Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mine's A Pint Of Unicorn Tears

I was invited on my first ever brewery tour recently. I know, it's shocking that someone who likes beer so much has never been on a brewery tour. I think I would have booked myself on one much sooner had I known how much free beer was involved. Yay!

The Redwell Brewery is local to me, being a Norwich lass n'all, but even so I got a lift down there (save my strength for the beer tasting). I almost didn't find it as the brewery is located directly under the railway bridge, under an archway with a small sign saying 'Beer Shop Tours'. After stepping through a small door, I was in a large open plan room with barrels and fairy lights on one side, shiny brewing equipment on the far side and a small makeshift bar next to the door. It reminded me of a pop-up bar I went to in Hackney, except that this one had real pumps instead of bottles in ice buckets. It also had the Norwich game playing, something the temporary Hackney pop-up had neglected to include.

On the bar were some awesome beer mats that I did consider stealing (they had unicorns using their tears to make beer on them!!) but thought better of it as I was handed a beer. While we waited for a few stragglers to arrive (who actually did get lost) I studied the beer mat to see exactly how unicorn tears made Redwell, and felt slightly awkward having turned up on my tod. That didn't last long though as beer makes fast friends of strangers. Especially when all those strangers really like beer.

We followed Nate, our Redwell tour guide and all-round beer aficionado, as he went through the brewing process. The parts I found most interesting were more to do with the history of brewing, like
where the term 'lager' comes from, and what beer might have been like when was first created with the ingredients and knowledge available at the time. It was also interesting (and this is going to sound weird) to learn about wild yeast and how dangerous it can be to commercial brewing and modern flavours. I knew something of the basic process (my parents had a Guinness cartoon showing the 'adding of the yeast'. I did say my knowledge was basic) but I had no idea it was filtered quite so much. Or the different kinds of hops and when they're added to the process to change the flavour. Ok, so I liked the majority of the facts too, as well as the beer samples. I was already a fan of the Redwell lagers but it was really good to see behind the scenes. They really do brew in small batches. And they really do love their beer.

I got to keep my pint glass as a souvenir and I could hear it clinking in my bag as I wobbled home for a nap.

I'd still prefer it if their beer was made by actual unicorns though.