Below recounts the day we became men, brewing our very own beer.
6.35am: Phone alarm goes off. Quietly curse Hillsy for booking us into the brewery for an early start.
6.36am: Kick toe on way to kitchen where phone is plugged in. Hop for a few minutes to wake up.
6.44am: Toast pops up, burnt. Turn dial down on toaster in preparation for next toasting tomorrow, which will inevitably simply warm up the bread, necessitating another toasting, which will almost certainly go for too long and burn it. Toasters… who can figure ‘em, eh?
7.15am: Kiss sleeping girlfriend goodbye. She’s sleeping with a faint smile on her face, because Bed is so damn comfortable. Silently curse Hillsy for the second time today.
7.32am: Get on train into the city.
7.33am: Why do kids insist on wearing those caps with the ruler-straight peaks, turned slightly to the side? Don’t the realise how silly they look?
10 seconds later: Realise I’m nearing 30. When did that happen? Damn those kids and their fashion.
7.52am: Pull into station. Walk down to meeting point, meeting Andrew and DT.
7.59am: See the Pajero careening around corner… Hillsy’s on time? Catch breath after shock.
7.59am: Russ walks up. Can’t believe the guy’s timing.
8.20am: Stop off at Macca’s drive through to ease Mini’s complaining stomach. Everyone gets coffee. Obviously they’re “Macca’s coffee” rookies.
8.27am: First complaint about coffee.
8.40am: Walk through BRU4U’s doors. See barrels and barrels of beers. Feel pang of jealousy, knowing that ours will still need to ferment for weeks after today.
8.44am: Hear more than I ever needed to about Canadian beers from our host.
8.46am: Am told that I can’t be from South Africa by host. Smile, but generations of Saffa ancestors rattle their bones in indignation in their graves.
8.59am: Finally agree on two types of beers: One, a “Corona-ish blend”, and Two, a “Asahi-ish blend”. My suggestion of a low-carb beer is met with shaking heads, projected derision and suspicious eyes.
9.10am: We’re off! Following our recipes, we begin pouring litres of light and dark lager malt mix into tubs.
9.12am: Fight first urge to simply dunk head in tub… malt. Is there anything better?
9.16am: Attempting to get measurements right to the very gram. This causes problem for those with a lack of patience, as the scale seems to take a second or two to catch up with what’s actually on it.
9.20am: Discussion about yeast and how it’s actually bacteria. Start daydreaming about dunking head in malt.
9.27am: Put in about 20g too much glucose. Isn’t it the glucose that makes the alcohol percentage increase in the end? Silently make mental note to take it slow when these beers are in hand.
9.30am: First lot (the Corona-ish mix) goes into the steam kettles.
9.35am: Repeat process with the Asahi-ish mix. Watch as DT measures grams like a surgeon. Watch Mini throw the ingredients into the bowl like it’s an all-you-can-eat.
9.43am: Second lot goes into another steam kettle. We’re seasoned professionals by now, and the mixing only took 8 minutes.
9.44am: Realise that we now have nothing to do while we wait until we need to add next ingredients. Sit down around barrel-bar table, which apparently could be ours for the low low price of $1750.
9.45am: Host brings us complimentary beer. It’s a dark ale, courtesy of someone named Ron.
9.46am: Thank Ron in his absence, begin downing drink.
9.47am: Smacking of lips and looks of approval. I’m not the biggest fan.
9.59am: Halfway through the drink, realise that I could get into this.
10.02am: Finish beer. Laugh at myself for questioning Ron. I mean, it’s Ron, right? Good beer that.
10.03am: Begin looking around, hoping that we’ll be offered more free beer.
10.04am: Curses. No free beer, just an alarm reminding us to add more barley.
10.06am: Watch a couple bring in their empties, clean them, and begin filling and sealing their bottles. Am reminded that we now need to find 288 empty beer bottles for our 12 cases. Sigh. Silently say sorry to my liver.
10.20am: Watch a father bring his two young daughters in. They’ve been trained well… the girls, who are probably 8 and 10 respectively, put the empties on the bottle cleaner like pros, and start the spinning. Horrified, yet impressed at the same time.
10.30am: We’re offered an “experimental” sarsaparilla. Watch DT fight his inner demons the whole way towards the tap.
10.31am: Watch DT drink said sarsaparilla, acknowledging that he can never turn down a free drink.
Russel pours in some barley. Hillsy supervises.
10.35am: Alarm goes off again, reminding us to do… well, something. I’m comfy on this chair though.
10.38am: Those two girls are helping bottle and seal the father’s beer now. Seriously, how long has he been bringing them here?
10.42am: Offered another free beer… this time, a cream ale. It’s not bad; fairly crisp, and quite a clean taste.
10.47am: The mixtures are done! Watch as they’re piped from the kettles to respective barrels. Good god, that looks good.
10.55am: Pay the friendly lady. After these beers, I’m prepared to forgive her the “you can’t be South African” remark. Lock in a date to come in for bottling: 14 August.
10.56am: Realise that the couple are still busy bottling their 6 cases. Realise that we have 12 cases between us. Mark down to keep the entire day on the 14th open.
10.59am: We’re out the door. We came in mere drinkers, we leave… well, slightly more educated beer drinkers.
And that’s it. Of course, on the way home we stopped off for various other adventures, but that’s a tale for another time…