Brewing the Ultimate Beer Pong Beer - Part 1
As far as I'm concerned, Beer Pong is the quintessential drinking game. It has it all - action, drama, suspense, and sometimes even romance. It also involves copious amounts of drinking, and therein lies Beer Pong's one fatal flaw: no-one cares about the beer. If you've ever played Beer Pong, then you'll understand the usual mad scrabble between games to fill the cups with whatever happens to be lying about. Honestly, if it's a liquid and it's within arms' reach, people will use it - I've seen people play with cider, disgusting beer (I'm looking at you, Carling!), even wine!
This probably goes a long way to explaining why the actual act of drinking during a game of Beer Pong is usually reviled. How many times have you played and seen your opponents pushing the drinks aside for later consumption or, even worse, had your teammate force you to drink on their turn as they don't want to?
Something clearly needs to change. We need a new, tasty beer created specifically for Beer Pong, a beer that'll make people as eager to play for the drinking as they are for the entertainment. Can you think of anyone more suited to the task of creating this beer than two idiots whose only beer-brewing qualifications are 'I've played a lot of Beer Pong' and 'I own a large plastic bucket'? Don't answer that question.
The original idea for brewing our own beer came from Questionable Films' veteran Andy Simpson, seen above trying to sterilise our brewing bucket with a dirty rag. Andy has already made three batches of beer in the past, so with his extensive knowledge of making beer and my extensive knowledge of drinking beer, I figured we'd make a good team. First step - clean everything.
I was only joking about the dirty rag earlier - making sure everything you use to create the beer is as clean as realistically possible is essential to prevent bacteria and germs forming when your beer is brewing. I don't know about you, but I'm generally put off my drink if I notice it's teeming with parasites.
Before we actually started making the beer, we'd done some legit market research (read: we'd spoken to two other people) to find out what people were looking for in a Beer Pong drink. It turns out people want something that isn't too fizzy, and which has a fresh taste. By analysing this wealth of data we decided to go for a light ale with a hint of citrus. When we get to the bottling stage (yes, we are actually going to bottle this monstrosity) we might split the batch into three flavours - a regular one, a lime one, and a mystery one. I say 'mystery' not to make it seem exciting and unknown, it's just that we literally haven't thought of anything yet.
So what do you need to make beer other than a large container? Let's take a look.
Yes, we've bought an ale kit and are technically cheating because it comes with barley malt extract in tins. I don't see you trying to improve the lives of Beer Pong players all over the world, so shut up! It all comes down to the brewing process anyway and Woodforde's Wherry ale advertises itself rather modestly as the 'Supreme Champion Beer of Britain', which sounds pretty good to me!
Time for the clever part - this is a hydrometer, which measures liquid density. This is useful when making beer because when the brewing process has just started after adding the yeast, the mixture will obviously be pretty dense. However, as it starts to ferment the alcohol content will go up and the density will go down - we can use the hydrometer to see how far through the process is by comparing the initial and current readings. It turns out brewing nasty beer and actively encouraging people to get horribly drunk is serious business!
And so began probably the longest stage of making the beer - waiting for water to boil. Fortunately Andy had planned ahead and had bought us a selection of local ales to help pass the time. How appropriate!
Names like Chuffin' Ale and the slightly dubious Funnel Blower got us thinking about our own beer's name. So far, our favourites include Drunken Dunkin', The Rimshot, and Pong Beer. Whatever name we end up choosing, the obvious tagline is 'Get your balls wet' (slide-whistle).
Having got through a fair amount of ale before lunch, we decided to turn our attention back to the water. Behold:
Showtime! I let Andy do the honours:
Everyone has their favourite beers. Personally, I don't think you can beat Leffe Blond or Innis and Gunn Rum Cask. Sometimes when drinking these outstanding beverages I marvel at how precise the brewing process must be, and wonder what they look like during it.
The answer: revolting.
I didn't realise beer was made of Marmite and melted lard, but I guess you learn something new every day! It smelled of slightly mouldy bread and tasted like the world's strongest Shreddie. Yes, I ate some.
Time to get this party started!
Now that we had our appetising bucket full of molasses, it was time to add the boiling water, stir it to get air through it, then skim off the foam.
With the mixture nicely stirred, the only ingredient left to add was the yeast. However, you need to wait for everything to cool first, as adding yeast to liquid that's too hot will essentially kill it and prevent your beer from fermenting. Without fermentation you don't get any alcohol, and without alcohol you're left with filthy Marmite water!
We decided to wait for things to cool down by drinking tea and eating cheese.
This took about two minutes to consume, so we decided to go to a local pub for lunch. I hope you're starting to notice a theme here!
Upon our return, the mixture had cooled to about 28 degrees and so we were good to go!
We let the yeast sink a bit and then gave it a light stir. With everything apparently in place, we decided to seal this beast.
As the brew ferments, pressure builds in the bucket. This device allows gas bubbles to escape through the water, but its design prevents anything getting back into the mix. As I said earlier, serious business! And speaking of serious business, what better place is there to brew a drink you will later consume than next to Andy's toilet?
Andy said his bathroom would be a good place to brew the beer because its out of the way, and rather worryingly because it's somewhere warm. I'm seriously hoping most of the heat in this small room is generated by the shower, and not anything else.
That's it for part 1 of our epic Beer Pong beer adventure - make sure to come back in a few weeks when we'll be adding some flavours, bottling the beer, and then leaving it for months! I can barely contain my excitement!