Monday, 4 April 2011

Home Brewing = Memories

Home brew conjures memories of childhood for me.

Utility rooms, full of muddy football boots and bubbling airlocks. Drawers full of tubing, wooden spoons, bungs and foil packets of yeast. The aroma of fermenting beers and wines pervading the house, and garage shelves lined with dusty bottles marked 'Elderflower 1986'.
My dad was the brewer, mostly it was wine but he did also brew beer. He helped found the local wine circle which went for many years until he lost interest, more people were going with bought wines and looking for a wine appreciation club than making it themselves.

I remember summers traipsing through fields, my brother and i eagerly gorging on ripe blackberries, my mother filing large ice cream tubs full, shared for cooking and brewing once home. 
Damsons, pea pods, elderflowers, all were used, staining work surface tops, occupying huge white bins.
 Visiting my grandmothers house, Sherborne in Dorset, and whilst we played in the overgrown and frankly probably dangerous (did anyone service those old parks, rusted Witchs Hats, bottles in concrete tunnels in hill sides?). The fields at the back there grew elderflowers and nettles, all used.

The Wine Circle barbeque's, an annual event. The ones when i was 10, 11, 12 years old all evoke memories, long summer days with trestle tables heaving with blackened sausages, burgers galore and home labeled bottles everywhere. These BBQ's were probably my first introductions to his beer via 'the half a shandy'. My dad or another of the adult men guarding their home brew would pour us a generous helping of lemonade and top up with their own beer. And then at opportune moments when our glass was half empty we would scoot over and top it up from the barrel, gradually thus increasing the beer to lemonade ratio in the alcoholic favour. We all thought it was terribly naughty and daring,  in truth i bet the dads saw it all and thought it funny, the distraction methods we employed.

Why the nostalgia trip?

Well when i bought my first house i went 'home' and entered my dads attic, the space that grows and never empties. Its so full of stuff that might one day be useful it gives my wife shivers fearing our attic will end up like it too. I acquired some of my dads old brewing equipment to take back with (thus proving my wife right!) but the truth is we literally do not have the physical space to attempt to brew properly. 
But last xmas my dad gave me for a present, with the words 'i hope it doesn't get you in trouble with the wife', a Brubox. 
Currently as i type i can hear the bubbling of air through water every 20 seconds or so. 
I'll post soon with first efforts at brewing my own beer, and why it got me in trouble with the wife.

Summer picture pinched from The Tortise Tearoom


  1. Good Luck Arn. I grew up in Sherborne it brings back memories. I think I can guess the overgorwn parks you talk about.