The Brixton Beer Company: A Hop Growers Log – Part One

The Brixton Beer company is officially under way with local hop growers picking up their starter kits and planting their hops last weekend. We’ve decided to keep a log of the progress of the Brixton hoppers…

When I heard about The Brixton Beer Company, I was excited. Not just because I like drinking beer (and drink most of it in Brixton), but because for the past six months I have been successfully brewing my own ale with a micro-brewery from home.

You can buy a micro-brewery starter kit along with bottles and your first brew for £60. Mine is a Coopers DIY Beer kit which comes with simple instructions & a  DVD.

Making my first brew was easy.  I poured the ready-made syrupy mix (hopped malt extract, malted barley, hops, yeast and water) into the barrel, adding sugar, hot & cold water to get the temperature right and finally more yeast. I stirred it, sniffed it, watched it and sipped it. I repeated that process every day for a week and then, when the gravity of the brew stayed stable for two days, it was ready to bottle.

Six weeks on, I was sitting on my sofa, supping my first home made lager with a fuzzy head and grin on my face. I’d cracked it.

Since then, I’ve brewed lots more, picking different styles and playing around with flavours. At the moment I have twenty bottles of an 8% Belgian beer fermenting nicely and another thirty bottles I’ve brewed using honey & brown sugar. That one comes in at around 6%.

While the ready-made mixtures are great, I had started to consider starting completely from scratch with just the  base ingredients of hops, malt, barley, sugar and yeast…and it was then that I learned of the City Farmers ‘Brixton Beer Project’.

City Farmers were advertising for local residents to who wanted to grow hops across a network of individual and community gardens. Once harvested the hops would be delivered to small  local breweries who would brew the beer for us all to enjoy.

On Saturday 17th March we collected our hop growing starter kits from Helen Steer & Ann Bodkin at Stockwell Spring Green Fair and on a grey and rainy afternoon we dug a small deep hole in our back yard and planted the root. We were given a pack of seaweed and gravel and a nice smelly bag of manure to encourage the initial growth.

The pics of my little monster can be seen above – it’s already towering at 5 cm tall & reaching for the fence, desperate to get climbing. Here’s to the birth of the Brixton Beer Company (one BBC that we reckon will never get any compaints).

To learn more about City Farmers click here. To join the Brixton Beer Facebook group click here.

To read our Brixton Calling feature with Helen Steer from  City Farmers click here & to find out more about the Brixton Beer Project and listen to a podcast with  Helen Steer talking to Transition Culture’s Rob Hopkins click here.
More news on the progress of the Brixton Hoppers next week.