Thursday 19 April 2012

Tap East "Coffee In The Morning" Brewday

Back when I re-commenced home brewing in March 2009, like a lot of people, I turned to a couple of the many home brewing internet forums for advice. On one of these I found James Wilson and Phil Bird both of whom started at pretty much the same time as me and, through the power of the internet, we all became friends, met up and exchanged beers. 

Phil and Jim inspecting the brewery control panel
Some while later Jim made the career move that probably every middle aged home brewer wants to make (but mortgage/kids etc. prevents them from) and joined Brentwood Brewery as an assistant brewer. Since then I've watched his progress (and drunk some of the beers he had a hand in developing) and I was delighted to find out that he had been appointed head brewer at Tap East. Let's face it, when the Olympics kick in, that place is going to be buzzing and his beers, for better or worse, are going to be scrutinised by anyone who doesn't actually want to drink Heineken. Let's be absolutely clear, Jim has some excellent ideas and recipes up his sleeve and I predict a bright future for both brewer and brewpub. 

Anyway, imagine our delight when Jim invited Phil and I to Tap East to brew Coffee in the Morning stout made with coffee from Grind, the shop just round the corner from Tap East in Westfield. It's been a few weeks in the planning; we had to fit in with Phil's job (he works shifts as an electrician in a printers) and I had to book some time off work but it all panned out ok and on Wednesday 18th April we mashed in on Tap East's 2.5 barrel brewery. 
First Runnings

The first thing we found out is that it's pretty tricky holding the sack o'grain and stirring the mash at the same time. Goodness knows how Jim manages it but I ended up pouring and Phil was responsible for making sure there were no dough balls. Phil's natural curiosity with all things electronic and mechanical was immediately evident as Jim showed him under the bonnet of the brewery control panels. 

They talked at length about things I have no idea about, but even I can see what an asset Phil could be at a brewery with his background in electrical engineering and love of brewing. However, Phil doesn't have a sense of smell so, while they were talking techie I went off to the hop store to do what I do best, sniff hops. 

We settled on challenger for bittering and a few first gold late in the boil with some El Salvador coffee from Grind. I had to shove off to meet fellow home brewer and author Dr Brooke Magnanti who was in London promoting her new book The Sex Myth for a beer for mead swap. Jim and Phil persevered through the latter stages of the boil and the clean up; although I did help digging out the mash tun, the rite of passage that indicates you have cut your teeth on a pro brewery. 

Talking about digging out the mash tun, here's the pic (right). Phil's at the other end of that chute making sure it all gets in the grain sacks and I'm pushing the grain with a long stick thingy (I know all technical, me).

Whilst at Tap East we obey the "always have a beer 
whilst doing anything brewing related rule" I'm one for following rules like that. I had a pint of Titanic Last Porter Call (groans) and a hoppy number from Rooster whose name escapes me right now. 

Anyway - the beer should be ready to drink in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for Tap East's "Coffee In The Morning" Stout. Of course you don't have to drink it in the morning, you can drink it whenever the hell you want. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up of the day. sounds like you had a great time.