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When Kieran first mentioned that he had the chance to go and help brew the School of Computing’s graduation ale and was looking for some volunteers to go with him I nearly bit his arm off! The chance to head across to the E&S Brewery in Elland to have a go at brewing up our own batch of beer. it was like a dream come true.

As the date approached, however, it became clear that the brewing would clash with my new job at O2. It turned out alright in the end though – the brewing would take place from 6am – 4pm and I would work from 5.30pm – 9.30pm at O2. You just have to love the seventeen hour days!

The 4.40am alarm went off on the morning of the brew and I rushed myself a breakfast and headed over to Kieran’s to pick him up ready to be in Elland, near Halifax, by 6am. Armed with a bottle of Kick and a change of clothes we arrived at E&S eager to start our day’s work and what a day’s work it turned out to be!

The brewer’s day is a long one. Often at work by 6am, lots of manual labour and careful scientific work, then hours of waiting around they don’t leave until well into the evening. It is highly rewarding though.

We started off by loading a quarter of a ton malt and wheat into a hopper ready to go into the mash ‘tun, this was then mixed with hot water to make the ‘mash’ which was then left to stand for an hour or so. This ‘wort’ was then drained off and piped into the copper, basically a giant kettle, and was then boiled for an hour. We added the hops and some other ingredients and set about clearing the masher. We had to shovel by hand the original quarter ton of malt (now much heavier as it was soaking wet) out of the mash tun for the cows to eat. We then hosed, scrubbed and polished the inside of the mash tun ready for the next brew. We managed a quick lunch before we had to start pumping the wort from the copper into the fermenter where we could add the yeast and start turning it into ale. When the copper was empty we set about cleaning it, removing all the hops and other debris. This is actually done by climbing into the copper and shovelling it out again.

A hard day’s work, but well worth it in every day. Roll on graduation day so I can taste it!

A big thank you to all at Elland Brewery for letting us play in their factory and also to fellow volunteers Kieran and Tony.

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