Proper beer is homebrew

Beer tankardA look at beer this week. Why? Because Guinness just doesn’t taste like it used to and so the only way to get hold of a pint of the original is to brew it yourself. Home brewing allows you to recreate bygone beer tastes that aren’t available anymore.

Up to about 1900, the brewery Whitbread made a hearty beer called Double Stout, similar in taste to Export Guinness. This thick bodied beer, with an alcoholic strength of 7%, was similar to the many beers brewed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

homebrew bucketSo to make an old fashioned Guinness, or other beers designed for export around the British Empire like the long-keeping highly-hopped Indian Pale Ale (it keeps fresh for years), then you’ll need to brew your beers with the full mash method.

This involves steeping crushed malt (available at all home brew shops) in hot water, then boiling the strained liquid – known as the wort – with hops for several hours. Yeast then ferments the cooled wort into beer.

For old beer recipes and brewing advice, two books are essential – Historical Companion to House Brewing by Clive La Pensée (£9.95 Waterstones.com) and Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy by Dave Lines (£6 Waterstones.com).

If you haven’t got access to brewing books, then look at the online version of The Brewer’s Handbook by Ted Goldammer. You can’t view the complete book, but there are selected excerpts from each chapter which are actually quite detailed.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to be patient to be an old fashioned brewer. The newly finished beer needs to mature for eight months before it’s fit for drinking. The wait will be worth it.

hopsBuying home brewing ingredients couldn’t be simpler – just search for ‘beer making supplies UK’ on the internet and hundreds of suppliers pop up all over the country. And if there isn’t a shop near you then get it delivered by mail order.

But if you don’t want to wait that long for your beer then try these commercially brewed varieties for starters.

PG Beer Reviews

Duvel Belgium Bottle Conditioned Beer

£2.09 330ml, Asda

The beer with the big, frothy creamy head that smells wonderfully of bread and grapefruit but tastes both creamy and sour. If you can, save the last half inch of beer and turn the cloudy bottle conditioning yeast into a yeast starter for your home brew.

Innis and Gunn OriginalInnis and Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer

£1.79 330ml, £3.29 750ml, Tesco (4 for 3 offer until June 2)

Wonderful aromas of freshly cut grass and mushrooms with flavours of light treacle.

Kastel Cru French Lager

£1.82 (approx) 330ml Stockists hard to find – but if you do find it then buy it

A subtle, creamy lager with a touch of sweetness. Refreshing.

Fullers London Porter

£2.09 500ml Waitrose

Smells of black treacle and yoghurt with flavours of toasted bread and espresso coffee. Good with food.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk