Oh dear…the lurgie is really taking hold today. I am truly in its thrall. My nose has taken on a personality of its own and my foolish decision to dress entirely in black today has only made my face look even whiter and my nose resemble more closely that of an iconic reindeer who shall remain nameless.
And…OK – after all my good intentions yesterday with the herbal cold remedies, I admit to sneaking a couple of ibuprofen when I was starting to feel a bit worse…but it did only cost me about 50p so it’s not so bad! I’m not convinced that any of these remedies – natural, synthetic or otherwise are actually doing anything particularly helpful, although the herbal ones were quite tasty and comforting. Especially the cinnamon and brandy…mmm!
But there is another…ahem…‘natural’…remedy that I feel dutybound to spend some time looking into – er…our home brew beer! DJ took it upon himself to teach me how to become a master brewer – he had lots of experience while an impoverished student – and so we started brewing some lager just over a month ago using a kit from Wilkinsons in Brentwood (there are lots of kits available on the internet). In the past DJ has managed to make super cheap home brew for 13p a pint (mmm…with this paint stripper you are really spoiling us…) but we decided to go up market and make lager closer to 30p a pint! The lager kit cost about £10 but obviously to start out from scratch you’d need to get a fermenting bin, tubes, bottles or keg (if you prefer to pour pints from the keg instead of bottling it individually) and that could cost around £30 or more brand new.
The first stage was quite fun really. We got a big fermenting bin – basically a big bucket – and sterilised it, the lid and a big plastic spoon used to stir the mixture around using sterilising powder which smells exactly like our old school swimming pool in the summer. Ick. It stinks but it’s important to ensure there won’t be any bugs spoiling your beer. Then you boil up lots of water – we did it in pots on the stove – according to the instructions in the kit, and mix it with the malt extract in the mixture, plus sugar. Then you top it up with cold water. When the mixture drops to the right temperature (don’t forget to sterilise the thermometer) you sprinkle the yeast that also comes with the kit on top of the mixture and you leave the whole bin with the lid on somewhere safe for the yeast to do its work. Every day you have to stir it a little and then in about a week to 10 days if it’s ok (according to the reading on the hydrometer) it’s ready to be bottled. This is a good website in the US with info on how to brew beer…
The first bit was the fun bit really. It was when it came to the bottling that my enthusiasm began to wane. “We need to sterilise the old bottles I used last time around,” DJ said lightly, actually meaning me not we! “We’ll do it in the bath as it’s easier”. What he’d failed to mention was that these bottles had been sat festering in a cupboard for the best part of four months, with last time’s beer left in the bottom, and were full of mould which had to be washed away by yours truly. What a hoot that was!
But I have to admit that it was all worth it when we tested the first few bottles of Billericay Brewery’s amber nectar last night. The lager had a surprisingly delicious depth of flavour (hic), although you have to be careful when you pour not to disturb the sediment. But in the name of research and to be on the safe side, I’d best try a couple more bottles tonight just to make sure…!