May 2019: Glastonwick
This year we both volunteered at Glastonwick - the beer festival with great music/music festival with great beer! Highlights included Efa Supertramp (music) and so many delicious vegan beers we can barely remember what we drank.
March 2019: International Womens Collaborative Brew Day
Taking part in IWCBD for the second year as a homebrewer, Esme brewed 'Herbal Remedy' a strong ale with rosemary, sage and thyme, in with the hop-boil, to fit with the international theme of Forage.
December 2018: Beer Judging at Pigs Ear
To her absolute delight, Esme was invited to be part of the CBOB judging panel at 9AM on the opening day of the East London & City Pigs Ear Festival. Strong Ale & Barley wine first thing in the morning, Yay!
September 2018: Hop picking with ELB
As part of the Walthamstow hop project (where residents all grow the same hops) we helped harvest many kilos of fresh hops which then went on to make two ELB fresh hopped beers - one dark and one light which were available in local pubs for a month or so and in a limited amount of bottles after.
August 2018: GBBF
In August 2018 we both worked at the Great British Beer Festival - Esme on the Volunteers Arms where there was a vertical stillage (!) and 24 twice-daily changing beers (That's a lot of QC-ing) and Alex worked downstairs on the BSF (Beers sans frontieres) bar with all the foriegn bottled beers. Very different bars so between us we got to enjoy the best of both worlds!
July 2018: Alex Turns 40
The 9th annual EsBrew beer festival handily coincided with Alex's 40th birthday! This time little Georgie was our official beer taster (having reached the required age of nearly-2) and we had balloons, 2 pools, many birthday cakes and lots of beer! Bounty stout on cask went down very well as did the all round favourite, Citra.
June 2018: New Job at ELB
Esme goes for a surprise job interview at ELB and sees it as a good sign when she goes home with a bike basket full of beer samples! The sales & marketing job is an eye opener into the industry and, as fun as it was only lasts 8 or 9 month as it's just not a role that works part time, sadly!
March 2018: London Drinker Beer Festival
This year we both worked at the Last ever London Drinker Beer Festival in King's Cross.
February 2018: Our First Casks
With Alex's 40th birthday approaching we decided to cask a beer or two for the party. So we bought a couple of plastic pins (half a firkin/20L) online and filled one with a citra hopped pale and the other with a coconut stout. Sadly the Pale fell foul to a fly infection and had to be be binned but the stout was awesome!
February 2018: Homebrewing Kit Upgrade
In February 2018 we made the first upgrade to our homebrewing kit in approximately 8 years (and 70 odd brews!) by getting a second hand Grainfather, plus cooling squid and other bits. Mostly this saves us a lot of space, and as we've got used to it, a bit of time too. We're pretty pleased with the beers we're turning out with it so far!
October 2017: The Admiral's Arm
In 2016, Alex and Esme were amoungst the first ever customers in the Admiral's Arm - a micro pub with an amazing selection of beer, cider and gin, in Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey. For their first anniversary party we took a (fast!) train ride down with fellow beer/cider/gin lovers, Bill & Sarah and had a fabulous day out!
August 2017: Alex tries his hand at cider
After a couple of years of just letting apples rot on our allotment shed (RIP), Alex thought he'd do something about this waste of fruit and bought a tiny cider press. Many hours of swearing and grunting followed but the eventual result was outstanding. The cider-bar manager at London Drinker said that our cider was as good as any he'd get in for the festival!
August 2017: Camra Beer Festival Training
Following the cooling and bar manager training at London Drinker, Esme signed up for the Camra beer festival training course - a gruelling week long course with exams and everything! Everything involved in Beer Festivals was covered including the organisational side, cellar management, stillaging, Quality Control and sciency stuff, real cider, cooling systems, even a day stewarding. Working as an assistant bar manager in between lessons, Esme discovered that QC-ing is her favourite part of the job.
July 2017: EsBrew Fest
The 2017 EsBrew beer festival welcomed the newly installed 'Wallbury Crossing' that the council helpfully put outside our home so that we can easily cross the road to get ice from the shop! (Unfortunately a month later the shop closed for a year!).
Much merriment was had crossing backwards and forwards. There were paddling pools, mini veggie burgers and Betsy was the official beer taster, although she preffered the burger rolls to any of the beers. There's still time to educate her....
