I often think about the countless benefits of going back into education. Furthering my knowledge, stimulating my neurological motherboard, expanding upon my qualifications, being re-issued with my student discount card and getting money off clothes purchases and free double cheeseburgers. Thing is, I never really know whether I’d be cut out for education again. Those years have gone now. That disciplined approach towards study disappeared the moment I threw my mortar board in the air. It’d have to be a pretty appealing method of teaching to get me back behind the school desk.
Then it hit me. Learning whilst downing booze. Ok, yeah. That’s a teaching style I could get on board with.
We’d enrolled at the Home Brew Depot Brew School, to learn how to make our own beer from the cosy classroom space in the yard of The Adam and Eve pub in Homerton. I say ‘classroom space’, it was the area of the pub’s beer garden with a roof, but what better place to learn how to make the beer, than the place you’ll go to drink the beer?
We were taught by Jamie Oliver. At least, that’s who I thought it was at first before he introduced himself as Simon. He sounded like Jamie Oliver, had a trucker cap like Jamie Oliver and spent the entire time telling us about ingredients, so in my head, it was Jamie Oliver.
Not five minutes had passed before our sleeves were rolled up and the brewing had begun. This was some serious hands-on learning we were dealing with, along with plenty of ‘research’ which involved Simon handing beer out for us all to knock back. At this early stage of the course, I was already excelling; I’ve always been good at research. Throughout the process, we were constantly being told that we were succeeding and that we were a-grade students. So …I was drunk, making booze, furthering my learning and doing well in class. This school was dreamy.
We followed the process step-by-step whilst chatting away to each other and enjoying the strong aroma of Weetabix in the air. Simon was a really clear, engaging teacher, so the only reason I got lost every so often was mainly down to being a bit wasted, but luckily Tom brought me up to speed and said I could copy his homework if I needed to.
Then, it was lunchtime. We all headed inside where we were fed with amazingly tasty burgers and chips which helped sober me up a bit and meant a lot of the information I was told that afternoon actually penetrated my memory. Lunch was a social thing, with all us students chatting over our beer efforts thus far and growing excited about all the keg parties we were planning on throwing when our parents were going away for a weekend.
We returned to the classroom to find our brews bubbling away at the correct temperature with steam billowing from every vat of beer. We did a few more fiddly steps to finish the process before cooling our beer down using a cooling plate, which is an incredibly ingenious invention. The beer goes in, hot, then the beer comes out, cold. Mental. See how much I learned from Brew School? In-hot-out-cold.
We finished the day by bottling our creations and making labels for them which I found especially fun. One group photo later and we were saying goodbye to our classmates with our huge bottle of beer to take home with us. We were also given instructions about how to go forth and brew in the future, as well as a little bubbler for our beer, so that whilst it continued to ferment for a further two weeks before we could drink it, it didn’t explode all over our walls… which is a bonus.
We absolutely loved Brew School and cannot recommend it enough. You get to do really well in your exams. You get a wicked lunch which beats the usual school canteens, hands-down. You get to take your beer home to show your Mum. That is, if you can make it home. If you bike to Brew School like Tom and I did, you might find getting your keg-like beer-vats home is a bit of a challenge.
That aside, it was the best school experience I’ve probably ever had.