Home-Brew Happy

How did you spend your Valentine’s Day? I spent mine watching DJ rack out and bottle his home-brew wine while I tried and failed to rid our kitchen floor of the Essex clay from the garden that’s caked all over it. Later we both dug out the compost heap together and spread home-made compost on some of our vegetable beds. Talk about romantic. He did, however, make me a delicious meal in the evening, so I can’t really complain.

The ‘Billericay Brewery’, as DJ calls it, has been going great guns over the past few months. DJ has made some fantastic beer and wine, not just from items such as tinned apricots but also high quality wine kits he’s purchased over the internet. True, at £39.95 the Californian Connoisseur kit is a bit pricier than wine from foraged rosehips or home-grown parsnips. But producing 30 bottles of vino, the price per bottle works out to be about £1.33.

I had my doubts about whether the wine kits would be effective. After all, in my experience most home-made wines have that distinctive ‘homebrew’ taste about them (a cross between brake fluid and toothpaste) although some are better than others. It’s a flavour I remember from my childhood. My parents had an old friend called Bernie who brewed his own in a little cellar in their home. Whenever we went over to see him and his wife Joan, we usually got to enjoy a tasting session of Bernie’s latest brew. He was an enthusiastic brewer and a lovely man but, as with our own homebrew, the quality of it varied. Sometimes it warmed the cockles, sometimes it was best left for cleaning the windows (apologies Bernie)…

But the merlot DJ made recently really blew me away. It actually tasted like a £6 or £7 bottle of red that you’d buy from a supermarket and it went down surprisingly well – a bit too well, in fact. His Dad asked us to keep back a couple of bottles for when he next comes to visit and we now regret agreeing to these terms as, frankly, we’d prefer not to wait. The white DJ most recently produced wasn’t as promising at first. It was a bit acidic for my taste initially, although to be fair, the first bottle we tried hadn’t been chilled. However, it has improved massively over the past few months and is now very drinkable. We recently had our neighbours round for dinner and while dubious at first, Kevin was surprised and impressed by the quality of it. He was particularly taken with DJ’s home-brew beer and is now considering having a go at making it himself.

The burning question is this – should we increase our output? DJ would like to. After all, he’s had great success with our home-made booze so far, so it makes sense to produce more. DJ is considering picking up another fermenting bin to enable us to put some more beer or wine on while we are drinking the stuff that is ready, thus increasing our capacity and reducing what we might have to buy from the supermarket. But there is one pretty valid concern – will it mean that we stockpile more wine and beer and save ourselves a fortune, or will it just encourage us to drink more? We’re both watching our weight and trying to be more healthy, so this might not be the best way of going about it. What do you think?

Do you brew your own wine or beer? What success have you had with it? Leave a message and let me know.

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3 Responses to Home-Brew Happy

  1. Nik says:

    Hello Billericay Brewery. Chelmsford Brewery here! We have our own home-made wine and beer on the shelves at the moment, and have been drinking our own concoctions for the last couple of years. Can\’t wait to get into the plum wine we made in the summer from the wild plums we foraged from near the River Chelmer. Your Merlot sounds very interesting. Is it made from a kit? If so, I\’d love to know which one.

  2. Piper says:

    Hi Nick. Hello Chelmsford Brewery! Your plum wine sounds great! The merlot is from a Californian Connoisseur kit.

  3. Syl says:

    Hi Piper! Well if DJ enjoys it I\’d say go ahead and do it! Yes, you\’ll probably have to restrain yourselves at times, but I found that the best way to do that is to give it away to friends who would enjoy it too! Have a glut and are concerned you\’ll over-drink, then just wrap a few bottles and earmark them for X, Y or Z\’s upcoming birthday, or Christmas, or something… Once wrapped and ready to go you won\’t be so tempted to indulge!

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