I love a good pint of beer. You can’t beat it. That first sip out of a freshly poured pint – you can almost get lost in that moment!
I live in Orleton, a village not far from Ludlow and I’m extremely lucky to have a great local village pub on my doorstep called The Boot.
It’s a brilliant rural boozer and it’s run by a great team – Audrey the landlady, Chris the bar manager and Martin the head chef. It’s the heart of the village and as well as people travelling from further afield, it is incredibly well supported by the locals. I get on well with the locals and there’s always good banter across the bar.
The Boot hold a beer festival each year. This year it will be the fourth festival. It’s being held on the last weekend of July. It’s a long weekend of guest ales, ciders and perrys, live music and lots of fun. Come along and see what I mean and if I bump into you I might even buy you a pint.
Being a chef, I’m really interested in the processes that go into making and producing food and drink. Beer is no different, so last year I decided to learn more. I wanted to follow the whole process of making beer. I went to a local hop farm and jumped on board their tractor.
We went along the ‘lanes’ of growing hops, scything down the hops and getting them ready to be processed.
Hops can only be harvested during two weeks of the year. Then I helped process the hops – stripping them from the branches, sorting them, drying them and bagging them. I listened to the perils of being a hop farmer. One farmer I spoke to had his fields flooded when the river burst his bank and lost a complete crop.
I next hooked up with a friend from Ludlow; Gary, the master brewer and owner of Ludlow Brewery, to find out what happened next. He told me it only takes two hops to flavour one pint of beer, which amazed me. Imagine how many pints of beer a field of hops can make?!
He taught me exactly how beer is made, I found out all about the ingredients used, what happens to them and how brewers get distinct flavours into their beers. It was an amazingly educational experience and I have never looked a pint the same since! It opened my eyes and got me thinking – after finding out all the things I was told, seeing the incredible amount of work and love that goes into artisan beer and the top quality ingredients used to make it, the £3 or so it costs for a pint is one of the biggest bargains around.