“The first session is going to be in January but we wanted to hold a meeting this year so the interest didn’t go off the boil.” This was Gaz, Tiny Rebel’s brewer, addressing the gathering at the Urban Tap House. There was no risk of that; the brew pot had boiled over and spilled out of the small room, with people stood at the doorway and craning their necks in to catch Gaz’s opening introduction to the Cardiff Homebrew Club.
More than twenty people attended in all (22 I’m told; I struggle with numbers over 20, not enough fingers and toes you see), and we soon flowed out into the adjacent bar where we could chat and sample Tiny Rebel’s homebrew. It was like pulling aside the curtain and peering behind the scenes as Gaz described some of his recipes. The highlight was the revelation that NP10, Tiny Rebel’s strong golden Belgian style ale, had an evil twin that never made it to mass production. After months of maturation in Gaz’s garage this dark and bearded mirror-universe version came out something like Rochefort 10 Trappist ale.
This wasn’t a PR exercise for Tiny Rebel though. They warmed up the crowd with beer samples and soon everyone was talking about beer, cider, port and even mead. Although beer was the dominant strain there was interest in practically anything that could be fermented. There was also a broad range of skill sets present, from hardcore all-grain brewers to people who had never picked up a brewing spoon.
There’s no definitive shape to the homebrew club as yet, and perhaps there doesn’t need to be one. Whatever happens will happen organically and gradually over successive meetings as people determine what they want out of it.
A forum or blog page was suggested to act as a go-to resource between sessions and may be attached to either the Urban Tap House or Tiny Rebel website. Future guest visits from other brewers was hinted at and that evening we were joined by Rob from The Malt Miller, a specialist provider of homebrew ingredients, who was on hand to answer questions.
The one thread that really tied the room together was the challenge set by Gwent CAMRA. The branch celebrates their 40th year in 2014 and they want a 4% ABV ruby ale brewed to celebrate it. Initially they approached Tiny Rebel but they realised it would be a good idea to put it out to the homebrew club.
The winner, as decided by Gaz and Brad, will have their recipe made by Tiny Rebel to a scale of around 40 casks. It’s an open competition to anyone who attends the homebrew club, with the next meeting due to be held around the last Tuesday of January. In the meantime, you can guarantee a lot of ruby ales will be brewed over Christmas by Cardiff’s homebrewers.