Brewbarrel (from £29) is a fermenting barrel, hosting the chemical breakdown of barley sugar into alcohol and gas, with pressure valve and integrated tap.
Nice to put your feet up and have a brew. Meaning 1.1 gallons (5 litres) of beer.
In my infinite, nearly mythical ignorance, I used to think beer was a masculine thing. Bad-choice juice for stag oafs, or wannabe country squires. Then I dipped a toe into the waters of homebrewing, and discovered an occultist world of meads, braggots and debates over whether to mix honey at the flameout or whirlpool. One forum user recommends “fenugreek is added during the boil phase while creating the wort”. Homebrewing, then, is clearly witches’ work. (Another site troubleshoots “astringency, bitterness and death” – a list that lacks only “GSOH” to be the perfect dating profile.)
I idolise witches – heretical women being the best of all women – which is why I have ordered this starter kit by Brewbarrel. It provides all the elements you need to make beer at home, housed in a 5-litre barrel. I taste the ingredients as I throw them in – barley malt is a delicious caramel, hops taste of evil, while yeast is umami sawdust. Together with water, they stew at room temperature for five days, then self-filter in the fridge for two. To be honest, it’s a bit odd having a fermenting keg on your counter for a week; a little bit: “He always kept himself to himself, we never saw this coming.” At night, the escaping pressure sounds like animals in trouble. But eventually it’s ready.
I extend the thin red tap and a spume of amber jets forth. It’s light, fresh and it’s got bits in, yet I don’t care. It’s good. “No comparison with the bottled muck,” I find myself saying, as I adjust my flat cap and views on fox hunting. But is it too easy? The flavours and process aren’t sufficiently customisable. I am thinking about cornelius kegs, rotating sparge arms, smoked porter. I need the full Breaking Bad set-up and a black cat. I am spellbound and ruined. If you want me, I’ll be in the basement with the fenugreek, cursing.
For some, even this is a bit double, double, toil and trouble. No one likes a wait at the bar, so seven days is pushing it.