Brew by Numbers
In April 2011, Dave returned from travelling after two years in the Antipodes, drinking craft beer and doing some basic homebrew. At the same time, Tom – an old friend of Toby from the Kernel – was drinking their IPAs and Pale Ales, wondering how he could do them differently. By August that year Dave and Tom, committed to opening their own microbrewery, had secured the use of a friend’s basement on Southwark Bridge Road and built a simple homebrew kit. Through reading books on brewing, researching online, and asking for tips and advice from friends in the industry, Dave and Tom began to teach themselves to brew. The first three brews were made with malt extract, boiled with hops to give flavour and bitterness, and fermented in plastic buckets. From brew 4 onwards Dave and Tom moved to all-grain mashes, using malted grains instead of extract to achieve more authentic results. Their set-up was rudimentary: a 50ltr coolbox with homemade copper manifold and sparge arm and a plastic container for both hot liquor (water) tank (HLT) and boil kettle. But results were good, and by brews 6 and 7 people were seeing potential. Dave and Tom progressed quickly. This was, in part, because they would split batches at different stages to create variations of each brew – whether at the boil to allow different hop and spice additions, in the fermentor to allow the use of different yeasts, or post-fermentation to allow the use of dry hopping, infusions or wild yeasts. By doing this, original recipes and methods were developed. In February 2012 a French Saison yeast strain was brought to London for a collaboration brew between two prominent UK brewers. That strain gradually made its way around London’s breweries, finally reaching Dave and Tom, and by brew 20 they made their first Citra Saison. Now officially Brew By Numbers, Dave and Tom took this ‘Hoppy Saison’ to the staff at Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell for their critique. June 2012 and Dave and Tom visited Belgium with Andy from Partizan Brewing (then still brewing at Redemption) and Toby from the Kernel. Upon returning, inspired by the trip, BBNo. brewed their first Brett-aged Saison and began planning to brew Witbiers and other Belgian styles. In July 2012 Dave and Tom made the move to stainless steel equipment – for HLT/kettle and mash tun, at least. This investment allowed many upgrades that would help BBNo. achieve their goal of selling beer brewed in their basement space. They achieved that goal when in November 2012 they received permission from Southwark Council to brew beer for sale and on December 1st hosted the official launch party of Brew By Numbers at The Craft Beer Co. in Clerkenwell.