Running your own website provides a rich soil for ill-advised plans to germinate. Take, for example, the dubious quest Andy Simpson and myself embarked on several months ago to brew our own beer - along the way we performed some dodgy science, got drunk, and basically destroyed Andy’s kitchen. Despite these setbacks, our beer was successfully bottled (I’m as surprised as you are) and after many weeks the brewing process was complete. With our adventure almost over, it was time to sit down and answer the only question that mattered – did our beer actually taste good? Let’s find out!
Here you can see Andy modelling our entire stash on what I’m going to pretend was a lovely and hot English summer evening. Those of you with good memories will recall we created three batches of our beer – a regular one, a lemon and lime one we flavoured in the keg while brewing, and a lemon and lime one we flavoured directly into each bottle. As only the former batch had a chance of being remotely palatable we decided to crack open a regular bottle first.
Andy decided to use some fancy wine glasses, presumably to add a touch of class to a drink that originally looked like expired Marmite inside a giant novelty tin of Baked Beans. I think a photo comparison would be appropriate at this point:
Quite the improvement! However, its looks were irrelevant - they say the proof is in the pudding, or in this case the proof was in a drink that had been left to form a crust next to a toilet. It was time to hold my nose and take a swig!
I promise you I’m not lying here – and I can barely believe I’m about to say this – but hot damn, IT TASTED REALLY GOOD! If I got served this at a bar, I would believe it was real ale! It was smooth and rich and didn’t have a bitter aftertaste – what a result! Andy and I toasted our own obvious brilliance.
Honestly, all it took was one destroyed kitchen, loads of equipment, and about three months of waiting – why doesn’t everyone do this more often?!
Despite this early success it was no time for gloating – we had two more batches of beer to get through! First up was the lemon and lime batch we’d flavoured straight into the bottles, which I’ll admit seemed like a pretty bad idea when we came up with it and, surprisingly, an even worse one five minutes before we had to ingest it.
You may remember that we created three different strengths of this batch, namely Lime, Extra Lime, and the potentially lethal Hyper Lime that contained triple the amount of flavouring as normal. While we ostensibly did this to cater to all tastes on the citrus spectrum, we more accurately did this to watch each other drink the Hyper Lime and pull a funny face. First up, however, was the bog-standard version:
As you can tell from Andy’s worryingly large grin, this was a success – fresh and crisp, but without too much citrus to kill the flavour of the ale. However, in order to avoid tooting our own horn too much it should be noted that the ‘flavoured in the bottle’ beer obviously contained several chewy bits of fruit, which was a little off-putting. Worse still, this problem intensified the stronger the flavouring – we cracked open an Extra Lime and were presented with this:
Oh dear. In addition to the extra chunks, the added citrus flavour was starting to overwhelm the taste of the ale and was leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Things were not boding well for the Hyper Lime, which was unfortunate given we’d just opened the one solitary bottle of it:
I’ve read that good beer has one of the most beautiful smells in the world. Perhaps the appeal of the smell stems from the memories it evokes, or maybe the aroma’s allure comes from the rich, earthy combination of wheat and barley. I’m just biding my time here, because in this particular case it smelled like rotten fruit shoved into a dog turd.
I’m not entirely sure why Andy’s giving the thumbs-up in this photo, but I definitely understand the grimace – it was like drinking neat lime cordial! I suppose this might have been enjoyable when I was a child, but I’m now 25 and my mouth tasted of sadness. To make matters worse, the Hyper Lime was unfeasibly chunky and required (no joke) a good sieving:
At this point one of Andy’s housemates appeared and was coaxed into taking a sip of the Hyper Lime. After doing this he suggested (for reasons I cannot fathom - possibly insanity?) that it would be better with an added shot of Jack Daniel’s. I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t a terrible idea despite the fact that it was, of course, a terrible idea.
It was truly awful. I suppose this nightmare concoction was technically a cocktail, which makes it easily the worst cocktail I’ve had in the last five years. Well, possibly ignoring the drink I had in Spain last year called an Irish Car Bomb, which managed to be both disgusting and offensive – what a drink!
With this abomination out of the way, we turned our attention to the main event of the night – the beer we’d flavoured with lemons and limes during the brewing process. If we ever had a shot at creating a refreshing, citrusy ale that was sans chunks, this was it.
This was the moment of truth – would the batch designed specifically for Beer Pong fit the bill? Would it be crisp and light, or would it be unpleasant and too heavy for frequent drinking? We started to get a little nervous at this point, partially because we didn’t want our drink to be a failure and partially because we’d had about eight pints and were feeling a bit funny.
No lie, it was CRISP AND DELICIOUS! The citrus taste was prominent but not overwhelming, it had a vaguely sweet aftertaste, and it was light enough to drink quickly. Who knew that the same guys responsible for the worst spoof of The Matrix in the world were secretly beer-brewing maestros? Not us, that’s for sure!
As the sun started to set over Andy’s garden we reflected on the happier moments of our epic quest – spilling beer all over ourselves after failing to control the bottling process, cleaning Andy’s alcohol-soaked kitchen for the twentieth time, and making the worst JD and beer cocktail ever. Granted the last one had happened about twenty minutes earlier but we were drunk and couldn’t think of anything else.
And so we reach the end of our journey. It was a lot of fun, and if there’s anything you should take from our experience it’s this: if two idiots can make a delicious beer by filling a bucket with slops and leaving it next to a toilet, so can you!