Barley, water, hops and yeast.
Since the first century A.D. people having been combining these ingredients to make what we know as beer. If you leave out the johnny-come-lately of hops, then you can push that back another three thousand years or so (we have archaeological evidence of barley-based beer from a site in modern-day Iran dated to that time).
Started in 2016, the Rea Valley Brewery can’t claim quite as much history, but hopefully we can make use of a few things which brewers have learned along the way.
This blog is a reflection of my own brewing journey; it is an online version of my handwritten brew book, and as such it is acting both as a backup for the hardcopy and an opportunity to expand upon the slightly terse notes to be found there.
This is mostly for my benefit. If you, the reader, have been directed here or have stumbled upon it then in the interests of full disclosure I should probably make a few points of clarification.
- I’m an amateur. Rea Valley Brewery is my slightly fanciful title for the beers I produce working in my kitchen in a village on the edge of the Shropshire Hills in the UK.
- One of my aims in starting to brew again (after a long-ago abandoned dalliance with it as a student) is to produce good quality beer at a very low cost. To that end I’m not proposing to invest significant sums in brewing equipment, instead I’m contrapting things from a variety of sources and pressing them into service. They will probably be upgraded over time in a piecemeal fashion.
- The beers discussed here are all ones which I have ‘crafted’ in some fashion. Generic beers brewed from kits will get a mention, but not a full description.This is not because they aren’t good – in many cases they are excellent – but because when I kit brew, I just follow the instructions on the tin.
- I have been absolutely stunned by all the advice and information available about home brewing, in books and in a massive range and variety of web pages, blogs and forum posts. I have also been assisted specifically by a number of brewers who have been most generous with their time and expertise both face-to-face and in responding to emails. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of them.
- Please don’t make the assumption that anything you read here constitutes “best practice”. It’s MY best practice, reflecting what I have learned and am still learning, and is just a snapshot of the way in which I brew beer, the best way I can with the knowledge, skill and equipment I have available at any given time. It’s doubtless going to include disasters as well as triumphs, moments of idiocy as well as nuggets of vague competence, so take it all with a grain of salt (or possibly malt).
- That said, if you have comments or suggestions on anything you read here then I’m always happy to chat about beer. I’ll be actively reading and managing comments (to keep the spam under control) or you can always email me via brewer (at) wildebeast (dot) org but I’m not discouraged by the notion that the only person ever likely to read this is me.