Today, a small batch of strawberry and elderflower mead and a rather larger one of Belgian tripel beer were ready for bottling. Usually, my involvement with the brewing process is marginal, and limited to two activities: 1) sticking caps on bottles and 2) happily imbibing the end result. But as the resident brewmaster general can’t use his hands, I had to do everything today. I was under very strict instructions.

The turban is apparently a necessity. Hair must be covered up. And, it turns out, I am a thoroughly non-sterile sort of person. Lots of me had to be sterilised. Several hours of washing things followed: arms, funnels, tubs, jugs, tubes. And bottles. Lots and lots of bottles. Then there was some boiling, a bit of pouring, some measuring, and lots more pouring. I discovered beer is quite heavy when you have to lug it about in large quantities. And Tom discovered what we both probably knew already: that I could never get a job in his laboratory.

I did aim for precision and accuracy at all stages, but I fear I am too constitutionally messy to ever be a great brewer. While, in the craft activities that I enjoy, mess is very often the raw material of my creativity, in brewing, the only thing that mess is likely to produce is bacteria. And bad beer. And exploding beer bottles.

Still, I had fun (apart from the endless bottle washing. I defy anyone to enjoy that) . And, as you see here, I was very proud of my successfully bottled mead . . .

. . .and the strong Belgian beer in its wee bottles. This is my favourite bottle. Before it was used for our beer it contained Old Tom: Strong Ale.