Like all sun-deprived northern Europeans, at the first glimmers of sunshine and temperatures veering over the 15-20-degree mark, I decamp to the garden with a cold one… As you can imagine, Taste of Bath HQ is full to the brim with local beers (Electric Bear Brewery, Kettlesmiths Brewing Co and Albion Ales) but on this occasion, I’m sipping a beer of different kind – brewed at Bath Brew House, whap bang in the centre of Bath.
Caught unawares? Yes, Bath Brew House, is Bath’s most central brewing location! The team have brewed more than 500,000 pints over the past three years, and they’re the champions of minimising food miles – from mash Tun to pint is approximately 3 metres.
With three core beers on tap, Gladiator and Emperor on cask, and Ostarius on keg you can consistently get a good pint at the Brew House. However, interesting fact time… each batch does come out marginally different! Apparently, the brewers mix and match various brews to get consistency. Brewing on a small scale is like following a patisserie recipe – you must be disciplined, consistent and studious, but dependent on the grain, atmosphere and water, each batch will inevitably be different!
In the spirit of research, myself and Mr Taste Of (aka my beer drinking aficionado) went to meet head brewer Max, to learn all about what it takes to make a good brew! Oh, and do a bit of tasting!
Max first learned his craft at Reunion Ales in London, having worked in Bath now for a year, he’s churning out the core range, but loves to experiment too! Recently he worked with The Fudge Kitchen to make a fudge porter, and his next project is going to be with Bath’s very own mayor, a honey fan with whom he plans to develop a honey-inspired ale! Watch this space…
For those not sure about the process of beer brewing, it’s relatively simple – the complexity comes in the quality and treatment of the ingredients. Tucked away in the corner of the Brew House are three copper-style tanks. The first is where the malt is mashed (Tech Term: Mash Tun) – malted barley is soaked in hot water and this releases the malt sugars. The second copper is where the malt sugar solution is boiled with hops and other ‘craft ingredients’… this is gives the distinct flavours. The solution is then cooled, yeast is added, and the fermentation begins. In the upper function room, there are fermentation tanks. The beers are left here to mature and gain depth of flavour. After a week or so – depends on the strength of flavour and ABV you want – the beers are bottled and casking sugar is added to give a bit of carbonation.
I came away in total awe of how to make a beer – all these chemical reactions, temperatures, timings and when to add new ingredients. What barley, hops and additions to use? Like wine, coffee and chocolate, the terroir makes a huge difference to the barley.
Post-tour, the tasting began… The Brew House offers tasting boards, each with 3 different beers in third-of-a-pint glasses, and they’re a great way to delve into new beers without having to commit to a whole pint. I am no pro, but Mr Taste Of loved the IPAs and enjoyed the unusual flavours of the fudge porter!
Rather enjoying the copious beer samples, we nabbed a bit of dirty grub to accompany the beer. Don’t get me wrong, the food offering is not all burgers and fries (there are some lovely lighter options too) but after being all beer-focused, only a mega burger oozing with bacon, gherkins, cheese and fries will do. I personally had a Southern-fried-chicken-style burger – the chicken was moist and succulent, the bread coating was so crispy and had fantastic spicing! This kind of food makes the perfect pairing for a craft ale. We enjoyed our beer tastings and burgers in the STUNNING pub garden!
Beer, naughty food and a fabulous pub – in this balmy summer… well hello!!!
Normally focused on independents in Bath, I wanted to highlight this fabulous entrepreneurial gang – Max, a small craft brewer, and Lucas (commander-in-chief) who is given the flexibility to run the pub as if it were his own business. Yes, the food could be locally sourced, but the City Pub Group has invested in Bath, renovating this huge site and getting involved in the Bath community – you can go for live comedy, pub quiz and the 6 Nations. Plus, of course, they are facilitating a small local brewer to craft some UBER local ales.
The EXCITING NEWS…
The lovely Lucas and Max would like to host 2 x Taste of Bath followers for a whole day brewing experience worth £150!
You will arrive at 9am for bacon butties and coffee, then spend the whole day with Max, learning about the brewing process and getting stuck in yourself. Not only that, but Lucas and the foodie team will treat you to a two-course lunch with drinks, a tutored beer tasting and a goody bag with a ‘growler’ of homebrew to take home!
To win: Enter here