BBNo (Brew By Numbers)
Tom and Dave met in China on a rock climbing tour around Asia. After hanging out on the rocks and riding motorbikes around Vietnamese islands and the hilly borderlands between Laos and Myanmar they formed a solid friendship.
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.