Do we consider beer to be a gourmet item? I am not talking your average mass produced range of bottleshop beer, but are there beers which you would consider on a different level, beers which are worthy of the title “boutique”. Are these a gourmet item? We have beer connoisseurs and wine connoisseurs… in my opinion when producers attempt to excel in producing a premium product, whether its beer or wine, it is a gourmet item. The consumer of gourmet products receives an item which has benefited from the individual attention to detail of a skilled professional, which can only occur with short production runs. This is surely above average and worthy of the gourmet title.
After our trip to Mudgee and sampling the boutique beer of the Mudgee Brewery I decided we should have a closer look at beer. Two days ago I suggested to Mr GG that it might be nice if he tried his hand at brewing a batch. I was planning a step by step account of the process. Naturally he agreed, but he also mentioned a new micro brewery set up in Coffs Harbour which allows customers to brew their own beer using commercial brewing equipment.
Obviously this required further investigation so I booked Mr GG an appointment at “Your Bru” to put down a batch of beer. Hubby was quite chuffed that my story requires him to spend an afternoon sampling beer and learning the art of brewing in a commercial facility. Naturally beer = friends, so we invited a few friends along to quality test the product along the way.
“Your Bru” has a menu of over 100 beers available to the beer connoisseur. The menu gives a comparison to a recognizable commercial beer, for example the “Mexican” is similar to “Corona” the “four man beer” is similar to “XXXX”
Mr GG has chosen to make a Canadian Pilsner today. The brew will cost him $170 to make, and will yield 6 cases of beer. So it works out at $28 per case or $1.15 per stubby. Not bad for a “boutique beer”
We are barely in the door before Andy and Greg offer us a taste of the current brew on tap. It is the “Easy Dry” which tastes very much like “Extra Dry. We all agree that it is fresh and clean tasting. Andy explains that all the beers are produced without additive or preservatives allowing you to appreciate the full flavour of the beer. We all love the taste of the Easy Dry and the middies go down quite quickly, (well it is a hot day!)
It is then time to get down to the business of cooking a batch of beer. Andy gets the recipe for our Canadian Pilsner and explains the process. At this stage as a guest brewer you can be involved as much, or as little as you wish. Andy and Greg will happily help you every step of the way. Our boys are each having a hand in the brewing, and they will share the spoils when it is bottled. Hubby takes the first turn of measuring the dextrose. He does it with care and precision I have never seen before. He is taking this very seriously.
Scott then weighs out the first type of hops, and Gordon is next up, with the B group hops.
We move over to the barrels of liquid sugars. We need about five different types of malt syrups to get the taste of the Canadian Pilsner beer just right.
The mixture is put on to cook in big pots. We are assigned vat number 4 and so far things seem to be going along nicely. Everyone has a happy glow up that isn’t all the heat of the day. While our beer is cooking we are shown through the fermentation room. This room is used to store the beer for ten days whilst the yeast performs its magic and turns this unlikely mixture into beer.
Andy explains the importance of keeping the brew at a constant temperature whilst the fermentation takes place. I am really starting to understand why the micro brewery beer tastes so much better than regular home brew.
After ten days the beer is moved into the lagering room which is a second massive cool room. The beer will spend a further couple of days here allowing the flavours to develop further before it is filtered.
The filtering is the third reason why the beer tastes so good. The filtering process helps give the beer the clean crisp taste that we all enjoyed. “Your Bru” uses a 10 micron filter for the first filtration and then the beer is further purified using a ten times membrane filter.
All of this work has made us a thirsty group of beer brewers. We are encouraged to try the second beer on tap, the “Dortmund” which is similar to a “DAB” it is an export style German beer with a strong hops taste. We all like this beer but the favourite is still the “Easy Dry.”
By this time we are pleased to have Andy and Greg manning the timers on our brew. We are rather enjoying having a beer fridge and two connected kegs and are briefly side tracked comparing and contrasting the two flavours of beers.
A timer goes off and it is all hands on deck to stir the brew, or add the yeast etc. Everyone is having a great afternoon. The boys decide that they have found the ultimate “man cave” complete with a big screen TV, BBQ and beer on tap.
Andy explains that some customers will get a beer group together and put in for a round, whilst others are happy to get six cartons straight up of their favourite beer. We notice that the “kegorator” system is also available for hire or purchase. We all agree that this is a very sexy piece of furniture. It is a stainless steel oversized bar fridge which holds two kegs and has two taps. I am sure this would go a long way to making a happy hubby come Christmas time… although I do wonder about the practicalities of having a tapped keg available with kids (teenagers) in the house…
We continue to attend to the brew when we are summoned by a timer, and make ourselves at home with the kegorator in between times. Brett expressed an interest in the “Alcoholic Ginger Beer.” He had recently developed a taste for it whilst we visited Longpoint Vineyard and Brewery in Port Macquarie. Andy was able to tap a batch of the Ginger Beer and we all agree it was fantastic. It packed a real punch at 5.9% alcohol but it tasted sweet and completely innocent.
It wasn’t too long before Greg gave us the final nod and our beer was finished the cooking stage. The next step is cooling it by flushing it through pipes and pumping it into our fermenting vat. The air lock is set in place and the brew is ready for the fermentation room.
We congratulate ourselves on a job well done and make a day to come back and bottle the beer. Unlike home brew our beer will be ready for drinking at the bottling stage. We have decided we will bottle this time, but next time perhaps we will look at the kegs and a kegorator.
At “Your Bru” Andy and Greg encourage everyone to bring a bunch of mates to help with the bottling process. Everyone is welcome to use the BBQ and facilities and it is a must that the beers are tasted for quality control purposes during this process.
Has my hubby found his new happy place… I think so!
Your Bru is located at Unit 4, 92-96 Industrial Drive, Coffs Harbour. Make a booking to brew you own beer on 02 6651 4141, or check out the website