Just under one year ago I started Brum Beer Babs – a way to meet up with likeminded women in the Midlands to share beers and general love for all things brewed. I wasn’t even sure we’d get past our first few meetings let alone be asked to brew a beer with a local brewery.
It shows you how wrong you can be – we’re still going strong and back in January we did indeed all become brewsters for the day at Twisted Barrel!
I’d met with the guys from the brewery back in November 2017 (see my blog here) to see their new premises and to discuss the style of beer we’d brew. Since we’re a collective I decided that the best way to decide on style and then adjuncts would be by a vote.
Our first vote was for style with white porter beating bitter and Belgian table beer (still fancy brewing those though Ritchie if you’re reading this!). Then it was on to adjuncts – to be honest we went a little crazy with the combinations so I won’t list them all here but the winner was white chocolate and orange. What had we let ourselves in for?
Discussions on recipe continued over the next couple of months – we even got some help from Melissa Cole in the early stages as we thought about how to get the white chocolate flavour without the lactose element (as of course Twisted Barrel is a vegan brewery). Oats were the answer – and lots of them along with vanilla and cocoa nibs.
A brew day was set (16th January 2018) and the call to arms sent out to the Babs. We agreed to meet at New Street Station and travel over together with a couple of the gang meeting us at the brewery. I had no idea if I’d be brewing alone (well with Carl at least – no one would let me loose alone in their brewery!) or if we’d be overwhelmed! As it turned out we had a core group of 8 Babs including me. It was a great mix too – a couple of the ladies had brewed before, with a couple more having visited breweries but some of the team hadn’t even seen a brewery so it was a great introduction for them.
We started our day with the usual health and safety info followed by an overview of the brewery and process from Ritchie and Carl then it was on with the brewing.
We had our malt, hops and cocoa nibs but the frozen orange zest was still en route! Just to ramp up the tension a bit!
Everyone got stuck in straight away weighing out ingredients and asking lots of questions. We took turns to tip in the malt and oats and to stir the ever thickening ‘porridge’ that the oats created.
Carl was extremely helpful as we discussed the process and ingredients and also asked questions about the equipment. There was plenty to do with the weighing of the hops into their separate buckets depending on addition time and then the cocoa nibs – what a smell! The orange zest arrived and a portion of that went into the boil as well – the hop, cocoa and orange mix smelt good enough to eat before we even brewed with it!
We continued our day sharing a vegan picnic in the bar and chatting about beer, crafts, holidays and beer festivals – it reminded me of why I’d started the group, to get women from all different backgrounds and professions together to share their ideas and passions not just for beer but for a wide range of topics.
During the afternoon the cleaning started – I always think in brewing there is more time cleaning than actually making beer! Everyone mucked in to do this too – it’s not easy but I do have to say there is a perverse joy in seeing the spent malt tumble from the mash tun! Our beer got transferred over to the fermenter and our brew day was done! Ritchie would add the vanilla pods and remaining zest later in the fermentation process.
It seemed only right to end our afternoon with a refreshing beer from the tap room before we all headed home, smelling of malt and hops, a little wiser about how the beer we enjoy so much is created.
The final part of the puzzle was the name. Whilst we were all in the brewery we talked about some ideas which we narrowed down again to a vote – the winner being Babsence of Moo! I think it sums up the fun of the day and the group themselves – and it’s easy to find on Untappd!
Thanks to all the Babs who came along – Vanessa, Deborette, Karina, Gina, Deb, Donna and Jen – here’s to the next brew day! Any takers?
The beer had its local debut at Paper Duck during the Twisted Barrel tap takeover and a recent check on Untappd sees its average score at 3.5 – not too shabby!
If you’d like to try our beer and meet up with some of the Babs come along to our next meet up on 9th March at Cherry Reds where the beer will be available on draft and feel free to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
A huge thanks to the whole team at Twisted Barrel but particularly Carl who looked after us so brilliantly and taught us all a lot about brewing!