March 2017: London Drinker Beer Fest
Esme took advantage of an opportunity to learn about cooling systems from a Camra expert and so worked the whole week at the London Drinker Beer Festival in Kings Cross. A fascinating experience working behind the scenes at a big beer festival from set up to the end! Much London beer was consumed and London breweries definitely seem to be making the most exciting british beers at the moment!
January 2017: When we nearly started a brewery
An interesting opportunity arose when a local business offered us their cellar in order to start up a new microbrewery... We did business plans, had lots of meetings, did lots of research, came up with many, many names and ideas for beers but then it sadly stalled because the building works needed were not feasible... We still have all those ideas though so just waiting for another opportunity to present itself!
Xmas 2016: Beer Bingo
We were invited to a corporate team day with a selection of beers! Rather than a tasting session we decided on a game of beer bingo which went down a treat! Competitors sampled 10 beers and had to match the blind tasters to their name and description....
November 2016: Live Brew at the Northcote
As part of their first beer festival, the lovely team at the Northcote pub invited us to do a live demo brew in their garden! It was a bit bloody cold but along with Doug from the homebrew club we made a pale ale with blood orange and a dark coffee porter!
August 2016: GBBF
This year we both volunteered behind the bar at Camra's big london event - the Great British Beer Festival. A bonus of volunteering was being able to taste all the beers in the shortlist for the beer of the year prize. I must say, I wasn't overly impressed by any of them - very boring, bland crowd pleasers (for a crowd that doesn't include me ;) ).
July 2016: EsBrew Fest
Another fabulous gathering of friends, family and neighbours in order to get through some of ther years EsBrews! This year featured the Holy Smoke saison - our first extra strong beer at 7%, as well as Herbal Remedy, and a black pepper lager.
July 2016: Francis Road Street Party
Some of our neighbours decided to organise a street party for our road, which happened to happen right outside our flat! So, as well as a little stall with beer tastings and to promote our Homebrew club, we also decided to do an outdoors 'Live-Brew' and brewed our Macadamia Milk Stout right there during the party!
April 2016: Nomadic Gardens
Sadly Caravanserai is no more, but we were invited to a gathering to reflect on it's story and look at similar projects like the Nomadic Community Gardens in Shoreditch. We took some EsBrew down on our bikes, gaining the name of beer buskers.
August 2015: Homebrew Club
We decided to get a few likeminded locals together and launch the Leyton/Stone Homebrew club meeting monthly in the Northcote Pub. A few of us now share ideas and recipes, meet up at the Northcote and at local beer festivals and occasionally even do joint brew days.
July 2015: Party-time
No summer is complete without the annual esbrew festival now! This year included the debut of a new, bigger paddling pool, a new niece and nephew and fabulous fairground games including pin the dagger on the Tory which was a hit with all our friends as well as passing neighbours!
December 2014: Esbrew at Caravanserai
Having become involved with this exciting community project in Canning Town, the Esbrewers have been able to introduce a new group of people to the delights of nano-brewed ale. The weekly Saturday market has been an outlet for some amazing local artists and craft-makers, as well as the setting for the EsDes Esporium; catering for all your clothing and accessories needs. For all you other needs, of course, beer does the job. Whether enjoying the Light Night festivities, swapping stories around a fire or manning the market stalls, or explaining to bemused tourists what goes in a vegan quiche, a few Esbrews has helped things along nicely. The Fresh Hopper has been particularly popular with some local hopheads. Rumour has it that Father Christmas himself is going to visit to try the new Saison's Greetings Christmas ale and maybe stick around of a jam with some of the more musical traders. Rock on Santa!
October 2014: Hop Harvest
For the first time this year, the Esbrewers grew our own hops. And, having been luck with the weather this year, it was a bumper crop. With all that hoppy goodness fresh from the vine and, as we discovered, no way of reliably drying the buds to preserve them (we weren't quite that lucky with the weather), there was really only one thing to do; brew! The resulting Fresh Hopper ale uses only our own locally-grown hops and is a seriously hoptastic bitter for all lovers of ale that bites the back of the throat.
July 2014: Return of the pool party
Last year's paddling pool was so successful that we decided to bring it back for the 5th annual Esbrew Beer Festival. This year, the outdoor setup was augmented by camping furniture freshly *ahem* recovered from Glastonbury and the turnout was a pleasant mix of the usual suspects, new friends and random characters from the streets of Leyton. Sunshine shone and much beer was drank, nicely depleting our stores for some autumn brewing. Cheers everyone!
June 2014 Summer Brews
Finally back up and running we knocked out a quick batch of Citra to keg up to take in the Campervan to Glastonbury. We also made an experimental Morroccan Tea Brew using dried mint, verbana and green tea which were foisted upon us during a recent trip to Agadir. We've not tasted it yet but it smells amazing!
November 2013 Breakdown
After just finishing our winter lagers (BoHo and Glass Darkly) disaster struck and our hop boiler broke down. Much fiddling around with wires was undertaken by Alex but it was months until we were back up and running properly.
July 2013 Piss-up in a paddling pool
The 4th Annual EsBrew festival was blessed with amazing weather and luckily our cellar mistress, Sarah, was on hand with a paddling pool to keep us, and the beers, cool. A day and night of splashy fun was had by us, our friends and all our neighbours.
June 2013 Matchwomen
We were happy to make a special beer for the first ever Matchwomen's festival - celebrating 125 years since the groundbreaking matchwomen's strike. More info at www.matchfest.co.uk
April 2013 Fem-ales
With the weather slowly improving to be warm enough to ferment ales again at Esbrew HQ, it was time to try our some new recipes for original beers. The Esbrewers have been gratified in recent years, to see that beer festivals are no longer solely the preserve of those with immense beards and Morris-dancing outfits in their wardrobes at home. But as pleased as we are to see so many young people and women taking an interest in the joys of real ale, it can not be denied that the beer and brewing scene is still overwhelmingly male. Here at Esbrew, we are keen to rectify this situation. So, in the spirit of the upcoming Matchwomen festival, celebrating a group of women whose strength and determination changed the world, we at Esbrew set out to make some serious beer with a distinctly feminine flavour. Fem-ale no.1 is a golden ale with the dry tang of grapefruit and hops mediated by the mellow overtones of vanilla for refreshing, tasty and unique beer experience. Fem-ale no.2 is our pale ale with real espresso and vanilla. Malty and lightly hopped, this is a rich, tasty beer with a strong coffee flavour and a creamy finish, like all the best parts of a pint and a cappuccino combined. We can promise you, it tastes like no other beer you have had. Â Look out for more Fem-ales in the future as we make them.
January 2013 Winter Beer
Back in the UK with the joys of Germany still fresh in our minds, not to say bloodstreams, the frosty weather was biting and it was time to get on with the winter brewing. Lager gets that distinctive crisp, fresh taste from the brewing process, using particularly slow-fermenting yeasts that like cold conditions. So traditionally, lager gets made in the winter and takes ferments itself to readiness over several of the chilliest months of the year. Only then can it be conditioned and left ready for drinking when you need lager the most at the other end of the year. Anyone who tells you that fresh beer tastes better has been listening to Budweiser marketing and is, therefore, a bloody idiot. Esbrew have laid down three types of lager for the warmer months. Bohemian Pilsner, made with traditional method and ingredients; Pinacolager, brewed with pineapple and coconut for a summer drink like no other; and finally the return of Flower Power, our strong elderflower lager recipe once again refined and improved.
October 2012 Hallowe'en
Some of our favourite beers from the trip to America were seasonal ales, made with pumpkin and spices, drank around Halloween. So naturally no sooner had the Esbrewers returned home than our very own pumpkin ale was in the boiler. The result was Jack the Sipper, a strong spiced ale with crown prince pumpkin flesh added to the mash. This was a such success at the Esbrew Halloween shindig that we were drank virtually dry and have already made a second batch just so we can get a few of them ourselves.
September 2012 Chicago
It was with some trepidation that the Esbrewers crossed the Atlantic this summer to the country that not only gave the world Bud Lite but then tried to convince us that it counts as beer. At the invitation of Dave, London pub veteran and recently-returned Chicagoite, however, we had the chance to spend some time dispelling some myths about the state of American beer. Yes, you can still get your freezing cold sex-in-a-boat lagerish stuff in most of the bars, but side-by-side with that is a craft beer scene that is in danger of putting British brewing to shame. We visited the oldest brewery in Chicago (dating from the 1980's!!) Goose Island which has recently started exporting it's bottled beer to the UK and does a great IPA. The friendliest brewery we visited has to be the Shoreline brewery in Michigan City - We even got some hops from them which we brought back and have just made our own version of their fabulous SumNug IPA.
August 2012 Allotment Show
For the second year running, the Esbrewers had a stall at the Oliver Road allotment show. The weather cooperated this year and a good crowd braved the Olympic parking restrictions to come down for a day of sunshine, competitive vegetable judging and fine ale made with some ingredients grown on site. In honour of the occasion, the Esbrewers brought out our latest creation, Masala beer, a red ale brewed with Indian spices, which surprised a few of the drinkers by being a really very nice drink indeed and, yes, tasting like curry. As the Esbrewers picked up some prizes and the controversy over beetroot-trimming threatened to turn ugly, the beer flowed through the afternoon. The draught Citra and Strawberry Blonde were popular choices, but the Honey Oat Stout proved to be the surprise hit of the day. Despite the best efforts of Esbrew associates, Sarah (you can take the last bottle of Beerista from her cold, dead hands), Elena and Martina, the Esbrewers were still left with a couple of bottles at the end of the day for sundowners back at the shed. Phew.
July 2012 Alelympics
This summer, East London hosted an event that brought pride to our nation and inspiration to people around the world. The third annual Esbrew beer fest this year took inspiration from some other sports that were also going on at the time around here somewhere, apparently. Guests not only got to try our new kegged ales and help clear out some of our backlog of bottles, but were invited to join in events such as beer-cap discuss, beer-crate hurdles, half-pint dash and beer-bucket basketball. The sun shone, the drink flowed, the neighbours were perplexed and a good time was had by all. Gold medallist Bryan Wall has since denied allegations of taking performance-enhancing lager.
June 2012 Workers Liberty
The Workers Liberty conference this year provided an opportunity not just for formenting revolutionary politics, but also for fermenting revolutionary beer. In the past, the organisers have tended to lay in slabs of generic lager for the occasion and the Esbrewers can't help wondering if this might be one reason why the working class has yet to throw of the shackles of oppression. How can you bring down the ruling elite on tins of Fosters? This year, the Esbrewers set about rectifying this by creating a beer especially for Workers Liberty, a red ale (what else?) with liberty hops. The result was a brew to make the bourgeoisies quake in their designer boots; as red as a flag, as strong as a Trotskyite's views on social justice and as bitter as someone who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election. The conference was an inspiring day of teaching and discussion, but all that talking is thirsty work and the Esbrewers worked hard to keep up with the demand. Unsurprisingly, Liberty Ale was popular choice among discerning drinkers, but other Esbrews, particularly the Specjal Brewski, also found fans among the comrades. The revolution is coming and when it does, Esbrew will be happy to provide the refreshments.
May 2012 Esbrewers reveal a yellow streak
The Esbrew calendar says it is summer, even if a look out of the window suggests otherwise. So it's time to break out the lagers we have been slow-fermenting over the winter in hopeful anticipation of the hot weather. Last year's Flower Power makes a comeback with a new and rosier recipe. We have also branched out with Dry and Mighty, a traditional dry pilsner with a hint of grapefruit, and Sergeant Peppermint, an extra-cooling lager with a minty-fresh finish. For the ale afficionado who cannot learn to love lager, we have a new IPA recipe and a golden summer ale for our annual beer fest. Also coming up this summer are new brews including a curry-lover's ale with Indian spices and a Belgian-style wheat beer flavoured with lemon and lavender.
March 2012 Springing into action
This spring we're re-creating some of our favourite Esbrews. We've made new versions of Wild Oats stout and Last Mango in Paris, while Nodding Donkey has had a revamp with a new and improved recipe. We've also inadvertently invented the 'prank ale' for April fools - a small miscalculation in fermenting temperature with our smokey IPA means that every time you open a bottle, a jet of foam shoots straight up your nose. Hilarious. But serious drinkers needn't worry, we'll try making Chimney Hopper again when the weather is warmer!
