If beer is your drink of choice, and you’re local to Tayside, then this brew school experience at the Innis and Gunn Taproom in Dundee may be one to add to your bucket list.
Offering keen brewers the chance to make their own beer, the full-day experience teaches participants about the whole process and allows them to choose the flavours and grains for their perfect brew.
General manager at the Dundee branch on South Tay Street, Martin Cleary, says he actually took part in a brew school experience before applying for a job with the business.
The brew school concept has been running for four to five years at the firms taprooms across Scotland.
Something for everyone
Before embarking on their brewing journey, the in-house brewmaster, who leads the session, ensures participants will be making something they’ll actually enjoy.
The brew is based on flavours people pick and enjoy.
Martin said: “Our brewmaster will talk people through what the options are.
“They’re also able to try some of our beers if people aren’t too familiar with beer so they can build more of an idea of what they want to make.
“At the end of it they’re going to end up with five litres of beer, so it’s not much use if that’s five litres you’re not going to like.”
Taking a full afternoon, due to the technical nature of brewing beer, lunch is also provided at the bar/restaurant, as well as the odd game of shuffleboard.
“It’s quite a length process, which is why it’s an all-day thing,” continues Martin.
“It starts at noon, where you’ll come in, start mashing the grain, stop for a bit of lunch and then go back to it after.
“We also sometimes add in other activities while people are waiting for their beer to brew. So we might add a couple of games of shuffleboard so they can have a break while the brewmaster does the more labour intensive less fun parts of it.
“It’s a small-scale industrial process so it’s not always the most interesting.”
How it works
The process is very technical, but there is lots to be learned about the process of making, and drinking, beer.
To make the beer the firm uses bits of kit called Grainfathers which Martin says are like self-contained mini breweries. Guests will take the grain, the hop and everything else and mix it together and brew their beer this way.
He added: “It’s quite a time consuming process as you’ve got to keep on top of it and add hops and malt and different things at different times depending on what beer you’re making.
“The style they choose affects what’s going into the brew and the malt. That’s the first bit that goes in to the mixer – the grains.
“Essentially, from that you’re making a sort of grain porridge where you have to extract all the sugar from the malts. That sugary liquid is what gets fermented and turned into beer.”
Once the grains have been chosen, participants get to add other ingredients like hops and some fruit that can help enhance the flavour of their beer.
Usually hosting around four or five people per group, the business has several sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, with spaces still available for upcoming weekends.
For those wishing to book for a private party outwith these times, Martin says the business needs around four days’ notice to prepare.
“If we have larger enquiries or parties then we can host it any day. We’ve done larger ones for company team-building days, of around 18 people or so. But the main thing for us is that it does require prior notice,” said Martin.
“That’s mainly because not every member of staff is trained as a brewmaster and it’s quite a technical process having to monitor all the temperatures and maintaining things.
“The brewschools are often quite busy. We have a lot of Saturdays booked and some spaces on Sundays, though it’s worth double-checking these on the website.”
This Saturday (September 25), the brew school experience will be hosted by 71 Brewing, who will be going through the whole process using their own recipes.
Martin adds: “On this coming Saturday we are doing a session with 71 Brewing, just up the road. One of their brewers is coming in to do a brew day with some of their recipes, which will be quite different.”
Brew school experiences cost £65, which includes a five-litre keg of beer, lunch and beer tasting session. For more information visit the website here.