I'm sure every man at some stage in his life has wanted to brew beer. My first attempt took place in a sleepy rural town, Queensland, Australia. Being a student at the time my housemates and I were keen to save a few dollars on beer after discovering that it was our largest expense. We bought a home-brew kit, and followed the instructions mostly (maybe being a little heavy handed with the amount of yeast). All ingredients in, mixed, job done!
In the world of beer they say ‘good things come those who wait’ so we did just that. It was Easter and we left our brew to work its magic in the front room; the room having been carefully selected for the warmth the yeast needed to develop. We bid each other farewell excited that when we returned a week later, we’d be returning to our very own beer! Queensland is hot most of the year and this particular Easter period was unseasonably warm. On return to our modest university accommodation we were greeted with so much more than we had anticipated.
Our choice of location for the wort* was, on reflection not very smart. The sun, heat and yeast had certainly combined well, so well in fact that it had blown up the plastic keg. The walls, ceiling and every piece of furniture were covered in our special brew; that had continued to develop not as beer, but as a nasty odorous mould. After the expense of redecorating it was a quiet term at university where ironically very little beer was drunk.
When asked if I would consider leading a team from Tate Catering up to Scotland to brew beer with craft brewery BrewDog I thought, brilliant! A chance to redeem myself as a brewer, as a man! I’ve been a fan of BrewDog for some time, in fact featuring BrewDog’s Trashy Blonde as a beer at my wedding. Not, it’s worth noting, as a tribute to my wife.
We were lucky enough to be some of the first people to visit BrewDog at their new HQ, an amazing place an hour outside of Aberdeen. Our day began with a tour around new facilities, impressive! Then it was, as I’d ‘hoped’, all about the beer! We made our way to the back of the enormous warehouse where some Italian chaps were piecing together an impressive looking bottling plant, the appropriately named ‘brew magic’. After a quick chat about the process it was game on. The gas turned into flame, some malt and rye were added to water and it was begun. Time to seize brewing redemption.
Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops were added, then boiled and then we waited. Brewing is a game of patience, so we chatted about the label we’d selected and reflected on how cool the project was to be involved in.
Fast forward to February 18th..
I’m at the Lichtenstein: A Retrospective opening at Tate Modern, bottle in hand. The Torpedo…Los! Lichtenstein artwork featured on the label looks amazing, the beer is everything we had hoped; a vibrant and refreshing American style Pale Ale. It was great to have been involved in collaboration with BrewDog and Tate. So proud am I of what’s been produced, there may be a case under my desk! Check it out when you’re at Tate Modern next.
Andrew Downs is Head of Operations at Tate Catering.