In this blog series, we'll be interviewing some of the brewers from our homebrew club (and in the future from elsewhere) to give you an idea of what got them into brewing, what they're currently experimenting with and to hopefully inspire others to take the leap into brewing their own beer at home. The sixth blog in the series features Daniel Jackson, who has gone pro under the guise of Wrong Side Of The Tracks.
How did you originally get into homebrewing?
Rachael, my wife bought me a day course of homebrewing at Brockley Brewery a few Christmas' ago.
The beer I made wasn’t perfect by any means but I was really surprised with the quality and flavour. After that I brewed a Mexican lager with Mark Woollard from wib homebrew club and again was impressed with the outcome. From that point on I was hooked. I bought my first home brew kit (30l kettle, propane burner, 2 x plastic fermenter and immersion chiller) as a job lot from some guy in north London who was trading up to a Grainfather and never looked back.
Why did you decide to go pro?
The idea of still working in I.T. until I retire fills me with dread. I’d love to quit and become a brewer somewhere but I can't afford to start at the bottom of the ladder in a brewery and i’m not really a “team player” so i decided to set up on my own.
Current Set up:
Brewing - 110l HLT, 110l Mash, 100l, 3 x 85l fermenter and 2 fermentation fridges
Packaging - 4 spout bottle filler and a key keg filler
Have you changed many processes going from brewing for yourself to going pro?
Yes, I’ve scaled my recipes to fit standard pack sizes. The LewPA (core range) uses 25kg bag of base malt and 3 x 100 grams bags of hops. This cuts out the weighing time and waste. Most of my brews are done with the same yeast, US-05.
I have set up the equipment so the process is gravity fed and plumbed the garage so i can fill the HLT at the turn of a tap
I’ve had the mains water tested and religiously treat the raw liquor with AMS and DWB.
I preset the HLT the night before brewing so that i can start mashing in as soon as I walk into the garage. And most importantly I’ve stopped drinking while I brew. “No beers before clears” is what I’ve never said.
You recently released your first beer, can you give us a lowdown on it and where readers can find it?
I approached three outlets to retail my beer. WIB, Bottle in Catford and Big Johns Bilton Bar Deptford. I want to start small and deal with people I already know and trust. I am in the process of setting up website so I can sell direct to local customers. The plan is to use swing top 75ml bottle that can be returned and reused.
What commercial or test brews have you got lined up in the next few months?
I have recently been trying to brew something new every week. Currently i have a table beer and a brew that i’m calling Bramling Jax in primary fermentation and have just bottled a American Milk/Coffee Stout. The Brambling Jax has fresh hops given to me by wib and the American Stout uses cold pressed coffee made by Bottle. I like the idea of working with local outlets and providing them with a unique beer.
How far do you want to take the brewery? Where do you envisage the brewery to be in two years time?
I‘m currently studying an MSc in Brewing Science which runs for 2 more years. When I've completed that I'll have more time to devote to brewing. I would love to have a tap room to sell my beer direct but that’s more of a 5 year plan.
Favourite beer of all time:
To be honest I like most beers but the best beer I've had recently was Brou HaHa from Bedlam Brewery. It was a crisp, smooth and malty Vienna style lager. Saying that Kernel’s Table Beer is probably the one I drink most when i’m out.
What piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting homebrewing:
Give it a go. Find a beer you like research, the recipe and try to make it. Start with small batches and don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you keep everything clean it’s hard to make an undrinkable beer.
Best thing about homebrewing:
Drinking great quality beer that you’ve made yourself, achieving the pot belly you always dreamt of and making like minded friends.
What piece of advice would you give to a homebrewer wanting to turn pro?
Learn to love paperwork and cleaning. Then contact HMRC, Local council, local water provider, insurance company…..