Beer can be fun in many ways. Admittedly, drinking it is hands-down the best one I've found so far, but making your own can be pretty appealing too.
I first had a bash at home brewing around eight years ago, using those kits you can pick up from Wilkos. At the simplest level, invest about £40 in reusable equipment, a tenner for ingredients and a few hours of your time, and you'll get 40 pints of something drinkable in return. If you can convince your friends you're not going to poison them, it's a very cost-effective way of suppling booze for a party.
Since we opened BottleCraft, I've spoken to a fair few people who brew, and got tempted to give it another go. The added appeal was discovering there are websites you can buy specific ingredients from, so you can come up with your own recipe. A bit more costly, and a bit more time-consuming, but a lot more fun when you get to taste the end result.
Knowing that there were a bunch of people with a similar interest, I got talking to the gang down at The Hopwater Cellar, to see what they thought of us collaborating on a home brewing club. Leek and Macclesfield both have successful clubs, so we thought it was worth a go at setting one up in Stoke. Potteries Home Brew Club was formed.
The club's a very relaxed group environment for anybody with an interest in home brewing to come along to, whether you've brewed before or not. We held our first meeting at The Hopwater Cellar a couple of weeks back, and there was a real mixture of methods and scales amongst the attendees, with some using pre-made kits, others using hops and malt extracts, and people brewing all-grain too. Brewing volumes ranged from 20 litres right the way up to 100, so there's lots to learn about if you're interested in having a go.
We'll be meeting every three weeks on a Tuesday at 7pm, with the venue alternating between The Hopwater Cellar and BottleCraft for now. The next meeting is this Tuesday 14th March at BottleCraft. We're still playing around with the format, but loosely there'll be around an hour of sampling four beers brought along by any member of the group, and a good 90 minutes of time in total to ask questions, share ideas, and talk beer.