A great little story from the Journal in N’castle
The equation couldn’t be simpler. While men and sheds have always been an irresistible combination, inserting brewing enthusiasm into the formula results in Paradise.
John Winterburn, John Anderson, Pete Fenwick, Ian Jackson, Trevor Danes, John Penman and another half-dozen ale stalwarts scattered from Hartlepool to Gainford in County Durham meet up every three weeks – in a shed – to sample one another’s latest efforts and talk about mashing, boiling, fermenting and conditioning.
With doors closed, pints poured and spiders on guard, it’s boys’ talk that oft-times wanders along the lines of tongue-and-groove, felt roofs and dovetail joints, but invariably returns to beer.
Darlington Traditional Brewing Group was formed in 2002 after long-time home-brewer John Winterburn was invited by the Workers Education Association to run a course on full-mash brewing in his local community centre. The original scheme has run its course but the 12 remaining members continue to brew in back yards, kitchens and garages – and every one of them has his own shed-based pub to reflect in and mull over what grown men reflect in and mull over.
“We all have our own recipes,” says lollipop man John Winterburn. “We take it in turns to host meetings where there’s a bit of a spread and always a new beer to try. People ask all the time if they can join, but we’ve got no more room at the moment because only so many people can fit into a shed.
“We can brew 10 gallons of beer for £5 or £6 by buying ingredients in bulk. It’s not just about cost, it’s about quality. We can make beer just like you’d buy in a pub. The only thing we can’t do is lager – Darlington water doesn’t have enough carbonates in it – but one member tried it by buying five gallons of spring water from Morrison’s and made a brilliant pilsner.”