As you will see if you can be bothered to trawl through the reviews of yesteryear, there have been very few meetings of late. 2017 is no better: in fact it is worse. It is now June and we have held only three meetings and to think we used to hold them every three weeks come hail or shine – meaning we would have had eight (8) meetings. Be that as it may, I couldn’t see the point of continuing with the reviews despite a lot of comments from you out there in cyberspace (thanks for that), but last Sunday (4th June) changed my mind so I have to comment on the other two meetings this year.

First one was at my bar, The Owl’d Bar. I know I had three beers on, one of which was my favourite porter, London Porter, the recipe of which I honed, and tweaked from an original 19th Century recipe. (The beauty of all-grain brewing means you can attain such brews, unlike those you can buy.) This porter does something that doesn’t happen in pubs and that is: taste it after a couple of weeks and it tastes very similar to an ordinary porter, but taste it after a further week or so and the porter has transformed, taking on a coffee flavour. After another week or so and the main characteristic taste of chocolate comes through. And all this is due to the malts that are used, no flavouring of any kind. Pale Malt, obviously; Brown Malt; Crystal Malt; Chocolate Malt (so called because of the length of drying time in the oast house!); and Torrefied Wheat. A fantastic porter and another reason to brew your own.

Back to the evening in question where I had a bitter, and a light ale on offer. The light ale, aptly named ‘Blonde,’ is a simple recipe of just Pale Malt, Flaked Maize and Torrefied Wheat. It goes to prove that you don’t need to put a lot of ingredients in your brew. We had a full complement of members when you think that Pete prefers pints down the pub; Jacko is somewhere out there but I know not where; and, sadly, Sean has left the group owing to work commitments. But we had a good time listening to our Glorious Leader (OGL) drone on about yeast, his childhood and places where he worked – heard it all before.

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Our next meeting was a quiet affair as only Rob and I turned up at the Shed where John Winterburn had two fine ales on. One was a light one and the other was a light one. We can’t get him to brew other ales, must be afraid of the dark !!! I say quiet but you can’t describe Rob as the silent type, talking several decibels louder than those around him. One advantage of just being the three of us meant the famous corned beef pie was split two ways! Of course I took a slice home for ‘she who must be obeyed.’

Our Glorious Leader reckons that there must be thousands of people wanting to join our group and decides the best way is to put up a poster in the Hop & Grape*, (the best place around for brewing equipment, ingredients, etc., and they do mail order) A poster to advertise how to join our merry, if depleted, group of all-grain brewers. The poster is in the window, business cards are available on the counter and as yet no one has contacted me. Where, oh where are these thousands of would be brewers?

*Don’t you think Kevin should give me a discount?

Third and final night was at St Andrew’s Brewing, the home of Big John Anderson. This was held 4th June, a gap of two months but worth the wait. Sadly only five of us turned up. This is a downward trend, unfortunately. We need new members!! That said, three good beers and a very decent platter of nibbles welcomed us into Big John’s bar. Joining us tonight is Ben, who has started his own business brewing beers for bottling. The usual chatter ensued and then up steps Stuart …

“I’m broke,” he declares. “Strapped for cash at the moment. I know I have two yachts but I am skint.” Something wrong with that sentence I think. The two yachts, apparently, have seen better days. I suppose that quantifies his declaration somewhat. Then he comes up with the subject of subs (£5 per night if you turn up). “Why do we have to pay subs? We never have a trip out these days and there are websites selling brewing ingredients where we can buy what we personally need. So why subs?”

Strange thing is, out of the now regular members, two brew for pubs and one only brews now and again. This leaves Our Glorious Leader and myself who brew regularly for our own consumption. Three were ‘for’ Stuarts idea so it was agreed that the money in the treasury be split five ways and subs would be no more. Not the best plan in the world thinks I, and OGL agrees; so we are keeping our money in the treasury. That way we don’t have to fork out a load of dosh should there ever be a trip out. Also, when we run dry of ingredients, the money is there.

Thanks to John for a good night but I do wonder if there are dark clouds looming over our Traditional Brewing Group.

Happy drinking