The London Brewers Alliance showcase night was instrumental in giving me back some confidence and renewing my enthusiasm for brewing, which admittedly has been waning.
It's been a fairly difficult few months chez Happy Bat. First there was the phenolic infection. Month after month of beer so rank the first one opened led to tipping them all. Then the nightmare process of learning everything about every beer ever made up by the BJCP committee, which I have constant doubts about and which, between doing it and worrying about not doing it, takes up all of my time. It's got to the point where I'm beginning to wonder what it would be like to have spare weekends, to have a non-sticky kitchen floor, to never have to sanitise another damn bottle. But still.
Although the beer cupboard is a bit more bare than it has been, I am still brewing, regardless of setbacks. I still love experimenting with malt and hops. I still love being a member of LAB, I still love drinking beer. So of course when I heard about the London brewers showcase evening I had to go... And I loved every minute of it.
I had a chat to all the brewers, every one of them totally full of enthusiasm for their beers. I managed to invite myself round to at least a couple of breweries, under my usual terms - to have a look round and do a bit of free labour in exchange for getting in the way. I managed to try all the beers from every brewery in London in quick succession, what an amazing and unprecedented opportunity.
We had loads of interest at the London Amateur brewers' stall, people wondering how we did it, people who always wanted to brew but never got around to it, people who were already home brewers but had never heard of the group, and wanted to join.
And people liked my beer! I was absolutely made up about that. Should I take into account the fact that people were being polite about our beer – after all, we're the London Amateur Brewers, and we are standing right in front of them?
Hell no! I love my beer. That's why I make it like that. We know we make great beer.
We have a big advantage over the pro brewers in the hall, admittedly – because we only make a few pints at a time. It's economies of scale reversed. We can chuck in dry hops by the whole pack, and the financial hit is barely worth a couple of pints. We can experiment, and if it goes wrong, it's not the end of the world to lose a batch. (Yeah - I should know.)
So people's enthusiasm became my enthusiasm, became amplified, drunken enthusiasm. and I was sent home raring to get another batch on. It's doing well already...