There are some days when things just take an unexpected turn…this past Thursday I was invited on an evening out with my work colleagues; ordinarily, I’d look forward to this sort of think as I quite like most of the people I work with. But this evening was organized by the management – with the aim of bringing us all together, fostering harmony, improving relationships, etc.
The blurb on the email invite promised us “an evening of fun” – a turn of phrase that sends a veritable shiver down a man’s spine; think of where you last heard a phrase with the word “fun” in it…go on. I’ll bet it was used to describe something that was the complete polar opposite:
“fun run” – running about a bit – very often in the rain
“fun fair” – an evening in the company of shriekers, charlatans and swindlers all set to loud distorted music
“fun boy three” – who were actually kind of alright – in an early eighties, probably poking Banarama, sort of way.
In actuality it turned out that they had simply organized a quiz and a free bar, so all was OK. But, unfortunately, the bar was a hotel bar and that had the usual measly fare of fizzy brown stuff that they pass off as bitter and fizzy yellow stuff that they pass off as lager. Good job I was driving then. But then I saw a group of folks huddled around outside in the drizzly gloaming – nursing pints of what looked very much like REAL beer. As I approached the small crowd parted slightly to reveal a tapped aluminium cask, on a wooden stand, on a picnic table.
It was explained that Gary – a chap who I’d worked with briefly on a project did a little bit of a brewing on the quiet. No scratch that; Gary does *a lot* of brewing on the side and this cask of Hedgedog EPA (Extra Pure Ale) was one of his creations.
Gary brews in his garage with a typical brew length of 1 British Barrel – that’s 164 litres…every time he brews, folks. That makes my 23 litres at a time seem rather paltry.! Gary explained that brewing was “a hobby that’s got a bit out of hand” and that he is now licensed to sell his beer to local establishments, local establishments who – by the sound of it – are lapping it up…and believe me I can see why:
The pint I received was bright, almost star-bright with a really lovely burnished copper colour. A thick, heady, aroma greeted me as I lifted the glass to taste, and what a taste…a solid dose of malt, which made for a generous, almost sumptuous body, – which Gary told me was based mainly upon pilsener malt with a small percentage of acidulated malt playing a supporting role.
I didn’t notice any sourness from the acidulated malt myself – but that was mainly due to the excellent hopping with Hallertau and Tettnang…both of which (I’m assuming as I don’t know the hopping regime) collaborated with the malt bill to bring out a juicy, almost orangey fruitiness coupled with a pleasing bitterness that was pervasive and still running full bore minutes after the last mouth-full.
I genuinely enjoyed this pint, it was really excellent…brewed with care and attention and you could taste that in it.
Let’s hope that Gary’s beers become available more widely. In the meantime you’ll probably have to check out some of the pubs around Cobham in Surrey to see who’s got them on.
Gary doesn’t even have a website for his brewery, so when and if he reads this I’m hoping he might put some details in…
EDIT: After a little poking about I found a link to his minimalist site: