This time last year (yes, this blog has been a LONG time coming), I was just seven weeks out from my wedding. My partner and I had been pretty laid back in our organising duties up until this point, but things were starting to get serious. And the one thing we hadn’t considered were wedding favours. We were struggling for ideas, but then inspiration struck – why don’t we brew our own beer? Which gave me a great excuse to finally visit Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen.
Founded by Steve and Stewart in 2004, Stewart Brewing pre-empted the current craft beer revolution by a good number of years. The company quickly established itself as one of Scotland’s most successful and reputable breweries, and has ridden the craft beer wave ever since.
Now based out in Loanhead, the Craft Beer Kitchen first opened in 2014, offering beer lovers the chance to brew their own beer using professional kit.
Although the experience isn’t cheap, I think it’s fantastic value. A 40-litre brew (60-ish 500ml bottles) comes in at £185, with an 80 litre brew (120-ish bottles) coming in at £240 – just £2 a bottle.
Before we start, my primary piece of advice is either to have a kind friend drop you at the brewery or take the bus from town. On arrival, we were handed four tokens that we could swap for beers from the 18-strong Growler Fill Station. So, we ended up rolling out the door!
From there, we were led through the whole process by one of Stewart’s brewing team. We already had a good idea of the beer that we were after – a red ale – but for those who don’t, there’s 50 recipes to choose from. There’s also plenty of wiggle room with each of the main ingredients, meaning your final beer will be truly unique.
Now, listen up – here’s the science bit. Normally, brewing requires barley to be boiled to extract the grain’s natural sugars. But this takes time, and to fit everything into an afternoon, Stewart’s use a pre-prepared malt extract. This looks a touch like treacle but it really speeds up the process.
We poured out selected malts into what looked like a giant tea bag and added it to the brew kettle to stew, before adding the malt extract. A quick tour of the brewery, another couples of beers, and it was time to add our hops, which give beer its bitterness and help to stabilise the final product.
Another few beers (things are starting to get hazy now) and it was time to add the all-important yeast, which will turn our sugary, hoppy water into beer. And now, we wait. Three weeks, to be precise.
Lucky, you only have to wait until later this week to find out how our beer turned out.
You can find out more about Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen over on their website.