Graham Cochrane cleaning out mash tun - CopyWill Fisher cleaning out Mash Tun (2) - Copy

 

 

This feature first appeared in Made in Essex newspaper in August 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

The ultimate day out for beer fans, a Brentwood Brewery Experience Day, starts 8am sharp with an important choice.  Beer or science for breakfast?  Or maybe both?

“It’s a jolly, fine day out.  We individually tailor the day to suit each visit.  We can be as serious or otherwise as you like.  If you want to learn about the science behind the process, we’ll happily talk science.  If you want to sample our beer all day long, be our guest,” said MD, Roland Kannor.

The morning schedule begins with a briefing followed by measuring malt for the day’s brew, mashing in and sparging – collecting the all important sugars from the grain.  Being a brewer for the day is physically demanding work, so practical clothing and boots or Wellies are advisable.  Getting mucky is inevitable.

A work friend recommended the Experience Day to engineer Graham Cochrane from Great Baddow.  Graham put the idea on his 40th birthday wish-list.  His sister bought the gift.

“We’re watching the process live, as it happens and getting really involved, adding malt into the mix and helping throughout the process.

“I guess, when you go on a normal brewery tour you get told how these things happen but don’t really understand the time and care and the important points.

“But today we’re doing it real time and learning exactly where the care points and craft is and that’s the real interest,” said Graham.

Once the wort is bubbling in the copper, talk turns to technical aspects of brewing.

“It’s great fun for us too.  We enjoy imparting the knowledge we’ve picked up over the years, teaching people about our passion for beer and brewing,” said Brentwood Brewer Mike Holmes.

As well as learning about Humulus Lupulus (hops), barley and malt, there is much biology and chemistry to delve into.

“I already know a lot about the brewing process so it’s been fun to get involved but really the highlight for me has been the detailed explanation of the chemistry behind it, how everything works.  It’s been fantastic,” said Will Fisher from Colombia, South America.

Originally from Brentwood, Will a teacher, booked a Brewery Experience Day whilst on holiday visiting family and friends in the town.  He’s a true Brentwood beer fan and admits he’s an obsessive home brewer.  His dream –  to open a small craft brewery in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.

“I was really interested to see how they do things on a larger scale.  It’s not a lot different to home brewing, just everything’s upscaled.  These guys really know what they’re doing.

“Everything’s done scientifically using really precise calculations.  For me as a home brewer its more of an experiment.  Small scale, you can get away with just throwing things in.”

Midday guests are chauffeured to a local pub for lunch and a pint of Brentwood beer, all included in the package.  Afterwards, chores include digging out the mash tun and sanitising equipment before the day’s tasks are finalised by adding hops to the brew and pitching in yeast.

Home time is 4pm.  Everyone receives the brewery’s booklet ‘Notes on Brewing’ along with an 18-pint Polypin of the beer they brewed, once it’s ready – usually a week later.

The Summer Virgin that Will Fisher brewed will be ready in time for his departure.  The dilemma is he’ll only have a couple of days to drink it before he flies home to Colombia.

If sparing a whole day is difficult, tours held on the first Saturday of the month offer a good glimpse of brewery life.  They run at 11am and 1pm.  For £10 per person enjoy a pint of beer,  free gift and an hour-long tour.  Entertainment is provided by Head Brewer Ethan or Roland.  Discover The Hulk and where it resides or hear jokes and anecdotes, Roland-style.  Like the brewery’s close shave with Warner Brothers regarding a ‘borrowed’ image.  The upshot, it ends well – thanks to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Chockwork Orange is now the official beer of the book ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

Brewery Experience Days are available Tuesdays and Thursdays for up to four people per day at £99 per person.  For details or bookings contact Brentwood Brewery (next to Calcott Hall Farm Shop):  01277 200 483,

enquiries@brentwoodbrewing.co.uk, www.brentwoodbrewing.co.uk

See original Made in Essex feature online:  See:   http://www.madeinessex.net/article/57


One of the highlights of my year was being asked to catch a quick interview with UB40 ahead of their headline act at The Brentwood Festival 2014. 

The story I subsequently wrote first appeared on Brentwood Brewing Company’s blog:

Just to prove it, here’s a photo of me taking a photo of UB40 at the Phoenix FM Studios.  Thanks to Laurie Edmonds of Local By Social for the snap.

Photo of me taking publicity photo of UB40

This World famous Reggae group may like to sing about Red, Red Wine but it turns out the boys from UB40  are also partial to a pint or two of real ale.

Assistant Brewer Ethan Kannor couldn’t resist presenting the band with some Brentwood Brewing Company refreshment when he met them at The Phoenix FM Studios at The Brentwood Festival.  Ali, Astro and Mickey seemed genuinely pleased at the prospect of trying some bottles of Summer Virgin, the festival’s most requested Brentwood Beer – after the show, of course.

Astro said:  “I like beer. I’m a CAMRA member and have been for the last 5 or  6 years.  I go to as many festivals as humanly possible.  The best one is always Birmingham Beer Festival – 800 real ales, 200 perries and ciders.  It’s a fantastic night out.”

In recognition of Astro’s obvious enthusiasm for real ale he was invited along with the rest of the band to return to Brentwood for a brewery visit and perhaps to brew their own beer.

“You’ll never get rid of us,” said Mickey.

“Can he call it after himself?  How about Astro’s Fantastic?” asked Ali.

Astro added:  “That would be fantastic.”

So the band really does like real ale but enough to change the lyrics to their first number 1 hit of more than thirty years ago?  Would they consider singing Brentwood Beer in place of Red, Red, Wine to the packed crowd at The Brentwood Festival just for the night?  No they said and it’s probably for the best as fans like that iconic tune just the way it is.  But the question did make them chuckle.

UB40′s new album is due out in October (2014) – Silhouette.  You can find UB40 on Twitter:  @WeAreUB40 also @BrentwoodBrewCo and me too:  @newswoozle

UB40 with Brentwood Brewing Company's Head Brewer Ethan Kannor