Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Beer and Passion

Priviliged to hear a passionate evangelist last night. One of the brewers, Laurence, at Butcombe Brewery in Wrington showed a group of us round his church.

The brewery was an old success story. In the early 1970s in Brum you could only get Brew 11 or occasionally a pint of Bass or Worthington E. Parties were enlivened, if that is the right word, by Watneys Party 4s or Party 7s. The liveliness was usually in watching the unfortunate sucker who was nominated to open the thing. You had to make two holes simultaneously or you would have to clear the room of beer spray before your parents got back from holiday.

Butcombe started when Courage made a brewer redundant with £24,000. He invested the money in the only thing he knew how to do and started making Butcombe Traditional Bitter in his back garden outbuildings.

Twenty five years on, give or take, the state-of-the-art coppers can produce 150 barrels every two days. There are five of them. The whole process is wonderfully sterile 'We use stainless steel because you can't sterilise wood' and makes sure that heat used in the process is not lost but stored and that any by-products of the early, pre-alcohol process go to animal feed.

Interesting to discover that finings (which make the bits of yeast left at the end of the process stick together and fall to the bottom of the barrel) are made of unmentionable bits of fish - beer is not vegan.

A barrel contains 36 gallons. A gallon contains 8 pints. At 7 pints a day it would take 20 odd years to drink a copper dry. We gave it a go. Good night out.

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