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Secret Drinker's home brew beer taste test

Brilliant news from the Secret Drinker household – it’s taken exactly seven days and the home brew is finished and ready for drinking.

I shifted the keg from the boot/boiler room and it has now spent the recommended two days sitting in the beer fridge. When I first popped it in,the top shelf was clear, but within 48 hours it was surrounded by a selection of nonsense.

After removing the top shelf I gave the all-important keg pride of place in the second beer fridge for the further two days it needed to complete the brewing process.
After removing the top shelf I gave the all-important keg pride of place in the second beer fridge for the further two days it needed to complete the brewing process.
By the time it was ready Mrs SD had added a good deal of clutter to the shelf and prior to tapping I need to shift the chocolate and wine
By the time it was ready Mrs SD had added a good deal of clutter to the shelf and prior to tapping I need to shift the chocolate and wine

As they had played minor roles in the production process, not to mention the fact I’m currently stuck indoors with them, I generously invited the family to the grand tasting.

All the gear, but no idea: Read Secret Drinker's start to home brewing

However, before describing the serious business of reviewing I do need to issue a couple of warnings.

First (and most important on the list, according to Mrs SD). It’s advisable to remain upwind of me once I’ve consumed a couple.

Second, don’t forget the instructions about the little red peg which controls the pressure when returning to the keg a day later. And thirdly, don’t allow those around you to think they’re back in the pub and allowed to start telling terrible jokes.

Having accepted their help with the brewing I thought it was only fair to include the whole family in the tasting, despite their uncultivated beer tastebuds
Having accepted their help with the brewing I thought it was only fair to include the whole family in the tasting, despite their uncultivated beer tastebuds

Anyway, after admonishing Mrs SD, I shifted a box and several bottles of wine, not to mention various chocolate titbits, to clear a path to the keg ready for tapping.

Desperate to try the results of my ‘hard work’ I was itching to pour my first pint, but stuck to the instructions and dutifully released pressure in the keg by lifting the little red peg at the top.

A decent amount of reassuring hissing and the lovely malty aroma which escaped filled me with anticipation for the tasting.

I thought the size of glasses I selected would be appropriate to the three tasters
I thought the size of glasses I selected would be appropriate to the three tasters
After a moment or two the initial tasting resulted in glasses looking like this – I’ll leave you to decide who was drinking from each glass
After a moment or two the initial tasting resulted in glasses looking like this – I’ll leave you to decide who was drinking from each glass

Turning the bolt of the red tap valve, which was pretty stiff, I carefully poured off enough of the good stuff for each of us to sample and picked up a pen to record the first thoughts.

Firstly, they noted that you can taste the ingredients in the beer more than you would normally do so with something you’d buy in a shop or be served across a bar.

The apprentice, who, in my opinion still needs a deal of training, said he thought it was a bit like Hoegaarden which he’s not overly keen on, and was so weird it gave him little shivers.

The bolt of the tap valve is a little stiff at first but once you get used to it you realise what a brilliantly designed piece of kit this is
The bolt of the tap valve is a little stiff at first but once you get used to it you realise what a brilliantly designed piece of kit this is

Mrs SD declared it ‘not too bad and much better than she’d dared to hope for’. However, this didn’t stop her using her non-drinking arm to reach for the bottle of prosecco I’d shifted to reach the keg.

So, given my genuine surprise that you can brew your own beer in seven days, what does it really taste like?

Whilst there isn’t a massive amount of carbonation, unlike the other two heathens, I feel there is ample fizz.

If you look really carefully you’ll spot one small fleck of sediment, but literally just one
If you look really carefully you’ll spot one small fleck of sediment, but literally just one

I can agree with them that there isn’t a great deal of aftertaste, but for me the level of maltiness and initial taste was a delight – and far better than I’d hoped for.

It is naturally cloudy and I did spot just one or two very, very small specks of sediment but certainly nothing to put you off. For me, there wasn’t any element of that Hoegaarden nonsense, if anything I’d say there was a closer resemblance to another Belgian beer, Leffe.

I happily left them the remainder of the cardboard-textured snack and prosecco and got cracking on a second pint whilst completely disregarding their witterings about always having to add lemon slices to wheat beer because it tastes of nothing and putting a second bottle of fizzy wine on ice.

Unlike industrially-produced beer, this is not filtered so it does have a natural cloudiness
Unlike industrially-produced beer, this is not filtered so it does have a natural cloudiness

It was at this point the apprentice chose to tell his joke. ‘Have you heard about the worst zoo in the world, it’s only got one animal and it’s a dog?’

It’s a Shih Tzu.

It’s a good job he wasn’t really in the pub as he might have risked being barred!

The tasting was accompanied by a snack I haven’t encountered before – I think lockdown has affected the shopping decsions!
The tasting was accompanied by a snack I haven’t encountered before – I think lockdown has affected the shopping decsions!

I countered with a much more relevant, funnier, quip about how the lockdown had got me thinking about Osama Bin Laden.

We’ve only had a month or so, he had two years shut in his house, and he had three wives – he probably called in the US Navy Seals himself. I then explained why this was a much better joke.

Having now explained my earlier warning No.3, and given No.1 is self-explanatory, I should probably explain why there was a second warning.

A couple of days later I was still getting beautifully brewed and chilled wheat beer to enjoy in the sunshine – though some of the beer towels in my home-made picnic blanket look very dated
A couple of days later I was still getting beautifully brewed and chilled wheat beer to enjoy in the sunshine – though some of the beer towels in my home-made picnic blanket look very dated

When I returned on day two for another sneaky pint I’d become over confident and completely forgot about the importance of the red peg and releasing the pressure.

The result was beer-soaked tiles, a sticky fridge and confirmation the SD hound is a very keen advocate of home brew – as soon as she’d licked the whole lot up she did a massive sneeze and started looking around for more.

I’m pleased to say I didn’t repeat the red peg faux pas and enjoyed the remainder of the keg over the next day or two - the hound is back to being teetotal. So, in the words of the German beer makers: ‘Don’t worry be hoppy’.

I wouldn’t dream of serving the SD hound with beer instead of water, but she did enjoy licking up the spilt beer
I wouldn’t dream of serving the SD hound with beer instead of water, but she did enjoy licking up the spilt beer

Although I hugely enjoyed the brewing experience, more than anything it reminded me just how much I’m missing being able to pop to the pub.

The apprentice’s appalling joke, and my much better one, reminded me of more jovial times in some of my favourite boozers. I’d love to hear the best joke you’ve been told in the pub if you’d care to pass it on.

Who knows, if they’re repeatable, perhaps I can share some of them in the coming weeks. You can email me at secretdrinker@outlook.com or Tweet @drinker_secret

SECRET DRINKER BOOT ROOM (33599417)
SECRET DRINKER BOOT ROOM (33599417)

Read all the Secret Drinker reviews here

Home brewing tips from a pro

Cocktails devlivered to your door

Please can I have some more. Who could deny such an endearing face? The hairy hound loved the beer.
Please can I have some more. Who could deny such an endearing face? The hairy hound loved the beer.

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