Written by our Technical Brewer, Riaz.
7:15 AM on a Friday morning, North London. After an evening of trying to put a dent in our free £100 bar tab at House of Hammerton, a bar with an excellent selection of their own beers, Oli and I trudged into uncharted territory in the form of Hammerton Brewery. Not even last night’s Michelin star rated dodgy (veggie) kebab had quite put a spring in our step as of yet. Nevertheless, we were eagerly awaiting getting stuck into the 7% Coconut Stout we had planned.
The brewkit at Hammerton gave us a small insight into what it’s like having larger, more advanced brewing equipment. We had been waiting for some new, bigger, shiny kit since the plans were first finalised early 2021. Mashing in a 2,500L batch more easily and more quickly than our own 1,600L batches had us itching to get at our own new 3000L brewhouse. The wort, (pre-fermentation beer juice), is deliciously treacle-like with a touch of roasted coffee flavours; it was already tasting like everything you’d want in a stout, and it was abundantly clear why Hammerton are so well-known for their beers of this style.
During the transfer into the kettle, which went similarly smoothly, we decided to celebrate two hours of good work, (which was mainly achieved by the home team), by popping to a local greasy spoon where we promptly gobbled the remains of our hangovers away. Once we return it’s hops time! Even in a malt-dominated beer such as this, the bitterness which hops provide is still important to balance out the richness of the malt.
Oli and I then try our hand at digging out the mash. I’ve always thought that this is the best part of any brewday, that is until you’re about halfway through and simply wish for the spent grain to be out. Like many breweries today, including ourselves, here the grain is collected by a farmer who feeds their own livestock in an effort to improve a brewery’s sustainability and reduce its impact on the planet.
As the wort is brought to the boil, we decide it’s time to do some “research” and so the home and away sides get the beer flowing. From lagers to sours, stouts to NEIPAs, we are offered a full insight into what Hammerton are all about. Drinking beers with brewers is never like having a casual pint in a pub, but dissecting the product and discussing how each beer compares with our own is always useful for both parties - we don’t just do these collabs for a laugh, you know? The variety of ingredients, methods, and equipment is always interesting and offers us a means of reexamining whether or not we’re happy with our methods.
Having left my proper brewing attire at Attic, my casual wear took a thorough beating when cleaning the kettle out, with some beautiful fresh stains. We had started the brewday early so as not to finish beyond 5pm, thus it was a nice surprise when 2:30 rolled around and things were winding down. Very smooth indeed.
It was at this point that the work talk switched off and now both teams are relaxing. Oli and I had an exciting challenge of “eat around the meat” on our non veggie pizzas, and laughs were exchanged by all. Onto the next leg where we’ll be brewing something pale…