Contrary to popular belief, procrastinating on social media does have its benefits.
Had my attention not been engulfed by monotonously refreshing my Facebook page, in some feeble attempt to appear productive, then I would not have seen the post from Brewhouse and Kitchen in Southsea, advertising limited spaces for their International Women’s Day brewing experience.
Admittedly, I only started drinking beer a couple of years ago; I was living in the Netherlands when an alcohol-fuelled karaoke event the night before Koningsdag witnessed me indulging in the world of Belgian beer; La Chouffe to be precise, which I did not realise until my third pint sits at a solid 8% ABV; needless to say, I don’t have much recollection of the tram ride home.
Fast-forward to my life back in the UK – I discovered there was such huge joy the first time I was served a bottle of La Chouffe in a seaside town Micropub and was, once again, able to experience the taste that will always arouse flashbacks of questionable ABBA renditions.
That is what beer is about; the stories it leaves you with.
Hosting an event that promised to put the ale in female for the fourth year running, across 22 of their sites, Brewhouse and Kitchen offered a wonderful exercise in uniting the local community whilst celebrating contributions of women across the industry.
I arrived promptly at 10 am; my first acknowledgement was how relaxed and welcoming the atmosphere was, a room brought together by a common interest.
It was impressive to see how quickly everyone started mingling – there was instant laughter whilst exchanging suggestions of how we thought the day would progress; and who may or may not still be standing by the end.
Note: I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone looking to book onto one of their brewing days!
Over the course of seven hours, we were presented with ten beautifully crafted beers, each displaying a rich brewing history and boasting an array of unique flavours, from easy-drinking session ales and fruity IPA’s, to flavoursome wheat beer and chocolate stouts!
Each sip was accompanied by a delicious backstory from the knowledgeable, and passionate team, detailing hops, brew process and ABV.
Between each round of tasters, Head Brewer Oli, talked us through the intense process that would produce the brand new Chocolate Salted Caramel Stout.
We were offered the opportunity to get as hands-on as we were brave enough to – I know my limitations, and they exist in the realms of picking up sacks of oat flakes the size of my torso; but I was happy to watch the other, stronger, volunteers!
We got up close and personal with the stages of mashing, boiling, fermentation and filtering, each stage releasing a new, addictive aroma, and leading us closer to the final product.
The half-way point was marked with a stunning roast dinner, offering the choice of beef, pork or butternut squash and lentil filo parcel.
Despite feeling somewhat guilty for devouring a Sunday roast that was cooked by someone other than my Mother, it was hugely enjoyable; fresh and tasty, offering all those traditional, delicious trimmings. I would highly recommend their menu to anyone looking to have a weekend away from the kitchen.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent chatting with the lovely ladies at our table, comparing notes on the beer that we were drinking, by the time the day began drawing to a close, it felt as though we had known one another for years.
My top two?
Black IPA – An IPA in stout’s clothing! Up until the moment it touches your mouth, you would be forgiven for thinking you had ordered something of the Guinness variety.
However, the fruity notes instantly come through from the mosaic hops, complemented by the smooth complexity of the Simcoe and perfectly rounded off with ekuanot hops – offering n ABV of 6% it looked, and even sounded, like it should be heavy work; but it was surprisingly smooth, displaying those classic IPA characteristics.
Flaming Cow – a chocolate and chilli stout. There were mixed reviews with this one, but I really enjoyed it. The first notes are smooth and sweet, then the back of your throat is hit with just the right amount of chilli – it was almost like a dessert, the perfect post-roast drink, and at 5% ABV, didn’t threaten me too much with the potential of falling off my chair.
Brewhouse and Kitchen hit the nail on the head when showcasing what International Women’s Day should be about – empowering females, building confidence, expanding skill-sets, putting women in an environment where they are able to build each other up.
We entered the room as strangers and left feeling like old friends; eagerly arranging a date for our return for that ultimate opportunity to grab a pint of the magical chocolate salted caramel stout that we had helped to create.
IF YOU FANCY GETTING HANDS-ON WITH BREWHOUSE AND KITCHEN, WHY NOT GRAB YOURSELF, OR A LOVED ONE, A GIFT CARD FOR ONE OF THEIR MANY WORKSHOPS?