A Day at Hartingtons Brew School
Chris Horne, co-proprietor of Hartingtons of Bakewell, was kind enough to invite me to attend one of his recent Brew School’s courses. The course is led by Paul Taylor, an experienced home brewer who heads up the laboratory at Murphy & Sons, brewery supplier, in Nottingham.
The day is primarily focussed on hobby brewing at home rather than brewing on a commercial scale. That said, we started the day by investigating a general brewing process, relevant to brewing at any scale. We looked at and were encouraged to smell and taste a variety of brewing ingredients. We discussed how to modify your tap water to suit brewing different styles of beer. This was a truly fascinating part of the day for me, as I know relatively little about the subject, whereas Paul is a real expert. I’ve since started adding a little Gypsum to some of my Pale Ales, which seems to increase the acidity and improve the hop flavour and aroma. Interesting stuff!
Next we looked at the equipment used in a traditional home brew set up, which led us onto putting a mash on. A couple of volunteers helped Paul add malt and water to the mash tun and the room started to smell a little like a brewery. Lovely.
During the mash hour we had a break for a coffee and some fantastic home cooked cakes and biscuits. We were also invited to look around at various bits of equipment, grains, hops, etc.
After the break we lautered and sparged the grains and put the wort on to boil before adding the bittering hops.
At around 1pm we broke for a delicious lunch of cheese, cold meats, salads and home-made bread. Lunch gave us students a chance to chat to each other. It was interesting to find out the different motivations people had for attending. Many of the students had never brewed before and just wanted to find out if it was for them. Others were experienced brewers there to pick up tips. Others, still, saw the course as the first step towards opening a brewery.
After lunch we finished off boiling the wort and learnt about late hop additions and their effect on flavour and aroma. We then started cooling the wort before taking a short break.
During this break we all took part in beer tasting exercise. The exercise was made especially interesting for me as Paul had managed to find an American red lager that tasted more like traditional red ale than any lager I have ever tried. Very curious!
After the tasting we added the yeast to the freshly cooled wort. Then we all had a go at bottling the beer that had been brewed by the previous courses participants. This meant that everyone was able to take home a bottle of beer that they had just bottled themselves and that had been brewed to the same recipe using the same process as the brew they had just undertaken. Very nice!
At all times throughout the day Paul was open to questions and was knowledgeable and friendly. All in all, this course provides an excellent introduction to traditional home brewing.
If you are interested in learning about more commercial brewing Hartingtons run another course on setting up a micro-brewery.