Crumbs Brewing


By in Our first brew 0

Crumbs! It’s brew 001

Today was a day of firsts

The first time our resident Spanish Crumbs Spreader, Adria, visited the Isle of Wight.

Crossing the Solent in the sunshine

It may not be as warm as Barcelona just yet, but there are few more beautiful places on earth than the Island when the sun is shining. If you believe my Father, the sun always shines on the Isle of Wight. I can tell you for a fact that’s not true – it almost always rains when I visit. So much so that Elaine and I have been branded the rain doctors by my Island based family. Many a summer has descended from pavement cracking heat to freezing rain and gales on our arrival. So it was a refreshing change to enjoy the short ferry ride from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, laden down with a number of large sacks of bread crumbs, in glorious sunshine…..

The first time in a long time I’ve set my alarm for 4am.

Far too early to be out of bed

I’d definitely rather have avoided this first. The whole reason I wanted to get into brewing and not baking was the unsociable hours bakers have to deal with. So it was a bit of a shock when our partners at Goddards Brewery announced we’d be starting the brew at 5am. Isn’t brewing all about long leisurely lie-ins, a spot of brewing and tinkering during the day and then an afternoon and evening of product sampling? I’m not sure this is what I signed up for?

Anyway – any discomfort of the early hour was soon forgotten as we embarked on the most important first of them all…..

THE FIRST EVER full scale brew of Crumbs Amber Lager! Exciting indeed! Exciting and a little nerve wracking. This was the first time we had ever brewed our rather unconventional beer using full scale kit. If you’ve been following our journey you’ll know we’ve been pretty thorough with our homework and recipe development but this was a true journey into the unknown. Something that quickly came home to Goddards Head Brewer,Nigel, when we realised our lovely cold stored bread crumbs were going to have a significant impact on the overall temperature of the initial mash.  His skill and experience (combined with a little bit of luck) came through though and we successfully settled our first mash at a perfect 65.5 degrees. Phew – any lower and we would have had a very expensive failure on on our hands.

Nigel’s smile (left) once we realised the process was actually working!


Nursing the rather unusual mash

Sampling the wort

From then on it all went remarkably smoothly. The separation of the sweet wort that contains the sugars that will eventually ferment into our Amber Lager was excruciatingly slow (the bread crumbs create a far denser mash for the liquid to drain through versus a normal grain only brew) but the resulting gravity (a test to ultimately determine how much alcohol will be in the final fermented beer) was spot on.  Cue picture of me looking at a glass of the wort like I have any idea what I’m actually doing…!


The intoxicating Progress hops were next into the mix as the wort boiled in the copper. Opening up the lid to pour in the hops into the steaming liquid was an interesting experience – a warning from Nigel not to be tempted to have a sniff of the mix was well heeded. As he put it, “it’ll be the last thing you ever smell if you do!”

Eventually it was time for the brew to make its final journey of the day into the fermentation vessel where the yeast will do its job to create our fabulous beer.  Time to hang up our overalls and sample a few of the excellent beers Goddards already make (well we wouldn’t let any old team brew our first ever batch of Crumbs would we)!

Not long to wait now….. please form an orderly queue…!

By in How it all began 0

The first trial….

Finally, enough of the talking and researching, it’s time to put theory into practice and actually get some beer made. The longer term plan is to create our own brewery in Surrey but for the time being, we have done our best to form an alliance with some friendly brewers that will help us on a contract basis to begin with.

It’s always funny to see the mixed look of panic and intrigue spread over a brewer’s face when you explain what we’re up to. Their curiosity is usually tempered by the vision of a sludgy stuck mash that buggers up their precious kit. My confident “it’ll be fine” reassurance doesn’t always wash.

One lovely bunch who showed the right kind of spirit are our new friends at Goddards Brewery. Coincidentally based where I grew up – on the Isle of Wight. Maybe not as local as we first planned and certainly not the most straight forward choice regarding shipping logistics but it soon became apparent the team are a passionate, skilled bunch and very much up for the challenge of making such a unique beer.

Added to this they have a very smart bit of test kit that allows you to play with a small quantity brew before committing to scale. This was perfect as, although we’ve been pretty rigorous with our planning to this point, I still had a nagging doubt this was going to be trickier than we thought.

With a brew day planned I had the minor issue of getting together a small but still reasonably significant batch of bread crumbs. As Chalk Hills don’t currently own an industrial scale crumber the job fell to myself and my wife Elaine (co-founder of our business and very much the voice of reason in the relationship). Cue a kitchen full of bread and a highly over worked Kenwood food processor!

Ingredients assembled it was brew time. The fun part. A chaotic, utterly exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable day of brewing was not without its issues but we learnt a huge amount putting theory into practice.  I really think brewers should open up their doors to the public to get hands on more often – the smells, the craft, the chemistry are all intoxicating. I really hope this beer tastes good as the idea of making a living out of this is too good to be true. No pressure!

As I write the first ever batch of Crumbs Amber is fermenting peacefully… we can’t wait for the first taste.