Elfbräu

Since September, our lovely niece, my German goddaughter, has been stuck with Aunty and Uncle here in London. As she is a fan of Harry Potter and cooped up in the spare room ‘under the stairs’ (well, more accurately ‘beside’ them), she was rapidly dubbed our ‘house elf’ by those of us of the Scooby Doo era. Upon learning that she was untutored in the ways of beer (and German?!, have my in-laws some peculiar form of non-home-schooling???), naturally I resolved to educate her. Digging deep down at the back of our fifth floor garden shed (sic) I pulled out the old beer-making kit which had tutored my own children in the ways of fermentation and spoilage. Thus, in a spirit of cooped-up covid-19 entrepreneurship, a new business has been born…

Scobby Dobby Doo Brewery GmbH

We can ferment in a warm corner of the kitchen anytime, but in the autumn and winter our north-facing balconies are perfectly capable of nurturing a forty pint barrel over four weeks of maturation and keeping it cold without displacing everything in the refrigerator. With a handy CO2 cartridge we evade the bottling process and down to drinking swiftly from the barrel. We can get out about four brews safely in a season (saison to the afficionado).

So how are we doing halfway through the saison? Not badly. Naturally, our beer branding featured our ‘Chief Bierfrau’, a new, somewhat reluctant convert to beer drinking. Well, perhaps more accurately beer sipping, as she’s certainly not at the beer quaffing end of the scale.

Though you may detect a small hint of industrial relation dispute issues from the label, it turned out to be quite a pleasant traditional ale pitching in at 4.6%. Undeterred by her enthusiasm and lack of interest in her uncle’s patient explanations of obergärig versus untergärig beer (ours is untergärig in case you’re interested), we embarked on a second batch which came out in January:

As ever with a second batch, this was more ambitious. Several years of out-of-date (very out-of-date!) Glühwein packets from the back of one cupboard were boiled with the mash, accompanied by the administration of various forms of leftover treacle (pssst, ‘secret ingredient’) in the bottom of some cans at the back of the larder. The 7.4% result turned out to be a rather lovely winter ale with a definite note of spices. Why an octopus? Well, I’d just done a drawing partially inspired by a wonderful documentary, “My Octopus Teacher“, do watch it, and couldn’t resist using it.