October 2011 Brewery Upgrade
With the Esbewers getting busy brewing up a storm, we found that an upgrade in equipment was called for, particularly since the abrupt clapping-out of our trusty wort-boiler. Considerable time was spent shopping around the internet and making precise plans on the backs of beer mats. But with some re-arranging of Esbrew HQ and sterling carpentry work by the amazing Michael Bradbury (thanks!) our brewing station is now expanded, improved and considerably tidier. On with the beer making! New brews now in the fermenters include a black IPA, a new version of Thai Bride and the brand new Specjal Brewski, an extra-strong beer with Rye malt and the polish hop Marynka.
September 2011 September Brewing and renewing
After the inroads made by thirsty festival-goers and allotmenteers, the Esbrewers found our stocks so severely depleted that for some weeks it was possible to walk across the front room at Esbrew HQ without barking your shins on a crate of beer. That would never do! So, with the browning of the leaves and the shortening of the days, it came time to embark on a new season of brewing. As well as creating new and improved iterations of some of our old favourites such as Cherry Bomb, Holy Smoke and the ever-popular Space Hopper, we could hardly be expected to resist experimenting with a few new recipes. Upcoming highlights, fermenting and maturing away as we speak, include Beerista, a coffee porter with real espresso for days when only beer for breakfast will do the job, and Septic Tank, an American-style IPA made with Amarilla hops. Also brewing for the autumn is Roots Beer; an experimental stout made with carrots and beetroot. We think it might be the first ever pint to count as one of your five-a-day!
August 2011 The Allotment Show
After a second successful (if rather damper) beer fest at Esbrew HQ, the Esbrewers had the opportunity to further run down the stocks by offering refreshments at the Oliver Road allotment show in Leyton. As we found in July, there is nothing like a beer on a hot summer day, but if you have to drink it in the lashing rain, it still goes down pretty bloody well. The crowd of allotmenteers seemed to agree and a good many brews were gotten through whilst we sheltered in the marquees and waited for the sun to show its face. A particular hit was our most recent brew, Strawberry Blonde, a wheat beer made with strawberries from our own allotment. As one connoisseur said, "if the day won't provide the sunshine, at least we can get it out of a bottle". Smoke on the Porter developed something of a following among the more seasoned beer-drinkers whilst the more traditional tastes of the Space Hopper the Atingaginga also found favour. More importantly, the Esbrewers' competitive vegetable growing was successful in various categories, netting prize money totaling nearly 60p. Sweet Victory! (At this stage, the less said about the Great Pumpkin-Auction Scandal, the better. The Esbrewers have moved on.)
July 2011 2nd Annual Wallbasher Beer Festival
Once again, we came to mid-July, the Esbrewers found ourselves with a flat full of beer and were obliged to invite some friends round to help us shift some of it to make room for new brews. Oh, and apparently it was someone's birthday or something We may have lacked kind of the weather that made people so thirsty last year, but we have made some steps forward in our beer-making in the last year. A hardcore of beer-lovers braved eagerly gathered at Esbrew HQ, eagar to sample some of our brand new brews. Our recent forays into lager-making, Flower Power and The Alliterator, were particularly well received. The Thai Bride was a hit with those who like it spicy and the Space Hopper IPA on tap pleased the more traditional bitter-drinkers. Other highlights included the martial arts demonstration that seemed to go on all night (some people just don't know when they're beaten), a distinctly straight-sided drum circle and Esme's amazing coffee-juggling party piece. Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a brilliant day.
July 2010 Esme and Alex organise a piss-up in a nano-brewery
Finding ourselves with a hot summer, a large supply of Esbrew from the past year and Alex's birthday as an excuse, we did the obvious thing and had a party. This was the first time that the whole range Esbrew had been unleashed on any significant number of people and the results were definitely gratifying, if a little hazy. Of the dozen beers available the Wallbasher Wheaty Wonder, a traditional wheat beer we kegged especially for the occasion, was a hit - although in retrospect we may have to revise our estimation of the percentage upwards a little (if the state of Alex's dad was anything to go by). The Thyme Lord and Holy Smoke were other favourites and the Blind Date was well received even if quite a lot of it ended up on the pavement. Everyone, beer-drinkers and civilians alike found at least one Esbrew that they liked*, the party went on until the small hours and we successfully ran down our supplies to make space for another year of brewing. Successful day! *The one man drinking Budweiser was a gatecrasher, and an idiot obviously.