Welcome to Wigan's new brewers' club
Our beer expert Cameron Hale raises a glass to a group celebrating all things hoppy...
The Wigan Home Brewers’ Club may have only held its first meeting in November last year, but this merry band of ale enthusiasts has already toasted a second gathering to sample, discuss and appreciate the liquid nectar.
And what better place to host such a rendezvous than dedicated real ale and cider bar Wigan Central?
Joe Carletti, a home brewer and supervisor at the venue began the meetings to encourage people to bring forward their recipes for group tasting feedback.
Joe was in fine spirits as the third of the monthly meetings got under way.
Expecting another successful evening of beer and good cheer, he said: “The first one received such a good reception: we managed to fill a whole table of 11 brewers.”
An impressive collection of glassware was neatly laid out in rows in anticipation of receiving the mystery beers.
Pokals, chalices and even snifters nursed a variety of beverages across the course of the evening, brewed by contributors ranging from first-timers to experienced hands.Stuart Easton was the first arrival all the way from Preston, and despite working in an O2 store full-time, didn’t need to phone a friend for help making his American wheat beer “Molenbeck bridge biter”.
After a moment’s wait, six other brewers from the borough arrived, and the tasting and natter ensued.
Stuart explained how he used sugar to carbonate his debut product, which also contained Japanese hops which delivered a light and floral taste, smell and appearance.
He wasn’t the first to kick things off however.
Chris Gleave, who works for Salford City Council, got things under way when he brought out 500ml bottles of his own semi-dry pale ale with 7% ABV and mosaic hops – not as harsh as the percentage would suggest.
Chris said: “It was meant to be a brut IPA, but I didn’t leave it long enough so it wasn’t as carbonated as I would have liked”.
Judging by the empty glasses, however, there is no doubt the others will be seeking his counsel.
Between tasting, the club discussed the biggest bane of the hoppy hobby: bottling their beer.
The question was raised by medical scientist and club member Stuart Marsden from Marsh Green, who didn’t bring any of his lab work along, but has eight years’ experience of brewing and no love lost for the time-consuming process.
“Having to wash 40 bottles for five gallons of beer is no fun,” he said.
One attendee with a peculiar product - and a tolerance for bottling it - was gardener Alistair Mackenzie from Winstanley.
He was the first to debut a mead at the fledgling meetings. And though its acidity may not have been to everyone’s taste, one had to appreciate his effort to source organic forest Zambia honey to make the concoction.
To find out more, visit www.wigancentral.bar