Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Let the Judging Commence

Having done the Advance Course at the Beer Academy, I thought I would give Judging Beer a crack. Obviously I am no expert, having just started, but more of a keen amateur. However, I thought it is worth jotting down what I have learned because it all starts with how to taste and appreciate beer – a useful skill to have even if you don’t get to officially judge beers.

There are lots of websites out there which tell you how to taste and judge beer. I suppose this blog forms my bluffers guide. Not surprisingly judging beer comes down to: Sight, Smell and Taste.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Mid-life Journey

A few weekends ago I paddled down the Grand Union canal in a Canadian canoe garbed in a Native American headdress and war paint. This wasn’t on my agenda, it wasn’t something I expected to be doing in my middle-age but, then again, I hadn’t anticipated investing in a microbrewery.

The trip down the canal was to launch our new Totem AmericaPale Ale. We named the beer after Berkhamsted’s very own totem pole. This genuine totem pole, made by the Kwakiutl tribe from red cedar, can be found adjacent to the Grand Union Canal. We paddled to the totem pole and pulled up alongside to take a few photos; we didn’t have the courage to land or dance around the totem pole and we suspect it would have upset the elderly residents of Alsford Wharf (who now own the totem pole). 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Mysterious Powers of the Totem

Another blog from George (in a drunken haze) ...

I don’t like Totem! … or do I? As a co-founder and marketeer from Haresfoot brewery it's a dangerous thing to say perhaps?

I’ve always been on the sweeter side… from a beer perspective. When we launched Totem , a 4.5% ABV American IPA secretly I was highly cynical. I like dark beers, I like a dominant malty taste and don’t most other people?  Isn’t this a Marmite beer – you love it or hate it and how many people are going to love it? It’s too niche I thought!  However a strange thing happened to me. It started on Saturday. I was in the Boxing Hares bar running the shop. No fewer than 10 customers came in and asked for Totem – a significant allegiance given the beer has just been launched. I tried a sip from our stock back in the cold room- maybe I’m wrong?  Way too hoppy, almost sour to my taste buds… who in their right mind would like that?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Eight Go Brewing

Guest blog by co-investor George also appeared in the Aldbury Outlook.

April 12th 2014; a cold spring evening and a landmark day –Lock Keeper’s Launch Ale flowed from the pumps in the Valiant Trooper. It is hard to put into words the pleasure of drinking your own beer in your local pub.

Haresfoot Brewery was the idea of eight friends and local business men: Simon, Philip, Nigel, Nick, Martin, Keith and, from Aldbury, Scott Carter and me. You might call it our mid-life crisis. Rather than buying fast cars, taking up triathlons or donning lycra, we built a brewery. It’s been an incredible adventure. When you set up your own business you have to be prepared to do whatever is needed: leafleting in town, working in our shop, manning the bar for a party or jumping into the car to deliver a new firkin to a pub that’s run out on a Friday afternoon – oh and of course actually making the beer. I’ve learned about the science and art of brewing drawing on my background as a chemist and discovered that there are more varieties of hops than you’d every think possible.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Some Sommelier Course

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Advanced Course at the Beer Academy. It is the start of my journey into becoming a beer sommelier. The course promises to “equip you with the skills to communicate knowledgeably about beer with customers and consumers and will enhance your professional status in the beer sector”. So rather than simply say you like or dislike a beer, actually describe the beer and explain clearly why you like or dislike it. This approach to drinking certainly helps elevate your status from beer-monster to connoisseur.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Naming of Beers

"The naming of beers is a difficult matter
It isn't just one of your holiday games"

B.S. Bellylot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Beers

Coming up with original beer names is almost as difficult as coming up with original beer recipes. I have shared the origins of the Haresfoot name previously but I will update this page each time we launch a new beer, in order to try and explain the reasoning behind the chosen beer name.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Brew Day Blog

Wednesday 14 May was the first time I brewed in our beautiful brewery. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it therapeutic as well as tiring. Rather than write down my thoughts, I captured them in a short YouTube videoblog aka vlog (as I am told it is called by my young son).

Friday, 18 April 2014

By George I think he's got it

Guest blog by my co-investor George Harvey, written for the Chiltern Tapler

Little more than a week ago (at the time of writing) a dream came true as the team from Haresfoot Brewery sat in the White Hart at Whelpley Hill drinking a toast of Lock Keeper’s Launch ale with landlord Iain Griffiths-Jones. After a year’s avid research, intensive planning and frenetic activity, the excitement of creating a brewery has come to pass for 8 business folks from the Berkhamsted area.

The timing is particularly poignant because it was exactly 100 years ago that the last brewery, Locke & Smith, closed its Water Lane doors in 1914. The Haresfoot team are very proud to play their part in reviving the town’s brewing tradition.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

And finally ...

This is no April Fools joke, we finally did it. After almost a year of preparation we have have produced our first beer. Our brewers call it Gyle 1, the technical term for each batch of beer that leaves the fermentation vessel. But to the rest of the world, it is Lock Keeper’s Launch Ale.

Despite a year of preparation it was still all a bit lastminute.com, with the brewery kit arriving on the Sunday, installed on the Monday and the first brew in progress on the Tuesday. After the brew day, where the malt and hops are added, the wort was transferred to the fermentation vessels where the yeast does its magic. Four days later the beer was racked into barrels (firkins) and left to condition for three weeks.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Work in Progress

I haven’t blogged for a while, please accept my apologies, but it’s with good reason. Our brewing kit arrives this Sunday (9 March) and we have to prepare the brewery ready to receive it.

Nick is keeping building works in order. Our Builders have been beavering away, installing the three-phase electrics, building a sloping concrete floor, plumbing in water supplies and drainage, raising the block work for the Fermentation Rooms, Conditioning Room and Malt store, and drinking copious cups of tea with four sugars. This weekend the team turned up for a mass painting session, some 200 litres of paint was applied.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

More Red Tape than Red Stripe

Who would have thought that the noble craft of brewing was a bureaucratic minefield? I suppose it’s symptomatic of the nanny state we now live in, the PC world, the H&S obsessed regime. Anyhow if you have any romantic notions that setting up a microbrewery is simply about honest hard graft in a quaint disused farm building then let me highlight a few of the regulatory hoops (consents) you need to jump through.