification of their ingredients and every aspect of what they send to the diner’s table. They have the level of education and experience, the talent and most importantly total dedication to produce great flavour under duress. That’s what separates the “chef” in a Nando’s and one in a Michelin- starred restaurant. 

Those who argue that failed/former chef’s, farmers, baristas, IT professionals etc. who like beer enough to give brewing a crack are modern day brewing geniuses after a year or so in a cheap brewhouse do not understand beer or brewing sufficiently. Greatness is not beginner’s luck. The only aspect of fortune in the development of someone who can make great food or drinks is when they are born with a demanding palate and a brain equipped with the attributes to make something to appease it. Everything else is down to hard work and sacrifice.

The hard bit about making beer is making sure that all the elements which impact on your recipe are defined, controlled and protected from balls ups, accountants and changes inherent in natural ingredients with time and season. Not writing a recipe. 

Also for those interested here’s some facts and opinion about the UK’s biggest selling cask ale from two learned gents and a shaven monkey with a face that looks like he’s fallen down stairs with his hands in his pockets.